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driving from Portland airport to Belfast/Searsport

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driving from Portland airport to Belfast/Searsport

I am picking up a rental car on Wednesday (Aug.16th) at the airport and driving up to stay on Rt 1 five miles north of Belfast. The mapquest directions bypass Rt1. My question is, Which way is the fastest vs prettiest. We have a lot of time but don't want to spend it sitting in traffic. Thanks.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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1. Re: driving from Portland airport to Belfast/Searsport

I'm assuming that mapquest has you driving the interstate to Augusta, then Rte. 3 to Belfast.

That would be the fastest route. You would miss some of the coastal scenery; you also would miss Camden, which this time of year is a traffic zoo. The Rte. 3 option also has its nice scenery, especially around the China lakes area.

I guess that I would go that way, instead of Rte. 1 to get to where I'm staying, then wander either north or south on 1 to see the sights.

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2. Re: driving from Portland airport to Belfast/Searsport

Did this trip recently on a Wednesday and didn't hit too much traffic. Took 295 North to Freeport (L L BEAN)....the downtown area was very congested and slow but it is less than a mile of headache.

Next to 201 up to Brunswick, then Route 1 all the way to Searsport.

Sea Basket in Wiscasset is a nice spot to stop for some chowder or fried maine shrimp or clams. Enjoyed the drive up Route 1 from Camden to Belfast.............but if you take the faster 95 north to Route 3 you'll be able to stop at Johns' Homemade Ice Cream in Liberty near Lake St George.

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3. Re: driving from Portland airport to Belfast/Searsport

Your mapquest search is right for fastest routing (to Augusta then over to Belfast on Route 3). I agree with response 1 above. The China lake region is pretty.

Depending on what time of day you are heading out of Portland, Wednesday's aren't a bad day to try the route one way. (Just don't end up in Bath when the the shipyard let's out around 4 pm). But I still would go the Augusta/route 3 way. You will miss pretty Wiscasset, Camden, but there are not so pretty parts of route one that you will be glad you missed.


Brunswick, Maine
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4. Re: driving from Portland airport to Belfast/Searsport

The biggest potential traffic jam on Route 1 is in Wiscasset. I've been through there a dozen or so times this summer, the only times the traffic wasn't tied up was when I went through very late at night (after 9 p.m.)

Most times I go through in the midday (between 11-5).Traffic on northbound Route 1 has always been backed up at least 1.5 miles. Southbound is also tied up, but for some reason rarely as badly. The worst was last week during the Lobster Festival; it was four miles.

If there is a silver lining, it's that the backed-up traffic isn't a dead stop. It actually flows a bit faster than you expect when you first hit it.

There are ways to get around some of it; if you have a Gazzetteer, dig it out and take some of those backroads. However, be advised that a bridge is out in Sheepscot Village, so don't take that route.

Backed-up traffic aside, I still recommending going through Wiscasset / Route 1, if folks want the "scenic" route because it is so incredibly pretty. If you go the interstate/Route 3 to Belfast, you will miss so many pretty coastal towns (Bath, Wiscasset, Damariscotta, Camden) plus some pretty marshlands, farmlands, etc. It really is worth putting up with the mess at Wiscasset in order to see those other towns.

What I suggest is simply allowing yourself extra time for Wiscasset. Add at least 20 minutes more than what Mapquest has for that route simply for Wiscasset. If it's a Friday afternoon, Saturday or Sunday, allow yourself another 30-45 minutes just to be safe.

Also helps to make up your mind that no matter how bad the traffic is, it's not going to bother you. :)

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5. Re: driving from Portland airport to Belfast/Searsport

Thanks so much for all the great advice. Since I have nothing but time I think I will brave RT 1 and enjoy the views. Cheers, Laura

6. Re: driving from Portland airport to Belfast/Searsport

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