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The Perfect Coastal Maine Road Trip

Laura Itzkowitz is a freelance writer and editor based in Rome. She has been contributing to Travel + Leisure since 2014, when she started as a fact checker before becoming a contributing digital editor in 2015 and going freelance in 2016. She has also held positions as a contributing editor at The Points Guy and the NYC cities editor at DuJour Magazine. In addition to Travel + Leisure , her writing has appeared in Architectural Digest , Surface Magazine , Brooklyn Magazine , T Magazine , The Wall Street Journal , Vogue, GQ, Departures, Afar, Fodor's, Town & Country , Condé Nast Traveler , Robb Report , Hemispheres, and others. When she's not jetsetting around Italy and beyond, she can be found in Rome, enjoying some cacio e pepe or relaxing at home with her husband and two dogs. Originally from the Boston area, Laura moved to New York City in 2011 to pursue a master's degree in creative writing and translation at Columbia University. She also holds a bachelor's degree in French from Smith College. * 10+ years of experience writing and editing * Co-wrote "New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants," an award-winning guide to New York City's speakeasy scene published by Jonglez Editions in 2015 * Contributed to "Fodor's Brooklyn," published by Penguin Random House in 2015, which won silver in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism competition * Contributed an essay to "Epic Hikes of Europe," published by Lonely Planet in 2021 * Updated the 2022 edition of "Fodor's Essential Italy"

coastal road trip in maine

Lobster shacks , waves crashing against rocky outcroppings, pine trees, and rugged bluffs— Maine is New England’s crowning gem. And with winding roads overlooking the Atlantic, secluded lighthouses, and charming cities up and down the coast, it's a gem best experienced by car.Here now, the best places to eat, drink, shop, and sightsee between Portland and Bar Harbor.

2 p.m.: Shopping in Portland’s Old Port District

At just over an hour-long flight from New York City or a two-hour drive from Boston, Maine ’s largest metropolis is a great place to start. Take a leisurely walk around the harbor and Old Port, where historic brick buildings house restaurants, bars, and shops. Start by the harbor on Commercial Street and work your way up Exchange Street, which is lined with boutiques selling everything from clothes and jewelry to locally crafted pottery and fudge.

7 p.m.: Dinner at Eventide Oyster Co., Portland

Come for bivalves on the half shell, and stay for Korean-style fried oyster buns. These guys take their shellfish seriously, but not too seriously to play with the conventions of Maine’s regional cuisine. Last year we named Eventide one of America’s best oyster bars and it’s still worth a visit.

9 p.m.: Check in to the Press Hotel, Portland

Spend the night at the quirky new Press Hotel , an Autograph Collection Hotel, which opened in May in the Old Port. Design firm Stonehill & Taylor took inspiration from the building’s heritage as the former home of the Portland Press Herald . You’ll find playful journalism motifs peppered throughout, from the lobby installation made of antique typewriters to the custom wallpaper printed with headlines chosen by the newspaper’s editors. Each of the 110 rooms channels a 1920s writer’s office. Sitting at the vintage-inspired desk, you might feel compelled to send a postcard home.

9 a.m.: Breakfast at the Standard Baking Company, Portland

In the morning, head toward the harbor for pastries at Portland’s must-visit artisanal bakery , which has been using locally grown, organic ingredients in their excellent baked goods for the past twenty years. The croissants, brioche, and morning buns are equally delicious. Grab some sweets to save for later—their financiers and chocolate chip cookies are the best around.

10 a.m.: Portland Head Lighthouse, Cape Elizabeth

Take a slight detour to see the historic lighthouse on Cape Elizabeth, about 20 minutes south of downtown Portland. Abutting flowering fields above a rocky coastline, this classic landmark is Maine’s oldest lighthouse. George Washington commissioned it and the Marquis de Lafayette dedicated it in 1791. The Victorian Keeper’s house now serves as a museum displaying lenses and interactive exhibits.

12:30 p.m.: Archer’s on the Pier, Rockland

Depart Portland and start making your way north to Rockland. After the two-hour drive, you’ll probably be hungry. Snag a waterfront table at Archer’s on the Pier , where you can watch the boats sail by. You can’t go wrong with a classic lobster roll served with hand-cut fries and coleslaw, though chef and owner Lynn Archer is best known for her King of Clubs sandwich made with lobster, bacon, lettuce, and tomato, which won the prize in Bobby Flay’s Throwdown.

2 p.m.: Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland

Dedicated to showcasing Maine’s role in American art, the must-see Farnsworth Art Museum comprises a modern building, the Wyeth Center, the historic Farnsworth Homestead, the Olson House, and a gallery for young artists. The main building features paintings by Andrew Wyeth, George Bellows, Milton Avery, and Alex Katz, as well as sculptures by Robert Indiana. A whole room of canvases depicting ships at sea and other coastal imagery pays homage to the region and the ways it has inspired artists for centuries. Peruse the galleries in the former church up the street to see works by three generations of Wyeth painters. If you have time, take a tour of the Farnsworth Homestead, which sheds light on its 19th-century inhabitant, Lucy Farnsworth, the museum’s original benefactor.

6 p.m.: Downeast Windjammer Sunset Cruise, Bar Harbor

Drive along scenic route 1 overlooking Penobscot Bay as you continue north toward Bar Harbor. You might be tempted to stop in the boutiques that line the main streets of this seaside city, but make sure to arrive at the pier in time to board the Downeast windjammer ’s sunset cruise. You might be asked to help raise the sails on the four-mast vessel, then enjoy a relaxing ride around picturesque Frenchman’s Bay, which is dotted by forested islands. Bring your own wine or beer and a warm jacket—even in summer, it gets chilly on the water.

8:00 p.m.: Jordan Pond House, Mount Desert Island

Once you’re back on dry land, head into Acadia National Park for dinner at the Jordan Pond House. The only restaurant within the park, this place is renowned for its popovers, which go very well with the lobster stew. Dinner is served inside, but if you’d like to dine outside on the lawn with a view of Jordan Pond and its distinctively sloped hills, come back for lunch or afternoon tea.

9:30 p.m.: Mount Desert Island Ice Cream, Bar Harbor

If you have room for desert—and you definitely should—head back into Bar Harbor for a cone at this creative creamery. Blueberry ice cream may be common in these parts, but Mount Desert Island Ice Cream churns one-of-a-kind flavors you won’t find anywhere else. For something subtle and refreshing, try the basil ice cream, which pairs well with a scoop of fig.

10 p.m.: Asticou Inn, Northeast Harbor

Spend the night at the cozy Asticou Inn on Mount Desert Island. This historic property dates back to 1883 and served as a home away from home for the early 20th-century affluent set that summered in Bar Harbor. The inn’s 48 rooms feature classic décor like floral wallpaper and dainty white curtains and come equipped with free WiFi. In the morning, you can go for a swim in the heated pool or play tennis and enjoy a leisurely brunch of lobster eggs benedict on the terrace.

10 a.m.: Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island

You could spend days exploring Maine’s only national park , which comprises 35,000 acres of trails, pine-studded mountains with scenic overlooks, and beaches on Mount Desert Island. As soon as you enter this vast, gorgeous landscape, you’ll understand why prominent Americans like John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Brooke Astor vacationed here throughout the 20th century. (Rockefeller built the carriage roads that traverse the park.) Climb (or drive) to the summit of Cadillac Mountain for panoramic views of Frenchman’s Bay. Hike around Jordan Pond and the Bubbles, where the trail leads you along a wooded path and rocky outcroppings on the pond’s perimeter. Don’t miss Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, where waves crash violently against the rocks, and of course, the Bass Harbor Head lighthouse.

4 p.m.: Atlantic Brewing Co., Bar Harbor

Make your way to the northern point of Mount Desert Island for a free tour and tasting at the Atlantic Brewing Company . Set on a ten-acre farm, this excellent craft brewery focuses exclusively on ales. Learn about the brewing process as you stand among the vats of beer, then taste a flight of their classic and seasonal brews, which run the gamut from light and crisp to rich and dark. The blueberry ale has subtle notes of the ubiquitous berry, but the true standouts are the Bar Harbor Real Ale and the Cole Porter.

6 p.m.: Union River Lobster Pot, Ellsworth

Keep heading north for dinner at this no-frills seafood restaurant in nearby Ellsworth. Don’t expect anything fancy, just classic Maine dishes prepared exactly right. Lobsters are boiled in saltwater and served with drawn butter, French fries, coleslaw, and homemade bread. The fisherman’s platter arrives with a generous portion of fried scallops, clams, shrimp, and fish. Wash it down with Atlantic Brewing Company ale and finish with a slice of blueberry pie.

Jessie on a Journey | Solo Female Travel Blog

The Best 10-Day Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary For An Amazing Trip

By Jessie Festa. This Maine coast itinerary includes affiliate links to trusted partners!

Do you need help planning a coastal Maine road trip itinerary ?

Then you’re in the right place!

Located in the New England region of the United States, Maine is the country’s easternmost state and borders Canada to the north.

Its cooler climate and coastal location are what allow visitors to enjoy many of the things Maine is most known for: delicious seafood, juicy blueberries, beautiful beaches, rocky coastline, and stunning landscapes that offer some of the world’s best hiking and outdoor activities.

There is a lot to enjoy on a Maine road trip, though with so many options, it can be hard to narrow down what to actually add to your itinerary.

Luckily, I’ve done the hard work for you, and you’ll find a road trip through Maine mapped out below — complete with recommendations for where to go, what to do, where to eat, and tips for having the best trip possible.

This itinerary is based on a summer road trip I did with my husband Andy, though solo travelers, families, and friend groups can also enjoy the below suggestions.

To help you have the best Maine road trip possible; one complete with incredible memories you’ll truly never forget!

Renting a car for coastal Maine road trip?  Check out  Discover Cars  to quickly compare your rental options. Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% by using their tool! There are also a number of fun guided Maine tours to add to your itinerary, like an Old Port Culinary Walking Tour from Portland or an eBike Tour of Acadia National Park’s Carriage Roads from Bar Harbor .

Psst, don’t forget to pin this Maine itinerary for later!

coastal Maine road trip itinerary

Simply add the map to your phone to have it ready to go for your trip.

Bonus: The kit comes with 40+ other travel resources — from printables to quizzes to itineraries — all meant to help you explore the world beyond the guidebook!

On that note, let’s go over how to have the absolute best road trip in Maine.

10-Day Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary (Quick Facts)

To help you save time, here is a quick overview of the Maine coast vacation itinerary detailed below.

Maine car rental: Use DiscoverCars to compare prices across various car rental companies. This can really help you save money when traveling to Maine or heading out on a road trip .

Maine travel insurance: I use and recommend SafetyWing , which offers budget-friendly yet robust coverage.

Road trip planning tool: Wondering how to plan a trip to Maine? Check out Roadtrippers Plus , which helps you plan your route, estimate gas costs, book hotels and tours, create maps, and more. Use code “BTR5QTP” for $5 off!

Stop #1: Portland (2 nights)

  • Stay: This historic hot tub-equipped Airbnb or at a hotel in downtown Portland – like the Black Elephant Hostel (which has private rooms) or The Docent’s Collection .
  • Eat: Bite Into Maine (amazing lobster rolls), Blyth & Burrows (cocktails & bites), Central Provisions (unique seasonal menu), Holy Donut (made-from-scratch potato donuts).
  • Do: Bike the lighthouses as a DIY adventure or book this tour , walk the many scenic neighborhoods, visit beautiful beaches (like Old Orchard Beach), and do a beer tour .
  • Tours: Click here for a full list of tours in Portland, Maine .

Stop #2: Bar Harbor (3 nights)

  • Stay: We stayed at the Acadia Pines Motel based solely on the price, and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. It was fine for what we needed, though if I did it again I’d probably choose the reasonably-priced Little Fig Hotel , which also has a better location right in Bar Harbor’s walkable village.
  • Eat: 2 Cats Restaurant (made-from-scratch breakfast), Terrace Grille (delicious lunch on the water), Merchant & Frye (farm-to-fork eatery), and Geddy’s (fresh local lobster).
  • Do: Hike in Acadia National Park, wander the walkable village and its coastal Shore Path, and go on a tour with Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co .
  • Tours: Click here for a full list of tours in Bar Harbor, Maine .

hiking in Acadia National Park on a coastal Maine road trip

Route 1 Maine Road Trip Map

When it comes to Maine driving trips along the coast, many people like to take Route 1 since it’s smooth, scenic, and parallels the Maine coast.

To help you save time, you can click here for a Google Map for your Route 1 Maine road trip itinerary with the above-mentioned destinations pre-plotted.

coastal Maine road trip itinerary map

10-Day Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary (In-Depth Plan)

Now let’s go over our best coastal road trip in Maine in-depth.

In this section, I’ll detail a number of recommendations in each stop based on my own unforgettable 10 day Maine itinerary — so that you can steal them for your own travels.

Of course, this list of ideas for a road trip through coastal Maine is not exhaustive. If you have your own suggestions, please share them in the comments below!

Maine Road Trip Stop #1: Portland (2 Nights)

One stop you should definitely add to your Maine trip is Portland, a hip city with a rich history.

Originally called “Machigonne” (great neck) by the Native American Algonquians, the area was later named after the English Isle of Portland.

According to Britannica , it changed names a few more times before eventually becoming Portland again, and its history includes being a fishing and trading village, seeing many wars (and being destroyed and rebuilt many times), and playing a big part in the transportation industry.

Much of this history, and more, can be explored at Portland’s many museums.

Portland is actually Maine’s largest city, and today you’ll find loads of opportunities to discover great restaurants, bars, nightlife, tours, and cultural institutions.

Quite honestly, there is enough to do to warrant a longer stay in Portland; however, as this is only a 10-day Maine itinerary and we’ve got places to go, I’m keeping it at 2 nights. That being said, feel free to extend if you have the time!

Where To Stay In Portland

Airbnb with hot tub . During our road trip to Portland, Maine, we stayed in a charming Airbnb housed in a building that’s on the National Historic Registry. Known as the Leonard Bond Chapman House (circa 1868), the home is a classic Second-Empire Victorian, and once featured vast farmland and a successful nursery — though today you’ll find the land has amenities like a hot tub, pool, and relaxing lounge areas.

Historic Airbnb in Portland on a coastal Maine road trip itinerary

Hotel in Portland’s Old Port . If you’d prefer to be in the heart of the action, staying in the historic Old Port with its cobblestone streets and beautiful brick buildings is a smart idea. You’ll be within walking distance of loads of restaurants, bars, cafes, and boutiques — plus the waterfront is nearby if you’d like to enjoy a promenade walk, waterfront meal, or sunset cruise .

Things To Do In Portland, Maine

-Bike The Lighthouses

One fun activity to do along your coastal Maine road trip is to bike the lighthouses Portland is so well known for.

You can rent a bike from Lighthouse Bikes in South Portland, which offers rentals for $10 per hour or $35 per day, which also gets you a helmet, bike lock, and a map.

There are 5 lighthouses on the main route, though most people only do the first 4 — Bug Light , Spring Point Ledge , Ram Island Ledge , and Portland Head Lighthouse .

visiting Portland Head Lighthouse on a coastal Maine road trip

Liquid Riot . While they have a food menu, I’d recommend coming here just for drinks. They brew their own beer and distill their own alcohol — meaning the libations are delicious. Plus, the space is really cool with giant glass windows showing the behind-the-scenes of the operation, wine barrels as tables, and indoor-outdoor seating.

Drink recommendation: the “Wild Hearts” made with Liquid Riot Bonfire Spirit, mezcal, banana Cognac, lime, prickly pear, grapefruit, and spice.

Holy Donut . This beloved local donut shop is known for their made-from-scratch potato donuts that come in flavors like chocolate sea salt and blueberry lemon. My top pick: the vegan chocolate caramel coconut, which looks and tastes like a Samoa cookie!

lavender Holy Donut in Portland, Maine

Geddy’s Restaurant . No vacation on the Maine coastline would be complete without savoring some local lobster. This eatery in Bar Harbor Village is known for its fun nautical decor and fresh lobster caught right in the Maine waters out front. Pair a Lobster Bake — which comes with lobster, corn, and homemade blueberry pie — with a local Atlantic Brewery beer.

Merchant & Frye . This hip eatery in Bar Harbor Village serves up seasonally-inspired dishes that pair perfectly with their craft cocktails, local beers, and carefully curated wines in a stylish space with open kitchen, fun artwork like regal dog portraits, and classic diner tables and stools.

We loved the Maine mussels appetizer — served with seed crackers and aioli for a unique flavor. It’s also recommended to try the Crab Cacio & Pepe with thick rye pappardelle pasta and a generous helping of crab meat, and the 12-hour smoked brisket with marinated heirloom tomatoes.

Crab Cacio & Pepe at Merchant & Frye in Bar Harbor on a Maine coastal road trip

Graffiti Donuts . This dessert cafe’s specialty is donut creations — including “Donut Nachos” featuring fresh-made cinnamon sugar donut holes, whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, and rainbow sprinkles. Yum!

Terrace Grille . Here you can savor an amazing lunch with a front row view of the harbor. A few standout dishes include the fish tacos made with local Maine haddock, the shrimp and haddock grits, the lobster roll, and the homemade New England Clam Chowder in a bread bowl. Pair with a local Atlantic Brewing Co beer or their charitable cocktail of the day (it was “Bubbles For Books” when we visited).

woman having lunch at Terrace Grille in Bar Harbor on a coastal Maine road trip

Tours In Bar Harbor, Maine

Add one — or more — of the following Bar Harbor tours to really experience the best of coastal Maine:

  • Private Holiday Professional Photo Shoot in Bar Harbor
  • Narrated Bus Tour of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park
  • Savor Bar Harbor Culinary Walking Tour
  • A Walk Through Time in Bar Harbor (Celebrating 200+ Years!)

Click here for a full list of Bar Harbor tours .

Tips For Visiting Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor has free parking after 8pm. This is true even in the large main lots.

Book your trip in advance. While this goes for all of coastal Maine, Bar Harbor is particularly tricky when it comes to finding affordable lodging. Especially if visiting during the busy summer months, book your accommodation, tours, and transportation as far in advance as possible.

Plan your Cadillac Mountain visit in advance. When researching what to do in coastal Maine, visiting the iconic Cadillac Mountain — the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard at 1,530 feet tall — will undoubtedly come up as a recommendation. The thing is, you need a permit to drive to the summit, which books up quickly. You can find full information on making a Cadillac Mountain reservation here .

Maine Road Trip Stop #3: Camden (2 Nights)

If you want to explore the best places to go on the coast of Maine, Camden should definitely be on your road trip itinerary, especially as many consider it to be one of the prettiest coastal Maine towns.

“Where the mountains meet the sea” is Camden’s motto, as it’s one of only two places on the Atlantic seaboard where inland hills roll right up to the harbor to kiss the water.

This makes for absolutely breathtaking scenery whether you’re hiking in the local Camden Hills State Park or wandering the charming waterfront village full of galleries, shops, restaurants, and breweries.

Actually, the Native American Penobscots, who originally inhabited present-day Camden , called it “Megunticook,” meaning “great swells of the sea” — which references the silhouette of the Camden Hills. Hopefully, you’ll have some bright days in Camden during your coastal Maine road trip, as this is when the visual is most apparent.

On that note, let’s go over how to have an amazing time in Camden on your road trip to Maine.

Where To Stay In Camden, Maine

High Tide Inn . We absolutely loved our stay at this bed & breakfast — which is only a 6-minute drive to the walkable village and a 3-minute drive to Camden Hills State Park.

Owned by two sisters, they offer cottages and motel units, many of which have ocean views.

Along with a delicious breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, and homemade baked goods, you can enjoy sipping a glass of wine, seeing a sunrise, or stargazing on their beautiful lawn (with lawn chairs) or on their private beach.

woman a private beach in Camden on a coastal Maine road trip

Camden Deli . Not only does this deli have delicious sandwiches — including a number of yummy options for vegetarians — it has a back patio with waterfront views and a rooftop.

Sea Dog Brewing . Enjoy elevated pub fare like crab rangoon dip, creamy lobster bisque, or a veggie sweet potato burger on the back patio with waterfront views and pair with one of their many beers: wild blueberry ale, hazelnut porter, light-bodied wheat ale, hoppy IPA, and more!

Peter Ott’s On The Water . Treat yourself to a nice meal at this fancy restaurant on the water. Prices are reasonable for the level of service and the quality of the dishes — like the homemade lobster corn chowder, panko-crusted haddock, or my personal recommendation, lobster fettuccini. Order it and thank me later!

Lobster fettuccini at Peter Ott’s On The Water in Camden on a tour of the Maine coast

Tours In Camden, Maine

Camden is one of the best places to visit on the Maine coast, especially if you add some of the following tours to your itinerary:

  • Windjammer Classic Sunset Sail
  • Windjammer Classic Day Sail
  • Wild Maine Blueberries Class
  • Artisanal Cheeses of Maine Class

Click here for a full list of Camden tours .

Tips For Visiting Camden, Maine

Explore Camden early. Camden Village closes down early, with most shops closing around 5pm or 6pm and dinner restaurants closing around 8pm or 9pm. Many places — especially those on the water — will have a wait, so if you can get there before 6pm you’ll avoid having to wait for an hour.

Parking is cheap. Along with paid parking spots and lots that are typically $2 per hour, there are a few free lots — including one on Washington Street behind Camden Fire Department and one past the Camden Public Library on Atlantic Avenue.

Maine Road Trip Stop #4: Kennebunkport (2 Nights)

Sitting at the mouth of the Kennebunk River, right along the Atlantic coast, sits Kennebunkport — one of the Kennebunks, which consists of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel.

To the Native American Abenaki, Kennebunk meant “the long cut bank,” believed to reference Great Hill at the mouth of the Mousam River.

The place we call Kennebunkport today was named Cape Porpus by settlers in 1653, and then Arundel in 1717. In 1821, it was finally called Kennebunkport — a name derived from an Abenaki or Mi’kmaq word translating to “long sandbar,” according to Britannica .

Today, the hub of activity is in and around the Dock Square neighborhood of Kennebunkport. Here you’ll find a walkable village with local shops and eateries, waterfront restaurants, and activities like kayak and bike rentals.

That being said, there are numerous places to explore in and around Dock Square to enhance your Maine coastal road trip.

Where To Stay In Kennebunkport

Paris In Kennebunk (Airbnb). This cozy and comfortable Airbnb is located in nearby Kennebunk and is walkable to a number of yummy restaurants. There is also a backyard with a grill, fire pit, hot tub, and loads of seating options for relaxing under the stars with a glass of wine.

Kennebunkport Airbnb booked on a road trip through Maine

Whimsy . Here they sell whimsical home decor and gifts, like decorative lamp shades, hand-carved bird statues, and Maine-themed ornaments.

Minka . This boutique showcases sustainable and handmade apparel, accessories, and art.

Note that these are hardly your only options, so add exploring Dock Square for a few hours to your coastal Maine road trip itinerary!

-Relax on the beach

The best Maine road trips always include time in the sand. Luckily, There are many local beaches in Kennebunkport and Kennebunk, like Kennebunk Beach , Mothers Beach , and Parsons Beach .

Probably the most popular — and the one you’ll see in many Maine tourism ads — is Gooch Beach , which features an expansive stretch of sand with swimmable waters, waves for surfing, and views of lovely local homes.

This is one of the best places to visit along the Maine coast. Plus, if you book the above-mentioned Airbnb, a beach parking pass is included with your stay!

woman swimming at Gooch Beach in Kennebunkport- a highlight of a coastal Maine road trip itinerary

Tours In Kennebunkport / Kennebunk

No road trip along the Maine coast would be complete without visiting Kennebunkport. Elevate your itinerary by booking some of the following tours:

  • Luxury Catamaran Sailing Charters in Maine
  • A Walk Through Time in Kennebunkport (Celebrating 200+ Years!)
  • 3 Hour Kayak/SUP Rental in Cape Porpoise Harbor
  • Alpha Omega Connections – A Spiritual Healing and Guidance Home

Click here for a full list of tours in Kennebunkport .

Tips For Visiting Kennebunkport

Know where to park. During busy times, the parking lot in the center of Kennebunkport gets full and it’s tough to find parking. Luckily, we discovered a large and empty free lot about a 10-minute walk from the village. The lot is next to the Kennbunkport Fire Station. Here is a pin you can put into Google Maps to find it.

Shorter 7-Day Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary Option

Not all great driving trips in Maine need to be long to be fun. If you don’t have time for a full 10 day coastal Maine road trip itinerary and only have a week to spare, I’d personally cut out Portland and shave one night off Bar Harbor.

With this in mind, your Maine coast driving itinerary would be:

  • Bar Harbor (2 nights)
  • Camden (2 nights)
  • Kennebunkport (2 nights)

This is especially true if visiting Maine in the warmer months when you’ll want to take advantage of the beaches and don’t necessarily care about exploring a bigger city as much.

If traveling to Maine in the winter, then you might instead consider removing Kennebunkport from the road trip itinerary.

With this in mind, your cool weather coastal Maine vacation itinerary would be:

  • Portland (2 nights)

If you’re looking for an unforgettable week in Maine, either of the above would be perfect. These are truly some of the best scenic road trips in Maine.

woman taking in a view from Camden Hills State Park on a coastal Maine road trip

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7 Day Maine Coast Road Trip Itinerary: Where to Go and What to Do

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Seven days for a Maine coast road trip is the perfect amount of time to see some great cities and immerse yourself in the wonderful local culture of coastal Maine.

From charming small towns that are not-to-miss (and for reasons we explain, below) to bigger cities that will round out the trip, you're sure to have fun in this stunning New England state.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post, which means we may earn a small commission if you click the link and proceed with a purchase, at no cost to you . We truly only recommend hotels, products, and services we personally use. As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases. We were hosted by Visit Maine. All opinions are our own.

Maine coast sunset with purple and pink clouds, in Boothbay Harbor, part of a Maine coast road trip.

Maine Coast Road Trip Overview

We flew into Maine's airport in Portland from RDU airport in Raleigh to start our trip. Another easy airport to get to is Boston Logan International Airport, which is just a two-hour drive from Portland.

We rented a car to road trip north from that point. You can begin in Portland and do the reverse of our trip. It depends on your preference. However, we chose to go to the furthest point north of our trip and then drive back south so when we ended and needed to fly home, we were just minutes from the airport.

  • Days 1 to 3: Bar Harbor
  • 3 to 5: Boothbay Harbor
  • 5 to 7: Portland

If you want to extend your time in Maine, we recommend a Maine Windjammer cruise . This will give you a completely unique view of the coast. We had a fantastic experience sailing Maine's coast this way for four days as an add-on to our road trip.

Days 1 to 3: Bar Harbor, in Northern Maine

Bar Harbor was so beautiful. If you like a bustling and walkable small town on the water, you'll love it here. Especially because you can do excursions like a lobster boat tour and go whale watching.

Colorful pink, purple and orange sunset in the town of Bar Harbor, with a green park in the foreground.

We stayed at the most amazing modern bed and breakfast called The Atlantean . The owners blew us away with their hospitality and cooking. (The breakfasts there were the best meals we had of our entire road trip along with Maine foods like lobster and blueberry donuts!)

One of the best things to do here was to simply take walks and stop for ice cream or coffee, and sit in the park to enjoy the view of the water. Another absolutely fantastic view was from the top of Cadillac mountain. It was special to see the water and its many islands like birds in the sky from that vantage point.

Man overlooking the view of Bar Harbor, Maine from Cadillac Summit in Acadia National Park.

Acadia National Park is one of the main reasons many people add Bar Harbor to a Maine coast road trip itinerary. Truthfully though, the town alone is worth the visit.

That being said, Acadia National Park is refreshing and attractive. We enjoyed an easy hike there one afternoon around Jordan Pond and drove the loop road the next day to see some more of Maine's coast. (Jordan Pond is on the list of things to do in the park on the super helpful National Park Planner. If you plan on going to even two National Parks in the near future, you need this !)

If you're going to Acadia National Park during summer , we highly recommend getting a Bug Bite Thing to combat bug bites while you're there. We took a very leisurely short walk in the park at some pretty gardens they have and man oh man….I got eaten alive by the bugs! We are so grateful for this device that eliminates the itch in seconds.

