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Thread: NJ to Maine

  1. Default NJ to Maine

    This will be my first roadtrip without my parents. I've been to maine several times in the last few years & this year I plan on taking my boyfriend & son along with me so I can show him why I'm so in love with this state. Well be staying in kennebunkport next week. What is the most scenic rt to take there. I can't exactly find a way to remain on rt one. Any suggestions. ? Also, is there anything to see along the way ?!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Where exactly in NJ? In general, if you want to make the drive in one day you will pretty much be limited to the Interstate highways. You would have time to make brief stops, possibly at some place like Sturbridge Village or the old Mystic Seaport.

    If you tried to take US-1 all the way, that's going to take you 2 days.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Route-1 Ain't It

    When considering a number of routes to find the one that is 'best' for your particular purposes, it is always a good idea to have a basic or 'standard' route in mind to compare the alternatives to. That way you have an idea of what you will gain and lose for each change you make. In the case of 'New Jersey' to Kennebunkport, the 'standard' route will of course depend a bit on where you're starting out from. A Cape May start would obviously result in a different route than a Montague start. For this general discussion, then, I'm assuming roughly the Newark/NYC area of northeastern NJ since most routes from 'New Jersey' would have to go through there. You'll have to work out how you'd get there and how many more miles that will add.

    The most direct, all Interstate route would then be to get yourself on I-287 north- and east-bound, cross the Tappan Zee bridge, and hook up with I-684 north just east of White Plains. That would take you up to I-84 through Connecticut to the Mass Pike (I-90) to Worcester where you'd take I-290 to I-495 around Boston. Make the connection to I-95 and follow the New Hampshire and Maine Turnpikes to Exit 19 and follow ME-9 into Kennebunkport. From the Newark area, that's roughly 325 miles or five hours (plus stops). Besides Sturbridge Village (relatively expensive and time consuming) possible sites to see along the way would include Mark Twain's and Harriet Beecher Stowe's homes which are next door to each other in West Hartford CT, and Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth NH (also charges admission to the buildings, but you can walk the grounds and river bank for free). You could also make a short detour to the southeast around Hartford and see Dinosaur State Park and cross the Connecticut River on one of the oldest continuing operation ferries in the US between Rocky Hill and Glastonbury.

    But, that standard route is not particularly scenic, so what else is available? US-1 is absolutely NOT the way to go. Not only would it take two full days, as glc notes, but it would be a soul-crushing grind for most of that two days. It's a surface road through the old industrial port cities of southeastern Connecticut, a nightmare through the Boston area, and a collection of strip malls and tourist traps in New Hampshire. The few nice sections in southeastern Connecticut and Rhode Island are hardly worth it, and well out of your way to boot. Pretty much your best alternative 'back road' alternatives will swing well north of Hartford and because they are longer and on two-lane roads for long stretches will take a good bit longer to drive. But there are one or two that can still be done in a day if you don't mind trading off more time behind the wheel for some great scenery, small towns, and the occasional stop to get out and take a short hike.

    My personal choice of such a longer, all day drive, would be to take the Taconic Parkway north out of the NYC area (Exit 16N from I-84 east of Newburgh or Exit 3 from the Cross Westchester Expressway, I-287, in Elmsford NY). At its northern end take NY-295 over to MA-41 and US-20 in Massachusetts. In Pittsfield pick up MA-8 north into Vermont and VT-8 up to VT-9/NH-9 across the southern parts of those two states. At Keene NH hop on NH-101 which will continue your journey across New Hampshire and eventually get you to I-95 north to complete your drive. Now, be forewarned. Although this route is only about 50 miles longer than the standard route, it will take twice as long to drive, all day in fact, but it is as scenic a drive as you are going to find for your trip.

    For something that splits the difference between fast and scenic, you could try I-684 north out of the NY area to I-84 east. At Danbury CT take US-7 north and then stay on US-202 when it splits off at New Milford. At Torrington take CT-8 north to Winsted and there take US-44 east to CT-318 east to CT-219 northeast to CT-20 east. That will get you to I-91 north. That will have given you a good scenic drive and take you around coastal Connecticut and Hartford so that you can connect with the Mass Pike in Springfield to get on to Kennebunkport without further delay. Total driving time for this route is a compromise at six hours (plus stops).

    So, you can see you've got lots of choices (those are not all the possible routes by any means) and your ultimate route will depend on what you want out of the drive, where you're starting from, how much time you really have for the trip, and other personal preferences.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    My husband and I traveled from north-central NJ to Portland, ME, in summer of 2012. Here's the route we took to get there:

    I-80 to I-287 to I-87 north. Then we got on I-84 East across Connecticut. We took I-90 for a very few miles, to I-290 then I-495. We joined I-95 just before crossing into New Hampshire. We stayed on I-95 into Maine, then got on US-1 to try to find overnight in York or Kennebunkport. (We didn't have reservations. BAD mistake.) It took us the better part of the day to make this trip.

    Leaving Maine, we took I-95 to Portsmouth where we caught US-4 west to Concord. A little bit on I-89, then we caught NH-9 to Brattleboro. We continued on VT-9 through Bennington into NY state where we took NY-7 over to Troy. From there, if we'd intended to return to NJ, we would have gotten on I-87 south -- but we were heading west from there, into the heart of NY state.

    We felt this was scenic for us. We did have to chuckle at one point along either I-87 or I-84 on the way up, as they were bragging about an elevation of 900-some feet. We laughed because we live at about that elevation and it isn't considered high. We figured we'd remember this later in our trip when we drove over Vail Pass at 11,000 ft, and we did!


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