Hilary Nangle answered your questions about vacationing in Maine on June 1, 2004
Norman, OK: We'll be traveling to Maine in late July/early August. What's the one thing not to miss?
Hilary Nangle: The ONE thing? Hard to say, without knowing your interests, but Acadia National Park is hard to beat. Here's the thing, though: Most folks just stay in the car and drive the Park Loop Road, perhaps popping out for a sight or two. To really enjoy Acadia, you have to escape the crowds by getting out of your car and into the park: walk or bike the carriage roads, take a hike (some are really easy), kayak along the shorefront, ferry to an off-shore island.
If you 'e visiting inland, Baxter State Park is a gem as is Moosehead Lake.
If lobster s'on your agenda, the Maine Lobster Festival is a don t'miss event. It takes place in Rockland, Aug. 4-9, (elobsterfestival.com). And do visit the Farnsworth Museum of American Art, while you r' in town.
If you re'vacationing on the coast, make it a point to get out on the water. Take a cruise, go out on a lobster boat, take a sunset sail, ferry to an island, go whalewatching just don t 'iss the opportunity.
Windjammers head out of numerous ports, cruising from a few hours to a week. Inexpensive ferries (out of Portland, Rockland, and other ports) service offshore islands, making for fun day trips pack a picnic lunch, perhaps rent a bicycle and explore.
One of my favorite events is a real sleeper of a crafts fair, July 24-25, in Grand Lake Stream, way up in way down east Maine. If your travels take you to that part of Maine, and you re a'fan of folk art-style crafts and blue grass music, it s a 'un event, with about 50 vendors and three or four musicians or groups. ( No web, 207-796-8199). Grand Lake Stream is the literal town at the end of the road. It s su'rounded by lakes, and is renowned among anglers. Not the kind of place most folks would consider a don t mi's, but if you prefer more understated things and a wilderness setting near the coast, it might be right for you.
Columbus, OH: Would you recommend a first-time visitor to rent a car and travel the coast, staying at multiple hotels or to book a single spot to stay and travel back and forth to sites?
Hilary Nangle: I think the best way to explore Maine is to use a hub-and-spoke strategy. For one thing, changing hotel rooms every night is exhausting. It also gives you no place to just chill out on that inevitable rainy day. I'm on the road a lot in Maine, and whenever I have the opportunity to plant myself in one place for a few days, I always find things I never would have found otherwise. Return to the same coffee shop two or three days in a row, and you're practically a local.
Beginning in the Mid-Coast region, around Brunswick, through Down East, the coast comprises long peninsulas that are just plain fun to explore, and you need time to do so. While it may appear that you can do Rockland in a day, if you want to head down the St. George Peninsula, add at least another half-day; if you want to continue out to Monhegan, another day.
While it's tempting to want to cover a lot of territory on your trip, I think you l' enjoy it more if you allow yourself time to really explore a region or two.
Princeton, NJ: I am an older single mom with some health issues and have a 7-year-old daughter who gets carsick on long trips. I just learned recently that you can get to Portland by train from NYC now in 3 hours and am considering coming with her in August for a week or two but am concerned about being the sole entertainment, especially if I'm not feeling well some time. Where would you go and where would you recommend our staying in and around the Portland area? I will rent a car but would like to be able to walk in a town and want some areas with character and charm. I've considered both Portland itself and have heard some talk about Blue Hill, but am open to your suggestions of where to stay and what to do that's fun and kid-friendly and that would also maybe help me scope out the area for relocation and retirement potential in a few years. Many thanks.
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