Exploring Maine, the Maritimes, and the Mid-Atlantic’s charms

Carol Timblin

The picturesque Nubble Light in York, Maine.

A recent trip to Maine and the Maritimes proved to be one of my most memorable summer vacations. Not only did we experience two nations in one vacation, but we also enjoyed scenic beauty at every turn, participated in some incredible activities, and had our fill of fresh lobster.

After flying to Boston, we traveled to Ogunquit, Maine, where we spent two restful nights at the Cliff House soaking in the spectacular ocean views and the fresh air. Built in 1872 on 70 acres overlooking the Atlantic, the resort undergwent a complete transformation this winter before reopening in 2016.

The picturesque Nubble Light in York, Maine.
The picturesque Nubble Light in York, Maine.

During the first evening of our visit, we enjoyed a stellar performance of Sister Act at the Ogunquit Playhouse, now in its 83rd season. Following a morning of leisure at the Cliff House Spa the second day, we continued our tour of Ogunquit with a Lobster Roll Crawl, thanks to Wells Seacoast Taxi.

Our first stop was Lobster Shack in Perkins Cove, followed by Jake’s Seafood in Wells. Next was Shore Road Restaurant & Market in York Beach, with our final stop at Fox’s Lobster House, located across from the Nubble Lighthouse in Cape Neddick. We sampled chowders, lobster rolls with mayonnaise or butter on toasted buns, steamers and fried clams, and all the trimmings. Every place had both a unique ambience and presentation of food. The conclusion? Lobster doesn’t get any better — plus, the blueberry pie topped with blueberry ice cream was heavenly.

On our way to our next stop in Portland, we traveled through some of Maine’s most beautiful coastal towns, including Kennebunkport, which was celebrating former first lady Barbara Bush’s 90th birthday.

Our Portland headquarters was The Westin Portland Harborview, an ultra-modern hotel that occupies the site of The Eastland and still contains the old hotel’s original boilers. The Westin’s Top of the East rooftop lounge affords the best view of the city and the harbor. And, Congress Squared restaurant — also known as C2 —where we enjoyed champagne with fresh herbs and a fabulous chef’s table dinner, was outstanding.

Portland’s Ambassador Pass is the best way to navigate the city and see many of its attractions. We took the trolley tour, which included Fort Williams Park and the Portland Head Light, but rain put an end to our plans to tour the harbor.

However, it was a great afternoon for visiting the boyhood home of world-famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who penned Paul Revere’s Ride, Evangeline, The Song of Hiawatha, and other classics. The house was built in 1785-86 by Gen. Peleg Wadsworth, the poet’s grandfather, who served in George Washington’s army.

We ended our Portland visit with Maine Foodie Tours, enjoying a walking tour that showcased the city’s exciting restaurant scene.

Next on our agenda was the overnight voyage from Portland to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, aboard the Nova Star, a state-of-the-art vessel offering cabins, dining, casino, musical entertainment, shopping, and a children’s play area.

Upon arrival in Yarmouth, Becky and Josh Cottreau, who own The Song of the Paddle, met us with kayaks for a two-hour excursion around the harbor. Next, we enjoyed an Acadian lunch at The Hatfield House prepared by owner Laura Muise and her staff. The house was built in 1793 by Abigail Price, a freed slave.

At the Historical Acadian Village overlooking Pubnico Harbour, which highlights how Acadians lived in the early 1900s, we sampled Rappie pie and learned about blacksmithing, boat building, lobster traps, and other crafts.

That evening, we dined on Digby’s world-famous scallops at Churchill’s Restaurant at Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa. Opened in 1929, the resort offers golf, tennis, shuffleboard, croquet, swimming, kayaking, Aveda spa treatments, and other activities.

Before our ferry crossing to New Brunswick the next day, we visited the Historic Gardens at Annapolis Royal, which are a tribute to Acadian history.

We spent the last two days of our trip at Algonquin Resort, a site that sparkles with sheer luxury following a $30 million renovation. Built as a health resort in 1889 and located at St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, it offers golf, tennis, a fitness center, swimming, fishing, ghost tours, spa treatments, and gourmet dining at Braxton’s. At low tide we drove across the ocean floor to Minister’s Island, the summer home of Sir William Van Horne, the Canadian Pacific Railway’s first president, and then took an Island Quest adventure in search of whales, harbor seals, and birds.

All too soon it was time to return to Portland for our flights home. Along the way we stopped in Freeport, Maine, home of L.L. Bean, for one last lobster roll at a street stand. We were not disappointed.

You, too, can design your own “Two-Nation Vacation” just the way you want it. (visitportland.com, visitnovascotia.com, tourismnewbrunswick.ca, novastarcruises.com)

Around the Mid-Atlantic

According to a Vatican news release, Pope Francis plans to spend five days, Sept. 22–27, in the United States visiting Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. While in Washington he will meet with President Barack Obama and address a joint session of Congress. In New York, he will address the United Nations General Assembly, attend a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and celebrate mass at Madison Square Garden. In Philadelphia he will greet organizers of the World Meeting of Families.

The fourth annual Cape May Craft Beer & Crab Festival, featuring hard shell crabs, shrimp, craft beers, and music, will be held Aug. 8 at the Emlen Physik Estate. The event was named one of the Five Best New Jersey Summer Festivals.

The family-friendly event will also feature lawn games and acrobats. Admission, parking, and trolley service are free.

Wine lovers might check out Cape May’s self-guided Wine & Brewery Trail and enjoy samples of wines at the Natali Vineyards and Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, plus a tour of the Cape May Brewing Company (afternoons daily). A National Historic Landmark City, Cape May is a great family destination, offering pristine beaches, cultural entertainment, beautiful natural features, and historical attractions. (capemaymac.org)

CityPASS

Travelers who purchase the Southern California CityPASS save money at area theme parks such as SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland, plus have three extra days at Disneyland. Ticket holders may also upgrade the CityPASS to include one day at the San Diego Zoo/Safari Park.

The price of the ticket is $329 for adults (a value of $451) and $289 for children ages 3 to 9 (a value of $428).

Dallas has been added to a list of cities that honor CityPASS. Representing a savings of 41 percent, it includes admission to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Reunion Tower Geo-Deck, the Dallas Zoo or The Sixth Floor Museum, and the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum or Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

CityPASS is also available in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. (citypass.com)

Carol Timblin welcomes travel news at ctimblin@gmail.com.

 

Share this post with friends: