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Portland, ME/Burlington, VT semi non-beer related trip advice?

Discussion in 'US - New England' started by AptosBeerDrinker, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. Headed out to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont for 8 days and I think I've got the beer related itinerary mostly covered...we'll hopefully be hitting Portsmouth Brewery, Novare Res, Great Lost Bear, Ebenezers, Hill Farmstead, Prohibition Pig, Vermont Pub and Brewery and Farmhouse Tap and Grill. Give or take a few probably. Really what I'm looking for is some advice on things to do as possible day trips from Portland and Burlington. I figured beer loving locals would know what's up.

    Usually our vacations consist of basically just walking a city/town and stopping here and there to eat and drink, take pictures, etc. We will be doing quite a bit of that on this trip as well, but I thought it might be fun to get out of the city one afternoon to so something. We will have a car obviously. I should also add that we have a three year old so things that are sorta kid friendly would be a plus. I know that you can take a ferry from Portland to Peaks Island...is that a fun trip? Anything cool on the island to check out? Was also considering driving north to maybe Wolf's Neck State Park (or something similar?) to check that out. I'm kinda looking for something uniquely Maine to show my son. He's also been promised that he will see a Moose. We'll see how that goes. Same goes for Burlington...anything really interesting right out of town worth checking out. Farms? He likes those. Not looking for Disneyland, just something that would capture the imagination of a 3 year old (and 36 year olds).

    Any restaurant advice that you might have for Portland and Burlington would be appreciated too (besides those mentioned above). I did read the Visiting Portland, ME? Some ideas. thread and found it very helpful. Thanks to those of you who contributed to that.

    Thanks for your help. We're really looking forward to this trip. We've never been north of Boston so we're very excited about checking out this part of the country. Cheers.
  2. A great restaurant in Portland that I like going to when I'm in town is called Nosh. You'll get a much better burger here than the Great Lost Bear. I haven't been to Novare Res in a while, but they mostly have snacks (cheese plates, etc.).

    In Waterbury, VT the Ben & Jerry's factory is next door to the Alchemist Brewery. Any kid would love a tour of an ice cream factory.
  3. jamesewelch

    jamesewelch Savant (320) Vermont May 11, 2012

    VT local here who just took a trip to Portland ME a few months ago :) One quick note about Portland ME, my wife and I were disappointed that you had to make a reservation for brewery tours before you could sample/drink at the brewery. There's a strange ME law saying you have to take a brewery tour before you can drink there. Someone from ME might have better insight into the brewery visiting/drinking laws there.

    As far as Burlington area goes... If you're looking for farms, then Shelburne Farms will probably be the best farm experience for a 3yo. It's about 30-45 minutes south of Burlington. You can pet goats, chickens are running around everywhere, pigs nearby. Check on their web site about the dates. I know they close some things down, but I'm not sure if it's closed yet or not.

    Also, Fiddlehead Brewery is nearby in Shelburne and you'll also drive past Magic Hat, Switchback, VPB, Zero Gravity/AmFlatbred, and many others. Fiddlehead is a new brewery and they have 1 flagship IPA and a new beer (available on via growler/tap at brewery) that comes out every 2 weeks or so. So you'll get a chance to taste something that will probably not be seen again for another year. The Farmhouse has some great beer selections (it's the only place in town that I know has both Lawson's and Hill Farmstead on tap).

    Another restaurant to check out in Burlington is American Flatbread (it's across street from VPB). Zero Gravity Craft Brewery is inside of Am Flatbread. They have pizza/flatbread and their own craft beer. Great combo (and winner of numerous recent Best Brew Pub awards).

    The Saturday Burlington Farmer's Market might be happening when you're in town and that's always a cool thing to walk around and check out. It takes place next to American Flatbread, VPB, park area.

    If you want to see some foliage, then I recommend driving up to Trapp Family Lodge & Brewery. It's a beautiful drive (it's north of Waterbury/Alchemist/Ben&Jerrys) and has lots of hiking trails and a Frisbee golf course (and German beer). There's also cheese plates, sausages, deli, etc.

    Check out www.vtbeer.org for brewery info, maps, events, etc.

    Ben & Jerry's is also a cool stop and they offer tours (I think it's free for 3yo, but like $3 for adults and you get ice cream at the end of the tour). If you are coming in during the foilage viewing week(s), then Ben & Jerry's will probably be very crowded. We were there just a few weeks ago and it was empty (between seasons). It's really close to Alchemist and Prohibition Pig. If you keep going down the road, you can stop by Rock Art or head over to Hill Farmstead. Just remember that Prohibition Pig will probably have a long wait list for a table, but they have great beer selection (Also, the Reservoir is nearby and they have good beer too).

