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Trip ideas for Bethel Maine & surrounding areas..help!!

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Trip ideas for Bethel Maine & surrounding areas..help!!

My husband & I have a reservation for 3 days at a RCI resort in Bethel Maine from Sept 29 to Oct 1. We would like to spend the rest of the week in Maine & be in Vermont for the weekend Oct 4& 5(Equinox Golf Resort & Spa) We have never been to Maine before so would welcome any trip ideas & advice. My husband does not want to spend too much time driving. I am a foodie & we both like nature but have not done much hiking. We are in our mid 60's to late 50's.

Thanks so much

Sunday River Ski Resort
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1. Re: Trip ideas for Bethel Maine & surrounding areas..help!!

Welcome to the Maine Forum.... Bethel should be a great place to be for the dates you'll be there -- it's in the western Maine mountains and the fall foliage should be very near, or in, peak color. Bethel is a small town with some nice restaurants, but is not generally considered a "foodie" destination. It does, however, offer a couple of great opportunities for great fall-foliage day trips (not necessarly all that long mileage-wise, so tell your husband not to worry). One would iinvolve taking US Rt 2 west to Gilead, then Rt 113 south through the White Mountains National Forest to Fryeburg, then east s very short distance on Rt 302 to ME Rt 5 north back to Bethel. Entire loop is less than 80 miles and less than 2 hours driving time (not counting stops for photos, sightseeing etc). Another slightly longer, but extremely scenic, loop drive would be from Bethel, east on US Rt 2 to Mexico, ME, then north on Rt 17 to Oquossoc, east on Rt 16 to Rangeley (great lake views and good lunch opportunities at a couple of spots -- not "fancy" but good basic food). After lunch, back west on Rt 16 through Oquossoc and continuing on Rt 16 to Errol, NH, then Rt 26 south through Grafton Notch State Park to Bethel. Nice ride along the Androscoggin River Valley initially, then some great hills/lakes (and even a good chance of seeing a moose between Mexico and Rangeley) -- be sure to stop at the scenic overlook on the left hand side of the road as you climb the steep hills to Maine's "height of land". And as you come back down Rt 25 through the State Park, watch for the parking area on your right for Screw Auger Falls -- very short walk to an iinteresting set of falls created as water eroded the rocks over the centuries. This loop is about 140 miles (of mostly rural driving) and should take between three and three and one-half hours not counting stops along the way).

As far as destinations for Oct 2-3, I'd consider Jackson, N.H., North Conway, N.H. or Montpelier, VT as good possibilities. All should still have excellent fall foliage. Jackson and North Conway are close enough together for dining in either place, even if you're staying in the other. Jackson is a small mountain village with less hustle-and-bustle but fewer loding/dining choices. North Conway is much more commercial, but with more lodging choices (including some RCI options) and a livelier dining/nightlife scene. All depends on the kind of experience you're after. Either place would offer easy access to great foliage viewing, easy walks and hikes to scenic spots, etc. Has been a while since we were in Montpelier, so specific comments about it probably would be less accurate. You could ask on the VT Trip Advisor Forum....

Wherever you''re planning on staying those two nights, get your reservations made ASAP -- you'll be in the White Mountains of NH or the Green Mountains of VT during prime folaige time -- meaning lodging demands will be very high and vacancies increasingly hard to come by...

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2. Re: Trip ideas for Bethel Maine & surrounding areas..help!!

Thank you Mainer on the Go for your suggestions. Definitely going to do the Fall foliage drives you mentioned.

We will be driving from NYC on Sat morning, and would like to visit someplace where we can spend the night midway to Bethel. Our check in on Sunday is only after 4;30 so we also have the whole of Sunday to sightsee. Does anyone have suggestions on routes or interesting places to visit even if we have to deviate a bit. We have heard so much about Portland, how far is that from Bethel & do you think we could go there for a day of 2 or is that far away from Manchester, VT which is where we have reservations for Oct 4& 5. I am so looking forwards to eating lots of Lobster & having Clam Chowder. Any must eat suggestions?

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3. Re: Trip ideas for Bethel Maine & surrounding areas..help!!

If you're willing to do some fairly serious driving on Saturday, you could spend Saturday night and all day Sunday in Portland (saving having to back-track from Bethel). Depending on your choice of route and traffic, Portland is between five and five-and-one-half hours driving time (not counting stops) from New York City.... going around instead of through Boston on the way. On Sunday, after seeing some of the local sights around Portland, your drive to Bethel should take about 1 1/2 hours... easy, straightforward drive up I-95 from Portland to Gray, ME, and then Rt 26 from Gray to Bethel. If you do Portland on your way to Bethel, you'll be that much closer to Manchester VT and still could spend the time between Bethel and VT in the White Mountains of New Hampshire... If you really, really wanted to come back to Portland between Bethel and Manchester (VT), driving time between those two places would be about four hours...

Everyone has their own favorite places around Portland for lobster and other seafood... two of ours, especially for folks who haven't been in the area before are Two Lights Lobster Shack (on the rocks overlooking the ocean) in Cape Elizabeth (very handy if you're taking the short drive out to Portland Head Liht lighthouse -- one of the definite "must-see's" in the Portland area); the other is a short drive north of Portland to Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, overlooking the harbor in South Freeport. Neither place is "fancy" in any way -- but seafood is good in both locations. Both can be Googled for photos, menu info eetc....

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4. Re: Trip ideas for Bethel Maine & surrounding areas..help!!

Just wanted to comment on the route from Portland to Bethel. I drive between Portland and Gray frequently and while you can certainly take I-95, you can also take route 26 the whole way. Coming out of Portland it is also known as Washington Ave. I-95 will offer higher speed limits, but you have to backtrack to South Portland to get on I-95 so it's not any faster than route 26 and for the frugal Mainer in me I can't see paying an extra toll when it's not any faster.

Two spots along the way which may or may not be of interest are the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray which offers viewing of most native Maine animals including Moose, Deer, Bear, Raccoon, Fox, etc. And there is also the Shaker Village in New Gloucester which is the last active Shaker Community in existence.

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