Friday, May 23, 2008

Shop, eat, and explore in Kittery, Maine

If you are heading up the New England coast this summer, plan on spending at least a half a day in Kittery -- on Route 1, right at the bottom end of Maine.

There's over a mile of outlet stores, but unlike most outlet areas -- there are actually stores with stuff that will appeal to MEN: Black & Decker, Brookstone, and Seiko (best bargains are in the rear of the store). There's also candy, clothing, luggage, shoes, sunglasses, etc. plus all of the stores that wives, girlfriends and daughters want to go to.

The town has a number of excellent places to eat, including Bob's Clam Hut, Weathervane and Warren's Lobster House. The Mickey Dee's used to serve lobster rolls, but hasn't had them in the last few years.

Allow an hour for a side trip to ancient Fort McClary, overlooking the Piscataqua River that divides Maine from New Hampshire. The hexagonal fort is on a defense site that dates back to the late 1600s. The present blockhouse was built around 1845. The fort was abandoned at the end of World War I, after being prepared -- but never used -- to defend against invaders in five wars. There's a fantastic 360-degree view of the land and sea; and check out the super-sturdy granite and log construction (done pre-Black & Decker).

If you have the time, drive along the coast for a half hour or more, starting just north of the Fort. It's easy to get stuck, so use your GPS or a detailed map.

If you're not just passing through, consider staying in Portsmouth, New Hampshire -- just south of the Maine/NH border. There are lots of nice Hiltons and Marriotts and a Sheraton (some are dog friendly) plus good shopping, eating and lots of nature to look at. There are even two brew pubs. Also super-cheap gas, and NO SALES TAX. The NH state motto is "Live free or die."

CLICK for more about the outlets, including coupons. Fort photo from

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