    If you let me know, which styles of beer you prefer, then I can point out some other VT breweries along the way that you can check out. If you're an IPA fan, then definitely check out Alchemist, Hill Farmstead, and Lawsons (you can stop by the Warren General Store, but Lawson's doesn't have a storefront). If you want to buy a few bottles (other than at the breweries), then the best place that I know is the Winooski Beverage Warehouse (about 10 minutes NE of Burlington, across the river).
  4. polarbear14

    polarbear14 Zealot (75) Vermont May 11, 2012

    Here's a few thoughts and a question, what time of year are you coming? Some of the recommendations may vary drastically depending on when you're here.

    Family Activities in Burlington Area:
    Shelburne Farms, working/educational farm with historic barns, kid friendly animal area, bakery and walking trails.
    Shelburne Museum, an eclectic museum with a mix of art exhibits, a kid friendly circus exhibit and carousel, large steamship Ticonderoga (both the museum and farm are near Fiddlehead Brewery & Folinos Pizza which share a building. You can bring your beer or growler over to the restaurant)
    ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, mix between a lake focused aquarium and children's science museum. Very regionally focused as opposed to large/rare/exotic species.

    Restaurants:
    Bluebird Tavern
    American Flabread, upscale flatbread pizza, now a semi-regional chain, home of Zero Gravity brewing
  5. Perfect! I had heard about Shelburne Farms and the ECHO Lake Aquarium/Science Center sounds cool. I heard Bluebird Tavern carries HF and have seen quite a few mentions for American Flatbread.

    We'll be in Vermont Wednesday-Saturday of next week.
  6. kmello69

    kmello69 Advocate (505) Texas Nov 27, 2011

    We used to live in Burlington and in Maine, so I can try to tackle both.

    I second the recommendation for Shelburne Farms - I'm not even really a "farm" person, but its really cool. Also a nice day trip is a drive up to Grand Isle, especially in the fall. We used to pick apples there, and take the car ferry across to the NY side. There is also a ferry that leaves from Burlington, and 1 from the south as well. Going south from Burlington on Rt 7 you could hike Mt Philo, which is gorgeous, or go a little further south and go to one of the last remaining A&W drive ins, which is in Middlebury. Obviously to the east you have Ben & Jerrys factory, which is fun, but head north toward Stow on that same road and you can hit the Cabot Cheese factory, and there is a wonderful apple cider mill nearby on the right side of the road (sorry, can't recall the name) which has amazing pressed cider, cider donuts, etc. Fantastic. Go all the way to Stowe, which has a beautiful old downtown area thats fun to explore.

    I know a little less about Portland, since we lived further north in Bangor, but if you just head north along Rt.1 you'll find some gorgeous little towns like Camden, Rockport and Bellfast, and if you really want to make a trip of it, keep going all the way to Bar Harbor (but its a long drive!). All of those are definitely "uniquely Maine" towns! Not likely to see a moose in the Portland area, unless its in the back of a pickup truck - you'd need to go a lot further north to guarantee that! :) Oh and, of course, eat lobster!
  7. jamesewelch

    jamesewelch Savant (320) Vermont May 11, 2012

    Then you'll be in town for the Pumpkin Regatta on 10/7. The giant pumpkin race in the lake would be something cool for your 3yo to watch. That's also the peak of the leaves/foliage, so you may have lots and lots of traffic in the Waterbury area for the peepers coming in to take a drive and see the leaves.

    The Cider place on the side of road (recommended by kmello69) is a must stop. You can pick up some great cider donuts and cider. It's called the Cold Hollow Cider Mill and it's technically in upper Waterbury (I think), but it's right before you get to Stowe (after Alchemist).
  8. +1 on Nosh, was just there last week - confluence on draft and oyster rockefeller sandwich FTW!
  9. Re: Peak's Island - not really worth it IMO. Not much to see at all. My wife's aunt had a place there for years - we always found ourselves paying the money to go back to Portland to do stuff.
  10. So you're going to be in Vermont Wednesday through Saturday next week... Is that before or after Portland?

    Are you planning to stop in Portsmouth on your way up to or back from Portland, assuming you're flying out of Boston? In addition to stopping at the Portsmouth Brewery, you could hang around town for a bit if you have the time. Strawbery Banke is a very interesting museum a five minute walk from the brewery--it's a preserved neighborhood with craftspeople (blacksmiths, coopers, etc) spanning 400 years. The Isles of Shoals cruises are more expensive, but probably more interesting than the Peaks Island ferry, if you're looking to get out on the water.

