Camping Hot Spots
Find great places to camp and gain insights into activities to make the most of the top camping hot spots. Get the scoop on where to go next. Discover destinations that offer unique opportunities for you to experience the great outdoors through recreation activities, wildlife viewing, and unforgettable vistas.
Islands, hamlets, and the incomparable Acadia National Park make this region a treasure for campers. Head to Maine’s “Down East” area and wander the rocky and sandy beaches, touring the islands, mountains, and lakes. You can shop for antiques in the coastal villages or take a ferry to a scenic island. This area is known for its amazing wildlife, so don’t forget to watch for moose, foxes, beavers, and shorebirds like puffins, eiders, gulls, and terns.
Begin your visit by setting out on Highway 1, a route that traces the coastline of Penobscot Bay. The Highway is easily accessible from Portland or from Interstate 95 cities like Augusta and Bangor. You’ll trace along the craggy outcroppings that Maine is so famous for, admiring views of rocky islands in the distance. Head north through Rockport, Belfast, and Bucksport to beautiful Bar Harbor, a town that sits adjacent to Acadia National Park.
In the 19th century, picturesque Bar Harbor was new England’s premier summer resort destination. It was home to Millionaires’ Row, a line of opulent summer estates that belonged to America’s most powerful families: the Rockefellers, the Fords, Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Astors, and Morgans. With its stunning fall foliage and charming old-fashioned inns, Bar Harbor is a popular romantic get-away spot. Take a stroll through town and admire the remarkable architecture of these historic buildings.
Bar Harbor has plenty of family activities, from the oceanarium and zoo to the family nature camp. You can take in a lumberjack show or head to the newly-expanded Abbe Museum to admire artifacts from the Wabenaki Indians. The town features of a number of top-notch boutiques and galleries that showcase works by Maine artists and sculptors.
The Bar Harbor area is also known for its great outdoors activities. Aside from hiking the Mount Desert Island forests, you can head to the Holbrook Island Sanctuary on Penobscot Bay for a day of fishing, bird watching, beach combing, and cross-country skiing in the winter. Throughout the area you’ll find places to go snow-shoeing and skiing in the snowy months or horseback riding and rock climbing in the spring and summer.
Just south of Bar Harbor lies Acadia National Park, home to 1,532-foot Mount Cadillac. The summit of this peak is the first part of the United States to greet the sun each day. That’s a fitting theme for Acadia National Park, since special views abound here. You can hike the sea cliffs, taking in the mountains, lakes, and islands, or take the scenic auto loop. 125 miles of trails in the park are closed to cars, making them perfect for walks and hikes. The park also offers rock climbing, sailing, and canoeing.
Farther northeast on Highway 1 is the pretty town of Calais, a perfect place to escape the crowds. Calais lies just across the St. Croix River from new Brunswick, close enough for side trips to Nova Scotia highlights like Halifax, Moncton, and the Cape Breton Highlands Park. In the 1800s, Calais was a major shipping port for the U.S. Today it’s the home of historic sites like Whitlock’s Mill Lighthouse, the northernmost lighthouse in Maine. This lighthouse is still in operation, guiding ships in from Passamaquoddy Bay.
Calais has a charming waterfront and walkway to explore. Natural attractions abound in this area that boasts the greatest tidal change in the continental U.S. There are 40 lakes in the Calais area, a region that’s known as one of the best fly-fishing spots for land-locked salmon. You’ll find plenty of fishing camps, outfitters, and guide services in Calais. Not far away, the 23,000-acre Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to head for a day of wildlife viewing. Watch for moose, deer, bear, eagles, beaver, mink, goose, and woodcocks.
With its craggy coast, lively tidepools, and dramatic views, Maine truly has something for everyone. So pack your hiking boots, your camera, and your fishing pole and come to Arcadia! You’ll go home with a knapsack full of great memories.
Natural beauty abounds in Burlington, a quiet college town that has plenty going on. Among other delights, it’s a terrific place to come for ice cream! This home of Ben & Jerry’s specialty ice cream is famous for dairy products of all kinds, from cheese and cream to flavored milk. But ice cream reigns supreme in Burlington, where Ben and Jerry opened their first ice cream shop in 1978 at the corner of St. Paul and College Streets. Today Ben & Jerry’s is a world-wide phenomenon, known for its unique flavors like Phish Food, Cherry Garcia, and Chunky Monkey..
When you visit, be sure to take in a Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour, so you can learn all about ice-cream making and sample new flavors and products. If you visit in the summer, check the dates for the annual One World One Heart Festival, put on by Ben & Jerry’s, and the Vermont Maple Festival. You’ll go home with plenty of real maple syrup and candies to share as gifts all year long.