Woman next to a birch tree trunk with a large pond and greenery in the background at Acadia National Park.

Must-have item for your Tropical vacation:

The only thing we have tried that gets rid of bug bites from your skin is The Bug Bite Thing . This item is a MUST pack when we travel. We always pack one in our backpack/day bag and another in our luggage. Don't travel without it! And yes, it really works !

Two Bug Bite Thing tools in black and pink.

Days 3 to 5: Boothbay Harbor

One of the nice things about Boothbay Harbor was how it felt less busy than other areas we visited, and there were a bunch of charming hotel options. There was less to do there than in Bar Harbor and Portland. This meant we could relax a little more and sleep a little later when we were there during our vacation.

It was worth a stop for its Botanical Gardens alone. Secondly, we loved that there was a little local brewery and, thirdly, how walkable the town was. A simple pleasure in life is walking around a town during a Maine coast road trip on a beautiful New England summer day.

Maine coast sunset with purple and pink clouds, in Boothbay Harbor, part of a Maine coast road trip.

Days 5 to 7: Portland

Portland impressed us with its mix of old and new. It's very much a functioning port city – as it has been for well over a century – and the tourist scene was thriving.

This size city really speaks to the energized explorer in us that gravitates toward liking urban environments that aren't too big and aren't too small. (It's one of the reasons we chose Raleigh, NC , as our home city.)

There were great restaurant options where we could have local seafood, tours that helped us get familiarized with the city streets, a posh Marriott hotel we enjoyed, and boat tours where we could navigate the water on with an expert guide.

There were colorful murals, lighthouses, and waterfront views…what more could you ask for?

Sea Bags flagship store is also there and it was fun to learn about the bags made from recycled sails .

Street view in Portland, with a colorful mural during a Maine coast road trip through the state.

5 Day itinerary for Maine's Coast

If you only have 5 days, we would recommend the following abridged version of what we did:

  • Days 3 to 5: Portland

If you have to skip a city, skip Boothbay Harbor. You can even stop at the Botanical Garden in Boothbay Harbor on your way to Portland from Bar Harbor, but simply continue your drive after you visit the gardens instead of staying overnight.

Extending Your Vacation for a Maine Windjammer Cruise

We feel so fortunate to have experienced Maine's beautiful coast by sea and by land. Taking a schooner boat, an overnight Maine sailing trip with Maine Windjammer Association aboard American Eagle, was really outstanding.

It's unlike any “typical” cruise you may think of. If you're used to sailing or have gone on a sailboat you can stay on overnight, it's very much like that.

Our seven-day Maine coast road trip started after the sailing and it was the perfect complement to the sea portion of our summer Maine vacation.

Couple on a ship with a sailboat in the background, part of the Maine Windjammer fleet of boats that sail Maine's coast.

Read this next:

  • Planning your Trip to Maine in the Summer: 20 Things to Know
  • Food Maine is Known For (Lobster and Beyond)
  • Best Bed and Breakfast in Bar Harbor: Atlantean Cottage (Our Favorite Accommodations in Maine)

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I want to go to Maine after I have retired. My favorite food is seafood – shrimp, crab legs, and lobster. I would like to do a lobster bake in Maine! Thank you for this information.

Need a lot of advice from Kentucky to there. Thank you

Hi Bonnie – it would be best if you flew from Kentucky to Maine, then rented a car to do a road trip of the coast. Follow our road trip plan for the perfect 7 days!

So glad this inspired you, Bonnie!

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Vagrants Of The World Travel

Charming 3 Day Maine Coast Road Trip Itinerary (Updated 2024)

By: Author Vagrants of the World Travel Writer

Posted on Last updated: January 16, 2024

Home >> Destinations >> Charming 3 Day Maine Coast Road Trip Itinerary (Updated 2024)

Maine is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and scenic states in the US. It is also one of the top destinations on any East Coast fall foliage itinerary . Rocky coasts, lighthouses, lobster, quaint boutiques, sandy beaches, and plenty of ocean views. One of the best outdoor destinations in the US , this 3 day Maine coast road trip is the perfect road trip destination for nature and adventure.

Whether it’s your first time visiting Maine or your hundredth, the beauty of Maine will always leave an impression.

A windjammer tall ship moored at the end of a jetty in Maine.

Table of Contents

3 Day Maine Coast Road Trip Itinerary

This 3-day Maine Coast Itinerary will take you from the lush wilderness and rocky coastlines of Acadia National Park to Kennebunkport’s charming, seaside fishing village. Along the way, you will be treated to some of the most charming, small towns with that New England feel. 

Day 1: Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park 

Begin your 3 day Maine coast road trip in Maine’s Bar Harbor area. Bar Harbor is the picturesque seaside town on Mount Desert Island bordering Acadia National Park. It’s considered one of the best national parks in the United States . Home to some of the best lobster and seafood restaurants in the state, Bar Harbor is full of quaint shops and easy access to the waters of Frenchman Bay. 

A day well spent in this area will include some time strolling the streets of Bar Harbor after exploring the wilderness and coastal edges of Acadia National Park.

Boats mooored in Bar waterfront in Maine.

Drive Park Loop Drive 

Take a drive along the Park Loop Drive in Acadia National Park. The 27-mile loop road through the park takes you past many of the park’s highlights, including many observation points.

The Park Loop Drive is a great introduction to the park and can help you decide how to spend the rest of your time here. One great option is to go to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast,. You can also relax at Jordan Pond and grab a bite to eat at the Jordon Pond House. Another great idea is to go for a swim at Sand Beach.

Road with ocean view in the distance on the park Loop Drive in Maine.

Go for a Hike

Acadia National Park is one of the top hiking destinations in the US . There are loads of hiking trails to choose from to suit all hiking abilities and itineraries. For those looking for beginning level hikes, Bubble Rock, the Ocean Path, the Wonderland Trail, or the Great Head Trail are great options. 

For experienced hikers, options include the Precipice Trail, the Beehive Trail, the Dorr Mountain Trail, or a hike to the Cadillac Mountain summit.

Views over jordan Pond in Acadia NP.

Grab Dinner and Explore Downtown Bar Harbor

After exploring Acadia National Park, you’ll surely be ready for some of Maine’s famous local seafood. Visit the heart of Bar Harbor for plenty of dining options. One must-visit is the brand-new Brasserie Le Brun , a new French restaurant with a modern twist. You can also try out the Chart Room for delicious seafood or Havana Parilla for delicious Latin cuisine. 

After dinner, enjoy a stroll along the waterfront or relax in the village green. Find yourself some unique, handcrafted souvenirs along Main Street, or visit the Bar Harbor Cellars Winery for a post-dinner wine tasting. 

Lobster restaurant on a fishing wharf in Bar Harbor Maine.

You Might Also Like : If you have an extra day or two, consider exploring some of beautiful New Hampshire , less than an hour south of Portland.

Day 2: Portland

One of Maine’s biggest cities, Portland has lots to offer visitors. From strolling the Old Port, finding unique gifts and treasures at local boutiques, and visiting some of Maine’s most scenic lighthouses .

The drive from Bar Harbor to Portland is 3 hours, so drive early to make the most of your time.

Boats moored in front of buildings in Portland maine.

Old Port 

Step from the modern-day city to the historic, cobblestone streets of Old Port as you spend your morning sightseeing, shopping, and enjoying the history and culture of Portland. You will find a combination of local and brand-name shops along the old streets. You can find clothing shops, galleries, gourmet food stores, pottery, jewelry, and more. 

Downtown Portland Maine.

Old Port is also blessed with many popular and quality restaurants, from quick service to fine dining style restaurants. One of the top new coffee shops that we recommend is Double Great Coffee , serving delicious coffee and desserts. For Latin food lovers, check out Papi , serving delicious coctails and Puerto Rican eats. The Continental is an amazing new spot in Portland serving authentic pub food and drinks.

If you want to get out on the water, join a 2-hour sail with the Portland Schooner Co. on an early 1900’s Windjammer for a sightseeing cruise taking in the famous local lighthouses and wildlife.  See here for cruise details .

Recommended Tours in Portland Old Town

  • Old Port Culinary Walking Tour – 3-hour tour learning about Maine’s famous culinary scene. Includes guide, food samples from locale restaurants and eateries, and beer tasting. See here for full tour details .
  • History Walking Tour with Sweet Treat – 2 hour tour exploring the key landmarks of Portland and its 200-year history. A great way to get your bearings in Portland. Includes local guide and typical Portland sweet treat at the end. See here for full details .

Cape Elizabeth

Home of the Portland Head lighthouse inside Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth is one of the most well-known lighthouses in the US.

You can’t go inside the lighthouse, but there are plenty of areas for stunning views, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Portland Head Lighthouse with blue sky on a sunny day.

If visiting on a hot summer day, you can also hit the beach area for a swim with views of the Ram Island Ledge Light (Beware, though, even in summer, the water will be cold).

harbour with lighthuse on the point on the Main Coast.

Brewery Tour 

With over 70 breweries within the city limits, a brewery tour should be on your 3 day Maine coast road trip. There are plenty of unique tour options, from a Haunted Pub Crawl, pedal bike tours, party bikes, bus, and private tour options. Alternatively, you can research Portland’s many breweries and take a self-guided brewery tour. 

Recommended Beer & Brewery Tours

  • Bike and Brew Tour – 1.5-2.5 hour options. Discover Portland and the local brew scene by bike. Choose between a morning coffee tour, an afternoon brewery tour, or an early evening beer, wine, and spirits tour. Includes all cycling gear, a local guide, and a selection of craft beverage samples. See here for full tour details .
  • Sea Harbor Brews Cruise – 1.5 or 2 hours. Enjoy beers and boats on the waters of beautiful Portland Harbor and Casco Bay on a brews cruise. Sip local craft beers onboard the beautiful Elizabeth Grace for a 1.5-hour harbor tour or 2-hour sunset cruise. Includes cruise, guide, and 2 local craft beers. See here for full details .
  • Tasting Tour to Local Breweries – 3 hours. Sip and taste your way through historic Portland on this walking brewery tour. Visit the city’s well-known breweries and enjoy samples at each stop along the way while learning about Portland’s beer history. Tour includes local guide, stops at three local breweries with three samples at each brewery and a light snack. See here for full tour details .

Alternate Portland Itinerary: Casco Islands

If you want to get out of the city and explore the surrounding waters, spend the day island-hopping the Casco Bay Islands. While there are over 700 islands in Casco Bay, there are six easily accessible islands via ferry.  

You can enjoy various activities on the islands, including kayaking, museums, art galleries, shopping, hiking trails, sandy beaches, delicious restaurants, biking, historic forts/structures, fishing, and motorboating. Whichever island/s you choose, you notice the pace is a lot slower on the Casco Islands, and relaxation is a priority.

Views out to sea from the Maine Coastline with blue skies.

Day 3: Kennebunkport 

For the final day, continue Southward along the coast to the seaside town of Kennebunkport. Kennebunkport is home to a quaint shopping district, gorgeous beaches, and a working fishing harbor.

Colourful waterfront houses in Kennebunkport Maine.

Relax at the Beach

Kennebunkport Beach is a great swimming beach with options for getting out on the water in a kayak. If you are looking for a more relaxed beach, you will find calmer waves at Goose Rocks Beach with a very well-maintained shoreline. Hit the beach for a quick swim before heading out to see all that Kennebunkport has to offer, or choose to spend a few hours relaxing before moving on.

Cape Porpoise

Cape Porpoise is a working fishing harbor just five minutes outside of Dock Square. You can watch the fishing fleets cruising in and out of the harbor, observing the different traps and bait barrels used. Like many other destinations along the coast of Maine, Cape Porpoise is a great stop for fresh seafood dining – the Cape Porpoise Chowder House is one of the best options. 

If you have the time, a boat tour out to Goat Island to see the Goat Island Lighthouse is a worthwhile trip, The tour includes a narrated history tour and, afterward, takes you past Bumpkin Island, where you can spot seals sunbathing on the shores. 

Brigh red fishing shacks over the water in Maine.

Catch a Show at Vinegar Hill Music Theatre

Finish up your day in Kennebunkport at the Vinegar Hill Music Theatre to catch some live entertainment. The theater is set in a renovated barn that currently offers live shows and a variety of concerts, from jazz, blues, rock, pop, and funk. The Theatre also has a bar where you can enjoy cocktails to start the night. 

About The Author

Melissa Luther

Melissa is the writer and photographer behind Navigation Junkie , a family-focused travel blog. She writes about her travel experiences with her 6-year-old daughter and provides tips and tricks learned during those travels to help improve the experience of families from around the world hoping to create memories through travel. 

The Geographical Cure

The Perfect 10 Days In Coastal Maine

Thinking of unplugging on a rusticator vacation in Maine? Or need a dose of vintage seaside charm?

If so, I have the perfect 10 day road trip itinerary for coastal Maine, often dubbed the “Lighthouse State.”

beautiful bridge in in Acadia National Park, a must see site in Maine

The coast of Maine is abundantly beautiful, with secluded destinations, spectacular unspoiled scenery, and crisp bluebird days.

As the border sign into Maine reads, “Maine: the way life should be.”

Pinterest pin for 10 days in Maine itinerary

In Maine, ocean waves crash against a craggy shores. You’ll be dazzled by pristine beaches, boat filled harbors, classic New England townscapes, and rocky shorelines dotted with lighthouses. Lobster shacks and wild blueberries abound.

Maine is heavily forested, with a green canopy that’s set ablaze with fall foliage. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and fall back into nature and history, coastal Maine is the perfect destination.

Maine is really best enjoyed by car. A 10 day road trip is the perfect way to visit, experience, and fall in love with Maine.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park at sunset

On a scenic drive, you can pick your own favorite ocean vista. Coastal Maine is one of the United States’ most classic road trips and should definitely be on your US bucket list .

Here’s my 10 day itinerary for exploring Maine. This Maine road trip itinerary takes you down winding coastal roads from southern to northern Maine.

I point out all the must see attractions and must visit towns on the coast of Maine. I also give you tips for visiting Maine — what to do and see, where to hike, where to stay, and where to eat.

In truth, you could spend weeks exploring Maine. You could easily turn this 10 day Maine itinerary into a 2-3 week itinerary, simply by staying longer at each destination and exploring at a slower pace.

I’ve also added some bonus destinations at the end, in case you want to extend your coastal Maine road trip even further and explore other places in Maine.

lighthouse in Portland Maine, the firs stop on your ten days in Maine itinerary

10 Day Road Trip Itinerary For Coastal Maine

This 10 days in Maine road trip itinerary takes you from Portland in southern Maine to Bangor in northern Maine. To begin your trip to Maine, fly into in Portland International Jetport (only one hour from NYC). Downtown Portland is just a 20 minute drive from the airport.

You can also fly into Boston’s Logan International Airport, which is a major hub. Portland is only two hours from Boston, an easy drive up Interstate 95. Or simply drive to Portland from your own home to begin your Maine road trip.

Here are the best places to leaf peep, shop, sightsee, eat, and stay between Portland and Bangor. The lobsters and blueberry muffins will be worth the entire trip, I promise.

cityscape of Portland Maine

Day 1-2: Portland

Portland is the perfect place to start your 10 days in Maine road trip. Located on a peninsula jutting into Casco Bay, Portland is a rare metropolis in a state filled with small hamlets.

Portland has myriad cultural offerings and is a bastion of historical preservation. The restored Old Port is a warren of cobbled streets, filled with vibrant Victorian buildings, buzzing farm to table eateries, and cute boutiques. You may want to book a guided walking tour of this historic area.

Do some shopping on Exchange Street, were you can nab anything from fudge to fine crafts.

Downtown, there’s a thriving art school, infusing the city streets with creative types. There are 24 commercial art galleries.

Restaurants and coffee bars are filled with visual art. In June, the revived downtown hosts the Old Port Festival, described as “part freak show, part art festival, part fashion parade.”

Portland Head Lighthouse

Opened in 1983, Portland’s crown jewel and premiere art destination is the Portland Museum of Art , an architectural masterpiece designed by I.M. Pei of Louvre fame. Its innovative architecture allowed curators to redefine the art viewing experience.

The museum has an impressive collection of late 19th and early 20th century art, including works by Andrew Wyeth, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and Marsden Hartley. It also hosts traveling international exhibits.

Merrill Auditorium is the site of Portland’s performing arts scene. It’s an elegant restored concert hall, which houses the world famous Kotzschmar Memorial Organ.

street in the Old Port

The venue hosts concerts by the Portland Symphony Orchestra, touring national theater companies, dance companies, and music acts. The Portland Opera Repertory also uses Merrill for full scale productions.

Portland also has plenty of outdoor hiking trails. An hour from Portland is the Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail, which is a 3.6 mile trail strewn with wildflowers.

To land on a beach, hike the meandering 3.8 trail from Morse Mountain to Seawall Beach. Just 30 minutes from Portland is Bradbury Mountain State Park, with an easy 1.9 mile trek on the Tote Road Loop.

Commerical Street in the Old Port

Where To Stay In Portland

Portland is filled with fantastic hotels. Here are the top four choices, to my mind.

The  Blind Tiger  is a cool boutique hotel in a 19th century mansion in the Old Port. It’s a luxurious place with bright colors and a private rooftop deck.

The  Press Hotel  is a cool hotel where the rooms look like writers’ desks. There are typewriters in the lobby and old new copy blown up on the wall. 

The  Best Bower  is a tiny boutique hotel in the city’s restaurant-friendly East End. It’s housed in a beautifully restored craftsman building.

The Blind Tiger boutique hotel

The Francis  is Portland’s newest boutique hotel. It’s housed in a restored 19th century building. There’s custom furniture and art in the rooms.

Where To Eat in Portland

Portland is loaded with great restaurants including the Honey Paw, Union at the Press Hotel, Solo Italiano, Woodford Food and Beverage, Eventide Oyster Co.

As an alternative to a specific place for lunch, you may want to take a  2-3 hour food tour in the old Port  or a  2.5 hour seafood tour .

Railroad bridge over the Androscoggin River in Brunswick Maine

Day 3: Freeport | Brunswick | Boothbay Harbor

On day 3 of your 10 days in Maine itinerary, start your day with breakfast at Standard Baking Company in Portland. It has delicious artisanal baked goods.

20 minutes from Portland, take a slight detour to see the historic lighthouse on Cape Elizabeth. Commissioned by George Washington and set amid flowering fields, this classic landmark is Maine’s oldest lighthouse.

Then, amble on to Brunswick on US 1. On your way, check out the retail outlets of Freeport Maine, the home of LL Bean’s flagship store . Almost 3 million people visit this famous store every year.

Bowdoin College

10 miles north of Freeport is Brunswick. Brunswick is home to Bowdoin University and the fabulous Bowdoin College Museum of Art . In the museum, you’ll find works by famed 19th century artist Winslow Homer.

Bowdoin College also owns the Harriet Beecher Stowe House , a National Historic Landmark and the former home of the antislavery novelist.

To get outdoors in Brunswick, you can hike the 6 mile Town Commons Trail, which starts near Bowdoin. Or just walk around the beautiful college campus and admire the historic architecture.

Beach lovers can head to Thomas Point Beach, which has nice picnic areas.

Our Lady Queen of Peace catholic church on the shore of Boothbay Harbor Maine

Another 45 minutes down the road is the mid-coast seaside gem of Boothbay Harbor. Boothbay Harbor is one of New England’s most adorable small towns, known as the “boating capital” of Maine.

Ferry over to Brunt Island, where you can hike and admire the lighthouse. Or reconnect with nature at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

Boothbay Harbor’s quaint downtown is filled with shops and cafes, including Maine’s oldest bookstore, Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop. If it’s time for a lobster roll, pop into the Lobster Dock or Shannon’s Unshelled.

Overnight in either Brunswick or Boothbay Harbor. Brunswick is closer to your next destination, Bath, just 10 minutes away.

Boothbay Harbor

Where to Stay And Eat In Brunswick And Boothbay

Where to stay in Brunswick : OneSixtyFive , The Federal , or The Brunswick Hotel

Where to eat in Brunswick : Enoteca Athena, El Camino Cantina, Tao Yuan, The Great Impasta, Frontier

Where to stay in Boothbay Harbor : Linekin Bay Resort , Spruce Point Inn and Spa , or The Thistle Inn

Where to eat in Boothbay Harbor : Ports of Italy, Boathouse Bistro, The Thistle Inn

Bath is a city in southwestern Maine, lying along the Kennebec River

Day 4: Bath

Bath is Maine’s shipbuilding capital, boasting a beautiful waterfront. Bath is full of grand 19th century homes — a mix of Federal, Greek Revival, Victorian, and Italianate styles.

Bath’s historic district boasts one of America’s great streets, Front Street. It’s chock full of tony boutiques and antique shops. One Sunday a month is the Bath Antique Show.

No trip to Bath is complete without visiting the Maine Maritime Museum . It’s a cluster of buildings that were once a historic shipyard.

Inside, you’ll learn about the world of shipbuilding through exhibits, models, paintings, and artifacts. In the summer, museum boat tours cruise the Kennebec River.

craggy coastline at Reid State Park

Just 15 minutes away from downtown Bath is Reid State Park . This is where you’ll find Maine’s best sandy beaches (a rarity in Maine) lining Sheepscot Bay — Mile Beach and Half Mile Beach.

It’s a great stretch of sandy beach with a pounding surf. If some beach time is on your Maine agenda, this is where you should indulge.

For a truly spectacular vista, make your way to Griffith Head, a rocky headland overlooking the park. Or boat out to Seguin Island to see Maine’s tallest lighthouse.

Where to stay in Bath : Kennebec Inn , Pryor House B&B , or Benjamin F. Packard House Bed and Breakfast

Where to eat in Bath : Mae’s Cafe & Bakery, Osprey Restaurant, Starlight Cafe, J.R. Maxwell and Co.

A wooden swing bench facing the Damariscotta River in Maine

Day 5: Wiscasset | Damariscotta | Rockland

Continue your 10 day Maine road trip by driving north to get back one Route 1. You’ll meander through the pretty towns of Wiscasset and Damariscotta. This is where you can soak up Maine’s quaint village vibe.

Wiscasset styles itself Maine’s prettiest village. The town boasts some of Maine’s most important architectural landmarks and an utterly charming main street. And it’s home to Red’s Eats , one of Maine’s famous lobster shacks. (There will be lines in summer.)

Damariscotta is also lovely, surrounded by salt marshes, tide pools, oyster beds, and the Damariscotta River. The tiny hamlet overlooks the snug harbor and is filled with historic brick architecture.

buildings on Main Street in downtown Damariscotta

For a real Maine country feel, stop in for lunch at S. Fernald’s Country Store for an “eggs in a frame” sandwhich. Or fill up on oysters and mussels in the local restaurants.

One hour further down the road is the arty town of Rockland, where you’ll spend your fifth night on your Maine road trip.

Where to stay in Rockland : 250 Main Hotel , Rockland Harbor Hotel , or Strawberry Hill Seaside Inn

Where to eat in Rockland : Archer’s on the Pier, Cafe Miranda, Primo Restaurant, Rustica

Rockland Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse

Day 6: Rockland

Fuel up in the morning with breakfast at Home Kitchen Cafe in Rockland. You’ve got a busy day ahead.

Rockland is a historic waterfront town on the shores of Penobscot Bay. The entire bay area is loaded with artists, galleries, and community theaters. The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is a highlight of the town. In the first week of August, Rockland hosts the popular Maine Lobster Festival.

If you’re an art lover, budget time for Rockland’s must see cultural gems: Farnsworth Art Museum , the Wyeth Center , the Center for Maine Contemporary Art , and the Lincoln Street Center . There’s even a 400 seat Rockland Opera House with year round performing arts programs.

The main building of the Farnsworth Art Museum houses art works by Andrew Wyeth, George Bellows, Milton Avery, and Robert Indiana. An entire room of canvases depicts ships at sea and coastal imagery, paying homage to the region.

Bunk overnight in Rockland again.

Camden Maine, must visit town on your 10 days in Maine itinerary

Day 7: Camden

On day 7, drive 15-20 minutes north to Camden. Camden is a seaside jewel on the coast of Maine. The town is a mecca for sailing. And Camden offers a beguiling nexus of art, dining, and outdoor play. It fulfills Maine’s slogan of “the way life should be.”

Camden has a charming historic district. It’s set on a rising hill and lined with historic 19th century architecture.

You’ll find shops, boutiques and cafes housed in wooden historic buildings. Stop by the Smiling Cow, the Cashmere Goat, the Owl & Turtle Bookshop, and the Leather Bench for some unique gift ideas.

Camden's pretty Front Street, quite at night

At the end of the strip is the pretty brick Camden Public Library, which has a lawn with benches set above the harbor. You can admire a fantastic collection of photogenic schooners, sailboats, and yachts.

No visit to Camden is complete without taking in the view from Mount Battie. Take the 1.4 mile trail and road. At the top, you have a hawk’s eye view of Camden and the islands of Penobscot Bay.

If you want to hit the beach, try Barret’s Cove, a fresh water beach on Megunticook Lake. It’s even quiet in the summer months.

Where to stay in Camden : Relais Chateaux Camden Harbour Inn , Hartstone Inn & Hideaway , or 16 Bay View

Where to eat in Camden : Fresh and Go, Oliver’s Bistro, Long Grain, Primo

buoy-decorated lobster shop in Bar Harbor

Day 8: Bar Harbor

On day 8 of your 10 days in Maine itinerary, drive 1:45 from Camden to the beautiful resort town of Bar Harbor, where cool breezes blow away the summer heat. Perched on Frenchman Bay, Bar Harbor is a charming seaside town in New England.

Bar Harbor is adjacent to magnificent Acadia National Park, and makes a good base. The town’s name derives from the twice daily tide drop, when a gravelly sand bar appears creating a natural harbor.

Take a stroll down West Street, a designated historic district. You’ll see some fine old shingle-style mansions that survived the fire of 1947. The Village Green hosts concerts and art shows. The Abbe Museum is devoted to Maine’s Native American heritage.

aerial view of Bar Harbor Maine

Bar Harbor is the perfect place to go kayaking or take a 2 hour boat cruise . You can hike Great Meadow Loop, which starts at the Village Green.

Or stroll the shore path along Frenchman’s Bay, which includes a self-guided tour marked with signs telling the history of Bar Harbor. And don’t forget to have some lobster or go whale watching.

End your day in Bar Harbor with a sunset cruise of Frenchman’s Bay. Hop on the Downeast Windjammer , which leaves from the pier.

Where to stay in Bar Harbor : Sand Bar Cottage Inn , Bar Harbor Inn and Spa , Bluenose Inn , or the Holiday Inn Bar Harbor Regency Hotel

Where to eat in Bar Harbor : Burning Tree, Havana, , Mache Bistro, Side Street Cafe, Thurston’s Lobster Pound, Beale’s, Mount Desert Island Ice Cream

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park at sunset

Day 9: Day Trip To Acadia National Park

It’s just a quick job from Bar Harbor to Acadia. Maine’s 35,000 acre Acadia National Park is dubbed the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast.” The splendid park definitely lives up to its moniker.

You can do a self drive tour , take a guided tour from Bar Harbor , or book a private tour to see it all.

The park is a vast pine-studded landscape. The average park visit is 3-4 days. But you can absolutely enjoy the park on a well-planned day trip from Bar Harbor.

Sunrise from the Summit of Mount Cadillac

Acadia is located just southwest of Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island. Fuel up at Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast in Bar Harbor before venturing out.

As soon as you arrive, you’ll understand why the likes of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Brooke Astor vacationed here in the 20th century.

If you’re pressed for time, make sure you see one thing at Acadia National Park — Cadillac Mountain . You can access it by foot, car (a winding 3.5 miles), or bike via Summit Road.

This incredible mountain is actually the highest point along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States.

Another can’t miss spot on your Acadia National Park itinerary is Thunder Hole . If you experience it during high tide, you can see crashing waves funneling up through the center of the rocks.

