Posted on Monday, 16th August 2010 by

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Fall Colors, Moose and the Coast of Maine


Autumn is my favorite time of year.  It is also one of my favorite times to travel.  The temperature isn’t too hot or too cold.  It’s just right for enjoying outside activities during the day and enjoying the evening relaxing.  New England is always on my list of fall travel spots and Maine is one of my favorite places to visit.  The Maine coast is dotted with lighthouses, rocks, trees and crashing waves.  It offers plenty of choices of rural towns and cities to spend your time in and best of all, it is not crowded.  Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor is a great place to visit.  If you want to see the mountains and lakes there is plenty of spots to visit in Maine’s interior.  The White Mountains and Moosehead Lake are great choices.  I have been to Maine four times and would like to share information on some of my favorite spots.

Portland, Maine


This coastal city is a great place to spend several days or as a stop while you explore the coast of Maine.  The Portland Head Lighthouse is one of the most prominent and photographed on the east coast.  The cobblestone streets will take you back to times gone by as you stroll by the many shops and galleries in the downtown area.  The water front has restaurants with outside seating to enjoy good weather.  One of my favorite stops is the Flatbread Company which offers gourmet pizzas that are unusual and flavorful.  If a Maine Lobster is more what you have in mind then the Portland Lobster Company is another waterfront choice.  Of course there’s Gilbert’s Chowder House if all you are looking for is some New England clam chowder.

The Fall Drive: Down East Traveler recommends a daylong tour beginning on Route 25 from downtown Portland through Gorham and Westbrook.  The transformation from city to country is nearly complete by the time you hit Standish.  Farms and orchards are part of the scenery.  After you cross the Saco River you’ll see the fall colors of Saddleback Hills of Baldwin to the north.  Cornish is a great place to stop if you like antiques.  It is also a favorite for canoeists on the Ossipee River.  In Porter you’ll take a left on Route 160 traveling south passing through East Parsonsfield and Limerick that have retained their rural charm.  In Limerick Mills take Route 11 south through Newfield and Shapleigh.  When you enter Sanford you will need to watch for Route 202 headed north to Alfred and Waterboro.  The Nature Conservancy has protected an area of pine barrens near this area.  When you get to Hollis Center you need to take Route 35 north which will take you back to Standish and Route 25 into Portland.

Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

This is a popular area for tourists.  The town of Bar Harbor is quaint with lots of shops, galleries and restaurants.  Lodging ranges from cozy Bed & Breakfast Inns, charming cottages, or Motor Inns to grand Oceanside hotels.  Activities range from sea kayaking to bicycling or hiking.  You can go out on a whale watch boat for part of your day.  Don’t limit your search to whales though.  Keep an eye out for seals and puffins also.  You will also find many lighthouses along the coast if you want to explore.

The Park Loop Road is a 27 mile long scenic drive through Acadia National Park along the rocky coast and park gardens.  Be sure to drive or hike up to the top of Cadillac Mountain.  At 1532 feet high it’s the tallest point along the eastern seaboard.  On a clear day you will have a spectacular view of Frenchman Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and the islands in the surrounding area.  Cadillac Mountain is also a great spot for star gazing at night.  There are 120 miles of hiking trails in the park for day trips.  The park also has a Carriage Road system that intersects with hiking trails in the park, but they are not intended for automobiles.  The carriage trails were built in the early 20th century, a gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr.  They were restored and the park service now maintains the road.  You can travel the Carriage Road in a horse-pulled carriage offered at the Wildwood Stable.  No matter what you decide Acadia will offer fall scenery that won’t disappoint.

Moosehead Lake


This is a great place to spend several days.  Lake Cabin rentals are available in all parts of this large lake.  You may be able to arrange to rent canoes while you’re there.  In some instances the owners will deliver them to the cabin.  The fall foliage will be at your door step.  You won’t have to go out and search for it.

Not only can you enjoy the fall foliage and the lake, you will find this a great place to go out and watch the moose in their own environment.  You can often see moose from the road side but you might find an early morning canoe ride more fun.  We found a local tour operator and selected an early morning canoe safari that included breakfast at a rustic lodge on the opposite side of the pond (we were on one of the Roach ponds).  The lake is surrounded by small rural towns.  There are several restaurants to choose from but can be several miles from a lake cabin.  Planning meals at your cabin may be a better choice.  The cabins are usually stocked with seasoning and cooking oil for your convenience.  It’s a great choice for a family trip.

Travel Resources:

Information on Maine:

Visiting Portland, Maine:

Visiting Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park area

Visiting Moosehead Lake:

Flying to Maine:


Manchester, New Hampshire is a good option.  Southwest Airlines flies to Manchester and offers lower fares than you’ll likely find to Portland or Bangor.  Boston may also have a reasonable fare if you want to travel through Boston to get to your New England destination.

Nancy Holston

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