In May and June we spent 3 weeks in New England visiting Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. We’ve already shared our itineraries and advice on how to best spend your time in those three states. Those trip plans are much more condensed than the way that we travel with small children while working (and now homeschooling). We often spend just a small part of each day exploring and sight seeing. Here’s a casual trip log of our 3 week RV New England road trip.
A Couple Observations
This New England route was the reason we purchased a Harvest Hosts membership. The northeast is very condensed and not super RV friendly. RV parks are limited and many of them have 1-2 week minimum stays. I even found some RV parks that were seasonal bookings only! Needless to say, we were planning to move much more quickly than New England RV parks were going to accommodate. We planned this trip around Harvest Host stays with two 3-4 night campground stays in the middle.
New England in the fall gets all the hype (and all the crowds), but New England in the spring is beautiful! Everything was green and the lupines in Maine were simply stunning!
This is now our second multi-week road trip in Bex. And after a day or two, the boys remembered our old RV routine. Our oldest can find his own clothes and gets himself dressed before I even get out of bed most days. When your bed, the kitchen, the bathroom, and your kids’ beds are all about 5 steps away from each other, it is very helpful to not all be trying to get dressed at the same time!
Our youngest is 2.5 now and he’s much more comfortable with wearing his headphones in the car and he can take them off and put them back on himself. Again, sounds like a small thing, but when you’re trying to drive 5 hours today and your toddler can’t keep his headphones on and you have to listen to Paw Patrol on repeat…. this is a life skill that you highly value.
When we told our kids about the trip, we knew they’d be most excited to stay at maple sugar farms and visit another national park. They really latched onto the maple syrup idea, so this became known as ‘The Pancake Trip.’
A Rough Start
Friday – We left after work to get a few hours into our trip. This weekend was a heat wave for the entire east coast and, let me tell you, loading the RV when the interior thermostat says 99 degrees (where it maxes out) is not pleasant. We were hoping the boys would fall asleep in the car at bedtime, but our youngest fought sleep for a couple of hours until we were nearly at our stopping point for the night. We missed the Harvest Host’s closing time by about an hour because of traffic, but they were gracious enough to allow us to stay anyway.
Saturday – Not my favorite day, but one full of God’s protection. We decided to stop at a rest area shortly before crossing a bridge in New York just as our truck started to make a strange noise. We initially thought we had a flat tire but it turns out that the wheel studs broke. Ryan unhitched the trailer and tried to find the source of the problem while I took the boys inside to buy some ice cream and kill some time. When we returned to the RV, it was clear we weren’t getting to Connecticut (our original stopping point) that day or even that weekend. Auto shops were closing and we couldn’t get in until Monday. And the stress was compounded by the extreme heat outside and the fact that it was sweltering in our RV. We threw some stuff in bags, unhooked the boys’ car seats, and loaded the three of us into an Uber while Ryan waited for the tow truck. The truck was towed to the dealership and the RV was towed to our hotel parking lot.
Sunday – Everyone got as much screen time (and air conditioning) as they wanted today. Not impressed with the hotel but thankful we have access to our RV, because I didn’t bring everything we needed and there weren’t any restaurants or stores within walking distance.
Monday – Ryan Ubered back and forth to the dealer as they got our truck fixed and we got back on the road shortly after lunch. Thankfully, the heat wave had broken so it was safe to sit in our RV in the parking lot after checking out of our room. We rerouted the beginning leg of our trip and drove to Vermont, stopping at a free campsite we found on Campendium. Vermont Distillers offers their extended parking lot for overnight stops as well as construction parking. I knew the boys would enjoy parking across from a row of dump trucks and that was worth the 5:30 AM noise as the crews arrived and took the trucks out for the day. We walked across to the overlook before sunset and explored the trails from the parking lot a bit too.