    Your Portland itinerary sounds great. It's one of my favorite cities in New England, and possibly the best, pound-for-pound, when it comes beer and food.

    Are you planning to stop at Ebenezer's on your way from Portland to Burlington? If so, the drive through the White Mountains across New Hampshire should be beautiful (or potentially just past peak foliage). I'd highly recommend taking the drive over the Kancamagus Highway from Conway to Lincoln. It's a mountain pass without any development, except a few campgrounds, along the way. You can stop at various, short hikes, like Sabbaday Falls, which should impress kids and adults. If you're thinking of stopping at Hill Farmstead, you could alternatively take Route 302 through North Conway (with a possible stop at Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Co., if you like) and the very impressive Crawford Notch.

    I'd also second getting dinner and beers at American Flatbread in Burlington. Zero Gravity brews probably the best beer in the Burlington area in my book, and they make a mean pie, in a very nice space.

    Enjoy the trip!
  11. Here's the route/itinerary...

    Saturday (10-6)-Fly into Boston...get rental car...drive to Portsmouth,NH...fall asleep.
    Sunday-Walk around Portsmouth a little...possibly hit the brewery for lunch...drive to Portland...dinner at Great Lost Bear maybe?
    Monday through Wednesday morning-Portland...walk, shove lobster rolls in my face, beer, look at stuff...repeat...possible day trip somewhere?
    Wednesday morning-drive to Lyndonville, VT...was planning on going 302 the whole way...possibly hit Ebenezers or push on through to Hill Farmstead, time will dictate...spending the night in Lyndonville, VT.
    Thursday-head to Burlington...maybe stop in Waterbury, maybe not, we'll see...walk around Burlington.
    Friday-more Burlington...possible trip to Shelburne Farms...more walking, eating, drinking, picture taking.
    Saturday-make our way back to Boston (sadly)...stop in Waterbury if we didn't do it before, maybe even if we did...get to the hotel by Logan...fall asleep.
    Sunday(10-14)-wake up at the butt crack and fly back to CA.
  12. Cool. That's exactly why I asked. We've enjoyed the ferry rides up in Washington state and in the Bay Area but I'll take your word on this.

    What do you guys think about a drive up North to maybe Reid State Park/Five Islands Lobster shack? Looks to be about an hour out of Portland.
    hiker33 likes this.
  13. Reid and Wolfe's Neck State Parks are both worth visiting.

    I respectfully disagree with an earlier poster about Peaks Island, especially if you have never been to a Maine island. Battery Steele is a WWII gun emplacement with underground passages-bring a flashlight. Have lunch at the Inn on Peaks Island, with Shipyard beers they say are brewed on site, though I have not seen the brewery.

    In Portland there's the Children's Museum for your child. If you head up toward Bath check out the Maine Maritime Museum. A bit north is Boothbay Railway Village with narrow guage train rides.

    I second the poster who recommended the White Mountains.

    Beer related: Trout River Brewing Company north of Lyndonville.

    And be sure to eat at the Miss Lyndonville Diner.
  14. RMoeNay

    RMoeNay Savant (490) Connecticut Sep 22, 2010


    I actually took the family on a vaction to Burlington earlier this summer. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old.

    I think both Echo Aquarium and Shelburne farms were big hits, as well as the Vermont Teddy bear factory in Shelburne.
    Ben and Jerry's in Waterbury was a fun trip for them (while I checked out the Alchamist which is down the road).

    As for resturants; skip the Vermont Brewery (beer is not that impressive and the food was not that good), and go to American Flatbread pizza. My three year old doesn't eat much and loved their flat bread. I found the beer decent and I agree that their flatbreads are very tasty.

    Get to The Farm House early, as it gets really busy. They open for dinner around 5 pm I believe.

    For breakfast (non-beer related) the skinny pancake (by Echo Aquarium) and Penny Clause Cafe were very good and kid friendly.

    Anyways have fun, Burlington is a great town.
  15. Thanks for this. I should have mentioned that breakfast is my favorite meal. If anyone has more breakfast recs in Portsmouth, Portland, Lyndonville or Burlington, send them my way.
  16. duckfat in Portland for a meal
    BleepBloopBlap likes this.
  17. for Burlington pennycluse is the breakfast no brainer. stone soup on college st is hands down the best quick lunch spot. killer soups sandwiches hot and cold bar. shelburne farms is definitely cool - make sure to take the walk up the hill to get a nice view of the lake and the adirondacks. mt. Philo is also a really cool very short hike not too far from
    there. Burlington overall is a wonderful city but so are all the other towns. my advice - see as much as possible!! richmond also has a fantastic lunch spot called on the rise and no matter which route you take from Lyndon to Burlington you're sure to pass thru some great towns . hardwick, Stowe, morrisville, etc are all way cool. enjoy your first trip to the greatest state ever! :)
    franklinn likes this.
  18. MontpelierArtie