Thunder Hole, a must see site in Maine's Acadia National Park

The three best hikes in Acadia are Jordan Pond Shore Trail (3.3 miles), Ocean Path (2 miles), and Bubble Rock (1.5 miles). Cap off your Acadia trip by visiting Sand Beach. The water is always frigid cold. But you can walk the beach and enjoy the views.

Head back to Bar Harbor to bunk down for the night. If you want to whet your whistle before leaving Acadia, make your way to the northern point of the island. Stop in at Atlantic Brewing Company . Set on a ten acre farm, this excellent craft brewery focuses exclusively on ales.

Where to eat in Acadia National Park : Jordan Pond House, Helen’s, The Blue Bird Ranch Restaurant

Pro Tip : There aren’t many dining options in the park. It’s really better to head back to Bar Harbor for dinner.

Stephen King's house in Bangor

Day 10: Bangor

End your trip in Bangor, the second largest city in Maine and unofficial capital of the north. Underrated Bangor has seen a resurgence in tourism as of late, especially with its thriving restaurant scene.

Because Bangor has an international airport, it’s also a good place to fly out of if you’re heading back home after your 10 day Maine road trip.

Bangor has a revitalized waterfront. From July to October, you can take in a concert at the outdoor amphitheater, Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.

Bangor’s American Folk Festival draws crowds in late August. And you can check out the massive Paul Bunyan statue, reminding you that lumber was once the state’s main export.

the town of Bangor Maine, with the Hammond Street Congregational Church

For an eerie experience, wander by Stephen King’s eccentric house. The famed horror novelist has lived in Bangor for many years.

The red and white house is front and center, with a macabre wrought iron fence featuring spiders, bars, and a three headed reptile. You can take a private tour of Bangor’s Stephen King sites with SK Tours of Maine .

If you need a dose of culture, Bangor delivers. You can visit the Maine Discovery Museum , with many interactive exhibits. Or head to the Zillman Art Museum (formerly the University of Maine Museum of Art), which features modern and contemporary art and is free to the public.

Where to stay in Bangor : Hilton Garden Inn or The Charles Inn

Where to eat in Bangor : Thistles Restaurant, Novio’s, The Lobstah Buoy, The Fiddlehead Restaurant, Massino’s Cucina Italiana

wild blueberries in Maine

Extra Time On Your Maine Road Trip?

If you have extra time beyond 10 days in Maine, I have some bonus destinations in Maine that are completely worth a visit.

First, if you have more vacation days, spend another day or two in Acadia National Park. There’s so many things to do there, you could keep busy for days.

Alternatively, from Bangor, head to either the town of Eastport (for culture) or to Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec (for the great outdoors).

The scenic village of Eastport is surely one of New England’s most picturesque towns, like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. Situated on a peninsula on pristine Moose Island, Eastport is a world apart. Eastport has historic architecture, a vibrant local art scene, and lobster galore.

While there, you can visit Shackford Head State Park, with miles of hiking trails. Or you can go on a whale watching tour in Passamaquoddy Bay. In the summer, the sea breezes bring flocks of sea birds, so bird watching is a good option too.

Eastport Maine, historic waterfront district

In the easternmost tip of Maine, you’ll find the West Quoddy Head Light, one of 60 lighthouses dotting Maine’s coastline.

The Quoddy park has a cliff walk, a bog walk, rare plants, and spectacular views. If you’re lucky, you may spot a whale. Quoddy is remote and utterly quiet, perfect for frazzled urbanites.

If skiing is on your Maine to do list, head to Sugarloaf Mountain. Open from 8 am until sunset, this natural landmark features striking landscape views. After taking lifts to the top of Sugarloaf and exploring the park, you can check out the nearby small towns. 

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec Maine

When Is The Best Time To Visit Maine?

The fall foliage in New England is spectacular. When the leaves change, Maine is aglow with fiery orange, yellow and red hues from its maples, oaks, elms and birch trees. This makes September and October an ideal time to visit. But fall always arrives at different times. Click here for a New England fall foliage tracker.

Myself, I also love the languid late summer for a visit to Maine, and had many as a child. Summer starts later in Maine, really kicking off on July 4th. Be forewarned, traffic on Route 1 can get congested in the summer-fall seasons.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 10 days in Maine itinerary. You may enjoy these other New England travel guides and resources:

  • Prettiest Towns in New England
  • 1 Week Road Trip in Southern New England
  • Best Places To Visit in Massachusetts
  • What To Do On a Berkshires Road Trip
  • Fall Foliage Road Trip in New England
  • 1 Week Road Trip in Vermont
  • 3 Day Itinerary for Boston
  • 30+ Landmarks in Boston
  • 21 Less Touristy Towns on the East Coast

If you’d like to take a 10 day road trip in coastal Maine, pin it for later.

Pinterest pin for coastal Maine itinerary

2 thoughts on “The Perfect 10 Days In Coastal Maine”

My wife and I visited Maine in early October. We found Bar Harbor way too touristy ( think Gatlinburg) but we did enjoy hiking over to Bar Island,

Bar Harbor can definitely be touristy. I like Boothbay better myself.

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Last Updated on July 28, 2023 by Leslie Livingston

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Maine is known for its coasts so a road trip up the coast is perfect!

The Ultimate Maine Road Trip Itinerary

June 26, 2020 //  by  Follow Me Away //   3 Comments

Trying to plan the perfect Maine road trip? Look no further! We’re here to help make the process a little less stressful!

It is one of the best road trips in the USA and should totally be on your bucket list!

Maine has so much to offer: from scenic roads to iconic lighthouses, famous lobster shacks, breathtaking trees alongside winding drives, fun cities, and some national parks, you won’t be disappointed with any stop you add to your Maine road trip itinerary. 

We are listing some of our favorite and “must-see” stops for a Maine road trip below. Victoria actually grew up exploring Maine and New England by RV, so we hope that you enjoy this itinerary!

Keep your personal timeline in mind as you get the car ready to go! You’re in for an amazing adventure.

Maine road trips are known for its coasts so a road trip up the coast is perfect!

The Ultimate Maine Road trip Itinerary

Getting to maine .

When starting your Maine road trip, we recommend flying into the Boston Logan International Airport. This airport is large and therefore a huge hub for many Airlines such as Delta, Cape Air, Southwest, American, United, and more. 

Because this airport is a hub, it also has a variety of cities to depart from, including, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta Fort Lauderdale, Vegas, and more! So no matter where you are coming from, you will find a well-priced flight here at Boston Logan International Airport. 

If you want to fly into somewhere else, however, you can also consider flying into Portland (Portland, Maine, of course!), through their Portland International Jetport! We just suggest Boston Logan International because it is close to the border of the state and easier to rent cars from for Maine road trip! 

Flying into Maine is easy: don't miss those breathtaking coastal views when starting your maine road trip

Getting Around During Your Maine Road Trip 

To begin your Maine road trip, you’ll need a car! So make sure to stop by the Rental Car Center serving Boston Logan after you land. Airport terminals run every 5-6 minutes and will take you straight to the RCC where you can rent out a vehicle.

Here you can rent from Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, Alamo, BOS, Thrifty, and Advantage! Just make sure to get a car that has some room and good gas mileage so you are comfortable and prepared for all your adventures of a road trip to Maine. 

Don’t forget to check out our Detailed Road Trip Packing List so you don’t forget any essentials for your trip!

road in fall during a maine road trip

When to See Fall Foliage in Maine 

We know that the fall foliage in New England is spectacular: people come from all over to see the leaves change, and Maine has some of the bright orange, yellow and red hues across their Maples, Oaks, Elms and Birch trees. 

Many people travel to Maine during late September to see the fall foliage. The September to October weather also is perfect timing for touring the coast and witnessing these hues act as a stake contrast of the blue waters of the nearby oceans, lakes, and rivers! So make sure to keep this in mind when you’re planning a date for your Maine road trip!

The Maine fall foliage is a sharp contrast to the clear waters

Stop 1: Rest and Relax at Ogunquit Beach

Ogunquit, Maine is a must stop for your Maine road trip because it truly is a beautiful place by the sea! With miles of sandy beaches, a scenic coast, art galleries, fun shopping, and dining adventures, this place ranks as one of the best vacation spots! 

Perkins Cove is a small fishing village that is great for shopping and restaurants! There are also a variety of tours from boat harbors that you can visit here! Marginal Way is a 1.25-mile coastal walking path that connects Perkins Village to Ogunquit, so this is a great science route to walk. 

There is also some great theater here, so you can check out the Ogunquit Playhouse or the Museum of American Art if you’re interested! Or if you want to do something beyond the beach and small towns, make sure to check our some events: local food and wine tastings are popular and fall-themed events are dependent on the time of year you visit! 

Where to Stay in Ogunquit Beach

Mid-Range: Ogunquit River Inn. Check Rates: Booking.com 

Mid-Range: Ogunquit Tides . Check Rates: Booking.com

Oguinquit beach is known for its white sands, rocky shores and clear water

Stop 2: Continue to Relax in Kennebunkport 

Kennebunkport is a coastal town in southern Maine that is famous for it’s long, sandy beaches. You must check this location out during your Maine road trip if you’re interested in stopping by Goose Rocks Beach as well as Arundel Beach.  This is truly one of the best things to do in Maine!

The Seashore Trolley Museum is also a neat and niche place that displays a huge collection of streetcars, and many people like checking out St. Ann’e Episcopal Church since it dates back to 1887 and its rustic stone architecture contrasted with its grass fields are breathtaking. 

Cape Porpoise is also a nearby lobster-fishing village that sits in a harbor and is well known for its local seafood. From most restaurants and galleries here, you can also view the 1833 Goat Island Lighthouse! 

Where to Stay in Kennebunkport

Mid-Range: Lodge at Kennebunk.  Check Rates: Booking.com

High Range-Range: The Boathouse. Check Rates: Booking.com

Kennebunkport is a quaint, coastal town to see on your maine road trip

Stop 3: Make sure to Visit Cape Elizabeth for Iconic Lighthouses

A Genteel town, Cape Elizabeth is another stop you have to spend some time during your Maine road trip This place of history and coastlines and parks hugs the Casco Bay , making ripe for adventure! 

Many tourists love to explore this area by bike and cross the Casco Bay Bridge to get to the Cape Elizabeth’s coast. But the hardest decision to make when visiting here comes down to visiting lighthouses: there are so many! Portland Headlight, Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse, and Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse  are active and great views. 

Williams Par k has great trails to explore old batteries, but more importantly, Two Lights State Park is set on a rocky shoreline where you can view twin lighthouses that are close by. This place is perfect for lunch alongside the crashing waves, but you can also check out Crescent Bech State Park!

Where to Stay Near Cape Elizabeth 

Mid-Range: The Francis Check Rates: Booking.com

High-Range: Inn by the Sea . Check Rates: Booking.com

Cape Elizabeth is perfect for witnessing a variety of Lighthouses on your Maine itinerary

Stop 4: Spend some time in Portland, Maine (not Oregon!) 

Set on the peninsula extending into Casco Bay , Portland is a great city to stop in during your Maine road trip, and it’s close to Cape Elizabeth!  The Old Port features fishing wharves, warehouses, restaurants, and unique Indie shops that are great for exploring. 

Fort Willams Park is fantastic for visiting a rocky coast, as the seaside park is coastal and has an old fort and views of lighthouses! The Portland Head Lighthouse is also super cool to check out. 

If you’re looking for something more “indoors” to do, you can check out the Portland Museum of Art, but we highly recommend visiting Peaks Island , where there are more beaches and a really cool Fifth Maine Regiment Museum ! 

Where to stay near Portland 

Mid-Range: Hampton Inn Portland Downtown Waterfront Check Rates: Booking.com

High-Range: Portland Harbor Hotel. Check Rates: Booking.com

The Old Port is the coolest little fishing town in Maine!

Stop 5: Enjoy the Water in Waldoboro 

Waldoboro is a cute, quaint town in Maine that is perfect for any Maine road trip itinerary. Well known for its lakes, this place thrives off of its agricultural and fishing legacy. 

We recommend checking out all the lake and pond wonders Waldoboro has! From Damariscotta Lake to Pemaquid Pond and Duckpuddle Pond , these bodies of waters are perfect for evenings that you want to fish, relax, boat, and watch sunsets! 

We also think the Waldoboro Historical Society is a cute museum to check out! And the Goose River Peace Corps Preserve and Pond are just fantastic for exploring trails and greenery! Make sure to take in the scenery at Waldoboro! 

Where to Stay Near Waldoboro

Mid-Range: Claddagh Motel and Suites. Check Rates: Booking.com 

Mid-Range: Ledges by the Bay . Check Rates: Booking.com

The bodies of water near waldoboro Maine are breathtaking

Stop 6: Check out Rockland and it’s cute Bay and Harbor

Rockland , Maine is a popular tourist spot, so you must add it to your Maine road trip itinerary. Rockland is known as mid-coast Maine and is beautifully famous because the mountains and sea converge here right on Rockland Harbor and Penobscot Bay . 

The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is a highlight of the town, and there are plenty of tours you can take that lets you travel around Penobscot Bay. 

There are also amazing restaurants and shops to check out here, such as Rustica — a great Italian place– and Jess’ Market . Many tourists love renting bikes to explore the small-time and highly recommend looking at great festivals that might be going on when you visit: Rockland is famous for its Summer Solstice Festival! 

Where to Stay Near Rockland

Mid-Range: Glen Cove Inn & Suites. Check Rates: Booking.com

Mid-Range : Strawberry Hill Seaside Inn. Check Rates: Booking.com

Rockland is a popular tourist spot in Maine

Stop 7: You Must See the East Coast’s Acadia National Park 

Would you really be on a Maine road trip without stopping by and witnessing Acadia National Park in all of its glory? Acadia National Park is a 47,000-acre recreation area on Maine’s Mount Desert. 

Known for its foods, rocky beaches, and breathtaking granite, there are some must-sees here. Cadillac Mountain is the tallest point on the East coast for example. It’s known for its sweeping panoramic views. 

But also make sure to check out Sand Beach , where the quiet cove is super relaxing, or even Jordan Pond where there are some beautiful trails with nearby mountains and lakes! We recommend ensuring that you check out the Bubble Mountain hike though, and Mount Desert Island! 

Where to stay near Acadia

Low-Range: Acadia Pines Motel. Check Rates: Booking.com 

Mid-Range: Anchorage Motel. Check Rates: Booking.com

Acadia National Park is one of the few national parks on the east coast!

Stop 8: Spend some Time In Bar Harbor 

This bayside town is close to Acadia and is a popular getaway or stops for tourists which is why we’re listing it on your Maine road trip itinerary! You can view this town from the top of Cadillac Mountain.

Many people stop by here because it is so close to Acadia, but while here make sure to check out the Ocean Trail, Schoodic Peninsula, and Frenchman Bay . 

The Criterion Theatre is also a cool place for an evening in, or exploring Village Green , a small historical town with lots to explore! The College of the Atlantic Gardens is also quaint and quiet if you’re looking for something a bit different to explore!

Where to stay in Bar Harbor

Mid-Range: Moseley Cottage Inn. Check Rates: Booking.com

High-Range: Bar Harbor Grand Hotel. Check Rates: Booking.com

Bar Harbor is a famous stop in Maine, known for its seafood!

Stop 9: Take a trip on a ferry to Nova Scotia 

Although Nova Scotia is technically a province in eastern Canada and not a part of Maine, you have to add it to your Maine road trip! Thankfully you can take the CAT ferry from Bar Harbor for a day trip to Nova! 

Some of the top sights you’ll want to visit in Nova during your trip include the Cape Breton Highlands National Park where you can take trails through mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and coastlines. The Kejimkujik National Park is similar to Cape Breton as well! 

Or you can explore the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, the Halifax Public Gardens of the Halifax Citadel National Site. And if you’re feeling REALLY adventurous, off the coast of Sable Island there are tons of shipwrecks to explore if you want to go diving or snorkeling! Just watch for the high tides Nova is famous for! 

Where to Stay in Nova Scotia

Low-Range: Hillside Landing B&B. Check Rates: Booking.com

Mid-Range: Residence Inn. Check Rates: Booking.com

Although in Canada, Nova Scotia is a great day trip from Maine!

We are so excited you’ve chosen o embark on a Maine road trip, as it is truly a gorgeous state with unforgettable coastlines. After your day trip to Nova, you can head back to Boston or Portland to go ahead and fly home! But as we’ve mentioned, this guide only touches the surface of what Maine has to offer. If you want to know more or have more time to explore, check out some other stops as well. Either way, we know you’ll have fun!

With More Time: 

There is truly so much to do in Maine, so if you are traveling with a bit more time, or for a longer period of time, we are adding a few more stops you might want to stop and explore during your Maine road trip! These stops are super popular as well but are a bit further out of the “loop” during your traveling adventures. They will take more time to get to, but definitely check them out if you have that extra time!

Visit Chimney Pond Via Mount Katahdin

To climb Mount Katahdin during your extended Maine road trip, we suggest taking the Chimney Pond Trail. This trail is 6.3 miles and is considered a “moderate” hike, but is well known for the lake and views it offers.

The Chimney Pond Campgrounds are also part of the “backcountry” near Baxter State Park . Here you can rest and realz while having the closest access to other trails such as Hamlin Ridge and Saddle .  

Chimney Pond is a great camp sight in Maine!

Visit Oh My Gosh Corner/Carrabassett

Carrabassett Valley is located between the Bigelow Mountains and is known for its scenic routes of birches and rivers. Many people love to come here for skiing in the winter, as there is a bend in the Route known as “Oh My Gosh Corner.”  

From this corner, you can see Sugarloaf Mountain, is 163 trails trifling down its surface. The bend in this road is breathtaking: its north-facing mountain towers around the corner at a 4,237 summit along Carrabassett River . You don’t want to miss it during your Maine road trip.

Oh My Gosh Corner has breathtaking views of valleys and mountains in Maine

Visit Moosehead Lake 

Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine, which means you have to stop and see it with your Maine itinerary! Situated in the Longfellow Mountains , this lake is surrounded by the Kennebec River.

Near Beaver Cove , the terrain slopes gently toward the water making it a perfect place to swim. The water clarity is great, temperatures fairly warm, and Mount Kineo is also close: here you can explore the 700-foot scenic cliffs in-between your lake day! 

Moosehead Lake offers great hikes, day trips and views.

Visit Rangeley Lake 

Fed by a variety of streams, Rangeley Lake is situated close to Rangeley , which was named one of the best winter towns inNew England. Its lake is over 6,000 arches and is super deep (149 feet!). But no matter what time of year you are taking your Maine road trip, you’ve got to stop here! 

Many people love to fish here, as the lake is known for its brook trout and salmon. Beyond the lake though, there is Rangeley Village with hotels, restaurants and shops, and the Rangeley Lakes Region Historical Society is a cute museum that exhibits the town’s history! 

Rangeley Lake is a large body of water in Maine known for its views and fishing!

Visit Sugarloaf Mountain 

Sugarloaf Mountain is a lovely mountain in Maine. Open from 8 a.m. until sunset, this natural landmark has geographical beauty and striking landscape views. After taking lifts to the top of Sugarloaf and exploring the park, you can check out the nearby towns. 

Visit Baxter State Park 

Our last suggestion for your Maine road trip itinerary includes Baxter State Park . This is a large wilderness area that has been permanently preserved and features a variety of trails (we highly recommend checking out the Knife Edge trail !), sights, and mountains. 

Mount Katahdin is Maine’s tallest peak and is located here. It is also a favorite hike amongst tourists! And Baxter Peak is also popular, although its trial is more difficult. If you’re feeling more “woodsy” too, you can explore the monuments and breathtaking sights of Katahdin Woods and Waters! 

Baxter State Park is a gorgeous outlook in Northern Maine.

And there you have it! A great Maine road trip itinerary that will take you around the state to experience national parks, iconic lighthouses, potent landscapes, and more. Make sure to drive safe and have TONS of fun during your Maine road trip– we promise it will be unforgettable! 

Grand Canyon Road Trip North Rim

Reader Interactions

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July 12, 2020 at 12:14 pm

What a wonderful trip through Maine. I have done some of it but would love to return to see the rest. It is a beautiful state with so many places to visit…One day…

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October 14, 2022 at 8:39 pm

thanks for the good read. i am going solo as i promised to see Maine before i am 60 ill let you know how much i love it

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A Classic Maine Road Trip: Lobsters, Lighthouses & Coastal Views

coastal maine road trip

A Coastal Maine Road Trip

There are a couple of classic road trips throughout the US but in the Northeast, I think the route that comes to mind most often would be Maine.

Rugged yet charming, coastal with the backdrop of beautiful mountains, Maine’s coast is one of its most attractive destinations that draw big crowds each summer.

We spent just over 10 days in Maine and focused on a trio of cities – Kennebunkport, Portland and Rockland – as well as some leisurely, unplugged time out on the water.

We joined a classic Maine windjammer cruise to sail for 4 days out in the Penobscot Bay, an inlet famous for secluded offshore islands and lobster fishing.

Today we’re sharing everything you need to know about road tripping in Maine, along with our itinerary, where we stayed and recommended sights!



Maine Road Trip Itinerary

If we had 2 weeks in Maine or longer, we would have loved to continue our journey up north and explore Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor and cross over to Canada’s Prince Edward Island. Some of the most dramatic lighthouses in Maine are in the very north of the state!

Instead, we opted to do a sailing cruise.

We had heard so many great things about the traditional windjammer boats that sail around Maine’s Penobscot Bay so we joined a 4 day cruise aboard the J & E Riggin schooner.

coastal road trip in maine

Best Time to Visit Maine

Summer is the warmest season in Maine and when the state comes alive. The Atlantic ocean “heats” to a refreshing 60 degrees, the flora come alive and the nights are breezy.

Another popular time to explore Maine is in the fall, preferably in October during peak fall folliage . Picture it now: deep blue bays dramatically contrasting against 12 million acres of rustic red, yellow and orange forest. A great way to see it all is on a fall folliage specific cruise , like this one .

coastal road trip in maine

Maine Itinerary

Days 1-2: kennebunkport.

coastal road trip in maine

Kennebunk and Kennebunkport are two picturesque towns right next to each other.

Together, they’re commonly called The Kennebunks. There’s history, shopping and great restaurants in the area – you could easily spend 4 nights here!

From charming Main Street downtown to the stately mansions on Oceans Drive, we fell in love with Kennebunkport.

The town is most famous for being the summer home of the Bush clan, who have a majestic compound on Walkers Point.

Things to Do in Kennebunkport, Maine

  • Drive through Oceans Drive for a view of unique homes
  • Relax at Goose Beach
  • Try lobster rolls at Mabel’s or The Clam Shack
  • Pick up a ‘Maine’ t shirt!

Where to Stay in Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport is known for its charming bed-and-breakfasts and a couple of out-of-this-world luxury hotels. We opted to try out 2 hotels in different locations to get a different feel for the town.

We recommend The Yachtsman , a new colorful and comfortable hotel with a prime spot right on the marina (less than a 10 minute walk from Main Street). The hotel was originally a motel, so you park right in front of your room, but there's nothing low budget about this property now!

The interior rooms have been beautifully designed, with walkout back doors that open to the marina. Rooms are incredibly spacious and modernized, with smart TVs, marble bathrooms, wine coolers and sky high ceilings.

Check rates:  Hotels.com ,   Booking.com

Read reviews:   TripAdvisor

Hidden Pond Resort

If you’re visiting Kennebunkport with family, or want a more secluded experience, try Hidden Pond . This luxury property is about a 15 minute drive outside the bustling downtown, and feels worlds away. In fact, the property is so large that guests get a map at check in!

We stayed here on our drive back down to NY and loved not only the rustic glamping vibe, but the fact that each “room” is its own standalone 1 or 2 bedroom  cottage .

We had a huge screened-in porch, stone fireplace, cute kitchenette, king size bed, marble bathroom and even an outdoor shower . This is the hotel to relax in seclusion and style!

Check rates:   Hotels.com ,  Booking.com

Day 3: Scarborough

coastal road trip in maine

If you want to get some beach time in, stop in Scarborough!

This coastal resort area is just south of Portland with miles of white sand.

We stayed at  Higgins Beach   hotel, right next to the beach, then did a couple quick trips to check out Cape Elizabeth and its lighthouse as well as Fort Williams Park and the Portland Head lighthouse.

We also noticed Scarborough is very family friendly and a much more affordable place to stop if Portland isn’t your thing (they’re about 15 minutes driving distance apart)

Things to Do in Scarborough

  • Surf in the morning at Higgins Beach
  • Spend the afternoon in sunny Pine Point Beach
  • Take in the historic homes and pretty seascapes along Prouts Neck Cliff Walk
  • Kayak at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, home to Maine’s largest salt marsh
  • Try some great local beer and food at Sebago Brewery

Where to Stay in Scarborough

Higgins Beach Inn is a quaint Victorian home that's been lovingly restored. A pretty impressive hot breakfast is included and the rooms are clean and comfortable. Best of all, it's not even a 2 minute walk to the beach!

Check rates:   Booking.com ,  Hotels.com  

Days 4-5: Portland

coastal road trip in maine

Portland is Maine’s big city and it’s primarily known as a foodie city !

Whether you like shopping, dining or more active adventure, Portland offers a bit of it all. 

On our drive up we detoured at Portland Head Light, the most iconic and most photographed lighthouse in Maine!  It’s located within Fort Williams State Park and well worth a visit.

Things to Do in Portland, Maine

  • Snap a photo at picturesque Portland Head Lighthouse
  • Get a scenic tour of Portland on a vintage firetruck !
  • Visit Old Port for quaint cobblestone streets, a food tour & New England architecture
  • Have seafood and fresh oysters at Eventide Oyster Co
  • Sip Maine’s most famous beers on a fun craft brewery tour
  • Indulge in some doughnut decadence at Holy Donut

Where to Stay in Portland

The Press Hotel  is a member of Autograph hotels so naturally everything about this place is immaculately designed! Formerly a printing plant, the hotel redesigned the space with spacious rooms, (comfy king size beds and huge bathrooms!).

The location is close to Portland's best restaurants and shops, while the in-house bar serves some great cocktails. Best of all, the service is incredible – staff make every effort here so that your stay is unforgettable!

Days 6-7: Rockland

coastal road trip in maine

Rockland is a cool, up and coming town in Northern Maine.

It’s long been known as the lobster capital of the world but is making a second name for itself due to its incredible art scene.

On our way from Portland to Rockland, we pit stopped through Freeport, a town made famous as the headquarters of L.L. Bean.

Freeport is a shopping mecca – every great all American store has a presence in the outlets here: Patagonia, North Face, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein etc!

Things to Do in Rockland

  • Rockland has a well know art scene. Visit the Farnsworth Art Museum & the Center for Maine Contemporary Art
  • Explore Rockland Breakwater, a lighthouse nearly a mile into the sea with great views
  • Take a picturesque windjammer cruise at sunset
  • Shop for your own art collection on Main Street’s boutiques
  • In August, chow down at the Maine Lobster Festival

Where to Stay in Rockland

We stayed at 250 Main , probably our favorite hotel from the trip.

It's beautifully modern, with spacious rooms, comfy beds and chic toiletries from Malin and Goetz.

The rooftop is the perfect place to watch the sun rise over the harbor or enjoy a glass before bed. 250 Main offers not only breakfast with your stay, but also a complimentary glass during happy hour so you can also meet other guests!

coastal road trip in maine

Driving from NYC to Maine

From NYC to Rockland, Maine, the route is roughly 400 miles one way, or about an 7-8 hour drive without stops.

We knew we wanted to focus on Maine’s coastline and have the freedom to explore at our own pace, so we opted to rent a car for 10 days and stop only in Maine cities (so we drove straight through Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts).

Volvo kindly let us test drive the hybrid XC 60 and it was  beautiful . 

The XC 60 is one of Volvo’s most popular models and as a mid-size SUV, it was super roomy for just the two of us! Inside, the luxury car had comfy leather seats and a minimalist Scandinavian design.

I really loved the panoramic roof in particular! My parents cars’ have sun roofs, but the Volvo’s roof is long enough to cover both the front and rear seats, so that the entire interior is flooded with light.

And if you’re like me and avoid the sun like the plague, don’t worry – the sunroof is made from a special tinted glass that filters out extra heat and UV radiation.

coastal road trip in maine

The first hour getting outside the city is always the most stressful. 

