Pamper Yourself with These Two New England Glamping Trips

No need to sacrifice comfort while camping.

Sandy Pines Campground. Kennebunkport, Maine. Photo by Douglas Merriam

Camping has enjoyed something of a comeback during the pandemic. At a time when millions are still keen on limiting exposure to Covid-19, bringing your own portable abode on the road has a romantic allure. But lugging an RV or trailer around New England gets gritty real fast, whether you’re searching for campgrounds with electric hookups or getting lost on rural roads that are barely wide enough to accommodate a Honda Fit. So why not let someone else iron out the grungier bits of camping life for you? Up and down the New England coast, glamping is being upgraded with wheels and axles as campgrounds transform vintage mobile dwellings into luxe accommodations with 1960s vibes and contemporary amenities. With your camper rooted in one place and prepared for your arrival, you’ll be free to roam coastal villages and beaches with ease before settling into bed and savoring the seabreeze as it wafts through your screen door. Try these itineraries if you enjoy camping, but with plenty of stops along the way for the finer things.

Sandy Pines campground lodge, photo by Douglas Merriam

TRIP 1: KENNEBUNKPORT, ME (209 miles roundtrip)

When it comes to the glamor of Coastal Maine life, few towns do it better than Kennebunkport. Even the campgrounds crank the luxury touches up a notch, and at Sandy Pines Campground, you can eschew tents for a “Unique Retreat” like a gleaming and silvery Airstream Zephyr trailer or a turquoise-shaded FAN traveler trailer. But Sandy Pines’ mobile lodging doesn’t stop here. The Unique Retreats also include an Oregon Trail-ready Conestoga Wagon and even a shepherd’s hut on antique iron wheels. Each retreat is outfitted with a king or queen size bed, A/C and heat, interior lighting, and an outdoor fire pit. The campground’s heated saltwater pool and spruced-up bath houses are a brief stroll away, and Sandy Pines also offers primo access to Goose Rocks Beach, where visitors who aren’t enjoy the amenities of Sandy Pines are left to joust for parking spots. The beach is less than 10 minutes from Sandy Pines by bikes, which you can rent from the campground’s rental partner, Southern Maine Kayaks (SUP paddle boards and kayaks are also on the table.)

Conestoga Wagon interior, photo by Douglas Merriam

Once you’ve nabbed your glamping unit, fly north on I-95 early enough to arrive in town for a waterside lunch of lobster rolls and sauteed P.E.I. mussels at Arundel Wharf. From here, amble over to the Landmark Gallery for some digestive admiring of local painters’ renditions of coastal seascapes, and whether you end up browsing or buying, leave time for a quick visit to nearby Rococo Ice Cream, where classic flavors are paired with bestselling originals like goat cheese blackberry chambord and Maine whoopie pie.

Plan to arrive at Sandy Pines early enough to drop your bags and venture over to Goose Rocks Beach for a sultry summer afternoon swim. Then double back, change your duds, and return to town for a glass of sweet Riesling or craft cocktails in the beautiful antique barn at Old Vines Wine Bar. Stay for onsite tapas like crispy duck breast with pan-roasted endives and orange gremolata. Or head deeper into the coastal woods for a decadent three-course dinner of locally harvested New American cuisine at Earth, the enchanting restaurant at Hidden Pond resort.

Kick off the following morning with a hearty brunch at Musette before heading over to the breezy grasslands of Kennebunk Plains to pick blueberries for the week ahead. And if you’re feeling a bit blue to be leaving coastal Maine already, make a pit stop at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm and follow the gentle one mile path through sun-splashed woods and estuaries to Laudholm Beach, a serene, sandy wonder where the lack of beachside parking makes for deep quietude.

Photo by Matt Kisiday

TRIP 2: FALMOUTH, MA (163 miles roundtrip)

Instead of joining the madding crowd jostling for access to the Outer Cape, try ditching the Rt. 6 gridlock earlier and discovering the inner beauty of Massachusetts’ maritime wonderland. You can set up basecamp steps away from the whitecapped waters of Buzzards Bay at AutoCamp Cape Cod. Tucked in the beachside woods, you’ll find the 31-foot Airstream “Vista Suites,” which have been polished and tricked out with queen beds, fully functional kitchenettes, walk-in rain showers, and patios where you can settle into the night with a campfire. The sandy shores of Wood Neck Beach are less than five minutes away by car, and over the summer, AutoCamp offers a rotating roster of Cape experiences with guides, which could include paddle boarding expeditions, birding excursions, or even a raw bar pop-up hosted by a local seafood purveyor.

While the drive from Boston to the Sagamore Bridge is only 54 miles, plan to skip town early enough to stop in Sandwich for a cumberland crumpet melt at The Dunbar House, where 19th Century carriage decor meets modern British cuisine. After lunch, you’ll be in a prime position to explore Town Neck Beach and Boardwalk, a reliable oasis for swimming, bird watching, and fishing. Or—if you’re in the mood for an expedition with bounty—consider some antique hunting along Main and Jarvis at emporiums like The Weather Store, where you can acquire classic meteorological instruments that’ll look right at home in a seaside cottage or a Seaport condo.

After shuffling down toward Falmouth and settling into your Airstream at AutoCamp Cape Cod, get thee to Cornelia Carey Sanctuary, where wandering paths will take you to The Knob, one of the finest ocean overlooks on the entire Cape. From here, set the controls for C Salt, where a hefty wine list is complimented with robust fare like grilled swordfish provencal or Szechuan lobster and shrimp. The Glass Onion also offers a potent craft cocktail roster and tempting, locally-caught morsels such as Washburn oysters with roasted red pepper horseradish sauce.

Come sunrise, fuel up with a nourishing farro bowl from the AutoCamp clubhouse or succulent pastries at Pickle Jar Kitchen. Then head straight for the Shining Sea Bikeway, which leads to Nobska Light and enviable views of Woods Hole Harbor and Martha’s Vineyard. (Bike rentals are available in Falmouth at Corner Cycle and Holiday Cycles of Falmouth Heights.)

autocamp cape cod lounge

The AutoCamp lodge, photo by Matt Kisiday