Maine U.S. Route 1
Beginning at Van Buren on the US/Canadian border U.S. Route 1 winds its way to the rocky northern coast at Perry. One of the best places to watch the highest tide changes in the continental U.S. is at the park and boat landing on Route 1 in Robbinston. The road turns, hugging the coastline, past marvelous vistas and countless quaint fishing villages that still seem to capture time and maintain a connection to previous centuries. Along the way, memories are waiting to be made. Assembled below are a few ideas for the journey.
Have lobster for breakfast. Locals and tourists alike succumb to the lure of lobster. Served almost everywhere, no one need suffer lobster withdrawal. Many communities have lobster suppers where everyone is welcome and local entrepreneurs delight in arranging lobster bakes seaside. In Bar Harbor, Captain John takes guests out on Frenchman Bay on a traditional lobster boat. Passengers learn about the actual working of a lobster boat, watch seals and hear about local history and folklore. (Lulu Lobster Boat Harborside Hotel & Marina, 55 West Street, Bar Harbor.1 (207) 963-2341, 1-866-235-2341 (toll free in Maine only) or www.lululobsterboat.com)
Take a carriage through Acadia. The tree density alone is impressive within Acadia National Park. Add to that a slew of un-named coves, rocky forbidding inlets, mountainous terrain, inland freshwater lakes and a network of more than 120 miles of trails suitable for walking, jogging, biking and about 45 miles suitable for horse drawn carriage rides. The result is splendid and not to be missed. The Park, which encompasses more than 47,633 acres, is refuge to fox, coyote deer, beaver, otter, squirrel, seal, puffin, osprey, and an occasional black bear. The warmest months of the year bring a host of songbirds, ducks, and shorebirds as well as birds of prey. (Visitor Information at 1(207) 288-3338 or www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm)
Take to the sea. Whale watching and wildlife viewing are popular activities along the coast of Maine. The Atlantic coastal waters provide the ideal habitat for migrating whales, seals, porpoise, eagles, puffins, and other marine animals. From Bar Harbor there are many intersecting ways to view the natural residents. Some options include narration by a National Park Service Ranger while others provide the thrill of encounter via a high-speed, high-tech catamaran or a relaxing sail on a historic windjammer. (For the active ask your KOA Kampground host.)
See history in motion. Kennebunkport is the home of the Seashore Trolley Museum, the oldest, and largest electric railway museum in the world. Established in 1939 with one open trolley car, the current collection contains more than 250 transit vehicles. A visit to the museum includes a ride over a portion of the old Atlantic Shore Line Railway interurban trolley line and provides a glimpse of Maine during the early 1800’s. (Seashore Trolley Museum, 195 Log Cabin Road Kennebunkport, 04046. 1(207) 967-2712 or www.trolleymuseum.org)
Ride a Super Duck. Portland offers visitors a unique and energizing way to see the city aboard an amphibious touring craft known as a “duck.” Passengers ride along cobblestone streets of the Old Port and hear local anecdotes about historical buildings and the lively working waterfront before launching onto the water of Casco Bay. (Portland, 04101. Commercial Street, near the intersection with Franklin Street. 1(207) 773-DUCK)
Slide down giant dunes. Even Maine has a desert, small but dry. Located in Freeport, the natural phenomenon must-be-seen, to-be-believed. More than two hundred years ago, the location was a working farm owned by the Tuttle family. Slowly, due to overgrazing, lack of proper crop rotation and other factors, the topsoil eroded exposing the sand. Now visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the 45 acres of sand dunes and learn about the area’s connection with the last ice age. Other activities include gem stone hunts, independent hiking and a small farm museum. (95 Desert Road, 04032. 1(207) 865-6962 or www.desertofmaine.com)
Try a lighthouse with a view. Portland Headlight & Museum, commissioned by George Washington in 1791, is Maine’s oldest lighthouse and the second oldest in America. Located adjacent to Fort Williams Park, the museum’s interpretative displays are contained within the former Keepers’ Quarters. (1000 Shore Road Cape Elizabeth, 04107. 1(207) 799-2661)
Shop ’til you drop. Freeport, Maine has outlets but Kittery, on the north side of the Piscataqua River, has it beat with more than 120 outlet stores along U.S. Route 1. Traffic is crazy most of the time but for those that consider shopping a sport that takes practice; this is the place for perfect bargain hunting.
Leaving Maine U.S. Route 1 crosses over the Piscataqua River landing in New Hampshire for a brief run.
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