As C handled the driving, I started familiarizing myself with the dashboard. I’ve never seen such a beautiful, completely digitized car – everything was touch screen !

No more scrolling through radio channels trying to find a song you like – the Volvo displayed every channel on air with the song title and artist, and even had genre-specific categories.

Once C found out his favorite ESPN podcast was on air, he made us listen to that for an hour while I groaned. If you prefer your own playlist, the car can sync to your iPhone via bluetooth.

Busy driving?

coastal road trip in maine

You can even control all the functions with your voice !

We’ve been living in NYC for so long without a car that it was so impressive to see how far cars have advanced. 

C really liked how the dashboard updated him in real-time with each road’s speed limit  so we could make sure we were transitioning between Route 1 and the local roads easily.

Meanwhile, I loved the lane keeping aid and  parking assist , which especially came in handy for parallel parking once we were back in NYC!

coastal road trip in maine

Best of all, the Volvo didn’t even need a key to plug-in to an ignition or to open the car.

We just had to have the key in your pocket while standing on the driver side to unlock the Volvo, which is nice if you are forever rummaging in your purse like I am. When you lock the car, the side mirrors automatically turn in.

Best of all, we only had to fill the tank twice on our 10 day trip. The hybrid model we drove uses a combination of a combustion engine and an electrical engine, so it’s incredibly fuel-efficient.

We spent just ~$60 on gas for 800+ miles, at about $3.00 a gallon! So impressive.

We also saw many electric charging stations in Maine, which was an unexpected surprise and a bonus for hybrid electric car drivers! (We didn’t use the electric charging stations though as we didn’t know how lol).

The main highway that runs north to south from NY to Maine is Route 1. We plugged in our destinations on Google Maps, clicked ‘avoid tolls’, and off we went!

That was our Maine road trip! Let me know in the comments what you’re most looking forward to seeing in Maine and where are you starting your Maine vacation?

Visiting Maine – Trip Planning Checklist

Road Trip |  We rented a car for our 10 day road trip. It ended up being a great and cost-effective way to explore Maine, as our hybrid Volvo XC 60 really maximized every mile of the 800 mile route. We only had to fill up on gas twice! Check the latest deals on car rentals here .

Accommodation |  Maine has some beautiful boutique hotels along its popular coastal towns. Summer is peak season in Maine, so book hotels in advance to save, or check here for last-minute deals . Alternatively, get a fun group together and rent a house on  AirBnB  for a slightly more budget friendly option.

Insurance | Lastly, be sure to visit Maine with  travel insurance . Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, or your phone gets stolen, travel insurance will help when you need it most. Get a quote for your trip here .

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HI…I am taking my son on a 3-5 day trip…he has always wanted to see the lighthouses so that will be our focus. We both love food so will catch a little food along the way…any help would be great.

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Road Trip: 4 Days on the Maine Coast

By Brad Rickman

Acadia National Park Maine Road Trips

Maine's coast hardly needs a sales pitch. That juxtaposition of quaint and cozy against the ruggedly elemental has been the region's primary draw for nearly two centuries. But the trio of cities here—Portland, Camden, and Bar Harbor—form what I think of as the heart of the state's allure, those top three tracks on the greatest hits compilation you can't stop humming. These days, they go way beyond conventional Downeast charm. You'll find some of the most creative and delicious food in the country right now in Portland , and that restless urge for invention has begun working its way up the coast. It's all a reflection of the quiet artistic spirit and fierce independence that define Mainers: tough but beautiful, like their coast.

June through September are when the weather's best, and when the flora are at their most enthusiastic. Summers get hot, but stay close to the water and you'll find the heat and humidity eased by offshore breezes. Nights are almost invariably cool. You can certainly do this trip in October—the leaves are likely to have peaked by then, but they'll still be spectacular. Just dress warmly.

What to drive

You'll be spending some time on scenic coastal roads, but this isn't northern California; Maine's not an ideal testing testing ground for performance-driver chops—no cliff-hugging curves here—so save the Porsche 911 splurge for another trip. If you do feel like indulging, and you're going in the height of summer, a convertible will pay off nicely, especially on the mid-coast and in Acadia National Park. Just remember to put the top up when you park: Summer thunderstorms aren't unheard of.

Portland Maine Road Trips

The game is small plates, heavy on seafood and veg, at Central Provisions on Wharf Street in Portland.

Day 1: Portland

Even though it still makes me smile a little each time I say it, the single-terminal, 11-gate Portland International Jetport is Maine's biggest airport. It provides access from most major regions of the country, making Portland the perfect in and out. And there's no better tone-setter for this trip.

Park yourself at the Press Hotel , a boutique spot that opened in 2015 in the building that used to be home to the Press Herald. It's cleverly styled with typewriter and printing-press motifs, and well appointed with locally crafted leathers and textiles—best of all, it’s close to everything you'll want to see. Grab your breakfast at the Standard Baking Company on Commercial Street, where the smells alone will warm your spirits. Go for a pain au chocolat, but the brioche and croissant are great too, and if it's Thursday or Saturday you'll find rugalach—all baked fresh, of course. Then head up Congress Street to the Portland Museum of Art . The building alone's worth the visit, with its soaring modern atrium, minimalist lines, and surprise spatial cutouts; but the small, intense collection is what truly impresses, running the gamut from early moderns like Renoir, Cassat, and homeboy Winslow Homer (whose studio at Prout's Neck is actually part of the museum) to a charmingly idiosyncratic midcentury selection including Hopper and Alex Katz, plus a strong selection of contemporary work.

For lunch, hit perennial favorite Eventide Oyster Co . It'll be crowded (for good reason), so put your name in and use the time to pre-tour the Old Port. Once you're in you'll want a sampling of oysters, of course—as many as your party can manage, and stay local; it's why you're here. Other must-gets include the fluke ceviche, the lobster roll, and the peekytoe crab roll, when it's in season. Afterward, finish your waterfront walk with an ice cream in hand. I like Mount Desert Island Ice Cream Company on Exchange Street, where the flavors are original and everything's handmade. If you need an afternoon pick-me-up, stop by Bard Coffee on Middle Street—they roast in house, and the digs are airy and welcoming.

Your pre-dinner cocktail should come from the Portland Hunt and Alpine Club just across from cute Post Office Park. The decor's Scandinavian and the seasonal drinks are wide-ranging, creative, and refreshing, like the Lavender Collins, made with grenadine and aquavit instead of gin. They don't lean too hard on trends, which is my way of praising the fact that you'll actually find a handful that don't involve amari.

Dinner's at Central Provisions , just off cinematically bricked-and-cobblestoned Wharf Street. The game is small plates, heavy on seafood and veg; and while the front of house is relaxed, the kitchen's serious in its imagination and technique—and its flavor. Be sure to treat yourself to the burrata starter (exact composition will vary by season and chef’s whim), one or more of the crudo small plates, the Korean-inflected house frites, and rhubarb cake if it’s in season.

Camden MidCoast Maine Road Trips

Mid-coast views in Camden.

Day 2: Camden

The trick is to get out early: Grab your coffee at the Inkwell in the Press Hotel's lobby and get moving up the coast before it cools. It's less than two hours' drive if you plow straight through, but of course that's not what you're about. So head on 295 North out of the city but jam over to Route 1 around Brunswick. This is the coast road. Follow it to Thomaston, where you'll detour to 131 on the far side of town. Here things get a bit tricky: From 131 you'll grab 73 at St. George, and you'll follow it to Spruce Head Island, where you'll track down McLoon's Lobster Shack right on the water, south shore. That's lunch. Order a lobster roll and a crab roll, even if you're all by your lonesome, and know that what you're eating got caught that morning in the waters you're looking at.

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After lunch, make your way back to 73 toward Rockland—but tack east on North Shore Drive before you arrive, to get out to Owls Head State Park . This is woodsy Maine coast at its best; park in the lot and get your phone’s camera ready for the brief but lovely hike to Owls Head Light, a functioning 19th-century lighthouse that's as severely gorgeous as the landscape over which it presides.

Stay just north of Camden at the Lincolnville Motel , exactly the brand of hipster retro you'd expect to find in Maine: laid back, warm, and friendly in an quiet way. The cabins are small (it really is a refurbed motel), but they're loaded with charm and whimsy, from the comic poolside blow-up floats to the Crosley turntables—and actual vinyl collections!—in the rooms, which are resolutely devoid of television and Wi-Fi. Owner Alice Amory is generous with local recs; you're likely to find her in one of the book-laden common spaces (where you'll also, yes, find Wi-Fi if you really need it).

In Camden, you owe yourself a walking tour. (It won't take long.) Stroll Main Street, aka Route 1, for the shops and scenery, and be sure to stop at Sea Bags to pick up one of their funky-chic tote bags made from recycled sails (the combo of design charm, water resistance, and ruggedness makes them the best all-purpose personal-item carry-ons I've ever found). Get off the streets for a walk through well-manicured Harbor Park, which gracefully notches the top of postcard-pretty Camden Harbor, on your way to grab a drink with a water view at the Rhumb Line (bar seats are best), then do dinner at Long Grain , a no-frills-in-the-dining-room, high-class-in-the-kitchen Thai joint on Elm Street. Yep, that's right: Skip the lobster (this time), and order their Pad Seuw, whose noodles are hand-made daily, and the Maine crab fried rice. They may seem like dishes you know, but they’re done here with a level of care and imagination that’ll render them fresh again.

Bar Harbor Maine Road Trips

A bit of France in Bar Harbor.

Day 3: Bar Harbor

Camden to Bar Harbor takes roughly two hours, and while it's a decidedly scenic route—you'll be curling up Route 1 right along the coast—there's so much jaw-dropping scenery where you're headed that you'll be forgiven for keeping it brisk. (Though if you do have the time, by all means make your pace leisurely.) Both Bar Harbor and Acadia are on Mount Desert Island, a big volcano- and glacier-carved bulb dangling into Penobscot Bay that's nearly sliced up its center by Somes Sound , Maine's only true fjord.

If location's your priority, the Bar Harbor Inn 's tough to beat, slung as it is along the waterfront's ridge just below the town's center. The sweeping slope of lawn runged with adirondack chairs lends it the genteel grandeur of an era bygone, and there's no better place than the Terrace Grille to grab a leisurely drink with an absolutely killer view of the harbor. (Go early. Seats are deservedly in demand.) But I like the quaint intimacy of the Balance Rock Inn , just down the coast a few hundred yards. The views are only slightly less epic, but you get a sweeping lawn, a small but lounge-ready pool, and the dormers and eaves of small(er) scale New England architecture.

Once you're checked in, cross that lawn to the Shore Path . It's a small but perfect work of Bar Harbor genius: about 1.5 miles of well-manicured walkway tracing the coastline from the Town Pier to Wayman Lane. Do the whole thing—it's flat and graveled, suitable for a leisurely stroll or, come the following morning, a jog. You'll get great views of the rock formations along the shoreline, and of course the sweeping harbor, the islands, the ships tacking in and out. If you finish on the south end, the path drops you right onto Wayman Lane, which in turn connects to Main Street; just turn left to head to the center. If you finish on the north end, you're already there, with the Terrace Grille's yellow umbrellas and the fountains of Agamont Park at your left and the town landing on your right. (If you're feeling landlocked, book a sunset sail on the schooner Margaret Todd or Bailey Louise Todd, both from Downeast Windjammer Cruises, on the pier just in front of the Bar Harbor Inn.)

For lunch, head to Side Street Cafe in the center of town. A lobster roll's the order here; it's generous and well regarded with plenty of tender claw and body meat dressed simply in butter. There's a strong list of beers, including several local options like Atlantic Real Ale on draft, and cocktails. There'll be a line, but look for a table on the streetside balcony—the seating there's self-service, and often overlooked.

Afterward, do some exploring. Take Main Street as your artery. If you're visiting in summer, there'll be crowds drawn by nearby Acadia; but as a rule they're genial, and nothing compared to what you'll find in park towns out West. The Village Green has a charm worthy of its name, and is worth a (brief) pause. Other stops should be Fair Trade Winds for handmade crafts; and Cool As A Moose for amusingly kitschy (and sure, sometimes serious) Maine and Acadia gear. Hit up CJ's Big Dipper for an ice cream. Every flavor has its fans, but I'm partial to the blueberry soft serve, because there's nothing quite so summer and there's nothing quite so Maine. It's made on premises. Don't be surprised if you find a line.

For dinner, head to Havana —also on Main Street, but away from the center of town. Get a mojito to start. (The joint's name should give you confidence, but don't be fooled: The menu's more pan-Caribbean than strictly Cuban.) Then try the seafood paella and the lobster curry; they're both loaded with flavor, and loaded with lobster, which lets you get a dose without resorting to yet another lobster roll. Eat quickly: These dishes run hot, and if you're neglectful the lobster can keep cooking till it's tough.

Bar Harbor Maine Road Trips

Sand Beach, living up to its name in Acadia National Park.

Day 4: Acadia National Park

Next day, you’re off on your grand one-day tour of Acadia . The truly ambitious will get up before sunrise to watch dawn roll in from the peak of Cadillac Mountain. But I’ll assume that, like me, you’re only of modest ambition; and so I'll suggest that, like me, you do Cadillac at the end of the day rather than the beginning. Still, there’s no great case for delay. The park’s quite close to the center of town: Just follow Paradise Hill Road to the Hulls Cove entrance. (Grab a map at the Visitors' Center.) Drive the Park Loop Road, which is as direct and efficient as its name suggests, roughly tracing the park's circumference to give access to all major attractions. First stop is Sand Beach. Bring a towel, or even a chair, because it's exactly what the name implies: a wide expanse of yellow sand with crystal-clear water that, depending on the time of year, just might be warm enough (low 60s on a good day) for the brave to swim in. When you're tired of sunbathing, give your inner amateur climber a workout on the south-side rocks. (Shoes recommended.)

Other Loop features include Thunder Hole , a rock crevice that booms spectacularly when the tides rush in (it would be worth visiting for the surrounding geoformations alone); the precipitous Otter Cliff ; and pristine Echo Lake . Save some time (and energy), though, for that trip up Cadillac Mountain . It’s the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard and, with its sweeping views of the harbor, one of the park’s most impressive features. There are hikes long and short around the summit. Do one or two of the half-milers that lead you through stunning summit views, and then, if you’re still feeling it, take the South Ridge trail (7.1 miles round trip) down from the summit across shifting landscapes—pine forest, bald volcanic rock, scrub meadow—to the Blackwoods campground and back. Finishing the hike around sundown puts you at the summit at magic hour. You'll believe the hype.

Finish your long weekend off with an evening snack at Jordan Pond House . Reservations are a good idea unless you plan to show up after 4 p.m. The restaurant is spacious; it sits above a wide meadow with access to the pond—and if you have time, by all means make the short hike to check it out. Specialties of the house are tea and popovers, which are like the delicious mutant love-children of muffins and croissants, and which can be added onto nearly any dish on the menu. As for tea, the reputation's rock solid. But if the day's been hot and you've done the South Ridge Trail and you're feeling both tired and righteous at once, consider yourself in possession of permission to order a beer. They've got a fine selection, including some locals, on tap. Some days—some trips —just need to end that way.


The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel

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Ultimate Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary

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When planning a trip to the northeast, Maine is an absolute must-visit, and there is no better way to explore Maine than by car. Melissa from Navigation Junkie was kind enough to contribute this awesome coastal Maine road trip itinerary for your next trip!

Road trip duration: 7 days 

Total distance traveled: 283 Miles, Approximately 5 hours and 45 minutes of driving time 

view from acadia national park

Table of Contents

Stop 1: Kittery 

Kittery, Maine is one of the southernmost towns in Maine and a great destination for a quick stop. Fort Foster is a must when visiting Kittery.

As a state park offering three small beaches it is a great spot to cool off on a hot summer day, but it also offers the ruins of a historic fort to explore as well as great views of the Portsmouth Harbor, Whaleback Light, Portsmouth Harbor Light, and Fort Constitution. 

If you are looking for more to do in Kittery, spend some time shopping at the Kittery Outlets or visit the Kittery Historical & Naval Museum, You can also take the short drive from Fort Foster to Fort McClary Historic Site for more fort ruins and another sandy beach. 

Where to Stay in York :

Kittery to York: 7 miles (10 minute  drive) 

Stop 2: York 

On your way to Kennebunkport, make a quick stop in York, Maine. Here you can visit Wiggly Bridge and explore the Steedman Woods. There is also a small area where you can enjoy some swimming.

wiggly bridge in york maine

After this, make the fifteen-minute drive to Nubble Light, one of Maine’s most well-known lighthouses. Sohier Park is located directly across from the lighthouse, which sits on a small island, with free parking. While you can’t visit the lighthouse, you can get some great views of it from the park and enjoy a climb out onto the large rocks surrounding the park. 

nubble light near sohier park

From here, I would recommend making the drive to Kennebunkport and spending the overnight there before exploring the next day. 

Where to Stay in Kennebunkport:

York to Kennebunkport: 21 miles (30 minute drive) 

Day Two 

Stop 3: kennebunkport .

The next stop is Kennebunkport, Maine, known as one of Maine’s most prominent fishing towns.

While in Kennebunkport, visit the Seashore Trolley Museum where you can explore many public transit vehicles, drive along Ocean Avenue for views of the rocky Maine coast, drive by Walker’s Point, the summer home of George H.W. Bush, and visit the Goat Island Lighthouse (you can’t actually visit the island, but there is a parking area where you will be able to get some views of the lighthouse).  

Kennebunkport is full of water sports and activities, including bike riding, fishing, boating, kayaking, surfing, paddleboarding, horseback riding, golfing, and seashell hunting. There are plenty of beach options and if you prefer, bring a towel or beach chair and spend the afternoon relaxing and listening to the waves crash against the shore.

After hitting the water, spend some time strolling the streets of Kennebunkport and Dock Square for its small boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. 

bridge in kennebunkport

Where to stay overnight: The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel is a great option. The boathouse is just as it sounds, located on the waterfront. It is a small hotel with 25 rooms, all of which are modernized, featuring Apple TV, keurigs, and IPod docking stations. Many of the rooms also have private balconies overlooking the harbor. 

Other Hotel Options in Cape Elizabeth:

Kennebunkport to Cape Elizabeth: 34 miles (50 minute drive) 

Stop 4: Cape Elizabeth 

Cape Elizabeth is the next stop. Stop at the Two Lights State Park, where you will find a small beach area, rocks to navigate on, picnicking areas, and views of the Twin Cape Elizabeth lighthouses. You can stop at the Lobster Shack for some delicious food with one-of-a-kind ocean and lighthouse views. 

Be sure to visit Fort Williams Park, this is a must for any trip to Cape Elizabeth. Fort Williams Park is home to the Porthead Lighthouse, one of the most well-known and most photographed lighthouses in the country. There are walking trails along the coast and the park is home to some fort ruins.

You can also find a children’s garden, perfect if you are traveling with young kids. Throughout the park, you will find food trucks, including a gelato truck-the perfect treat for a hot day. 

cape elizabeth lighthouse

You will also find many other swimming areas around Cape Elizabeth, including the Great Pond Trail, Peak’s Island, Kettle Cove, and Richmond’s Island. If you enjoy looking at ruins, visit the Goddard Mansion. 

From here, I would recommend driving to Portland and staying the night before exploring the city the next day. 

Where to Stay in Portland:

Cape Elizabeth to Portland: 8 miles (20 minute drive) 

Stop 5: Portland 

Portland, Maine is the most populated city in Maine and is definitely worth the stop. While in Portland on the fourth day of your coastal Maine road trip itinerary, stroll through the Old Port for its historic streets and buildings, old fishing piers, shops, restaurants, and the clubs that are a great nightlife attraction.

If you are an art lover, be sure to check out the Portland Museum of Art, featuring a combination of American and European artwork. For shopping, visit Commercial Street near the waterfront. 

popular lighthouse in maine

Visit some of Maine’s most well-known lighthouses , including the Bug Light and Spring Point Light. Bug Light is located in Bug Light Park, where you will be able to walk to the base of the lighthouse, watch ships as they enter and leave the harbor, and stroll along the coast.

At Spring Point Light you can see the ruins of an old fort and climb the rocks along the breakwater to the base of the lighthouse. 

Where to stay: Portland Harbor Hotel , located in Old Port and within close proximity of the Old Port’s many boutiques and restaurants. If you’re a coffee fan, you will be delighted with the daily free Starbucks coffee. 

Portland to Acadia National Park: 170 miles (2 hours and 52 minute drive) 

Day Five-Six  

Stop 6: acadia national park and bar harbor .

Acadia National Park is the highlight of this coastal Maine road trip itinerary. It is the only national park in the Northeast US and is full of small-town charm, outdoor fun, hiking, beachgoing, lighthouses, and plenty of lobster! 

To begin your visit to Acadia National Park, drive the Park Loop Drive around Mount Desert Island. This drive will take you to many of the highlights within Acadia National Park , including Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond, and the summit of Cadillac Mountain.

(Tip: Although you can drive parts of the drive without an entrance pass-Be sure to purchase it before heading to the top of Cadillac Mountain-you will need it to enter the parking area.)

green water near red cliffs

If you want to spend some time hiking-and this is highly recommended-check out the many trails to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the trails around Jordan Pond, or the Bubble Rock trail. For a different view of Acadia National Park, take a cruise from Bar Harbor.

There are plenty of options, but most will bring you past some great lighthouses and introduce you to many forms of wildlife, all while giving you stunning views of Acadia. 

If you have the time, spend a couple of hours exploring Bar Harbor. Walk along the docks and get some views of the boats and harbor, grab a bite to eat (there are plenty of options for some great lobster), and stroll Main St. to find some unique souvenirs. 

Where to Stay Overnight: The Acadia Inn is a great option for lodging near Acadia National Park. Acadia Inn is a waterfront hotel with access to the Acadia NP trails in its backyard. You will also find an outdoor pool and nightly campfire for s’mores making.

If you are traveling with kids, Acadia Inn’s Campout Package will make the stay even more magical! Have your room transformed into a campsite for your kiddo, complete with a tent and lantern! 

Distance from Acadia National Park to Bangor: 43 miles (1 hour drive) 

Day Seven 

Stop 7: bangor .

While Bangor is a little inland from the coast, it makes for a great addition to the road trip. For any Stephen King fans, this is an absolute must. Bangor is the real-life inspiration for Derry, Maine, the main setting in King’s IT and featured in many of King’s other writings. 

While in Bangor, SK Tours is a great way to get an overview of the area. It is the only Stephen King tour available and will take you to 20-30 locations throughout Bangor that were the inspiration for King’s writings or were related to King in some form.

After the tour, it is highly recommended that you do some exploring on your own. This will give you plenty of time to explore the sites and get some great photos! 

stephen king red mansion in maine

Some must stop spots are the Barrens, which can be found along the Kenduskeag Stream off of Valley Avenue, Stephen King’s home with its spider and dragon-filled gates, the storm drain on Jackson and Union where the inspiration for IT came from, the Paul Bunyan Statue, and the Thomas Hill Standpipe.

paul bunyon statue

Aside from the Stephen King locations in Maine, visit the Cole Land Transportation Museum to see decades of unique vehicles. Also take a relaxing stroll through the Bangor City Forest, picnic in Cascade Park, and walk along the Penobscot River Walkway.   

Where to stay overnight: The Charles Inn , located in downtown Bangor, is home to two Stephen King rooms. Room 202 is the Stephen King room and room 209 is the IT-themed room.

But even if you are not able to stay in one of these rooms, you will be delighted with staying in the hotel that King used to house his out-of-town guests (before purchasing his guest home).

Now you know what to add to your coastal Maine road trip itinerary!

This post was contributed by Melissa from Navigation Junkie. Be sure to also follow along with her adventures on Facebook , Instagram , and Twitter .

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Are you planning a trip to Maine? I have a few great Maine posts to help you out. Check them out below!

  • Top 10 Best Places To Visit In Maine

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5 Beautiful Stops On The Perfect Coastal Maine Road Trip

coastal road trip in maine

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“Vacationland” is the name given to the state of Maine. Most vacationers to the Northeastern state gravitate to its beautiful, rocky coast when they plan their visit, stringing together several small towns to create the perfect road trip.

But it wasn’t just as a vacation destination that Maine garnered its fame. The Maine coast mesmerized painters like Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, and Edward Hopper. Their paintings depict a mix of a steadfast, bucolic lifestyle with the harshness of seafaring.

Of the many beautiful spots along Maine’s coast, I’ve selected ones starting from the north along popular Route 1 and heading south to portray the breadth of the state’s natural and historical attractions.

Artist working on Monhegan Island

1. Monhegan Island 

Mystical Monhegan Island has been the vacation home of the Wyeth family since the late 1950s. Reachable only by boat, and for most visitors only by mailboat , Monhegan has no paved roads and no cars. In the evening, there are no lights. Covering less than 1 square mile in area, Monhegan is a special place where artists, fishermen, and visitors have come for what we now call social distancing.

You can’t get seafood any fresher than what you’ll find on the island. Lobster and clams are brought to your picnic table on the sand, just steps from the ocean where they were plucked. You’d best “capture the Maine spirit,” as they say, and order an ice-cold Moxie to wash it all down. An acquired taste, Moxie is the local soft drink favorite likened by many to a mix of Dr. Pepper and cough syrup. I love it.

Monhegan Island accommodations are about as quaint as they come. There’s an inn with rocking chairs on the porch, a couple of rooming houses, and not much more. Island artists live in weathered shingle dwellings scattered on the island. 

If you’re looking for air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and turndown service, you’ve come to the wrong place. You could visit Monhegan as a day trip only, but, for the full experience, disconnecting and booking a room to listen to the sounds of silence in the evening is better than any kind of meditation I’ve tried.

Pro Tips: The hills and hiking trails along the coast can be quite taxing. If you’re up for it, the reward is Maine’s famed coastal views and a lighthouse and museum with maritime art. For a less challenging walk, you can sit on the sloping lawn in front of The Island Inn and take in the harbor with its lobster boats, bobbing buoys, and maybe even some jumping fish. To reach the island, park your car in Port Clyde, a short drive off Route 1 or Route 295 (use your GPS), and check in at the souvenir shop for your “ferry” ticket.

Camden harbor

2. MidCoast: Camden, Rockland, And Owl’s Head 

The area known as the MidCoast offers a taste of easygoing coastal Maine along Penobscot Bay. Art galleries and shops, bed and breakfasts, and waterside charm appeal to visitors looking to enjoy harbor views and a lobster “in the rough.” Both Rockport and Camden have working harbors — guaranteeing fresh seafood daily — and make for some stunning photos.

Plan to spend a day of varied activities in this area. Hike in Camden Hills State Park or get a dose of indoor culture at three notable museums. The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland showcases the work of the Wyeth family. Steps away, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art is a striking building filled with current-day oeuvres by Maine residents. Owl’s Head has a museum with a different type of appeal, the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum . The museum’s bi-planes can sometimes be seen flying over the harbor. 

Overnight on a Maine windjammer to explore the bay and the local islands, or stay in a charming bed and breakfast on the shore. Whatever you do, make sure you have a lobster: many consider this to be “lobster central.”

Pro Tip: On this 200 th anniversary of the birth of acclaimed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (of Central Park fame), note the small town park in Camden, another of his firm’s design gems. 

Portland's 19th-century streets and buildings

3. Portland And Cape Elizabeth

I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to spend some time in Portland. Portland is a beautiful, historic Maine city with a lively small-town vibe. Architecture ranges from Federal-style buildings to Victorian mansions, with restaurants and bars housed in traditional buildings or on the docks. 

Since parking is extremely difficult in the city, you might have to resolve yourself to a drive-through to see the Old Port, cruise the shopping area with its cobblestones and brick sidewalks, and gaze at the tonier side of the city along the Casco Bay-facing Eastern Promenade and the Western Promenade where Victorian residences stand in multi-color glory. 

If you can park, head to Congress Square to the Portland Museum of Art , a repository of paintings by international and Maine-connected artists including Wyeth, Hopper, and Homer. For dinner, choose from one of this foodie city’s many lauded restaurants like Street and Co. , Scales , or Fore Street , touted as among the best U.S. eateries by Food and Wine .