While you lick your ice cream cone, you can explore the area around Burlington. Set on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, Burlington is nestled between the Adirondack and Green Mountains, giving the town lovely views in all directions. You can visit the Burlington Coat Factory, head along the Lake Champlain Birding Trail, or enjoy the lovely restaurants and shops. Burlington is known as Vermont’s Queen City, in part because of its historic architecture, fountains, and brick-paved town center.
A number of events keeps Burlington’s social calendar lively. You can take in the annual First Night Celebration, visit in March for the Magic Hat Mardi Gras Parade, or come in summer for the Chew Chew Fest: A Celebration of Local Farming and Fresh Food. Later in the summer months, take in the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival and the annual Marketplace Sidewalk Sale.
Bewitching Salem, Massachusetts
No American town is more tightly tied to spookiness than Salem, Massachusetts. Since the famous Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 put this quiet seaport on the map, people have been flocking to Salem to explore its colorful history.
The nation’s capital is so jam-packed with attractions; it’s hardly a site that can be covered in a few days. With so many outstanding museums, cultural centers, and political destinations to visit – not to mention outstanding side trips into Maryland and Virginia – you’ll want to take at least a week to experience it all. Whether you’re after a sumptuous dining experience, a political celebrity sighting, or a tour of the White House, you’ll find it in beautiful Washington, D.C..
Start your trip to the District of Columbia by heading for the major highlights of this historic city. Visiting popular attractions like the gleaming Washington Monument with its reflection pool and milling crowds will help you get your bearings in the city. Take time to visit the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial, the territory, honing in on the sites that have strong relevance for you.
You may want to take a tour of the White House, admiring rooms that were decorated by Jackie Kennedy and taking in the presidential portraits and the famous rose garden. Georgetown University, with its stunning architecture and student spirit, is a fun place to visit for a campus tour or a picnic lunch.
And of course Washington, D.C. is known for its museums. You’ll have plenty to choose from, starting with the eighteen museums and nine research centers of the Smithsonian Institution. Pay a visit to the National Portrait Gallery, the National Air and Space Museum, and the incredible National Museum of American History. After all this history and art, the kids will love a stop to see the animals at the National Zoo.
If you have a few days left in your visit, consider a day trip into Virginia. This gorgeous state is home to sites like Arlington National Cemetery and Prince William Forest Park, a great place to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing, bird watching, and wildlife viewing. You can pay a visit to the Manassas National Battle Park, site of the first and second battles of Bull Run, or make a longer trip to the famous Fredericksburg Battlefield or the Stratford Hall Plantation, birthplace of General Robert E. Lee.
Maryland, with its crab cakes and gardens, is another terrific family destination. The state capital, Annapolis, is home to the historic United States Naval Academy. You can take a self-guided walking tour of nineteen historic campus attractions, following an audiotape recorded by Walter Cronkite.
To get into the great outdoors, head to Calvert Cliffs State Park for a day of hiking, birding, beach combing, and fossil hunting. You’ll find more excellent bird watching in the wetlands at the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary, home of the rare albino turtle. If you’re ready for even closer under-water action, head to Baltimore for a day at the outstanding National Aquarium.
You’ll find plenty of special events going on in the Washington, D.C. area, from the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and National Cherry Blossom Festival to the Washington, DC International Film Festival and Smithsonian Folklife Festival. And of course the capital city puts on a special show for all-American holidays like the Fourth of July. You won’t want to miss the fireworks on the National Mall, patriotic concerts at the National Cathedral, and more music in the evenings on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. From parades to special events at the National Archives, this is a fabulous place to spend the grand old Fourth.
Chicago is famous for a number of things—its baseball teams, the Magnificent Mile, the windy weather—but for some, the only fame that matters is that of its hot dogs. Chicago has its own unique hot dog style, serving up all-beef hot dogs on poppy seed buns, topped with mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish, dill pickle, tomato, peppers, and celery salt. Chicago dogs never include ketchup (many vendors in the windy city don’t even stock ketchup). Some say Chicago hot dogs have been “dragged through the garden” because of the variety of condiments. .
You’ll find terrific dogs all over the city, but you can start your feasting tour at Hot Doug’s, Portillo’s, Superdawg Drive In, Harry’s, Byron’s, or Johnny Rockets. Head to a Cubs or White Sox game and enjoy a hot dog the old-fashioned way, served by a vendor right at your seat. Afterward, you can take in the Chicago Baseball Museum or visit the Navy Pier with its 150-foot Ferris wheel, boardwalk, and restaurants. The kids can enjoy a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo or to Millennium Park with its ice-skating rink, giant sculptures, and the splashing, playful Crown Fountain.
For a spectacular, bird’s eye view of the city, ride up to the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower and stroll along the skydeck. You’ll have great views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago lakeshore. Then head back down to ground level and take a stroll along the lakeshore, walking or biking along the 29 miles of paved trail. Chicago is an avid sports town, so this is also a great place to see championship teams like the NFL Bears or the NBA Chicago Bulls.