Hilary Nangle answered your questions about vacationing in Maine on June 1, 2004
Hilary Nangle: Portland is a great town to explore, and it's walkable (with hills, uneven brick sidewalks). First though, yes you can arrive by train, but you do have to switch stations in Boston, from South Station, where you'll arrive, to North Station, where you'll depart for Maine. Easy to do via the T-subway system, but keep it in mind when packing or take a cab pricier, but easier with luggage.
Portland has a great children's museum with Maine themes, well suited for your daughter's age. Also, consider a ride on the Narrow Gauge Railway along the waterfront. On a calm day, take a ferry ride to one of the Casco Bay Islands, a quick hop to Peaks, a half-day Mail Boat ride taking in a number of islands, or a fun and educational trip to Eagle.
Shops and restaurants are plentiful. You might want to check the Eastland Park Hotel, a recently renovated historical hotel in the Arts District, across from the Portland Museum of Art and the adjacent Children's Museum. It s'well suited for exploring and is family friendly, and it's reasonable for a full-service city hotel. Another choice, a long walk but short bus ride from intown attractions, is the Inn at St. John (although not as nice a neighborhood).
Within easy rental car driving: Fort Williams Park, in Cape Elizabeth bring a kite and do visit the lighthouse; L.L. Bean and the outlets of Freeport; Maine Maritime Museum, in Bath a bit more of a drive, but worth it. Take an easy walk around Mackworth Island, in Falmouth. Spend some time at the beach: Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth is gentle and has facilities. Old Orchard is a bigger, busier beach with an amusement area and a short pier.
Fort Pierce, FL: Hi Hilary, we are planning to visit Maine, hopefully this year but the fuel prices may delay it till next year. We are seniors traveling by motorhome. My question is, can you steer us to the campground that you would consider a good one for a base to see lighthouses and small seafaring towns, for good eats and photos?
Hilary Nangle: I've heard good things about Searsport Shores Campiing Resort, in the Mid-Coast region. Searsport, is home to the Penobscot Marine Museum, and nearby Belfast is a wonderful harbor town. From there, you're within easy striking distance of the Blue Hill Peninsula, which has numerous small seafaring towns and is very picturesque. Visit campmaine.com or call 207-782-5874 and ask for a copy of the 2004 Maine Camping Guide.
New Port Richey, FL: My ancestors settled in Shirley, Maine in the early 1700's. Where is that in relation to a major airport? I would like to visit and look up the family records. Does Delta fly to Maine?
Hilary Nangle: Yes Delta flies to Maine. Shirley Mills is just west of Greenville (which is where you'll find lodging). Closest airport is Bangor.
Pittsburgh, PA: I would like to do a summer vacation in Maine and wanted to know were you think the best beach would be. I have a family of four. My kids are 9 and 12. Thank you.
Hilary Nangle: Ogunquit, Kennebunk, Old Orchard and Scarborough. The first three are in active tourist communities, with lots of lodging and dining opportunities and other things to do (Ogunquit is artsy and gay friendly; York has a small zoo, great saltwater taffy and ice cream shop; Kennebunk is more upscale, with boutiques and such, but also the Trolley Museum, great for kids; Old Orchard has an amusement pier and is popular with Canadians, too, giving it a French accent). Scarborough is more of a bedroom community for Portland.
The one beach that always gets named in Best Beach contests, though, is Popham, at the tip of the Phippsburg Peninsula. That ' home to a state park, but otherwise is probably less busy than those in the southern part of the state. There's an adjacent fort, and it ' near Bath and the Maine Maritime Museum.
If you're going for natural beach, probably Popham. For a more active vacation, one where your kids would likely meet other vacationing kids, probably one of the southern ones.
Minneapolis, MN: We will be visiting Portland, Maine in September. Where's the best place to get lobster (the more casual the better!) within walking distance of the cruise ship pier?
Hilary Nangle: Two to consider, both real casual:
The Port Hole OR Portland Lobster Co.
Clinton, NJ: Hi, is there a best time to go to Maine when the mosquitoes are not out? We will be going to Perry, Eastport area and the mosquitoes drive me crazy. Thanks.