Across the bridge, Cape Elizabeth seems worlds apart from busy Portland. There are only a few restaurants and shops, but your main reason to stay here is for an essentially self-contained Maine holiday experience and access to the headlands and water views from Two Lights State Park and the adjacent Lobster Shack . 

Check in to the Inn by the Sea , one of Maine’s premier resorts, and sign out one of their bikes to see the iconic lighthouses. Revive after your exertion (the roads are hilly) with a swim at the inn’s beach or with an outdoor spa treatment before enjoying a cocktail and s’mores around the fire pit.

Pro Tips: Don’t be dismayed when you see the line at the Lobster Shack — it moves quicker than you might think. Order a lobster roll, fried clams, and onion rings — all Maine favorites — and finish with another New England treat, a Whoopie pie, a chocolate cake-like concoction with a cream center. If you’re a pet lover, the Inn by the Sea has an endearing pet adoption program: you can test out a pup for an afternoon walk. If you fall in love, you have a new friend to take home.

Kennebunkport lobster boats

4. The Kennebunks: Kennebunkport And Kennebunk 

The two towns comprising the Kennebunks are all about the Maine seafaring lifestyle. Side-by-side along the shores of several rivers, the towns overlap in some ways but have distinct personalities in others. You can easily combine both in a day or even a few hours of exploring.

The home base for shipbuilding and seafaring, Kennebunk boasts a main street lined with stately homes originally built for sea captains. There you’ll find Federal-style buildings along with frilly and even gothic-looking Victorian homes, many converted into inns for today’s visitors. There’s a patrician feel to the town which blurs with Kennebunkport’s combination seaside and souvenir-shop vibe.

Lobster roll from The Clam Shack

The Clam Shack , a takeout landmark on the bridge separating Kennebunk’s Lower Village and Kennebunkport’s Dock Square, repeatedly wins the award for having Maine’s best lobster roll. Unadulterated lobster, with no unseemly add-ins like tarragon or Old Bay Seasoning, that’s what the Clam Shack’s lobster roll is all about. You decide whether you want it with butter, or with mayonnaise — or go for it and have both. Different from other lobster rolls you might have had even in Maine, the mayo is not already mixed in and celery is nowhere in sight. The flavor is pure, the lobster is warm, and the briny-sweet flavor is at its best. If you prefer a sit-down experience, Nunan’s Lobster Hut in nearby Cape Porpoise offers indoor and outdoor table service with a lobster bake experience of lobster in the shell, steamers, and corn on the cob.

The Kennebunks invite you to dip your toes into Maine’s notoriously chilly water. Beautiful Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport, uncrowded due to limited sidewalk parking, is a lovely spot for exploring Maine’s fascinating tidal pools. If you’re as enchanted as I was here, you’ll want to stay at the Tides Beach Club , an atmospheric inn set directly across the street. Sit on the inn’s front porch and rock for a while as you sip a cosmopolitan and watch the sun go down.

Pro Tip: For a glimpse of American history, follow the road out to Ocean Avenue towards Walker’s Point, the site of the “compound” where former President George H.W. Bush summered with his family. Drive by and take a photo — the Secret Service will probably not let you get very close.

The Marginal Way

5. Ogunquit, Perkins Cove, And The Marginal Way  

South of the Kennebunks lies traffic-snarled Ogunquit, a magnet for art lovers and beach fans thanks to its many lodgings and cultural opportunities. There are plenty of shops to keep you busy, or you might want to see a show at one of the country’s last summer stock theaters, the Ogunquit Playhouse . The line-up features original and touring musicals for both adults and children and runs through December. The stunning Ogunquit Museum of American Art is a small art museum with a sculpture park with 18 gardens.

If parking in Ogunquit proper is an impossibility, drive south to one of Maine’s coastal gems, Perkins Cove. Fortunately, there are parking lots here to help ease the pain. And that’s good for you, too, for herein lies a quintessential Maine eatery, Barnacle Billy’s , your go-to for a lobster and Maine’s state dessert, blueberry pie made with Maine’s tiny wild berries. This is also where you can sample Maine ice cream in typical New England flavors like butter pecan, rum raisin, peppermint stick, and black raspberry. Use the local vernacular and ask for “jimmies” on top.

Walk down the cove, stopping to admire jewelry made from sea glass, t-shirts with witty sayings, and some serious art. Then turn north to enter the Marginal Way, a 1.25-mile paved cliff walk above the rocky Maine coast. The flower-adorned path has some gently sloping areas as it winds its way towards the heart of Ogunquit, with beautiful homes on the left and crashing waves to the right. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can do a bit of rock scrambling, taking note of slippery areas from the salt water. For a rest, there are 39 thoughtfully placed benches along the route.

Pro Tip: Allow enough time to do the return trip to retrieve your parked car. You’ll get a different perspective as your head south this time.

For more ideas and inspiration on Maine , explore these articles:

  • 12 Amazing Maine Vacation Rentals On The Water
  • The Kennebunkport Resort The Whole Family Will Love
  • How To Spend A Perfect Day In Coastal Belfast, Maine

Image of Meryl Pearlstein

A Board member of the Society of American Travel Writers and a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association, Meryl shares her finds in a myriad of travel publications. She is the author of Fodor’s Family: New York City with Kids , a restaurant reviewer for Gayot.com, and a yogini and classical pianist. Follow Meryl's journeys via Instagram and across social media.

Our French Travels

A Beautiful Coastal Maine Road Trip: 12+ Best Stops

If you want a relaxing weekend with some amazingly beautiful ocean scenery, a road trip up coastal Maine is absolutely perfect. Not only will it be quieter and more peaceful than many of our other suggested cities. It’s largely rural and not touristy, the cost of food, lodging, and activities is much lower than in most cities. Be sure to stock up on Healthy Road Trip Snacks .

Portland, Maine

We’ll start our Road Trip in Portland, Maine. Mainly because there are really only two commercial airports in Maine; Portland [PWM] & Bangor [BGR]. One is located near the bottom of the state and one near the middle. Bangor is not near the top, despite what some people will tell you. I used to live in the top of Maine, it’s several hours north of Bangor.

There are of course some smaller commercial airports throughout; Presque Isle (Now that’s the top), Ellsworth, Owls Head, etc. But. generally, they have very limited flights, and most don’t have flights outside of the state.

If you head south towards Boston, here is a list of destinations worth visiting in our post about Boston Road Trips .

Obtain a car (likely rent one if you didn’t drive yourself there), but you will need a car. You won’t see a subway/metro at any point on this journey. Once you leave downtown Portland, you likely won’t see any real form of local public transportation. You really cannot get around Maine without a car. There are also so many great day trips from Portland that are only possible by car.

Want to try a unique tour of Portland? Try this tour on the back of a vintage fire truck .

One of the many beautiful views that you'll see during your Coastal Maine Road Trip.

Fill up with gas, maybe grab some snacks and let’s go! Jump on I-295 North and we’ll be on our way. Note that Portland sits between I-95 and I-295, so make sure you’re getting on the right one. There are actually places where they connect and you’ll see signs for both in Portland, including near the airport. But for our trip, we’ll need to be on I-295, so make sure you get on the right one.

If you’re interested in some of the towns near Portland heading south, check out York, Maine .

Freeport, Maine

We’ll head north for 18 miles and take Exit 22 in Freeport . Freeport is the home to the L.L. Bean World Headquarters as well as all of its flagship stores. All of the L.L. Bean stores are open 24/7/365. In June 2020, due to the pandemic, for the first time ever, L.L. Bean installed locks on the doors of their flagship store. Prior to that, the last time they officially closed was back in 2015 so employees could attend the funeral of the company founder.

L.L. Bean has a campus of five stores in Freeport. You can buy everything from bed sheets to tents to a canoe or mountain bike. Of course, no trip to the L.L. Bean store is complete without a picture next to the huge bean boot outside of their flagship store.

While in Freeport, there are lots of amazing stores to see. A McDonalds was built inside a Victorian house. There is also a WhoopiePie Store, Mangy Moose Gifts, and lots of Outlet Stores. All are within walking distance, so plan on spending some time there. You can easily spend a day without seeing everything you wanted to see. But, we’ve got to get going. Back onto I-295.

A must-see during your Coastal Maine Road Trip: The L.L. Bean Boot

Yarmouth, Maine

Barely a couple of miles up from Freeport, keep an eye out on your right-hand side for “Eartha.” Eartha is the world’s largest rotating globe at the Garmin Headquarters (Previously DeLorme). You’ll see it just past Exit 17. (If you want a close-up view, feel free to take Exit 17, it’s just barely off the exit.) Otherwise, continue north on I-295, and take Exit 28. Wave goodbye to the Interstate because that’s the last you’ll see of it during this road trip. It’s all scenic back roads from here on out.

Brunswick, Maine

Just a little way up Route 1 is historic Bowdoin College , which was chartered in 1794. At the time, Maine was still a part of Massachusetts. On campus is the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (which has free admission for all). They have a pretty impressive collection of art.

Topsham & Bath, Maine

From here on out, we’ll be sticking to Route 1, which goes from the top of Maine to the bottom of Florida. In Maine, it snakes along the coastline. We’ll be sticking close to it for the rest of the trip for lots of great ocean views. It’s not an efficient way to get from the bottom of Maine to the top, but it’s definitely the most beautiful.

So, hopping on Route 1 North in Brunswick, we’ll head up through Topsham, and Bath (The City of Ships). On your right, as you approach the bridge from the elevated highway, you’ll see Bath Iron Works. Bath Iron Works (BIW) is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world and the builder of the Zumwalt Series of Navy Vessels. Most of the time, you’ll see their current project docked out in the river.

coastal road trip in maine

Next up is Wiscasset, where you should prepare for a traffic jam. Downtown Wiscasset historically backs up traffic in both directions for miles. Sadly there is no real way around it as there is only one bridge across the water in the area.

PRO-TIP: Do not go to the roadside stand that is Red’s Eats. It’s absolutely a tourist trap. The lines are always very long, the food is overly expensive, and the product isn’t worth the price. It’s also a big contributor to the massive traffic backup.

Waldoboro, Maine

Continue up Route 1, enjoying the small coastal towns along the way. A stop at Moody’s Diner just north of downtown Waldoboro for a late breakfast or lunch is highly recommended. Great food and even better prices. They are famous for their pies, so make sure you save some room for that. They also serve Ice Cream and for some reason, they also have a motel, cabins, and a gift shop. After getting some food, jump back on Route 1 North and we’re going to head up to Thomaston.

Cute, quint little towns are common along this Coastal Maine Road Trip.

Thomaston & Rockland, Maine

Once you hit Thomaston, I suggest checking out the Maine State Prison Showroom . It’s all products made by prisoners who are working on rebuilding their lives by learning a skill. There are some pretty incredible things in that store that shows off their skills. Next, we’ll come to Rockland, and let’s get a good look at that ocean view. Stop by the Harbor Park ( Address :  1 Pleasant St, Rockland, ME 04841) and take in the view.

Depending on when you stop by, there are commonly fairs and festivals going on at the park. Most notably the Maine Lobster Festival . If you really want to get up close to the water, take a walk down the Rockland Breakwater . The breakwater is a 4,364-foot rock bridge directly into the ocean with a lighthouse at the end. But, before that, take some time to really peruse downtown Rockland. Beautiful coastal town, and very walkable, so park the car and go look around.

Daphne and I at the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland. Rockland is one of the many stops along our Coastal Maine Road Trip.

PRO-TIP: The Rockland Breakwater is an incredible experience to really feel like you’re in the ocean and the views are amazing. But, plan your trip carefully. It is a reasonably narrow (about 43 feet wide) uneven rock ledge and at high tide, water does splash onto the rocks making them slippery. You’ll want to be careful heading out there.

Camden, Maine

Continuing up Route 1, we’ll stop in Camden , another cute little walkable town along the water. Another place that you’ll want to stop and check out is the little shops and galleries. Continuing up the road, we’ll pass through a few more little towns and villages along the coast. Keep an eye out of your right-side windows for beautiful views of the ocean. Pass through the city of Belfast and across the bridge with views of the marina, and through Searsport . Bear right towards Ellsworth instead of turning onto Route 1A towards Bangor.

Happen to visit in the Winter? Camden Snow Bowl is on our list of the best Ski Resorts in New England

Keep an eye out for the scenic lookout that looks out over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observatory. This bridge is the tallest public bridge observatory in the world. At night it’s lit up in multi-colored floodlights. If you’ve got the time, going up to the top of the observatory will give you 360-degree views of the river and the bay, and central Maine. You can also tour historic Fort Knox which serves as the parking and entry for the observatory. It’s covered in the cost of the observatory ticket. After crossing over the bridge, drive just one mile on Verona Island before crossing back over another bridge into Ellsworth.

If you miss the turn towards Ellsworth, you’ll end up in Bangor, Maine. But, that’s not so bad a destination either.

Penobscot Narrows Bridge is one of the bridges you'll cross during our Coastal Maine Road Trip.

Ellsworth, Maine

Ellsworth is home to the Great Maine Lumberjack Show with regular shows that include “12 exciting events packed into an hour and 15-minute show.” It includes Axe throwing, Log Rolling, Underhand Chopping, Power Hot Sawing, Obstacle Pole Relay, Crosscut Sawing, Pole Climbing… And More!”

This is also a good city to stop in if you need any supplies as it’s one of the bigger cities along this trip. It includes some of the more common large department stores. If you’re looking for a classic Maine Restaurant, I would suggest Govenor’s Restaurant . Make sure you take a look at their always-changing dessert case. If you’re feeling very adventurous (or with a big group), take a look at the Federal Deficient.

The Maine Chainsaw Sawyer Artist Live Show Building

Mount Desert Island, Maine

If you happen to have lots of free time left on your road trip, just south of Ellsworth is Mount Desert Island. Otherwise, known as MDI, it’s home to Acadia National Park. Acadia includes lots of beaches and lighthouses. Definitely a beautiful area to check out if you have the time. Try this self-guided driving audio tour, or a narrated bus tour if you want to take a break from driving for a few hours.

Otherwise, let’s continue following Route 1 North up through the little towns of Gouldsboro , Milbridge , Cherryfield , and into Columbia. Columbia is home to the Wreaths Across America Program , and the hundreds of thousands of wreaths shipped to Washington DC are produced here in Washington County and start their journey from this location.

Where to stay near Acadia National Park

➡️ The Inn on Mount Desert ➡️ Atlantic Eyrie Lodge

Machias, Maine

You have to stop at Wild Blueberry Land , if nothing else for some pictures. You won’t be able to miss it. If they are open, they also have a blueberry store and museum inside. As you can likely tell now, you can get a sense of what rural Maine really looks like out here. Continue up to Machias and be sure to stop at Helen’s Restaurant. Established in 1950, this place has flooded once, burned down once, and moved locations once, and still is one of the mainstays of Machias. They have award-winning pies , so at least stop for one of those if not dinner.

Calais, Maine

Continue up Route 1 towards Calais , the last stop on our Coastal Maine Road Trip. While driving, keep an eye out for the beautiful ocean and island views on your right side. This is what rural Maine is all about. If you want proof of just how far north you are, stop by the 45th Parallel Marker , indicating halfway between the equator and the north pole. Once you pass that point, everything you see across the water from you on the right side is actually Canada. The last stop is Calais. The reason that this is the last stop on a Coastal Road Trip is that beyond this point, you’re either in Canada or heading back inland. Calais is the biggest city in Washington County with just over 3,000 people in total.

Beautiful views of mountians and ocean are common during our Coastal Maine Road Trip.

Coastal Maine Road Trip: In Conclusion

So, there we end. You started in the largest city in Maine (Portland, ME) and passed through some of the smallest villages in Maine with a total population of fewer than 500 people each. You saw a lot of our beautiful coastal towns, each with its own unique personality. Because of a previous job covering coastal Maine, I’ve made this drive dozens of times. I’ve never stopped being amazed by the beauty and the amazing people and places that I’ve seen on my journeys.

I would highly recommend blocking out at least a full weekend or more to make this drive. If you really want to experience Coastal Maine, you could spend weeks here.

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Payte on the Road

Coastal Maine 7-day road trip itinerary

Maine is an incredible place to start off a great road trip to see the fall foliage or chase beaches in the summertime. This is why I’ve planned out this coastal Maine 7-day road trip itinerary just for you. This way, you can see the best and enjoy this beautiful state any time of the year.

Coastal Maine is a great place to visit year-round. From beautiful beaches to just enjoying the countryside, you’re sure to find something you like and even enjoy the peacefulness of smaller cities.

I think Maine is an underrated destination as it has so much to offer. You can enjoy just about anything from sports, adventures, cozy stays, and beach days.

So without further ado, get everything you need to know to start planning this Maine road trip you’ve been waiting for!

When is the best time to visit Maine

The best time to visit Maine will vary depending on what activities you are planning to do while you are visiting.

Every season has something different to offer but also activities that can be done year-round.

If you are looking for a maple syrup experience or great fishing, spring will be the best time to visit. Spring season can bring all kinds of weather. From beautiful sunny days to rainy ones and sometimes even snow! You’ll have to make sure to bring clothing for every type of weather so you can enjoy your time there.

If you’re more into summer sports such as biking, ATVing, water sports, beach days, hiking, camping and so much more, you’ll definitely want to go during the summer season. If you’re not into all of that, Maine has lots of sightseeing to be done. The weather will be a lot more enjoyable. Sunny and warm days are more likely.

Planning to visit in the fall, you’ll be able to enjoy the magnificent fall foliage. Many of the summer activities will still be going on. Hiking, biking, and walking on the beach are still very accessible during this time of year. You can go apple picking, or just walk around to look at all the colors in the trees.

Maine in the winter is also very beautiful. Whether you want to hit the slope or just enjoy a nice fireplace in a cabin, you’ll definitely find what you are looking for. You can enjoy snowmobiling, dog sledding, and wildlife watching as well.

The best time to visit will entirely be up to you depending on your plans. Maine can be enjoyed any time of the year!


What is the weather like

With Maine being geographically located in the north, it is exposed to moderate and moist weather influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and is also exposed to both cold and hot air coming from the continent.

Weather will average between -14 Celsius and 26 Celsius. Depending on which season you are traveling to Maine, you’ll have to dress accordingly. Maine is also partly-cloudy pretty much year-round.

The months of December, January, and February tend to be the coldest. The overall colder season lasts from the end of November to mid-March. The warmer season is between the end of May to about mid-September. The warmer month to visit would be July.

Day 1: Acadia National Park

If you love the great outdoors, Acadia National Park is definitely a place to add to your coastal Maine road trip itinerary.

You don’t have to stay overnight but you might need more than one day to fully enjoy the entirety of the park.

Acadia National Park is one of the top 10 most visited parks in the United States. When visiting the park, you can enjoy miles of historic roads to take the views in, and many, many hiking trails.

Acadia National Park has the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline.

In order to access the park, you will need to buy a park pass. This pass is only valid for Acadia National Park. Most visitors will buy a Vehicle pass, which will cover all passengers on board for a 7-day period.

If you already have the Federal lands pass, you will not need to purchase the Acadia National Park one.

Purchase your Acadia National park pass here!

If you wish to drive to the highest peak in the park, you will need to buy an additional pass for the Cadillac Summit Road. You will need this pass if you are planning to do this drive from June through October. Keep in mind that these could change depending on the weather conditions.

If you wish to purchase the Cadillac Summit road pass in advance, reservations will begin by the end of May 2023. Know that only 30% of passes are offered 90 days prior and that the other 70% is released two days prior. So you’ll have to quickly reserve them in advance or wait two days before your visit.

Purchase your Cadillac Summit road pass here!

If you’re planning the drive, know that it is a narrow two-lane road that brings you to the top. You will find a gift shop, restrooms, and a parking area at the top. Recreational vehicles and trailers are prohibited in this part of the park.

Planning to stay overnight in the park? Acadia National Park offers plenty of campground areas. There are two campgrounds located on Mount Desert Island, one on Schoodic Peninsula, and five lean-to shelters on Isle au Haut.

You must make camping reservations in advance. Winter camping and overnight parking aren’t allowed either.

Spend the night either in the park or in Bar Harbor and enjoy fine dining.

Coastal Maine 7-day road trip itinerary

Day 2: Bar Harbor, Blue Hill

Bar Harbor is pretty much the gateway to Acadia National Park. The city is located in a beautiful bay called Frenchmen’s Bay.

If you’re looking to experience the United States’ first sunrise, this is the place to be. The city of Bar Harbor is known for its award-winning dining experiences, accommodations, and of course the outdoor activities located so close by.

It is a popular summer destination so keep that in mind if you visit during summertime. It will be a little bit more crowded.

You can also spend your day wandering on Main Street where you will find shops, boutiques, and plenty of restaurants.

Bar Harbor is great to experience a little bit of everything. From endless outdoor activities to cozy cabin stays. You’ll find something for everyone to enjoy!

After enjoying Bar Harbor, head over to Blue Hill. This small magical town is worth a stop. Let the photographer in you set free! The views are quite impressive and worth capturing!

Spend the night in Blue Hill so you can take advantage of the evening to explore the city.

Day 3: Deer Isle, Stonington

From Blue Hill, drive along the coast and cross the bridge to spend some time on Deer Isle and Stonington.

Not only is the bridge picturesque, but the island is a paradise for bird watchers, kayakers, artists, and anyone who loves to spend some time outdoors.

Deer Isle is worth a visit because it is less crowded than Bar Harbor but as charming.

The island has many art galleries, antiques, and gift shops. The island has plenty of accommodations to offer if you want to spend the night. From motels, inns, and campgrounds you are most likely to find something to your liking.


Day 4: Camden, Rockland, Monhegan Island

Next, head over to Camden. You will be charmed by its 19th-century homes. You can spend some time outdoors enjoying the trails of Camden Hill State Park or look at the beautiful Camden Bay.

Then, head to Rockland. The vibrant city has much to offer foodies. The city is famous for its mountainous and rocky shores. You’ll see many marinas and inlets. If you want to sail, Rockland has great cruising waters.

If you wish to experience Monhegan Island, you’ll have to head over by boat. It is a popular tourist destination to witness the magnificent cliffs and experience the beauty of unpaved roads leading to the village.

You could even spend the night here before returning to the coast to continue your road trip.

Day 5: Boothbay Harbor, Bath

Boothbay Harbor is a great place to get away from your busy schedule. This coastal town is home to a rich history, quaint local shops and boutiques, great restaurants, and world-class boat excursions.

Boothbay Harbor has many activities you can enjoy out there! If you’re looking for beautiful coastal scenery, you’re sure to find what you are looking for.

From its quiet coves, rocky shores, and beautiful lighthouses, the scenery is quite impressive.

Among the things to do, you can take a scenic drive to ocean point. This is the best to see the sunrise and sunset. Have yourself a picnic at Ocean Point Loop and enjoy the magnificent view.

If you prefer to do some outdoor activities, Boothbay Harbor is home to plenty of hiking trails and gardens to explore. There are many great boat excursions you can take as well to visit the islands nearby.

Once you’ve explored Boothbay Harbor, head over to Bath. You’ll have plenty to do! From fine dining to shopping to visiting the Maritime Museum to the Marina, one day probably won’t be enough!

There is plenty of outdoor experiences too. You can use the skatepark if that is something you’re into, there are beautiful beaches, historic walking tours, hiking, and biking trails, and the Kennebec River.


Day 6: Brunswick, Freeport, Portland

Once you’ve finished exploring Bath and Boothbay Harbor, head over to Brunswick to start off your next day. Brunswick has about 61 miles of coastline for you to enjoy some time at the beach or spend time along the Androscoggin River.

If the weather isn’t too great or you don’t feel like spending some time near the water, there is plenty of museums to visit. There are art museums, historical museums, and more.

From there, head to Freeport. Freeport is famous for its shopping outlets, restaurants, amazing fairs, and festivals, and great oceanfront campgrounds.

You’ll have plenty to do in this bustling coastal town.

Finish off your day in Portland to spend the night. Go explore the city at night or just go out for dinner. This is a packed day and you might need more than one day if you want to explore and take in the sights without feeling rushed.

Day 7: Portland, Scarborough

Portland and Scarborough are great cities to finish off your coastal Maine 7-day road trip. Portland is a mix of artists, foodies, beachcombers, and winter lovers.

It’s a great place for nightlife, shopping, and many great attractions nearby. The city has beautiful waterfront paths you can enjoy the view. If you’re looking for charming scenery, head to the Portland headlight.

Spend the rest of the day in Scarborough. Scarborough is known to be the best of both worlds. You’ll have all the best amenities and beautiful landscapes on top of that.

You’ll have beaches, cliffs, a historic harbor, family-friendly attractions, a great town center, and many types of accommodations.

Coastal Maine 7-day road trip itinerary

Where to stay in Portland

  • The Press Hotel, Marriott Autograph Collection
  • Portland Harbor Hotel
  • Cambria Hotel Portland Downtown-Old Port
  • The Westin Portland Harborview
  • Hampton Inn Portland Downtown – Waterfront
  • Aloft Portland ME
  • Portland Sheraton at Sable Oaks
  • Hyatt Place Portland-Old Port
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Portland
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Portland

Where to eat in Portland

  • Eventide Oyster Co.
  • The Highroller Lobster Co.
  • Solo Italiano

Got more than 7-days on your coastal Maine road trip?

If you’ve got more than 7 days to go on your Maine road trip, then you can add a couple more destinations to discover.

Spend some time exploring more stunning coastal towns, laying on the beach, and enjoying the sights around you.


Day 8: Cape Porpoise, Kennebunkport

If you’ve got more time on your hands, you need to head over to Cape Porpoise and Kennebunkport. Cape Porpoise is considered the quiet side of Kennebunkport. You’ll want to visit Cape Porpoise as it is a quiet town with beautiful scenery right next to Kennebunkport.

You can stroll historic streets and see the beautiful scenery the city has to offer. There are several galleries and delicious restaurants. Cape Porpoise doesn’t really have beaches to hang out but it is a great place to go kayaking or biking.

Next, head to Kennebunkport. Kennebunkport is known for its beaches, local seafood, and beautiful scenic lighthouses. You can spend the day at either Goose Rocks Beach or Arundel Beach.

Kennebunkport is a touristy destination so you’ll have to expect a bit more crowds. There’s plenty of arts and culture you can enjoy while spending some time there. There’s also shopping. You’ll find unique shops all over the place.

You can also spend some time in all the different museums and historic houses. You can visit the Wedding Cake House or the Trolley Museum.

Day 9: Ogunquit

On your next day, head over to Ogunquit. Spend your day at the beach. The water is cold in Maine. Keep that in mind when you go for a swim! Ogunquit has long beaches on sandy peninsulas with grassy dunes in some places.

Ogunquit is said to have the most beautiful beaches in all of Maine!

You can also hike Marginal Way. Marginal Way is a cliff walk where you’ll enjoy beautiful coastal views and a lighthouse.

In the summertime, you can enjoy musicals at the Summer theatre. Ogunquit has a vibrant art scene as well. You’ll find many attractions to do.

You might just need more than one day!

Coastal Maine 7-day road trip itinerary

Day 10: York

York is known for being a summer resort town. It has great golf courses, beautiful sandy beaches, and Mount Agamenticus.

This coastal vacation town is one of the oldest towns in the United States!

York has plenty to do! Spend some time at Sohier Park, head to the Nubble lighthouse, and visit the Museum of Old York, splurge yourself at the Goldenrod candy store, or try some spirits at the Wiggly Bridge Distillery.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of activities to do in York. You’ll definitely find something to do to explore the beautiful area.

Day 11: Kittery Outlets

To finish off your Coastal Maine 7 (or more) day road trip itinerary, do a bit of shopping at the Kittery Outlets. The outlets are located closer to the New Hampshire and Maine border.

There are more than 75 outlet stores to choose from. If you need specific items at discounted prices, it’s a great place to find what you’re searching for.

You’ll find outlets such as Adidas, Champion, Calvin Klein, Columbia, Levi’s, Lululemon, Nike, and Under Harmour to only name a few.