    MontpelierArtie Zealot (85) Vermont Jun 23, 2010

    Definitely agree with all the recommendations for Shelburne Farms. Beautiful any time of year, impressive architecture--a win-win for adults and kids. Also Shelburne Orchards is a fun and beautiful opportunity to pick apples. Skip Ben and Jerry's...tourist trap that is nothing but corporate smoke and mirrors. Also, if you pass through Montpelier en route to Burlington seek out Lawson's--try Hunger Mountain Coop.
  19. Kinsman

    Kinsman Advocate (555) California Aug 26, 2009

    It would be a shame for you do drive from Portland to Lyndonville with out taking some time to stop in the White Mountains along the way. Both 302 and the Kancamagus/I-93 Franconia Notch parkway are beautiful drives this time of year with plenty of places to pull off and look around along the way. Franconia Notch has the Flume Gorge, Cannon Tram, The Basin and several other places that make it a great place to stop this time of year. Once there, you're only a short 40ish minute drive up 93/91 from Lyndonville. Not much to see around Lyndonville IMO, but as long as you were there by 3:30 or 4 at the latest, you'd have time to run up to Hill Farmstead before they close. It's a nice drive but the brewery itself isn't much to see for the wife and kid so they could even stay behind at the hotel.
    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  20. You've got a couple great breakie options in Portsmouth here. Best option for the whole family would probably be the http://www.thefriendlytoast.net/toast_menu.htm.

    Also good and not in the middle of downtown is http://cafe--espresso.com/. Benedict dishes are money here.

    Where are you staying in Portsmouth? Have a great time!
  21. Thanks for the tips. We're staying at the Holiday Inn...nothing special since we're only there one night. Staying in some vacation rentals in Portland and Burlington.
  22. I'll add Colby's to that list. It's right in town, cozy little spot, with a solid breakfast.

    The Portsmouth Brewery should obviously be the priority in Portsmouth, but there are plenty of other great restaurants with good beer in town. If you're going to the P-Brew for lunch Sunday and want to try something different for dinner Saturday night, I'd recommend the Blue Mermaid for excellent Carribean-inspired seafood and local beers, or the Black Birch (just across the river in Kittery, but you'll have to drive) for very reasonably priced creative comford food and a killer beer list, among others. Local breweries to look out for on-tap (aside from Smuttynose and Portsmouth Brewery, of course) in Portsmouth include Throwback and Moat Mountain.

    I love the Great Lost Bear and I'd highly recommend checking it out for beer and maybe some snacks. The food is decent pub fare, but Portland has much more to offer when it comes to interesting dinner options.
  23. I'd tend to agree that Colby's is also fantastic, but I left it out as it sounds like OP will have children aboard, and getting a bunch of people into that tiny location is already difficult. Truth be told, my favorite spot for breakfast in Portsmouth is The Works in Market Square. Simple food, good coffee, and quiet.

    Definitely agree on P Brewery though. OP is in luck as I hear they just tapped their harvest/wet hop in the last couple days so I'm sure that'll be on this weekend. I recall in the summer they also used to host guest logs of special beers in the lounge downstairs. I think that practice has died off though sadly.

    Cheers!
  24. Agreed. Route 302 through North Conway (village, not the outlet malls) and Crawford Notch is very beautiful, but I'd say that the Kanc and Franconia Notch Parkway of I-93 (only place in the entire interstate system where there is only one lane in either direction) is especially stunning. There also seem to be more quick hikes and things to see right off the roadway. The Globe actually has an article about foliage on the Kanc right now, with a mention of Woodstock Brewery. Also, there's not much in the way of beer there, but there are some nice shops and cafes in Littleton village (where 302 and I-93 meetup) if you're looking for someplace to stop before Lyndonville.
  25. If you want to do some outdoors stuff that won’t cost much, is within 20 minutes or so of Portland and will let the 3 year old burn off some energy I’d suggest going to Bradbury Mountain State Park and walk to the top (it’s more a hill than a mountain) or walking the beach at Scarborough State Park.

    Indoors, the Children’s Museum of Maine may keep the 3 year old going for a while.