Tuesday – In the morning we stopped at a covered bridge and then Walmart to pick up some groceries before heading to our Harvest Host maple sugar farm at lunchtime. When Ryan worked a bit, the boys and I watched the farm’s educational video on maple sugaring and tasted their maple syrup. Then we all enjoyed maple creemees, visited with the farm’s ponies, and played on their playground. Then we unhitched the truck and drove down the road to see 2 more covered bridges.
Wednesday – We drove to Waterbury Center to stop at a couple of different places like Cold Hollow Cider Mill and the Ben & Jerry’s factory. At lunchtime we drove across town to a 2nd maple sugar farm. This farm had a really great video presentation and lots of signage so you could take a self-guided tour of all the equipment in their sugar house.
Thursday – We got maple creemees again before moving the RV to a Harvest Host farm. I took the truck into Stowe during nap and explored on my own. (Alone time is so hard to come by when we RV!) I was hoping to stop at a waterfall hike too, but the parking area was already full. Then we took the boys to the Trapp Family Lodge for pretzels and fries. Their first fancy-ish dinner restaurant, so enjoying a few appetizers was a good way to practice. Maybe someday we can turn our RV trips into a food tour.
Friday – We left the farm and drove to a laundromat for a couple of hours. After work, we finished our drive to a state park campground in New Hampshire. We pulled into the campground in the rain at dinnertime to find out that the campground doesn’t have a dump station like we expected (and needed!) We hadn’t dumped our tanks or refilled our water yet on the trip! We decided to just pull into our campsite, get dinner, go to bed, and spend the night hitched up, so we could just dump in the morning. This would work in most campsites, but definitely not this one. After driving by and attempting to back in twice, we realized the site was just too short and the campground roads were too tight for us to fit at all, much less fit hitched up. We were frustrated and hangry, so we pulled into a parking lot and ate dinner, and then started calling nearby RV parks to see who had a cancellation. (Did I mention this was Memorial Day weekend? Thank goodness the rainy weather caused some people to cancel or we probably would have been out of luck!)
Saturday – We did a little off-roading in the morning but had to turn around early when we found a huge tree down over the trail. Then we did the Basin hike, one of my favorites of the entire trip, and saw the former site of Old Man of the Mountain. That night we made hotdogs and smores at the campground.
Sunday – I called this our ‘rocky rivers and railroads’ day. We took the Kancamagus Highway, stopping at several scenic rivers and hikes along the way. We intended to tour the Conway Scenic Railroad Museum, before returning home, but the town of Conway was flooded with visitors for a big weekend festival they were doing and there wasn’t a parking space anywhere close to the train station. Good thing we hadn’t mentioned the train museum to the boys, so they weren’t disappointed when all we got was a view out the window of a train next to the historic station.
Monday – Thanks to the holiday weekend, we had an extra day off work to fit in some more sightseeing! We bought tickets for the Flume Gorge, which is stunning, but it’s a 2 mile hiking loop, and the part after the gorge isn’t that interesting, especially for the boys. Nobody’s attitudes were great by the time we got back to the car. That evening, we drove the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The extreme height and lack of guardrails made me a little more nervous than I expected, but I’m so glad we did it. The wind at the top was absolutely wild. Such a unique experience!
Tuesday – While the RV park was a little bit more expensive than we usually like to spend for campgrounds, we enjoyed our stay and it was very conveniently located near all the things we wanted to see. We waited until the last minute to check out, enjoying all the AC and running water we could. We had a 2 hour drive today into Maine, but we split it up with a stop at a playground and a grocery run at Walmart. We spent the night in a casino parking lot.
Wednesday – When I was planning this trip, I knew we wouldn’t have cell signal in Acadia National Park, so we couldn’t head there until the weekend. That gave us 2 days to fill in rural Maine before getting to the coast. We found a city park and library with a large enough parking lot for our rig and that kept the boys occupied for a few hours. We parked for the night at another Harvest Host and had their brick oven pizza for dinner.
Thursday – After another laundromat stop, we visited one last maple sugar farm (another Harvest Host). We all got one final maple creemee and tried the maple whoopie pies and maple dusted nuts they’re known for. We also got an up-close look at their maple sugarbush and all the tubing they have strung from tree to tree to collect sap. (This is the modern way to tap the trees instead of the old-fashioned bucket method.)