I’ve shopped at these outlets before going to Scotland and I found more than what I was looking for!


Maine might not be on your radar but it is definitely a place you’ll want to road trip once in your lifetime. With all the beautiful coastal and fishing villages and historical landmarks, you’re going to find something for you.

There is plenty of outdoor activities you can enjoy as well.

I hope this coastal Maine 7-day road trip itinerary helps you plan your own Maine road trip!

coastal road trip in maine

If you’re looking for some more trip inspiration, keep on reading!

How to take a road trip on a budget

What to wear on a road trip

33 reasons why road trips are fun

How to find showers on the road

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Built on George Washington's orders, the 1971 Portland Head Light flashes from Cape Elizabeth.

Plan the Perfect Coastal Maine Road Trip

This route delivers a hefty dose of vintage oceanside charm.

Rugged shores, classic coastal towns, and lobster rolls washed down with hoppy local beer. This is Maine ’s late-summer perfection—the microseason when the Pine Tree State shines. It’s when the water is warmest, and the wild blueberries are ripest for the picking.

Last August, the Maine Sea Grant , along with the state’s tourism bureau and aquaculture industry, launched the Oyster Trail of Maine to promote the burgeoning bivalve scene, which stars the Crassostrea virginica variety. But even if the idea of slurping down an oyster makes you squeamish, following the trail of Maine’s mighty mollusk leads to plenty of memorable spots.

Unlike the remote northwestern parts of the state, where unmarked logging roads and vast swaths of impenetrable backcountry reign supreme, in coastal Maine the world actually is your oyster. Motoring along Route 1 from the southern beaches to the mid-coast delivers a hefty dose of vintage oceanside charm.

Along the way, smaller roads that beg for a detour dip to the sea. Here old salts haul traps on working waterfronts, and roadside sandwich boards hawk just-caught lobsters. Along with these colorful nautical traditions, you’ll find a forward-thinking spirit. So go ahead, catch the spirit and hit the road.


Try Mabel's Lobster Claw Restaurant in Kennebunkport, open since the 1950s.

Stop 1: Get Campy

Famous as a favorite seaside retreat for the well-heeled—and the summer playground of former president George H.W. Bush and family— Kennebunkport epitomizes New England nautical charm. Roll up to the Sandy Pines Campground , where 16 safari tents, each decked out in lavish style by a local interior designer, offer a plush but nostalgic outdoor experience. On-site amenities include a classic general store and the “Icicle Tricycle” delivering old-fashioned ice cream bars.


Nonesuch Oysters offers a tour of its nursery on the Scarborough River.

Stop 2: Accidental Farmer

Ten years ago Abigail Carroll was living in Paris, trading stocks, and dating a French count. Now she spends her days on the Scarborough River, where she runs Nonesuch Oysters . Climb aboard the farm’s skiff for a breezy jaunt to the oyster beds, keeping an eye out for puppy-faced harbor seals along the way. Then peek at baby bivalves in the oyster nursery before tossing back a few Abigail Pearls or Nonesuch Emeralds.

  • Nat Geo Expeditions

Stop 3: Coastal Digs

Though rocky shores dominate Maine’s coastline, a mile-long swath of sand frames the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth. Follow the boardwalk through a sanctuary planted with native vegetation to lovely Crescent Beach. The six-acre oasis is part of an initiative to create a safe haven for vulnerable New England cottontail rabbits. The inn also works with the Animal Refuge League of Portland to support dog adoption. Be prepared—there’s almost always a cutie curled up behind the front desk.

Stop 4: City of Suds

The Portland area abounds with breweries, some 28 of them according to the Maine Brewers’ Guild . In the city’s hip East Bayside neighborhood, five joints churn out everything from beer to cider, mead, spirits, kombucha, and, in the case of Urban Farm Fermentory , even gruit, an old-style beer brewed with backyard botanicals. Pop into the Shop , a seafood-centric eatery for Maine oysters (and, of course, beer). [ Read about the top things to do for a great time in Portland. ]


Wild blueberries grow naturally in fields and barrens that stretch along the southwest coast.

Stop 5: Boot Up

In 1911, motivated by his distaste for cold, wet feet, outdoorsman Leon Leonwood Bean created the Maine Hunting Shoe. Today a 16-foot replica of the iconic “duck boot” presides over L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport and serves as the perfect prop for a road trip photo. Forgot to bring a sleeping bag? A lobster pot? A leash for Fido? You’ll find all three among the wares spread throughout the seven-acre retail campus. Christen your togs with a hike in nearby Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park .

Stop 6: Milling Around

Indie films, live music, and rotating exhibitions all have a home at Brunswick’s Fort Andross Mill , a cotton mill turned community hub on the banks of the Androscoggin River. The mill also houses the Brunswick Flea Market on Saturdays. Grab a latte from the coffee bar and head out for a stroll. Back in the day, mill workers from neighboring Topsham crossed the river using the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge, which now connects to the scenic Androscoggin Riverwalk. Worked up an appetite? Head to Asian-accented Tao Yuan , whose chef-owner Cara Stadler has been a semifinalist for James Beard’s Rising Star Chef of the Year award five times.

Stop 7: Ship Shape

When that first Maine winter proved too cold for comfort, settlers of the 1607 Popham colony built a boat to take them back across the pond. That vessel, Virginia of Sagadahoc, earned nearby Bath the right to call itself “the birthplace of American shipbuilding.” Visit the Virginia’s in-progress replica at the Bath Freight Shed , where shipbuilders work Wednesday through Saturday. In the town’s manufacturing heyday, 22 shipyards lined the Kennebec River, including the Bath Iron Works, which still makes vessels for the U.S. Navy. Get the full backstory (and board a river cruise) at the Maine Maritime Museum .


The seafood is fresh off the boat at Portland's Harbor Fish Market.

Stop 8: On the Half Shell

As with wine, an oyster’s flavor profile reflects the characteristics of its growing environment. The protected waters of the Damariscotta River help make it the Napa Valley of oysters, and many of Maine’s best loved farms sit along the shore. For a glimpse into Damariscotta’s thriving community, take an oyster ecology tour with Midcoast Kayak . Across the river, Shuck Station serves a selection of local oysters nestled on a bed of ice.

Stop 9: Art Crawl

The giant “EAT” sign on Rockland ’s Main Street may signal food, but the exhibits beneath it in the Farnsworth Art Museum deliver nourishment of another variety. Created by Robert Indiana—best known for his “LOVE” sculptures—this sign makes an appropriate icon for a town with more than 20 galleries and museums. Art buffs will also appreciate 250 Main, a boutique hotel with rotating displays of creations by local artists.

Stop 10: Come About

Mid-coast Maine’s sparkling Penobscot Bay is often studded with sailing vessels, many based in Camden’s harbor. Snap up a carryall made from recycled Maine sailcloth at the Sea Bags shop, then cast off on a sunset cruise complete with live music and sweet treats aboard the 100-year-old Schooner Surprise . If you have four or five extra days, set sail on a Maine Windjammer Association historic schooner, which stops at a deserted island for a classic lobster bake.

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How to plan the perfect road trip in coastal Maine

Cory lee takes us on an accessible tour of acadia national park, ogunquit, and beyond..

Tommie Ethington

In our Where To series, we tag along as eight fascinating travel influencers jaunt from coast to coast in search of the best meals, experiences, and more, all inspired by our Travelers’ Choice Awards. Browse all of the itineraries on our Where To hub .

Cory Lee ( @curbfreecorylee ) inspires fellow wheelchair users to break out of their comfort zone with tips on how and where to travel. Here, Lee shares the highlights of his first trip to coastal Maine —from the most accessible trails and wheelchair-friendly beaches to the best spots for freshly caught seafood and blueberry pie.

Day one: Get settled

Boats on the harbor in Rockport, Maine

Getting to the small towns of coastal Maine is part of the adventure. While Portland International Airport is the closest gateway, many travelers opt for the larger and often more budget-friendly Boston Logan International Airport. Rent a car (MobilityWorks is great for wheelchair-accessible van rentals) and enjoy the picturesque three-and-a-half-hour drive to your first destination: Rockland, Maine .

Upon arrival, treat yourself to surf-and-turf fare at the nearby Travelers' Choice Award–winning Franny’s Bistro in Camden. The eclectic menu features everything from shrimp dumplings and cheddar grits to lobster fritters and steak frites. When you’re ready to call it a night, look no further than the Hampton Inn & Suites Rockland , a Travelers' Choice Award winner with spacious rooms, ample parking, and a central location that puts you in a prime position for exploring all the area has to offer.

Day two: Get your fill in Rockland, Rockport, and Camden

 Langlais Sculpture Preserve in Cushing, Maine

Start the day with an oversized cinnamon roll or lobster eggs Benedict at the Travelers' Choice Award–winning Home Kitchen Cafe . Then, spend some time perusing the quaint shops in downtown Camden or, if the weather is nice, drive to the top of Mount Battie for a birds-eye view of the harbor. Farther afield, the Langlais Sculpture Preserve in Cushing, Maine, offers a quarter-mile, ADA-accessible path and a self-guided tour of a dozen sculptures by local artist Bernard Langlais. When it’s time to eat again, the atmosphere at Waterfront can’t be beat. Order a cup of the clam chowder or a “lazy lobster.” The crustacean comes sans shell, courtesy of the kitchen, so all you have to do is sit back, chow down, and watch the boats sail by.

Day three: Hit up Acadia National Park

Sunset on top of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine

You’ll want to get an early jump on the day as it’s a two-hour drive from Rockland to Mount Desert Island —pronounced “dessert.” Take advantage of the complimentary continental breakfast at the hotel and then make a beeline for the island’s crown jewel: Acadia National Park .

With miles upon miles of rocky coastline, towering granite mountains, and more than 1,000 species of plants, it’s impossible to experience all of Acadia in a single day, but don’t let that stop you. With some planning, it’s easy to hit up the highlights of the Travelers' Choice award winner. For starters, get outside and enjoy some of the 150-plus miles of hiking trails. The Jesup Path, a boardwalk-meets-gravel trail, winds its way through a boggy, white birch forest and ends at another attraction: the lush Wild Gardens of Acadia . Or travel back in time on one of the old carriage roads. Closed to cars, these routes are a 45-mile playground for pedestrians, bicyclists, horseback riders, and—you guessed it—horse-drawn carriages.

Quote of Corey Lee saying “Whereas other national parks may only have two or three wheelchair-accessible trails, in Acadia, you can easily hit one of the carriage roads and have a good stroll.”

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, seek out the Jordan Pond House Restaurant . Whether you decide to lunch on the lawn overlooking Jordan Pond or cozy up to the fireplace inside the rustic dining room, you must order the famous popovers. The restaurant’s attached gift shop also has some of the best souvenirs in the park.

In the afternoon (or if you’re lucky enough to have snagged a reservation at sunset), journey to the top of Cadillac Mountain . The highest point on the eastern seaboard, the panoramic views of the park are truly stunning. End the day with dinner at one of the many charming restaurants in Bar Harbor, located just outside the park limits. The comfort food at the Travelers' Choice Award–winning Thirsty Whale Tavern is quintessential New England.

Day four: Catch a show in Ogunquit

Historic white church in Kennebunkport, Maine, on a cloudy day in Autumn

It’s time to head south to the towns of Ogunquit and Kennebunkport . Check out of the hotel, but before you leave, fuel up on one of the truly memorable breakfast sandwiches from Camden Deli .

Time your first stop with a matinee at the historic Ogunquit Playhouse , a Travelers' Choice Award winner. Since 1933, the community theater has been entertaining audiences with everything from Broadway musicals to original productions. The white shiplap building is grand enough to have been included on the National Register of Historic Places but cozy enough that no matter where you sit, you have a great view of the stage.

After the final curtain call, wander around downtown Ogunquit or Ogunquit Beach (beach wheelchairs are available at the visitor center free of charge). When it’s time to check in, the Travelers' Choice Award–winning Boathouse Waterfront checks all the boxes: stylish decor, a rooftop deck, and an on-site restaurant with a raw bar. Splurge on a suite in the main building for a balcony overlooking the harbor and interiors that nod to the local surroundings, like a rocking chair made from upcycled lobster traps.

Day five: Make the most of Ogunquit’s trails and museums

Blueberry waffles at Cove Cafe, Ogunquit, Maine

If you arrive at the Cove Cafe and get a table right away, count yourself lucky. Even on weekdays, there’s often a line out the door at this Travelers' Choice Award winner but rest assured, the Belgian blueberry waffles are worth the wait.

Less than a five-minute walk from the restaurant, you’ll find an access point for the Marginal Way Scenic Cliff Stroll . The paved, 1.5-mile path takes you along the coastline, so have your camera ready and be prepared to stop at the many lookout points—the spectacular scenery changes with the tide. For an up-close view of another ecosystem, hit up the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, where two wheelchair-accessible trails highlight the flora and fauna of Maine’s saltwater marshlands.

Now that you’ve experienced Ogunquit’s natural beauty, you’ll understand why the area has been a draw for artists since the late 1800s. Today, one of the best places to learn about the town’s storied arts scene is the Ogunquit Museum of American Art . Open May through October, the Travelers' Choice Award–winning museum houses prominent works by the likes of Marsden Hartley and Yasua Kunyioshi, and features classes led by local artists and a three-acre sculpture garden overlooking the ocean.

End the day at Mabel’s Lobster Claw with a culinary masterpiece called “The Duchess,” a savory seafood medley cooked to perfection in a cast iron skillet.

Day six: See the highlights in Kennebunkport

Rocky coastline of Kennebunkport, Maine

Kick off your last full day in Maine with a classic breakfast at a spot beloved by locals and tourists alike: Mike’s All Day Breakfast . Then, go for a drive along scenic Ocean Avenue . Travelers' Choice Award–winning points of interest include St. Ann’s Church , a stone sanctuary built in 1892, and Walker’s Point , where an overlook provides a glimpse of former president George H.W. Bush’s “Summer White House.”

Make your way back to town and then journey on to Kennebunkport Beach. When the sun is shining, it’s the best place to while away a few hours. Watch surfers bob in the waves or take in the tidepools.

Corey Lee quote saying Kennebunk Beach is beautiful and definitely the place to go on a nice day.

With tomorrow being a travel day, opt for an early dinner at Arundel Wharf Restaurant , a Travelers' Choice Award winner. The service is superb and the menu is extensive—think everything from sashimi to sandwiches. Lastly, you can’t leave Maine without trying a slice of wild blueberry pie, served a la mode.

Cory’s picks:

One thing you wish you’d known before the trip: I didn’t know how many cool cities coastal Maine has and how close they are to one another. It was wonderful to be able to see so much without spending a ton of time driving.

Best bite of food: I would fly back to Maine again just to eat “The Duchess” at Mabel’s Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport. The dish is a mouthwatering combo of lobster, scallops, and shrimp in a garlic wine sauce, topped with breadcrumbs.

Place you’re already eager to return to: I only spent a couple hours in Bar Harbor , but the downtown area was so vibrant with tons of shops and restaurants. I’m already itching to see more of it.

Touristy thing that’s worth braving the crowds for: The Marginal Way Scenic Cliff Walk in Ogunquit was quite crowded when I visited on a Monday afternoon. Still, I loved rolling on the paved path and was impressed with how wheelchair accessible it was.

Favorite souvenir: Maine’s state berry is the blueberry and I ate my fair share of blueberry pie. I couldn’t pack a whole pie in my suitcase, so opted for some blueberry jam instead. Every time I eat it, I reminisce about my time in Maine.

coastal road trip in maine

VisitMaineNet Logo Main

The ULTIMATE Route 1 Maine Road Trip Itinerary | Attractions, Restaurants, & Travel Tips

United States Route 1 is a massive north-south roadway that stretches over 2,300 miles, connecting Fort Kent Maine to Key West Florida. Over 520 miles of the road runs along the stunning Atlantic coastline of Maine and the Canadian border, making it a popular destination for road-trippers.

However, planning a Route 1 Maine road trip can be overwhelming because of the vast distance and numerous small towns and attractions along the way.

That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive itinerary to guide you from south to north, starting in Kittery and ending in Fort Kent (with some detours). But, feel free to follow it in reverse if you prefer.

Either way, get ready for a breathtaking and picturesque drive along Vacationland’s stunning coastline, with plenty of incredible stops along the way.

U.S. Route 1 & U.S. Route 2-Houlton

About Traveling U.S. 1 in Maine

While there’s some discrepancy regarding the exact length of U.S. 1, the last official log reported it as 2,593 miles long. However, various sources online list it as either 2,370 or 2,390 miles long.

Regardless, it’s worth noting that this highway passes through an impressive 15 states, more than any other highway in the country.

Although U.S. 1 doesn’t have an official beginning or end point, the town of Fort Kent claims to be the northern terminus since the route was originally signed in 1927 when the American Association of State Highway Officials adopted the U.S. numbered highway system.

If you’re following our itinerary from south to north, expect a thrilling adventure filled with stunning scenery, charming towns, and unforgettable experiences. Here’s a quick look at the route:

  • Starting from Kittery, U.S. 1 runs northeast and parallel to I-95.
  • From Portland, it merges and runs parallel to I-295.
  • After Brunswick, U.S. 1 turns in an easterly direction.
  • As it approaches Rockland, U.S. 1 turns more northward.
  • After Bucksport, U.S. 1 heads east again.
  • From Whiting, it veers northward and gets closer to the Canadian border.
  • At Maro Hill, U.S. 1 briefly curves away from the border before meeting it again.
  • From Van Buren, it follows a northwest path along the border.
  • Finally, from Madawaska, U.S. 1 runs westward and slightly southward to reach Fort Kent.

Route 1 Road Trip Traffic

Driving straight through the Maine portion of U.S. Route 1 would take approximately 11.5 hours, but that would mean missing out on the countless charming coastal towns and attractions along the way.

Additionally, most of those “ from away ” come to Vacationland during the summer and fall. Because of that, traffic on U.S. 1 can get pretty crowded. If you don’t want to get caught up in the peak of traffic, you could plan your trip for between Labor Day and mid-October. We also recommend traveling in winter or spring — before May.

Driving Through the Regions

Sometimes, the boundaries of Maine’s regions are a topic of debate among locals. According to the Maine Office of Tourism, though, here are the coastal boundaries of the towns you’ll be visiting during your Route 1 Maine road trip:

  • The Southern Maine Coast begins in Kittery and stretches to Old Orchard Beach.
  • Greater Portland & Casco Bay spans from Scarborough to Brunswick and includes the islands in Casco Bay .
  • Mid Coast Maine covers the coastline from Bath to Winterport.
  • Downeast Maine starts at Verona Island and Bucksport and runs northeast to Lubec and Eastport and then north to Danforth next to the Canadian border.
  • Aroostook County extends along the Canadian border from Weston to Fort Kent and then northwest to the Village of Estcourt.

So, without further delay, here’s a comprehensive list of the best places to stop during your Route 1 Maine road trip. Buckle up and get ready for an epic journey!

Fort Foster Park-Kittery

Best Route 1 Stops on the Southern Maine Coast

As you cross the New Hampshire border and enter the Southern Maine Coast, the first town you’ll encounter is Kittery . This town has a rich history dating back to 1623 when it was a fishery, and you can see this history reflected in its buildings, especially the forts.

One such fort is the Fort McClary State Historic Site , which is nearly 300 years old and offers a range of activities, including hiking, fishing, camping, and enjoying the history and surrounding nature.

Another option is Fort Foster Park on Gerrish Island, which is easily accessible by car and boasts three small beaches and a trail system for biking and walking through the military fort remnants.

If shopping is more your style, then the famous Kittery Premium Outlets are a must-visit destination. Here, you’ll find a blend of locally sourced products alongside high-end and national chains, offering a unique shopping experience for everyone.

Kittery Restaurants

You’ll find numerous restaurants in Kittery to keep you fueled up, but here are a few that we recommend:

  • Beach Pea Baking Co.
  • The Black Birch
  • Rose’s Spring Rolls

RELATED: The Best Kittery Maine Hotels and Lodging

The Goldenrod-York-

York Maine is a charming and noncommercial town that offers a fantastic opportunity to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. Start your visit at Sohier Park in Cape Neddick, where you can stretch your legs and take in the stunning Nubble Lighthouse , one of the most photographed landmarks in the country. While here, enjoy a picnic lunch, go scuba diving, and spot a variety of wildlife.

For a dose of history, head to the Museums of Old York , a complex of several historic buildings that house a collection of York-related artistic and historical objects.

Afterward, satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to The Goldenrod , where you can watch old-fashioned saltwater taffy being made before indulging in a variety of candies, ice cream sodas, and hot fudge sundaes.

If you have some extra time, take an easy 30-minute hike to the peak of Mount Agamenticus , which offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Boston Massachusetts, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire from its 692-foot summit. Alternatively, hop on a horse or ATV to reach the top for a unique and exciting experience.

York Restaurants

Lots of restaurants in York will energize your road trip, but here are some top-rated options:

  • The Central Restaurant & Bar
  • Foster’s Clambakes & Catering
  • Green Leaves Chinese-Japanese Restaurant & Lounge

RELATED: The Best Hotels and Lodging in York, York Harbor, and York Beach

Laudholm Beach-Wells

As Maine’s third oldest town, Wells has a rich history. But, its natural beauty and antique shops are what make this town a vacation paradise. Wells Beach is a sandy stretch of land with seagrass, sand dunes, and more than 1.5 miles of shoreline.

At the end of Mile Road on the south side of Wells Beach, you’ll find free parking, a few restaurants, a snack bar, an arcade, and more. On the north side at the end of Atlantic Avenue, you’ll find paid parking, a boat launch into Wells Harbor, and the Wells Beach Jetty — a popular walkway among fishermen.

TIP: Other beaches to visit in Wells include Crescent Beach, Drakes Island Beach, and Moody Beach.

If you’re craving more nature than the beach, head to the Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farms . This National Estuarine Research Reserve features 7 miles of walking trails, bird sanctuaries, and saltwater marshlands. Or, visit the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge — a preserve of about 50 miles of shoreline, beaches, meadows, and tidal marshes.

And before you leave Wells, peruse the variety of antique shops. With more than a dozen antique shops, the town is considered the Antique Capital of Maine and is a haven for antique furniture, books, and fun tchotchkes. A few of the most well-known stores include Anytime Antiques , R. Jorgensen Antiques , and Bo-Mar Hall Antiques & Collectibles .

Wells Restaurants

From fresh seafood to tasty ice cream, Wells restaurants have a little bit of everything. Here are a few places that we recommend during your Route 1 road trip:

  • Fisherman’s Catch Restaurant
  • The Steakhouse
  • Big Daddy’s
  • Congdon’s Doughnuts

RELATED: Best Wells Maine Hotels, Motels, Cottages and Resorts

Ogunquit Playhouse-Ogunquit

Ogunquit Maine is a charming town that offers a wealth of enchanting experiences. Begin your adventure by hopping on an Ogunquit Trolley to tour the museums, beaches, shops, and local hot spots.

The trolley even stops at Marginal Way , a 1.25-mile cliff walk that runs along the shore from downtown Ogunquit to Perkins Cove. Along the way, you’ll come across benches, 3 miles of dunes, and numerous photo opportunities.

At Perkins Cove, you’ll enter a turn-of-the-century fishing village featuring a manual footbridge, seaside restaurants, boutique shops, fishing and sailing excursions, and stunning ocean views.

In the evening, catch an authentic, off-Broadway performance at the Ogunquit Playhouse . The general season runs from May through October and features top-notch local and regional performers showcasing their talents in a 1933 barn.

Ogunquit Restaurants

When it’s time for dining in Oqunquit , check out some of these restaurant favorites:

  • Beachfire Bar and Grille
  • Five-O Shore Road
  • Lobster Shack
  • That Place in Ogunquit

RELATED: Best Ogunquit Maine Hotels, Resorts, and Bed and Breakfasts

Palace Playland - Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Old Orchard Beach

Old Orchard Beach is a must-visit destination on your Route 1 Maine road trip thanks to its 7 miles of pristine sandy beaches. Here, you can take a refreshing dip in the ocean, sunbathe, build sandcastles, and enjoy a range of water sports.

The beach is also home to The Pier , a lively spot that extends 500 feet into the Atlantic Ocean and features several seafood dives and gift shops. At night, The Pier comes alive with entertainment and nightlife, including DJs, karaoke, and comedy acts.

Across from The Pier, you’ll find Palace Playland , an amusement park that has been entertaining visitors since 1902. This unique attraction is the only amusement park of its kind on a New England beach and boasts over 25 rides and attractions, including an old-fashioned carousel, the famous Electra Wheel (a Ferris wheel), and the thrilling 70-foot Sea Viper coaster. It’s the perfect place to let your inner child run wild.

Old Orchard Beach Restaurants

No matter the time of day, the restaurants in Old Orchard Beach will have whatever your appetite craves:

  • Elevate Cafe
  • Hoss and Mary’s
  • Johnny Shucks Maine Lobster
  • Paloma’s Restaurant
  • Red Door Market and Deli
  • Tostones on the Beach

RELATED: Old Orchard Beach Hotels, Motels, Cottages, and Condos

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum-Portland

Greater Portland Stops on Route 1

Portland , the largest city and biggest port in Maine, has a rich history that spans hundreds of years, and the city is proud to share it with visitors. Train enthusiasts, for example, can learn about the city and state’s railroad history at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum and even go for a ride.

RELATED: EXCITING Railroad Museums & Train Rides in Maine

Built in 1807, The Portland Observatory on Munjoy Hill is the only wooden signal tower still standing in North America, having survived Portland’s Great Fire of 1866. From the top of the observatory, you get breathtaking views of the city and surrounding landmarks.

If you’re interested in cryptids and legendary creatures, stop by the International Cryptozoology Museum , which features fascinating exhibits about the Abominable Snowman, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and more. Discover historical accounts, artifacts, fossils, photos, and other intriguing items.

For those seeking some time in nature, the Portland Trails Network offers 80 miles of trails to explore, some of which run through the Old Port district and along Casco Bay. It’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area while getting some exercise.

Portland Restaurants

From lobster rolls to breweries , you’ll find tons of fresh, delicious food in Portland . Check out some of the popular spots during your visit:

  • Izakaya Minato

RELATED: Portland Maine Hotels, Motels, and Lodging

Wolfe's Neck Oceanfront Camping-Freeport

Freeport Maine is a charming town located along Casco Bay and is known as a shopping paradise. One of its most famous shops is the L.L. Bean flagship store , which has been in operation since 1912 and remains open 24 hours a day.

But, Freeport offers more than just shopping. The town is also home to beautiful scenery, such as Wolfe’s Neck State Park , which is located close to downtown and offers salt marsh walks, forested trails, and adventures along the rocky coastline across more than 230 acres.

TIP: Wolfe’s Neck State Park is especially stunning during the peak fall foliage season .

For a unique nature experience, head to the Desert of Maine , which spans 20 acres of sand dunes. Self-guided and guided tours are available, teaching you about how the dunes formed during the Ice Age. After walking the nature trails, grab a snack at the Oasis Cafe and a souvenir at the gift shop. It’s a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

Freeport Restaurants

At the many restaurants in Freeport , find everything from savory entrees to indulgent desserts:

  • Isabella’s Cafe & Bakery
  • Mainely Custard
  • Wicked Whoopies
  • Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro

RELATED: Freeport Maine Hotels, Motels, and Lodging

Androscoggin Swinging Bridge-Brunswick

Before embarking on your U.S. Route 1 road trip into Mid-Coast Maine, take some time to discover Brunswick . The Town Mall (not a conventional shopping mall) is a point of pride for the town and is split into the Lower Mall and Upper Mall . It has a walking path, monuments, gardens, picnic areas, farmers’ markets, and an event space.

Not far from downtown or Route 1, the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge is another must-see attraction. Built in 1892 and destroyed in a massive flood in 1936, the bridge was only renovated, restored, and reopened in 2006. Spanning 300 feet, the bridge has a slight give to it, adding to the excitement of crossing it.

While in Brunswick, check out Crystal Spring Farm , which hosts a Saturday Farmers’ Market and offers trails, the Tom Settlemire Community Garden, and the Labyrinth in the Woods. It’s a great place to connect with nature and enjoy some fresh local produce.