    If the 10 day weather forecast holds, next week should be real nice and autumn like.
  26. Real nice...
  27. I often kayak out of Five Islands, and have spent many a post-paddle eating lobster there - but seating is all outdoors, so if the weather's icky, no fun. If you are into cheese, Five Islands Farm Market is almost to the end of the peninsula, and they have one of the most extensive selections of local (and high-quality) artisanal cheeses in the area. Look for anything from Hahn's End, Appleton, and York Hill. Make up a picnic and head to Reid S.P. for the day. On the way back to Portland, stop for dinner at Frontier in the old mill in Brunswick, or Lion's Pride - both kid-friendly. Don't miss Gelato Fiasco on Maine St. in Brunswick - your kids will love you for it!

    I went to Black Birch in Kittery last week for the first time - was blown away by the reasonably-priced dishes, and their beer list had 2 I have never seen before anywhere. It's tight & popular though, and kids may prove an issue. If in the area, can't hurt to call them first.
  28. So the trip has come and gone and it did not disappoint. Thanks for all the non beer-y recs, we ended up hitting quite a few of them. So many places and so many beers I'm having a hard time remembering them all. Here's a quick rundown...

    Portsmouth, NH

    Portsmouth Brewery

    Portland, ME

    Great Lost Bear (twice)
    Novare Res
    Thirsty Pig
    Sebago Brewing
    Dogfish Cafe-Not really a beer destination but we enjoyed this place.
    Bier Cellar

    Also in Maine...Lions Pride in Brunswick, ME. One of the highlights of the trip. Chatted with Jen and Chris Lively, owners of Lions Pride and Ebenezers in Lovell, ME. Had planned to go to Ebenezers the following day but stopped into Lion's Pride on a whim (coming back from Lobster Rolls at Red's in Wiscasset). Turns out Ebenezers is only open Friday-Sunday this time of year so we lucked out. Tap list was mind blowing and there was practically no one there. We had one of the best beer bars in the country to ourselves. Our son napped the whole time too...

    Beers...Maine Beer Co. (Lunch, Moe, Zoe), Rising Tide, Allagash (Interlude, Confluence, etc.), Oxbow...

    Burlington, VT

    American Flatbread/Zero Gravity Brewing
    Farmhouse Tap and Grill-Another highlight of the trip. One of the best burgers I've ever had in my life plus a Heady Topper and Hill Farmstead Ephraim side by side.
    Winooski Beverage Warehouse-This place is utterly ridiculous. Picked up some Lawson's Finest Liquids Hopzilla plus a bunch of other stuff.

    Also in Vermont...wait for it...HILL FARMSTEAD! The beer highlight of the trip for me personally. What can I say...it's in the middle of BFE and every beer was amazing. There is something about all of his beers...restraint comes to mind. A certain subtlety. He shows you a big flavor profile and then pulls back the reigns to show you finesse and beauty. We also hit Prohibiton Pig in Waterbury, VT which has Lawson's, Heady Topper and Hill Farmstead all on the same menu page. BBQ was very tasty as well although the portions were miniscule. Stopped by The Alchemist (also in Waterbury) but we were in a hurry (last day of the trip) and they were out of cans of Heady. Sad face.

    I'm leaving out a lot here as I could go on and on. Just in terms of IPA's...we were pretty disappointed with what we had in Maine, not that they were "bad", just more of an East Coast/traditional style. What we had in VT though...Hill Farmstead Ephraim and Abner, The Alchemist's Heady Topper, Lawson's Hopzilla...those beers can hang with any IIPA's on the West Coast without a doubt. Really exceptional beers.
  29. Sounds like you caught all the best ones, and all of them my favorites in ME/VT. Your comment about "restraint" re: HFB - Shaun would really appreciate that, I bet. Chris & Jen Lively are friends so glad you got to visit at least one of their establishments while in ME. They always have some wild stuff on the taps!
    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  30. Lions Pride...what a place. I mean, not much from the location/exterior but once you step inside and see that tap list...Wow! I'm fairly knowledgeable and I hadn't heard of a lot of that stuff. If it was near me I'd be in trouble. If Ebenezers is better I'm not sure I could handle it.
  31. I (sadly) haven't made it up to Lion's Pride yet, but part of the charm of Ebenezer's is the setting. Of course the beer list is phenomenal (I'd actually love to see a few more Maine and New England stand-outs, but that's not their focus and they do an amazing job at their focus), but the setting in an old farmhouse on a bumpy side road is unreal. Walking into the big, open porch and the tiny, intimate, but airy bar, it's hard to believe that you're on the edge of the White Mountains but about to encounter one of the most epic tap lists in New England. The combination is incredible, and it's one of my favorite places for all those reasons. Still, I need to get up to Lion's Pride some time.

    Glad to hear you had a great trip!

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