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Aug 14, 2014 02:08 PM

HELP!!! First trip to Maine Oct 12-18: Portland to Bar Harbor

We are 60 yo couple on our first trip to Maine. Late arrival in Portland Sunday night with overnight in airport hotel. Pick up rental car and start the drive to Bar Harbor on Monday. We have two nights there in a rental with a kitchen. One reservation at the Reading Room (yes, no? ) on Tuesday night. Wed and Thurs night in Castine at the Pentagoet Inn. Should we eat there at the Inn? We want the full experience of lobster, lobster rolls, clams, etc. We enjoy good food but do not have to have expensive meals each day. We return to airport hotel in Portland on Friday night. Flight home on Saturday. Got to fit an LLBean stop into the trip sometime. I guess we are looking for that off the beaten track kind of lobster shack, etc . Would appreciate restaurant suggestions for this circuitous route. Thanks.

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  1. In Portland, the Airport is only 10 minutes from downtown and the Old Port tourist district, so staying at the airport shouldn't hamper a dinner out or pastries at Standard baking or the Holy Donut in the morning on your way north.

    If you're driving 295--95--1A to bar harbor, LL Bean is easily accessible off 295 exit 20--about 20 minutes from Portland. It's open 24 hours so you could stop on your way north.


      Just east of Rockland, very much "off the beaten track", with lovely people and setting.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bostonhound

        looks good but only open until Columbus Day. OP's visit is Oct 12-18.

      2. I'm pretty sure Cameron's is where we had a lobster roll. It's in Brunswick on the Bath road so it would be on your right as you're heading north.

        Should be a good place for lunch. Not scenic however. We also went to Gurnet Trading Company on the road to Harpswell. Real shack, tiny place, we ate outside. Does not seem to close for the season but I would check first.

        We have liked the Sea Basket in Wiscasset but on our last visit dried food was over-cooked. They have counter service but a large dining area. Nothing fancy. Check hours first, I think they are closed on Mondays.

        1. I hope you won't take this as anything but a suggestion from another peer traveler, but I had a very bad feeling about the owner at Pentagoet , so we stayed in Blue Hill at the Blue Hill Inn, and it was , w/o hesitation, the best B&B experience we have ever had. If you go to Trip Advisor, my detailed review is posted i believe- from 10/2011 or 2012.The owner was born to be a B&B person, loves people and is so smart in her thoughtfulness. Plus, the antique decor throughout- is so tasteful. Terrific breakfast in a lovely dining room.Excellent advice on restnts etc.

          I LOVE Castine and we spent a good amount of time there (30 min. from Blue Hill) and there was excellent food at a cafe there w/ a back deck. On the Main St. that heads down the hill.

          Bar Harbor- No to the Reading Room. Burning Tree would be my #1 dinner spot. Also Havana, and Cleonice in Ellsworth. We were, in spite of some good reviews, not impressed w/ the lobster etc at Thurston Lobster Pound...

          There's a famous lobster roll shack in Wiscasset- Red's. Always a line. It's to the left of the bridge, but the shack to the right of the bridge (in the parking lot) is supposed to be better. You'll get lots of reviews if you use 'lobster rolls' as a Search term in the top right corner of this Northern New England page.

          Coming into Wiscasset from the South- it is just a stunning New England town; beautiful houses.

          On your drive up, make sure to take the short side road and drive through 'Damariscotta Business District'- nice town center; and on your way to join back up w/ Rt1 North, you will pass famous Round Top ice cream- famous for a reason!and nice for a quick break. you can sit out on the back deck and look out over some really pretty hills. They make a killer Maple Walnut, and GrapeNut.

          hope you have a great trip. Coastal Maine is mostly evergreens so you won't see aLOT of foliage but it's still my fav time to go up there and we may be up there when you are! It will be chilly.

          1 Reply
          1. re: opinionatedchef

            NB about Red's (and also Sprague's, the other lobster shack in Wiscasset): We drove through town on a Tuesday, mid-afternoon, in early July. There was virtually no line at either place. Sadly, my whole family was asleep in the car so I didn't stop. But, as I had suspected correctly, if you time your visit to Red's correctly, you won't have to wait anywhere near an hour.

            And speaking of Damariscotta, I have it on good authority that Larson's Lunch Box serves up an excellent lobster roll.

          2. mad, this is a really good thread on Maine coast seafood shacks by jim leff, who founded Chowhound.Photos etc of Red's- which i mentioned.