Brunswick Restaurants

Serving a range of international cuisines, Brunswick’s restaurants can satisfy every appetite:

  • Fielders Choice Homemade Ice Cream
  • Taverna Khione
  • Bombay Mahal
  • Richard’s Restaurant

RELATED: Bath and Brunswick Maine Hotels, Motels, and Lodging


Best U.S. 1 Destinations in Mid Coast Maine

Located on the Kennebec River, Bath Maine is a quaint town with locally owned eateries and shops. The city has a rich shipbuilding history and is known as the City of Ships.

Then, learn about Bath’s seafaring heritage and that of the state at the Maine Maritime Museum , which boasts over 20,000 artifacts, an 1851 American clipper ship on display, and a lobstering building and blacksmith shop.

Additionally, get an up-close look at Maine’s First Ship , a replica of the pinnace Virginia that was built in 1607 and was the first ship to sail to England. Volunteers at the Bath Freight Shed love to share its history.

Bath also offers tours of the town and its waters. Embark Maine Tours provides historic tours, while River Run Tours offers maritime history, evening/sunset, and island cruises. It’s a great way to explore the area and learn about its fascinating history.

Bath Restaurants

When you’re ready to stop for a bite to eat, we suggest eating at one of these Bath restaurants :

  • Byrnes Irish Pub
  • Southgate Family Restaurant
  • Winnegance Restaurant & Bakery
  • Witch Spring Hill Ice Cream

Five Islands Detour

If you have some extra time, it’s worth taking a detour south of Route 1 to visit Georgetown’s Five Islands. This charming neighborhood is widely considered to be the Prettiest Harbor in Maine , and for good reason.

One of the most popular activities is sailing Sheepscot Bay to see the five islands up close. It’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area while enjoying a relaxing boat ride.

And, no visit to Five Islands would be complete without grabbing a delicious lobster roll at the Five Islands Lobster Company . It’s a local favorite and a must-try for seafood lovers. Another awesome place to dine is BLUE Restaurant at Grey Havens Inn , which serves New England cuisine — think fresh-caught fish and the finest ingredients.

Damariscotta, Maine harbor Mid Coast Maine


Damariscotta Maine has been a beloved stop along U.S. Route 1 for decades, thanks to its charming atmosphere and fresh Pemaquid oysters. Discover the Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site , which features a massive pile of oyster shells shaped like a whale. Some of the shells date back to when the Abenaki people lived in the area.

For even more oyster-themed fun, book a themed ride with Damariscotta River Cruises , such as the Oyster & Wine Tasting or the Oyster Farms & Seal Watching cruises. Each tour includes a narration of the history of oysters and dining from a raw oyster bar. It’s a unique and delicious way to experience the area’s rich oyster culture.

TIP: If you’re planning a Route 1 Maine road trip in October, plan to attend the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta . This popular festival features giant pumpkins, pumpkin-themed activities, food stands, and street performers. It’s a fun and festive way to celebrate the fall season and experience the local culture.

Damariscotta Restaurants

If you don’t book a Damariscotta River Cruises tasting, you can still get local oysters at River House Maine . If you’re in the mood for something else, here are a few other places to stop:

  • Ann’s Book Bistro
  • Metcalf’s Submarine Sandwiches
  • Waltz Soda Fountain

RELATED: Damariscotta, New Harbor, and Pemaquid Point Maine Hotels, Inns, Motels, Resorts, and Lodging

Monhegan-Monhegan Island

Monhegan Island Detour

For a fun detour from U.S. 1 and Damariscotta in Mid-Coast Maine, consider taking a boat ride to Monhegan Island . Head south to New Harbor to catch a ride with Hardy Boat Cruises , or follow Route 1 to Thomaston before heading south to Port Clyde for a ride with the Monhegan Boat Line .

Once on Monhegan Island, explore Main Street art galleries and shops, the iconic Monhegan Lighthouse, 12 miles of dirt trails , beaches, and Monhegan Harbor in a kayak. It’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area while enjoying some outdoor activities and local culture.

There are some delicious eats while you’re on the island too, such as Monhegan Brewing Company , The Barnacle , and The Fish House . And if you decide to stay overnight, there are a few lodging options on Monhegan Island to choose from.

Andre the Harbor Seal-Rockport Maine

Rockland, Rockport, & Camden

As you continue north on U.S. 1 in Maine, you’ll come across the City of Rockland , the Town of Rockport , and the Town of Camden , each offering a variety of activities to keep you entertained.

In Rockland, check out the Maine Lighthouse Museum , walk the Rockland Harbor Trail , and snap a photo of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse . And don’t miss the Maine Lobster Festival , a five-day event held every summer from late July to early August to celebrate the area’s most famous seafood.

RELATED: Annual Festivals & Events in Maine You Should Explore This Year

Next up is Rockport where you can visit Marine Park’s Andre the Seal statue and the Rockport Lime Kilns . Adjacent to the park is the small, sandy Goodie’s Beach . The town is also home to Aldemere Farm , a cattle farm featuring Belted Galloway cows with their signature Oreo appearance.

In Camden, trek 20 multi-use trails at Camden Hills State Park , some of which lead to the peaks of Mount Battie and Mount Megunticook. For those who want to get out on the water, several Camden Maine cruises and schooner boat tours are available. It’s a great way to experience the stunning coastline and natural beauty of the area.

Area Restaurants

Across these two towns and one city, you have a wide selection of dining options. In Rockland, consider eating at the Home Kitchen Cafe , Liberator Brewing Company , or Primo Restaurant , as well as grabbing dessert at Bixby Chocolates or Dorman’s Dairy Dream .

Among the Rockport restaurants , 18 Central Oyster Bar & Grill is a top-rated locale. And for dining in Camden , head to any of these: Franny’s Bistro , Owl & Turtle Bookshop Cafe , and River Ducks Ice Cream .

RELATED: Rockland Maine Hotels , Rockport Maine Hotels , & Camden Maine Hotels

Vinalhaven Detour

If you find yourself in the Rockland-Rockport-Camden area, consider taking a detour to the charming island town of Vinalhaven.

As the biggest offshore island in Maine, Vinalhaven offers plenty of activities to enjoy, including hiking, boat tours, swimming, and lighthouse photo ops. Plus, you’ll find a variety of shops and restaurants, such as Greet’s Eats , Pizza Pit , and Good Things Coffee House .

To get to Vinalhaven, take the Maine State Ferry Service from the terminal in Rockland. It’s a great way to experience the unique island culture and natural beauty of the area.

Belfast Marina-Belfast

The next stop on this Route 1 Maine road trip is Belfast , a city that offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Two connecting trails allow you to walk through the city along the Passagassawakeag River.

The nearly 1-mile Belfast Harbor Walk starts at Belfast Park , a popular gathering place for special events, picnics, and low-tide walks. The cement path leads northwest along the wharf, passes shops and restaurants, and goes through the Front Street Shipyard. It ends at the Armistice Bridge, a footbridge that crosses the river and offers beautiful views of the harbor.

From there, continue walking north along the approximately 2-mile Belfast Rail Trail . The crushed-stone path leads to City Point, providing excellent views of the river along the way. In the winter, it’s an ideal trail for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

For an indoor activity in Belfast, consider taking a class at the Belfast Curling Club . It’s a fun way to try out this Olympic sport and enjoy some friendly competition.

Belfast Restaurants

From comfort food to exotic dishes, the restaurants in Belfast have everything that you’re looking for:

  • Laan Xang Cafe
  • Satori Belfast
  • The Only Doughnut
  • Wild Cow Creamery

RELATED: Belfast and Searsport Maine Hotels, Inns, Cottages and Lodging

Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observatory

Stockton Springs & Prospect

After exploring Belfast, the next stops on your Route 1 Maine road trip are Stockton Springs and Prospect before crossing the Penobscot River to Verona Island.

Just before you cross, be sure to visit the Fort Knox State Historic Site , one of the best-preserved examples of a mid-19th-century military fortification. This impressive fort is the largest in Maine, measuring 146 feet by 252 feet, and was built between 1844 and 1869.

After your fort tour, don’t miss the chance to ride to the top of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observatory . This 2,100-foot cable-stayed bridge boasts a 42-story public observatory, the tallest of its kind in the world.

From the top, you’ll enjoy stunning 360-degree views of the fort below, Penobscot Bay , and beyond. It’s a unique and unforgettable experience that shouldn’t be missed.

There aren’t too many restaurants in the area, but The Club Marina and Bar and Just Barb’s are two places that have some great food.


Downeast Stops on a Route 1 Maine Road Trip

Stonington & Deer Isle Detour

As you continue westward on Route 1, we highly recommend taking a detour south of the highway to visit Deer Isle and Stonington. These charming island towns are the perfect first stops on your Downeast Maine road trip and offer plenty of activities to enjoy:

  • Hiking at Island Heritage Trust preserves
  • Visiting the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society exhibits
  • Hiking the Deer Isle Lighthouse Trail
  • Kayaking with Osprey’s Echo Sea Kayaking or Sea Kayak Stonington
  • Touring the exhibits at the Deer Isle Granite Museum
  • Getting interactive at the Discovery Wharf at the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries

And when you get hungry, 44 North Coffee , Aragosta at Goose Cove , Burnt Cove Boil , Stonington Seafood , and Stonington Ice Cream Company are all top-notch dining options.


Back on U.S. 1, you’ll reach Ellsworth Maine , a town that boasts some unique attractions. For example, The Telephone Museum is dedicated to showcasing the history of communication technology, offering the chance to see how telephones have evolved over time.

Another must-visit spot in Ellsworth is the Big Chicken Barn where you can peruse three floors of wares from over 50 vendors. With thousands of antiques, over 150,000 books, and more than 50,000 magazines sprawled across 21,600 square feet, there’s something for everyone to discover.

For those who want to get creative, Atlantic Art Glass is an open studio where you can create your own glass artwork. Even if you have no experience, a professional instructor will guide you through the process. It’s a fun and unique way to discover your artistic side.

Ellsworth Restaurants

No matter your diet or palate, these restaurants in Ellsworth will fill your belly:

  • Flexit Cafe & Bakery
  • Provender Kitchen & Bar
  • Union River Lobster Pot

RELATED: Ellsworth Maine Bed & Breakfasts, Inns, and Hotels

Mount Desert Island

Mount Desert Island Detour

Before continuing your journey on Route 1, take a detour south to Mount Desert Island for a plethora of outdoor adventures.

On the island’s west side, you get to enjoy spectacular views of the Bass Harbor Head Light Station at the entrance of Bass Harbor in the Town of Tremont. Additionally, the Seal Cove Auto Museum boasts a collection of cars made between 1895 and 1917 and is located near the Seal Cove Picnic Area.

In the middle of Mount Desert Island, learn about the island’s rich history at the Mount Desert Island Historical Society Museum . In Acadia National Park , drive the scenic Park Loop Road , hike Cadillac Mountain , listen to the waves at Thunder Hole , and take in stunning views at Otter Point Overlook.

On the east side of the island in Bar Harbor , tour the Abbe Museum to learn about the natives who once lived in the area and the Dorr Museum of Natural History to learn about Acadia’s founder.

Island Restaurants

With so many outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, Mount Desert Island is a must-visit destination on your Maine road trip. There are even several places to eat on the island — like Rose Eden Lobster , The Travelin’ Lobster , and Stadium Bar Harbor in Bar Harbor and the Harbor Table , Next Level Sports Lounge , and Salt Shop in Southwest Harbor .

RELATED: Bar Harbor Maine Hotels & Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor Hotels

Machias Wild Blueberry Festival

Located about a one-hour drive east, Machias is a true hidden gem and one of the most charming towns in Downeast Maine. Thanks to its location, it offers a wide variety of activities and attractions to enjoy.

One of the top activities in Machias is kayaking the nearly 6-mile Orange River Water Trail where you can spot a range of wildlife, including beavers, birds, deer, and trout. The calm waters provide a serene and peaceful environment to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

For those who love shopping, The French Cellar is a must-visit for fresh cheese, craft beer, and hundreds of wines. Additionally, the Crows Nest Shops offer a shopping center with baked goods, local arts and crafts, and unique gifts and souvenirs.

TIP: If you happen to visit Machias in August, attend the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival , a community celebration of Maine’s wild blueberries. This festival offers a chance to enjoy blueberry-themed food and entertainment , as well as browse the wares of over 200 craft merchants and artisans. It’s a fun and unique way to experience the local culture and celebrate one of Maine’s most famous crops.

Machias Restaurants

Since Machias is such a small town, there aren’t too many restaurants to choose from, but Pat’s Pizza offers dine-in seating and Riverside Take-Out offers amazing roadside seafood for picnics.


Lubec & Eastport Detour

Although Route 1 doesn’t quite reach the easternmost point of Maine, you can take a detour to Lubec and Eastport to experience this unique area. While Lubec is the easternmost town in the state , Eastport is the easternmost city .

Both Lubec and Eastport offer fantastic opportunities for whale-watching tours. Additionally, explore several hiking trails in Lubec, including Quoddy Head State Park , Huckins Beach & Trail , Klondike Mountain , and Boot Head Trail .

In Eastport, follow a historic walking tour and traverse Shackford Head State Park . One of the highlights of the area is witnessing the Western Hemisphere’s biggest tidal whirlpool, the Old Sow Whirlpool .

RELATED: Best Maine State Parks (Our Favorite State Parks in Maine)

With so much natural beauty and unique attractions, Lubec and Eastport are must-visit destinations on your Maine road trip. And, here are a few dining options during your visit — Lubec Brewing Company and Tavern Restaurant at the Water Street Inn & B&B in Lubec and The Phoenix on Water Street in Eastport.

Calais, ME

Calais (“CAL-iss”), the first railroad town in Maine, is a city located next to the Canadian border and is full of history and culture.

Discover the Saint Croix Island International Historic Site , which commemorates the area where the first French colonists attempted to settle in 1604. Here, you can witness the extraordinary tides and observe the area’s birds, frogs, and seals.

The St. Croix Historical Society celebrates the history of the city and the St. Croix Valley, maintaining the Whitlock’s Mill Lighthouse and the Dr. Job Holmes Cottage & Museum.

For those who love walking, the Calais Waterfront Walkway is a 1.5-mile path along the St. Croix River, offering outstanding vistas of Canada on the opposite shore. It’s a great way to enjoy the area’s natural beauty and learn more about its rich history.

Calais Restaurants

When it’s time for a snack or a meal, Calais has several restaurants to whet your appetite. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Jo’s Diner & Pizzeria
  • Karen’s Diner and Korner Pub
  • Riverview Restaurant & Lounge
  • Sandwich Man


Best Route 1 Stops Throughout Aroostook County

Houlton Maine , located farther north, marks the intersection of U.S. 1 with the northernmost end of I-95 and serves as the first stop in Aroostook County on this road trip itinerary. The Meduxnekeag River flows through the heart of the town, offering a picturesque scene at Houlton Riverfront Park, where the Gateway Crossing Bridge crosses the river.

Market Square serves as the downtown hub, spanning more than just one street. Explore monuments, go shopping, and dine until your heart’s content in this historic district. For a unique experience, catch a film at Temple Theater , which has been open since 1919.

To immerse yourself in nature, the Southern Bangor & Aroostook Trail offers a 40-mile hiking trail that connects Houlton to Presque Isle (the next stop on the itinerary). The trail is also open for biking, ATV riding, and snowmobiling, making it a versatile option for outdoor enthusiasts.

Houlton Restaurants

Check out these dining spots as you’re passing through Houlton:

  • ShireWood SmokeHouse Southern BBQ
  • Houlton Dairy Bar
  • The Vault Restaurant

Caribou Historical Center & Whittier Museum-Caribou

Presque Isle & Caribou

Presque Isle and Caribou Maine are the two largest cities in Aroostook County, offering a variety of historic attractions and recreational activities.

In Presque Isle, witness the beginning of the Maine Solar System , an incredible 3D scale model that spans nearly 100 miles along Route 1. It’s the second-largest model of its kind in the world. You’ll find the sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and the dwarf planet Ceres in Presque Isle.

The Presque Isle Air Museum commemorates the personnel who served at the Presque Isle Army Airfield and Air Force Base with a collection of artifacts, photographs, uniforms, and other memorabilia. Also, wander the nearly 800 acres of land with well-maintained trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing at Aroostook State Park .

In Caribou, learn about the legends of the city at the Caribou Historical Center & Whittier Museum , featuring the former potato farmer who eventually went to California and developed Beverly Hills. For outdoor enthusiasts, the Caribou Country Club Trails and the ski paths at the Caribou High School Ski Center offer fantastic opportunities to see the area’s natural beauty.

While you’re visiting Presque Isle, some good dining options include Ferris BBQ , Riverside Inn Restaurant , and Teresa’s Corner Cafe & Bakery . Meanwhile, The Par & Grill , Rendezvous Restaurant , and Ruska Coffee are ideal dining options in Caribou.

Acadian Village-Van Buren

Continuing north on U.S. Route 1, the next stop on this Maine road trip is Van Buren, located on the Canadian border.

The main attraction in Van Buren is the Acadian Village , a collection of 17 relocated and recreated buildings on the St. John River that preserves the lives of Acadians who were banished from Canada and sought refuge here in the early 19th century.

While in Van Buren, enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, and horseback riding or ATV riding on the Bangor & Aroostook Trail .

This remote, 61-mile path connects Van Buren to Stockholm, Caribou, Washburn, and Mapleton, taking you through deep woods and fields and along several streams. It’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area and get some exercise at the same time.

Van Buren Restaurants

There aren’t too many options for dining in Van Buren, but you can’t go wrong at either Big Daddy’s Pizza or Tasty Food . They both have delicious menus.

Madawaska Maine, the northernmost town on U.S. 1, is a Canadian border town with Acadian roots where you can experience the town’s unique culture and history.

At the Acadian Landing & Tante Blanche Museum , see the large cross erected where the first Acadians settled on the St. John River. The museum features historic artifacts and buildings, providing a glimpse into the area’s rich history.

For entertainment, catch a film at the Skylite Drive-In , which celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2023. The drive-in offers amazing views while waiting for the sunset and the film to start, and the snack bar has all the movie treats you need, including popcorn, fried dough with powdered sugar, and fried clams.

Motorcycle enthusiasts will love Madawaska Four Corners Park , a long-distance motorcycle park that has been operating since 2008 and is one of four in the country. Complete the Titanium Butt Challenge by riding all of the Maine Four Corners Experience Tours. It’s a unique and exciting way to discover the area’s natural beauty and history.

TIP: To fully experience Acadian culture, plan your visit for August to attend the Madawaska Acadian Festival . This festival is a celebration of the area’s unique culture and offers the chance to enjoy delicious food, lively music, and traditional dancing. It’s an excellent opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture and experience the vibrant spirit of the community.

Madawaska Restaurants

From Acadian dishes to classic American cuisine, check out these restaurants in Madawaska during your road trip visit:

  • Jeff’s Pizza & Subs
  • Madawaska Tastee Freez

America's First Mile-Fort Kent

Fort Kent marks the end of this Route 1 Maine road trip itinerary, so make sure to walk America’s first mile at the historical marker for the beginning of U.S. Route 1, which has been standing since 1926. Close to the river is a civic monument dedicated to the spot, adding to the area’s rich history.

Also, trek the 4 miles of the Fort Kent Riverside Trail System , which runs along the St. John River and includes playgrounds, parks, murals, and more.

To learn about the Bloodless War, head to the Fort Kent Blockhouse during the summer. Although the fort was never actually used for battle, it’s a fascinating piece of history. The Fort Kent Historical Society maintains several buildings, including an original Acadian log house from the 1830s, providing a glimpse into the area’s rich history.

During winter, enjoy Alpine skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding at Lonesome Pine Trails . Alternatively, plan your visit for the annual Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races to witness the beginning of the 250-mile race through Northern Maine from Fort Kent’s Main Street.

Fort Kent Restaurants

Make your last stop on this U.S. 1 road trip memorable by stopping at some of the best restaurants in Fort Kent:

  • Rock’s Family Diner
  • Sami’s Cuisine & Cocktails

Plan Your Itinerary Along a Route 1 Maine Road Trip

A Route 1 Maine road trip is a unique and exciting way to experience the natural beauty, rich history, and unique culture of Maine. From the southernmost town of Kittery to the northernmost town of Fort Kent, you get to explore charming towns, historic landmarks, and breathtaking scenery.

Along the way, enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing, as well as cultural events like the Madawaska Acadian Festival. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or foodie, a Route 1 Maine road trip has something for everyone.

So, pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure through one of America’s most beautiful regions!

Tiffany Betts is a staff writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in the industry. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family and playing board and video games — often combining the two.

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Portland Head Lighthouse at Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA, during a pastel colored sunset

Ultimate Maine Road Trip Itinerary

With stunning scenery, miles of beautiful coast and impressive wildlife, Maine is the perfect place to head if you want to connect with the natural world. Whether you're in search of peace and quiet or looking to hop between the state's quaint towns and coastline, a road trip around Maine certainly won't disappoint.

It takes 5 days to drive the ultimate 860-mile road trip loop around Maine, visiting beautiful Portland, Augusta, Belfast and Bar Harbor, Greenville as well as Acadia National Park, Baxter State Park, Mt Katahdin and the stunning, rugged Maine Coastline.

Located on the northeast corner of the United States, visit Maine to enjoy its stunning views, winter sports and wonderful historic towns, many of which are perched on the North Atlantic coast. Keep on reading to find out how to make the most out of a 5-day road trip around the state.

The ultimate road trip itinerary in Maine

What is the ultimate maine road trip itinerary.

Famous for its lush green forests and rugged coastline, New England's largest state is actually one of the smaller states compared with other parts of the USA. That means it's the perfect place to enjoy a scenic road trip, without having to spend too much of your trip on the road.

It's possible to comfortably travel an 860-mile road trip around Maine in 5 days, with stops in Augusta, Bar Harbor, Greenville, Carrabassett Valley and Portland.

You'll spend an average of 4 hours per day on the road, though be prepared for a longer stretch on day 3 as you travel from Bar Harbor up towards Greenville.

If you have a little more time for exploring, you could easily add on extra nights at Bar Harbor (to visit Acadia National Park), Moosehead Lake or the Kennebec Valley, or alternatively spend an extra night in York as you travel back towards Portland.

Waves in the Atlantic Ocean and houses on cliffs in York, Maine.

Day 1: Driving from York to Augusta

Starting out in York, the first day of your Maine road trip follows the coast as far as Bath, from where you can visit Popham Beach and Reid State Park, before heading inland towards Augusta.

You should expect a manageable 3 hours 50 minutes of driving on day 1, as some of the 170 miles you'll cover takes you off the interstate and out along the stunning coastal roads.

Road trip route from York to Augusta

From your starting point in York, pick up US-1 to visit Bald Head and Ogunquit before switching onto I-95 to pick up the pace as you head northeast.

If you have a little extra time, you could also consider sticking with the highway a little then turning onto ME-9 which winds through Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise before joining up with the interstate a little further on near Biddeford.

From the interstate, follow the road into Portland then make your way out of town on I-295 to continue your journey. You'll be skirting Casco Bay, which is full of islands and scenic views so make sure to stop and snap a picture or two.

Approaching Brunswick the highway and the interstate separate. Take Route 1 towards Bath then turn off south through Phippsburg to reach Popham Beach. Returning to Bath you can cross the wide Kennebec River and take Arrowsic Road all the way down to Reid State Park.

Retracing your route back up to Woolwich, stick on US-1 then turn onto ME-127 as far as Dresden. From here, Route 27 runs close to the banks of the Kennebec River before merging onto ME-9 and following it all the way to Augusta.

Things to explore on the way to Augusta

You cannot visit Southern Maine and not visit one of its gorgeous beaches. Old Orchard Beach is a great starting point, located between Ogunquit and Portland.

Kennebec River, Rail Trail. Photo taken during fall and depicts Kennebec Memorial Bridge, Augusta, Maine, USA

Located on a beautiful stretch of the Atlantic Ocean, you will find a gorgeous pier, plenty of entertainment, souvenir shops, restaurants and even a carousel here.

And of course, make sure to enjoy a delicious lobster roll on the beach before you set off on the next leg of your ultimate Maine adventure!

Sticking to the coast, you'll arrive at Reid State Park, which is known for its sandy beaches, ledges to climb (if you are feeling adventurous!) and hiking trails. There is even a lagoon, perfect if you are traveling with family, meaning that this park has both saltwater and freshwater beaches.

Where to stay in Augusta: enjoy a cozy retreat

Known as a historic hub that played an important role in Maine's history, Augusta is arguably most famous for Fort Western, a National Historic Landmark. This former British colonial outpost is the oldest wooden fort in United States.

The architecture of the gorgeous Maple Hill Farm Inn is a perfect example of Maine's historic facades. You will have access to the sauna on the property to let off some steam (pun intended) and an outdoor hot rub. There is a fantastic bar on site and the hotel serves made-to-order breakfast so that you can start your day right.

For the ultimate romantic Maine experience, you will find a fireplace in select rooms. This property is located near Maine State House and Maine State Museum.

Click here to skip back to the top.

Day 2: Driving from Augusta to Bar Harbor

You'll have a shorter but no less scenic drive on day 2, as you travel 130 miles on quiet roads through Maine's leafy interior before following Penobscot Bay.

Along your 3-hour drive you'll pass Rockland, Belfast and Ellsworth, with the stunning Acadia National Park a real highlight of the day.

Road trip route from Augusta to Bar Harbor

Follow the Memorial Bridge across the Kennebec River then leave Augusta on S Belfast Avenue. You'll get picture postcard views as you cross Togus Pond, then continue on past Windsor and Somerville.

At the crossroads turn left towards Rockland, where you'll meet the ocean once again and start to follow Route 1 - the Atlantic Highway - north along Penobscot Bay. Look out for beautiful glimpses of the water through the trees.

Stick on US-1 through Belfast and across the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, following it as far as Ellsworth where you join ME-3 to head south on to Mt Desert Island, where most of Acadia National Park is located. The same road will take you all the way to Bar Harbor to complete your drive for the day.

Penobscot Bay, Maine, USA, The Stephen Tabor windjammer sailing, July 29, 1997

Things to explore on the way to Bar Harbor

Rockland is a stunning Maine town that boasts gorgeous coastal scenery and a majestic rocky shoreline. Make sure to check out the boat tours on the famous Windjammer while in Rockland for a unique experience!

With many historic homes and shops in Rockland too, you can visit The Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center to learn more about and admire Maine art, including works by the famous Wyeth family.

You can also make a stop here and enjoy a meal at the many restaurants. In fact, Rockland is the capital of the lobster industry in Maine, so it isn't surprising that it was named one of the “Top 9 Small Foodie Towns” in Maine.

You can't visit Maine without spending some time in Acadia National Park. It's an absolutely stunning national park, where you can fish and ski (depending on the time of year) as well as hike gorgeous trails.

Inside the national park, climb Cadillac Mountain to see the sun rise before anyone else in the country. Thunder Hole is also an impressive place to visit, as the breaking waves create their own natural spectacle.

Where to stay in Bar Harbor: watch the sunrise in style

Seeing as Acadia National Park is one of the must-see stops along this route, we'd definitely recommend spending a night or two in nearby Bar Harbor so that you have plenty of time to enjoy the national park, and to relax over a delicious meal after a busy day exploring.

There's also plenty to do in Bar Harbor itself. Pause a while to enjoy the unforgettable ocean views and if you're lucky you might even see whales out in the bay.

Sunrise at Acadia National Park with big rocks in the foreground and the ocean reaching into the horizon

For a really characterful stay, book into the beautifully designed Queen Anne's Revenge , where you'll receive a warm welcome.

The hotel also has a beautiful garden to relax in as well as a terrace. There is a daily breakfast with buffet and continental options. The property is a short distance from Agamont Park and The Abbe Museum and West Street Historic District.

Day 3: Driving from Bar Harbor to Greenville

The 220-mile route you'll follow on day 3 takes you inland to visit the stunning Baxter State Park before ending the day at beautiful Moose Head Lake.

