New Haven, CT is home to Yale University. This historic and prestigious Ivy League university has several great facilities open to visitation by the public. This includes the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, The Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. In addition to the great museums, Yale has one of New Haven's National Historic Landmarks located on its campus. Connecticut Hall was constructed in between 1750 and 1752 as Yale's only brick building. Today it stands as the only eighteenth century structure remaining on campus. It is still in use by the Yale Department of Philosophy so there are no tours, but you can drive by and check out its Georgian architecture.
The Pardee-Morris House was originally built around 1750 by Amos Morris and is one of the oldest buildings still standing in New Haven. Today, it is the summer home of the New Haven Museum which holds tours of the property as well as live music and art events on the property. It makes for a great summer visit with the family.
The Lighthouse Point Carousel is also a great historical landmark to take the family. Located in the Lighthouse Point Park, this carousel, circa 1916, is one of the oldest carousels remaining in the state and one of only about 100 of its type still operating in the US. This is an outstanding example of the art and craftsmanship that was common in this type amusement ride during that time period. Not to mention that it's just a fun ride. The surrounding park provides a beautiful place to spend the day with great views of New Haven Bay and a spray park to keep the kids cool on a hot summer day.
Totoket Valley RV Park is the closest camping option serving the New Haven area. It is located east of town and it provides a small quiet place to stay while exploring the area.
To get to Bar Harbor, head north out of New Haven and take I-91 to Hartford, CT. From there, take I-84 to I-90 east. You'll then want to pick up I-295 through Worchester, MA and around Boston to I-495. I-495 leads to I-95 north which will take through New Hampshire, Portland, ME and on to Bangor, ME. In Bangor, pick up RT-1A which will take you to Ellsworth, ME. From there, switch RT-3 which will take you on to Mount Desert Island and into Bar Harbor.
Hartford, CT is the location of the homes of two significant figures in US history. The first is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. This is the former residence of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The 1852 masterpiece is an anti-slavery novel that is credited for changing the narrative in the US regarding slavery and laying the groundwork for the Civil War.
The home is a museum which hosts guided interactive tours which cover the genesis of the novel as well as the life of the author. One block to the west of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center you will find The Mark Twain House & Museum. This large mansion was completed in 1874 during the peak of Samuel Clemen's Career. The Clemens resided there until they sold it in 1903. Today, it is a museum offering tours and a historical perspective of the work of Mark Twain, his life and legacy.
Bear Creek Campground on the southwest side of town is a great place to stay for the night. They have tent sites, RV sites, teepees and several styles of cabins so they can accommodate just about any traveler.
Our route to Bar Harbor passes right by Boston, MA, which is a hotbed of interesting historical locations. The Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, Boston Common, Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, Paul Revere House, Bunker Hill Monument, Old North Church, The Old South Meeting House, and many others were all key sites in early American history. These all make for great visits, but if you're looking for a little different, darker side of US history then head a little north of Boston to Salem, MA.
This is the location of the Salem Witch Trials which were an attempt by the early colonists to root out witches in their community. The trials ran from 1692 – 1693 and led to the convictions and execution of several area residents. The Witch House of Salem is the last standing structure in Salem with direct ties to the witch trials. It was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, who is known to have signed several arrest warrants for witch trial defendants. The home is now a museum with tours that cover the history of the witch trials, the home and the life of Jonathan Corwin.
RV camping areas are pretty sparse in the area. Fortunately, Winter Island Park is located nearby which provides a beautiful place to camp. They have several RV sites with electrical service as well as tent camping sites.
The Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse on the coast of Maine. The beautiful structure located on a rocky point is also the most photographed lighthouse in the US, and one of the most photographed locations in the region. While you cannot enter the lighthouse directly, there is a visitor center/museum open to the public located in the former Keeper's Quarters. There are several excellent exhibits here including examples of several types of lighthouse lenses. Adjacent to the lighthouse is the Fort Williams Park. This 90-acre park has several hiking trails that give majestic views of the lighthouse and the surrounding ocean.
Wassamki Springs Campground is the closest campground to downtown Portland. It's a beautifully treed property located on a small lake. It is family-owned, well maintained, highly rated, and conveniently located to all the attractions in Portland.
One of the most historically significant industries in this area is the fishing industry. From the very first days of settlement to today, the waters off the coast of New England have provided sustenance for the citizens of America. The major unique catch in this area is homarus americanus or the American Lobster. The Maine Lobster Festival pays homage to this tasty crustacean and the people who harvest it from the surround seas. The festival is held in a seaside park in downtown Rockland, ME on the first weekend in August each year. Here you'll find all of the familiar festival activities as well as heavy volumes of lobster cooked in a broad variety of ways.
Lobster Buoy Campsites is a great place to stay nearby. It is located right on the coast with great views of the ocean as well a very quiet peaceful environment. They have full hookup RV sites and tent sites.
Bar Harbor, Maine is a fantastic seaside town located on Mount Desert Island on the Northeastern coast of Maine. This area is historically the summer playground for the wealthy folks living down the Atlantic Coast. In fact, much of the property which is now the nearby Acadia National Park was originally owned by J.D. Rockefeller. He also designed and financed the famous carriage roads which run throughout the park.
Today, Bar Harbor is a small town mostly catering to summer tourists. The town itself is very compact and can get crowded during tourist season. Parking can be scarce in town so it's often easier to visit by alternative methods. If you are visiting by RV there is public RV parking along the YMCA baseball fields just south of town on Main Street. An even easier way to get into town is to take the bus in. It will pick you up at most campgrounds, or at the Acadia National Park Visitors Center and drop you off at the square in the middle of town.
Bar Harbor is a great walking town with nice, safe streets lined with many interesting shops, bars, and restaurants. One popular activity in town is to cross the Bar Harbor land bridge to Bar Island. The land bridge is a sand bar (from which Bar Harbor derives its name) which appears only during low tide. The bridge is only crossable by foot for about an hour and a half before and after low tide. Bar Island is an uninhabited island which part of Acadia National Park. It has hiking trails that give spectacular views of Bar Harbor across the bay.
The other major attraction here is Acadia National Park. This is a fantastic park and one everyone should visit at least once. There is great hiking and the previously mentioned carriage roads are excellent for cycling. The loop road provides one-way traffic along the beautiful coast. Make sure you stop at Sand Beach for the excellent ranger talk there. The beach holds a few shocking secrets which the rangers will tell you all about. There are some low bridges along the road so make sure you heed vehicle size limits published by the National Park Service before heading down this route if you are traveling in an RV.
The Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA Holiday is the best place to stay in the area. It is located just over the causeway from the mainland along the western coast of Mount Desert Island. The campground has beautiful sights overlooking the water and it provides easy access to the main roads on the island. You also have access to the swimming pool at the Bar Harbor Woodlands KOA located just down the street. Bar Harbor and The Acadia National Park Visitors center are just a short drive away.