Friday – The mid-day large parking lot stop that I found for today was a seafood truck, so I got a lobster roll for lunch! We wanted to squeeze in a couple extra hours of work before heading into Acadia National Park for the weekend. One thing we didn’t take into account was how cloudy it had been all week, since leaving the RV park on Tuesday. We really needed our batteries at 100% for a super wooded national park campground, but the weather this week just didn’t give our solar panels much to work with and we struggled with our power levels all weekend. Fortunately, we have a 2nd battery in the truck, so we can charge all our electronics in there and we tried to use natural light as much as possible in the RV so we’d have enough power to keep our fridge running. Not ideal, but we managed.
Saturday – It was very foggy this morning when we arrived at Acadia National Park’s famous lighthouse, but we managed to get a decent view of it even though we could barely see the water beyond the rocks. We took a short hike looking for a recommended tide pool area and ended up a bit disappointed with what we found. I guess after you’ve seen west coast tide pools filled with colorful sea stars and anemones, east coast ones with snails and crabs aren’t as exciting. After dinner we drove up Cadillac Mountain to look out over the water, but decided not to keep the boys up late to watch the sunset.
Sunday – We drove over to Schoodic Peninsula, the more rural side of Acadia National Park to visit a couple of overlooks and do a hike. We had a bit more luck on the tide pools, finding some sea glass, but still none of the promise sea stars. I ended up a little frustrated, feeling like we’d spent too much of our limited time and energy looking for these spots instead of doing other hikes that our family might have enjoyed more. But then we got ice cream and everyone was happy again. I got a ginormous blueberry cone and the boys got rainbow sprinkles. After dinner, Ryan got to hike the popular Beehive Trail.
Monday – We started the morning at the Bar Island Land Bridge. I wish we’d stayed here longer and walked out towards the island more, but we ended up needing to find a bathroom. We visited a few shops around Bar Harbor and stopped by a bakery that sells blueberry hand pies, but they were all sold out. We drove back into the national park and took the boys to the beach and they had a blast running away from the waves. All in all, we enjoyed our time in Acadia, but we missed the truly remote feeling that you get in some of the larger national parks. We hit several spots at inopportune times (like the lighthouse in the morning fog and Thunder Hole a couple hours before high tide), other spots were very crowded and difficult to park at, and others like the magical tide pool locations eluded us completely.
Tuesday – We left Acadia and drove to a Harvest Host outside of Camden, Maine. I drove into town to explore during nap time/quiet time, hitting all the walkable things I wanted to see in town, like this historic library and waterfront park. I also tracked down a bottle of local soda favorite Moxie. Then we took the boys to a couple harbor overlooks in the evening. We started at Camden City Park, which has a sweet little beachfront, some picnic tables, and a swing set. We enjoyed our snack plate dinner and the boys enjoyed throwing rocks in the water. As boys do. It was a nice relaxing way to close out our last day of sightseeing before starting to head for home.
On The Way Home
Wednesday – It poured most of the day. We had planned to stop in Portland at Cape Elizabeth to see the lighthouse, so it was a bummer to miss that. We spent the night at the Kittery Trading Post, which has a couple of free overnight RV spots.
Thursday – More rain in the morning. We drove to a Harvest Host in Massachusetts and I met a college friend at Kimball Farm, a local family fun park and ice cream stand.
Friday – We didn’t drive much today, choosing to stay close by so we could maximize work time today and save the driving for a big 2 day weekend push. This ended up being one of our favorite Harvest Host spots, because it turns out that every Friday night, people have a casual little car show! That was a fun surprise.
Saturday – A long driving day, ending at a farm Harvest Host. We parked overnight next to alpacas, goats, rabbits, chickens, peacocks, and a pig! It was not the quietest night, with the peacock calling late into the evening and the roosters up early in the morning, but the boys really enjoyed themselves.
Sunday – We made it home!