Our trip was designed to focus on visiting New England in the Fall. However, flying into Boston is often the easiest destination (especially if you are using miles or don’t want layovers). For many, this gives you the opportunity to drive along the Maine coastline and explore some of the small New England towns including Newburyport, Ogunquit and Kennebunkport.
Of course, many people will want to spend time in Boston and if that is the case, you may want to add two to three days to your trip (Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail, Beacon Hill, etc.). We had also looked at making stops in Salem (for the obvious witch tours) or driving the leisurely route 1A which is supposed to take a beautiful drive from Newburyport into Portsmouth where you can spend time in Portsmouth or visit the Strawberry Banke historic village.
Given we arrived mid-day we made our way to the Market Square in Newburyport to spend some time walking the streets which have a colonial brick architecture like an old English town complete with pubs and restaurants.
Our next stop was to drive on to York in Maine to the Nubble Lighthouse. This includes a beautiful drive along the Maine coast (which is dark with large rocks) and then provides some beautiful pictures of this historic lighthouse.
Afterwards, we made our way along the coastal road to Ogunquit which was our favorite of the three stops to Perkins Cove. You can choose to park before the cove and walk the short walk, the Marginal Way, along the coast to the cove or park in town and walk a block in. The cove is where the boats are parked inland to protect them from the weather – but the drawbridge and perfectly parallel boats make for some beautiful views at sunset. There is even a restaurant with a patio overlooking the cove if you want to spend time dining in this area.
Finally for the evening we had booked the Hidden Pond resort just north of Kennebunkport. Of course, there are a number of accommodations in town as well depending upon whether you want coastal accommodations. But we chose Hidden Pond for its individual cabins in the wooded area and the onsite restaurant, Earth. If you reserve early enough at Earth, ask for dining in the potting shed which will seat four comfortably and is not an extra charge – yet provides private dining by candlelight in a rustic farm setting.
Travel tip: If you want something a bit different, you can also reserve dinner at the Spirit of Massachusetts which is a restaurant built within a large sail boat in the bay.
The hotel offered complimentary breakfast (muffins, Danishes, etc.) but we wanted to visit Kennebunkport which meant an early morning stop at Mornings in Paris for breakfast and coffee – where you can try multiple flavors of macaroons including the Pistachio Cream while sitting on the patio and watching the town shops opening. Right next door is the town market, HB Provisions with wood floors, homemade goods and a chance to purchase wine and beer for the rest of your trip.
Afterwards, you can walk down to Dock Square across the bridge which includes the Love Locks where couples attach a padlock to the bridge and then throw the key into the water (so remember to bring one with you if you can). And all along Dock Square are a number of shops selling coastal apparel, sweatshirts, hats and memorabilia.
We then chose to drive out north to the far end of Shore and Ocean Road (taking the outer loop) and doubling back by the ocean which will take you by a stop to look over George H. and Barbara Bush’s home on the point complete with a Texas flag. And then past St. Ann’s church which is a stone church built in 1887 and is an impressive sight right up against the ocean.
Passing back into town is a chance to stop at Spaces a small shop which makes unique bracelets out of ship rope and boat clasps. And then across the street to Mabel’s (noted as George’s favorite lobster roll in town) where they make lobster rolls with hot dog buns and a light spread of mayonnaise. However, the television show Food Wars declared the Clam Shack back in town as the best lobster roll with hamburger buns and butter. But either way, a lobster roll in Maine is almost mandatory.
Our trip took us next up to the White Mountains in New Hampshire (but you could choose to continue along the Maine coastline to the many small towns further north).