It's the longest day of driving on your ultimate Maine road trip, coming in at around 5 hours 50 minutes on the road, so make sure to stop for snacks and fuel before setting out.

Road trip route from Bar Harbor to Greenville

Leaving Bar Harbor, work your way back along ME-3 towards Ellsworth on the mainland, where you'll join US-1A heading north across more of the beautiful Maine countryside. Watch out for lakes and rivers tucked away behind the trees.

From Bangor you'll pick up the interstate, which runs parallel to the Penobscot River for a while. After crossing the river at Medway, follow Main St through Millinocket then turn right onto Huber Road once you've crossed the scenic Dolby Pond.

From here you can make a detour to Roberts Road to reach the scenic Katahdin Loop Road and Scenic Overlook. Explore the area's stunning trails if you have time, especially around Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

When you're ready to continue, head back south towards Huber Road and follow it west until you meet up with Millinocket Road. After passing Millinocket Lake, you can choose to drive on the Golden Road, which will take you around the southern side of Mount Katahdin - Maine's highest mountain - following the river towards Ripogenus Lake and then Caribou Lake.

The road isn't fully paved along this part of the drive, so consider the impact that weather conditions will have on the road unless you're traveling in a 4WD vehicle.

Otherwise follow ME-11 past Schodic Lake and switch to ME-6 in Milo, which will take you directly to Greenville.

Things to explore on the way to Greenville

Did you know that Bangor, one of the larger towns you'll pass on day 3, is home to a few celebrities? You could run into Stephen King as you are strolling down Bangor's streets as he owns a house (more like a Victorian mansion!) in the city.

You can also take a Stephen King tour around the city, which will take you to the famous Paul Bunyan statue, featured in the author's beloved scary novel “It”, among other interesting sites.

Detail of the gate and house of Stephen King, in Bangor, Maine, USA. Stephen King is famous as an author of horror and thriller novels.

There is so much to do and explore in this small city, starting with the Cole Land Transportation Museum, which has an extensive collection of cars and trains on display.

Further north you'll reach Baxter State Park. This Maine wilderness haven was created by Percival P. Baxter, who described it as his “magnificent obsession”.

You can take gorgeously scenic hikes, camp in one of the many campsites, spot some adorable wildlife or simply have a relaxing picnic here.

We highly recommend visiting during fall to admire the foliage in the park change into golden and auburn colors.

Where to stay in Greenville: explore the Maine Highlands

Moosehead Lake, where you'll end the third day of your Maine road trip, is the ideal place to spend a couple of nights if you're wanting to head out into the Maine Highlands or even just explore the incredibly scenic area around the lake itself.

An absolutely fabulous place to stay if you're looking for a bit of luxury in your scenic getaway is the Lodge at Moosehead Lake . There isn't much here that can't be described as stunning, from the lake views to the hotel's service, restaurant and gorgeous design.

Another great option which is also more budget-friendly is Leisure Life, Greenville , which also offers superb views and a great location. You can park up here for free and relax at the hotel bar - you'll most likely have earned some downtime after the day's driving and hiking.

Day 4: Driving from Greenville to Carrabassett Valley

After the long and adventurous driving on day 3 you'll probably welcome the much shorter stretch that lies ahead on day 4. It's just 90 miles from Greenville to Carrabassett Valley, which will only take a couple of hours to drive, leaving you plenty of time to stop and explore along the way.

Road trip route from Greenville to Carrabassett Valley

Turning away from the lake, follow ME-6 south past Monson on the way to Abbot. There are rafting companies based along this road if you fancy making an active stop just outside Greenville.

At Abbot turn right onto West Road which leads you to Kingsbury Plantation and Lake. A little further along the road you'll reach Bingham, which sits on the shore of Wyman Lake.

From here, River Road follows the Kennebec River south - with another opportunity for rafting - until you reach Solon. Here, cross the river and take Cross Town Road to join up with ME-16 to Kingfield.

The Carrabassett Valley runs north from Kingfield, offering river views and trailheads.

Things to explore on the way to Carrabassett Valley

Located in Western Maine, Bigelow Preserve and Flagstaff Lake make a stark contrast to the state's coastal towns. You will find alpine landscapes and the pretty Flagstaff Lake views here.

Plus, if you're traveling with your kayak or canoe, Flagstaff Lake is the perfect place to put them to use.

Flagstaff Lake, Maine on a moody, cloudy day

Both are just a short drive further on from Carrabassett Valley, and once you're there you can enjoy hiking trails for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts, including an easy one that is perfect for the whole family.

Of course, this ultimate Maine road trip itinerary isn't only for sun worshippers, beach lovers or foodies. If you are a fan of winter sports, you will find world-class facilities at the Sugarloaf Ski Resort, which is also just a short distance out of Carrabassett Valley. You will get to admire stunning views as you ski or snowboard.

Sugarloaf Mountain is also one of the most popular rock climbing spots in the country with around 270 different routes to explore.

Where to stay in Carrabassett Valley: hit the slopes and trails

As we've mentioned, Carrabassett Valley is known for being home to the majestic Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Resort, which is the largest skiing area in Maine.

There is plenty to do in Carrabassett in other seasons as well, such as hiking, biking, boating, fishing and golfing. You can also take foliage walks, something this area is so famous for.

With direct access to skiing areas and an 18-hole golf course, Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel has something for every traveler. In warmer seasons, you can enjoy hiking and cycling in the area.

After your adventures outdoors, you will be happy to learn that there is also a fabulous outdoor hot tub to soak and relax in at the property. You'll find restaurant options a short drive from the hotel too.

If you aren't traveling with your skiing equipment, you can hire them from the property. There's also ski storage if you have brought your own.

Day 5: Driving from Carrabassett Valley to Portland and York

You'll complete your road trip with another 4-hour drive, taking you the 170-miles from Carrabassett Valley to Portland and York.

Traveling through more of Maine's beautiful green landscapes and passing rivers and lakes before you meet the coast again at Portland, it's the perfect way to end your ultimate Maine adventure.

Road trip route from Carrabassett Valley to Portland and York

The final day of your trip starts out on some of Maine's small, scenic roads, first traveling along ME-27 to Eustis then down ME-16 to Rangeley. Once you've made your way around Rangeley Lake, ME-17 takes you through picturesque forests, rivers and hills to Byron and Roxbury until you reach Chisholm Park.

Here, join US-2 which follows the Androscoggin River through Hanover and Newry. Then, once you reach Bethel, take ME-35 past Waterford and Harrison then along Long Lake as far as Naples.

Crossing the Naples Causeway you'll join Sebago Road, which offers picturesque views and lakeside attractions once it hits the shore of the popular Sebago Lake.

From Standish, simply follow ME-114 all the way to Portland, then pick up the interstate for the final few miles of your trip, heading back south to York.

Lighthouse during fall in Portland, Maine

Things to explore on the way to Portland and York

Located in close vicinity of the scenic Rangeley and Mooselookmeguntic Lakes, Rangeley is a charming town with a laidback character. You will find fantastic golf courses here, as well as the scenic Rangeley Lake State Park.

Wilhelm Reich Museum and Height of Land (a popular scenic overlook) are both a short distance from the town too.

Keeping with the scenic lakes theme of this leg of the itinerary, Sebago Lake is a fantastic place to take a break en route.

This beautiful, clear lake is the second largest in Maine after Moosehead Lake, and is especially popular in summer. You will be able to enjoy watersports, golfing and fishing, sunny beaches and even a float-plane excursion here!

Where to stay in Portland: take a trip back in time

Portland is a beautifully scenic town, full of cobblestone streets and historic houses. You can also indulge your creative side, as the city has a buzzing arts scene.

After the lovely drive from Carrabassett Valley, you'll have plenty of time to end the afternoon sitting back to relax beside Portland's waterfront.

You can also stay nearby at Portland Harbor Hotel , which is in walking distance of the waterfront as well as Wadsworth Longfellow House, Victoria Mansion and Portland Downtown Historic District on foot.

Its central location and beautiful design, which channels a contemporary coastal vibe, means that you have a fantastic choice of restaurants, bars and cafes nearby. Or, if you don't feel like venturing out there's also a restaurant on-site.

Things to see on the ultimate road trip in Maine

By now you'll probably already have several stops in mind for when you make your fabulous Maine road trip, but there's even more to discover if you have the time.

Sunset on Sebago Lake Maine with ice in the foreground

  • York - With views across stunning sandy beaches, the Yorks are the perfect place to come for some good old-fashioned seaside entertainment. Head to the Fun-O-Rama arcade and enjoy live music and saltwater taffy as you explore York Beach.
  • Ogunquit - The stunning waterside gardens around Ogunquit Museum of American Art make this a must-see stop if you're visiting the town. There's also a lovely stretch of coastline here - said to be one of the country's best beaches.
  • Broad Cove Reserve - Trails here take you to more amazing ocean views, starting from a sandy beach.
  • Popham Beach State Park - At the mouth of the Kennebec River you'll find this swimming and surfing spot. You can also walk to Fox Island across the beach, but pay attention to the rising tide which cuts off the path at certain times of day.
  • Bath - Known as the ‘city of ships', it's no surprise that Maine Maritime Museum is located here. It's also a great place to indulge in some of the state's famous and delicious seafood.
  • Reid State Park - This is a bird watcher's paradise, with seabirds nesting in the stunning coastal landscape. You can also follow trails along the headland which will reward you with amazing coastal views.
  • Augusta - The state capital has a number of excellent museums, including Maine State Museum and the Old Fort Living History Museum.
  • Kennebec Valley - If you can add an extra day to your trip, consider following the beautiful Kennebec Valley from Augusta to Skowhegan.
  • St George Peninsula - There's more of the fabulous Maine coastline to explore along this beautiful peninsula, but for a bit of variety this is also a great place to sample Maine wines. The Owls Head Transportation Museum is worth a visit too.
  • Rockland - Home to the popular Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland also has a thriving arts scene which you can get to know at Center for Maine Contemporary Art or with a visit to the North Atlantic Blues Festival.
  • Belfast - Another artistic stopover, many visitors like to drop in to Belfast's small galleries or enjoy live music and summer Arts Walks.
  • Penobscot Narrows - Take a tour up the huge observation tower to admire the ocean from a new perspective.
  • Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park - This popular national park is famous for its rugged coastal views and excellent wildlife spotting opportunities
  • Bangor - As well as taking a tour of locations that inspired legendary author Stephen King, we'd also recommend checking out Maine Forest and Logging Museum and the Cole Land Transportation Museum.
  • Baxter State Park - North Penobscot and Mount Katahdin are both super-scenic areas within this stunning state park, where you can kayak and climb as well as hiking and fishing.
  • Greenville - Take a break from the road with a cruise on beautiful Moosehead Lake.
  • Bingham - Consider a detour to see more of the Kennebec Valley, which you can explore via US-201. Following this road, you can read The Forks and Moxie Falls, as well as taking an exhilarating white water rafting trip.
  • Bigelow Preserve - Pick up the northern end of the Appalachian Trail in this beautiful natural area, which was almost turned into a ski resort back in the 70s.
  • Sebago Lake - Cool off at this popular lake a short drive out of Portland. You can take a boat or kayak here too.

Best time to go on the ultimate road trip in Maine

It's possible to visit Maine all year round, but depending on when you travel you'll have a very different experience. You'll encounter snowfall and freezing temperatures through the winter compared to temperatures in the 80s in summer!

Traveling in winter

With temperatures often sitting below freezing, and frequent, heavy snowfall, you'll need to wrap up warm if you're visiting Maine in winter. The coast, where temperatures can hit the high 30s Fahrenheit, is warmer than the interior.

That means Maine is a great winter sport destination, and you can find plenty of places to ski, including Nordic skiing. However, driving can be challenging if you're not used to snowy conditions, although roads are kept as clear as possible.

Out of the peak summer season, you might find that cafes, galleries and other visitor attractions in quieter areas may be closed.

Nubble Lighthouse after a Winter Storm, Cape Neddick, York, Maine, USA

Traveling in summer

With its northerly location, Maine doesn't usually get too hot in summer, and temperatures in the high 70s Fahrenheit can make for ideal hiking. You'll have to pack for the seasons though, as there's frequent rain here even in summer, and occasional dramatic thunderstorms.

While we've mentioned the many stunning beaches you'll visit along the way, we should also point out that the water might feel chilly even in summer.

Expect crowds at Acadia National Park and in the coastal towns, as they're popular destinations for a summer vacation. Consider booking accommodation in advance to be sure of your top picks.

Traveling in spring or fall

The Maine winter can feel very long, with March and November feeling more like winter than spring or fall. Spring is a variable time of year, but don't expect significantly warmer temperatures until late April or May.

By May you'll have a good chance of mild and relatively dry weather if you're spending time outdoors, but remember to take bug spray to guard against the harmless but ever-present wildlife that's likely to try and join you on your hike.

Maine is famous for its stunning fall scenery, but it's also a very wet time of year. With temperatures dropping to around 60 degrees by October, you might prefer to visit in September for the ultimate combination of smaller crowds, mild weather and beautiful sea views.

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The colorful Old Orchard Beach Pier in Maine has restaurants and bars with a view.

The 5 most beautiful road trips in Maine

Katelyn Michaud

Sep 25, 2023 • 7 min read

coastal road trip in maine

Road trip in Maine and find your own slice of seclusion © David Lincoln / Getty Images

The road trip is synonymous with American travel culture, and there’s no better place to explore the natural beauty of the United States by car than in the beautiful state of Maine .

The Pine Tree State offers scenic vistas and activities for everyone, from rocky coastlines and sandy beaches to granite mountain peaks and wildlife.

Nestled in the northeast corner of mainland USA, many of the country’s most famed scenic highways originate here. You can easily begin your road trip across Maine from urban  Portland , nearby Boston or even Canada.

Because this largely rural and geographically spread-out state does not offer a robust public transportation system, we recommend a road trip to see all it has to offer. While Subarus and pickup trucks are the unofficial vehicles around here, you don’t need a four-wheel drive to get to most places in Maine unless it’s the middle of the winter and you’re looking for fresh powder to shred in the mountains. 

As Mainers like to joke, “You can’t get here from there,” so be patient and don’t be afraid to get lost on the back roads. You never know when you might come across a moose, the perfect lobster roll or just a natural vista that will take your breath away. 

A teenage boy and girl walk on Sand Beach after a hike in Maines Acadia National Park.

1. Coastal Route 1 Maine

Best road trip for Maine coastline views Kittery–Calais; 273 miles  

US Route 1 extends down the Eastern Seaboard from Fort Kent, Maine, to Key West , Florida, clocking in at 2390 miles in total. The historic route started as the Atlantic Highway, which was established in 1911 and stretched from Calais, Maine, to Miami . 

Today, Route 1 offers one of Maine’s most scenic drives during the summer and fall months. Starting from Kittery, the two-lane highway follows the coastline up to Calais before swinging inland up to the Canadian border in Fort Kent. Most people take Route 1 from Kittery up to Ellsworth and head to Acadia National Park . 

A road trip through  Coastal Maine  can be an ambitious day trip from Portland, and most prefer to take a leisurely weekend to enjoy the area’s many traditional coastal towns, beaches, seafood joints and family attractions.

Spend a night in Maine’s largest city and foodie hotspot, Portland. Drive north through Freeport and the Midcoast, stopping to purchase some flannel and duck boots at LL Bean and visit the Farnsworth Museum of Art in Rockland. Enjoy lunch by the water in Kennebunkport.

Continue your drive north toward Ellsworth, where you can take a detour to breathtaking Acadia National Park for a couple of days. If you venture beyond Acadia, you’ll discover one of the most beautiful parts of the state: the Bold Coast. A drive through Downeast Maine will bring you through what locals may call “real Maine,” with its small towns and working waterfronts. Stop at Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec and then drive to the small inland town of Calais. 

From here, you can continue your drive up to Fort Kent and cross the border to Canada or head back south.

Detour:  If you have more time, spend another day or two exploring the many islands off the coast of Rockland and get a feel for New England's traditional seafaring communities.

A car drives down a rural road surrounded by colorful fall foliage in Maine

2. Maine's Route 302 

Best road trip for fall foliage Portland–Fryeburg; 53 miles   

Perfect for a day trip, the drive from Portland to Fryeburg on Route 302 is especially beautiful during the fall months when the leaves start changing color. 

Start your day with breakfast in Portland. Grab coffee and donuts at HiFi Donuts and walk along Portland’s working waterfront, one of the few left in the country where you can still see catches of lobster and fish being hauled in throughout the day. Portland’s historic Old Port district is full of charming boutique shops, art galleries and restaurants perfect for those who prefer a sit-down breakfast.

After a few hours in Portland, hop in your car and take Route 302 west. You’ll pass through Windham and the Lake Region area, where you’ll begin to find more pine trees and farmland than people. 

If you’re traveling during the hot summer months, you can stop at Sebago Lake State Park or one of the few public beaches along the roadway for a dip in Maine’s deepest and second-largest lake. 

In Naples, you’ll cross the Causeway over Long Lake. If you’re hungry, grab lunch at Rick’s Cafe  (open from late May to early September) or take a tour of Long Lake aboard the Songo River Queen II , a replica Mississippi River Paddle Wheeler. 

Continue north toward Bridgton. During the winter months, Pleasant Mountain  is open for both day and night skiing, and hiking during the summer months is also rewarding. Less than 45 minutes from Bridgton, you’ll enter the pastoral town of Fryeburg.

Planning tip: A short drive from Fryeburg lies the gateway to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, North Conway, if you want to make a weekend of it.

Colorful wooden store fronts with lobster signs in Bar Harbor, Maine

3. Route 2 in Maine

Best road trip for farmland and mountains Bar Harbor–Gilead; 192 miles 

Route 2 is part of a cross-continental highway from Washington to Maine that crosses the border into Canada. Whether you’re completing the full 3600-mile Great Northern Road Trip or just a scenic day trip from the coast, Route 2 provides plenty of great views as you wind through farmland, small towns and mountains. 

Start in Bar Harbor, from where you can easily spend a few days exploring Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island . From the Atlantic Ocean, travel inland to Maine’s third-largest city, Bangor – the hometown of world-famous writer Stephen King. Grab a selfie at  King’s house  and in front of the  Paul Bunyan statue  before continuing east through the small former mill towns and fields. 

Stop in the college town of Farmington for lunch before continuing your journey through the western mountains of Maine . Newry, Bethel and Gilead are all picturesque New England towns with forested granite peaks in the distance. During the summer and fall months, stretch your legs on the many nearby hiking trails in the White Mountains or hit the slopes at Sunday River during the snowy months. 

4. Schoodic National Scenic Byway

Best road trip for uncrowded coastal views Hancock–Birch Harbor; 315 miles 

Most people don’t realize that Acadia National Park is more than just Mount Desert Island. A small portion of the park is located on Schoodic Peninsula, on the mainland. The remote peninsula offers acres of unspoiled and uncrowded nature. If you want to avoid the crowds on Cadillac Mountain or in the village of Bar Harbor, take the Schoodic National Scenic Byway to a remote part of the national park.

The Scenic Byway runs along Route 1 from Hancock to Gouldsboro, where you’ll take a right-hand turn onto Route 186, proceed along Schoodic Peninsula and then through the small fishing villages of Winter Harbor and Birch Harbor. 

The Schoodic District of Acadia National Park contains 7 miles of hiking trails, including the popular Schoodic Head Trail, which summits the highest peak along the peninsula. The peninsula is also home to countless other hiking and walking trails in the Frenchman Bay Conservancy and Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

Local tip:  The peninsula and surrounding islands are also an incredible place to explore by kayak or canoe.

Sunset at Portland Head Lighthouse on Cape Elizabeth, Maine

5. Maine Island Trail

Best “road” trip ... by boat Kittery–Eastport; 294 miles

The pleasures of road trips in Maine aren’t limited to cars. For an only-in-Maine experience, buy or rent a boat and hit the 375-mile recreational waterway trail that follows the coast of Maine from York County to Washington County.

Founded in 1988, the Maine Island Trail connects more than 200 wild islands with mainland camping sites on both public and private lands. The trail and many of the wild islands are maintained with the help of thousands of volunteers and the Maine Island Trail Association .

In the greater Portland area, many of the islands in Casco Bay can be accessed easily by sea kayak, a perfect weekend getaway. For a longer trip, you’ll want a motorboat or sailboat, as Maine’s open water can be dangerous if you’re not a skilled mariner. Portland Paddle offers guided trips throughout the summer months from Portland.

This article was first published December 2021 and updated September 2023

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Girl With The Passport

A Road Trip to Maine Itinerary You’ll Want to Steal

By: Author Girl with the Passport

Posted on Last updated: September 18, 2023

Categories North America

Planning a road trip to Maine? If so then THIS is the Maine road trip itinerary for you! After all, I’ve been to Maine countless times and want to share all of my amazing, expert advice with you.

In this way, I hope to make the entire trip planning process a whole hell of a lot easier for you. You know, so that you can actually enjoy your Maine road trip and not stress out about where to go, what to do, and how to get around.

Because believe it or not, Maine is easily one of the most beautiful states I’ve ever been to, which is why I’ve been countless times and definitely plan on returning ASAP – once I have the cash to do so.

So, if you love picturesque lighthouses, fresh steamed lobster, stunning coastal drives, and exquisite national parks, then a road trip to Maine will be the perfect trip for you.

However, enough chitty chat. You’re a busy human with tons of uber-important things to do. So, let’s swan dive into my beyond awesome expert tips that will help you plan just one of the many Maine road trips to come.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

If you’re booking a trip right now then I IMPLORE you to get travel insurance – even if it’s not from me. 

After all, this past year has been a wild ride and I don’t want you to lose money because government regulations have changed. 

Truth be told though, I’ve never traveled without travel insurance and don’t think you should either – especially since I think we’ve all had plans drastically change because of the pandemic. 

Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves World Nomads and Safety Wing . You can also read more about which policy is right for you in my full review here .

🕒 In a hurry and haven’t planned your road trip to Maine yet? Book this self guided driving tour of Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor . It is a fun way to explore the area on your own! ⛰️

How To Get To Maine For Your Road Trip To Maine

Red yellow and green trees flanking a water body that is just one of the iconic spots to catch the fall foliage during your Maine road trip.

Since I live in New York, I normally just drive to Maine. However, if you’re from out of town and want to fly into Maine, then you could always fly into Portland International Jetport.

It’s pretty convenient since it’s only about two miles from downtown Portland and services flights from all over the world. Upon arrival, I’d absolutely rent a car since you obviously can’t do a road trip to Maine without one!

However, if you want to visit Portland for a few days and then rent a car, you could always take the route #5 bus to downtown Portland and then rent a car once you’ve experienced some of the fun things to do in Portland .

Pro Tip: You could also try flying into Boston Logan International Airport. It’s way bigger than Portland and is a major travel hub both internationally and domestically.

Therefore, you could probably find a cheap flight to Boston and then just drive to Maine from there since it’s only about an hour and a half drive from there to the Maine border.

But, if you’re not really interested in flying, you could always try:

Amtrak trains from all over the US travel directly to multiple train stations throughout Maine. So, this is definitely an option if you don’t really feel like flying. Just do your research first since train travel in the US can be really expensive.

I mean, a one-way, coach ticket from Newark to Portland starts at $63 per person and takes 9.5 hours. So, you could definitely end spending more money on a train ticket than on a flight.

Two different bus companies operate throughout Maine and have routes that go into and out of the state. Of the two, Concord Coach Lines is more local with routes from Maine that stop in major cities in New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

Tickets start as low as $79.00 one way and $158.00 round trip. In contrast, Greyhound runs buses into and out of Maine from most major cities across the country, with one-way tickets from Boston to Portland starting at as little as $16 per person.

How To Get Around During Your Road Trip To Maine

Since you’re planning a Maine road trip, you’ll obviously need a car while you’re here. Luckily for you, Portland International Jetport is pretty small. Therefore, it will be really easy for you to get to Hertz, Alamo, Avis, Dollar, Enterprise, or Budget Car Rental to actually rent a car before you start your Maine road trip itinerary.

Yeah, they have a fleet of more than 200 cars that are all located inside the consolidated car rental atrium that is protected from the elements (i.e. rain and snow) inside the airport’s new parking garage. It’s also literally steps away from the terminal so you’ll have zero problems finding a car rental.

When choosing a car though, you’ll want to make sure that it gets good gas mileage and that the interior is super roomy. This way, you can relax and be supremely comfy during your road trip to Maine.

Now, in terms of cost, you should on average expect to pay $409 to rent a car for a week and $149 to rent a car for the weekend. Anything significantly more expensive than this is probably not something you need to invest in.

When To See Fall Foliage in Maine

Maine in the fall with a wooden bridge over a stream surrounded by foliage. Definitely a stop that should be on your Maine road trip.

Since my family and I would routinely visit Maine every October throughout my childhood, I know all too well that many people like to road trip to Maine to see fall foliage.

So, if you want to see fall foliage while you’re here, the best time to visit Maine is between late September and mid-October (Columbus Day Weekend is the perfect time to visit and is when my family used to go).

Generally speaking, this is when fall foliage is at its most stunning. Although this time frame can vary by elevation and latitude since some high-elevation, more northern areas across Maine enjoy peak fall foliage in late September.

And if you want even more expert advice on visiting Maine this fall, then check out my ultimate guide to fall in Maine now!

The Ultimate Road Trip to Maine Itinerary

1. ogunquit.

Fishing boats docked in Perkins Cove with the green trees in the background and the wooden walkways in Ogunquit which is one of the best spots to stop on your Maine road trip.

More likely than not, when you start your Maine road trip itinerary, you’ll probably be near the state’s southernmost point. So let’s start our road trip to Maine there!

And what better place to begin the best road trip in Maine than in a place whose name literally means “beautiful place by the sea” in Native American, Abenaki?

Plus, plenty of people seem to agree with this description since Ogunquit is easily one of the most popular summer tourist destinations in all of Maine.

Which makes sense since the beach here is stunning, the sea air is refreshing, the cocktails are delicious … I’m seriously thinking about moving there permanently right now!

That’s why, Ogunquit is definitely one of the best beach towns in Maine , and now you too will get a chance to experience the awesomeness for yourself!

Because while you’re here, you can see a show at Ogunquit Playhouse, walk along the scenic Marginal Way walking path (it’s only around 1,25 miles long), or visit the quaint fishing village of Perkins Cove.

Other Things To Do In Ogunquit

Ogunquit museum of american art.

If local art is what floats your boat (nautical pun intended!) then the Ogunquit Museum of American Art is the place for you! There are over 3000 individual pieces of art on display throughout this museum. And honestly, I’m not all that surprised, seeing as they first opened in 1953!

Paintings, sculptures, and photographs aplenty are all permanently on display in this deliberately American-focused museum.

Before you leave, be sure to explore their 3-acre sculpture park, complete with 18 small gardens that will delight your eyes and help you relax as you take in all the culture and artistry. A walk in the park that makes you feel smart and creative? Sign me up!

Take A Scenic Cruise Along The Coast

The sea looks great, but Ogunquit looks even better from the water!

So, hop onto a boat and treat yourself to a tour of the coast: learn about the history of the town, see the historic lighthouses which make this great American state so famous, and find out something new about the world of lobsters and lobster fishing. It’s a Maine tradition!

Because whether you’re sipping cocktails on a luxury yacht, or enjoying the simpler life by gently sailing by on a rustic wooden sailboat, a scenic cruise will make your visit to Ogunquit and your super awesome Maine road trip complete!

What To Eat In Ogunquit

Barnacle billy’s.

It’s time to grab some of that famous Maine lobster during your road trip to Maine! And Barnacle Billy’s is the place to do that since it’s famed for its luxurious lobster dishes – in addition to plenty of other fresh fish dishes too – that you can order along with a delicious bowl of clam chowder.  

So, whether you decide to dine indoors or out on the sundeck, the stunning ocean views will be the perfect accompaniment to your meal!

Wait, am I eating a ray gun? Nope! This is place serves delicious urban Thai food. So, put some kick into your food by ordering some of their spicy and exotic dishes!  

And although they do have Thai staples like green curry and fried rice, do try some of their house specials, especially the crispy duck with orange sauce. There are also plenty of vegan and gluten-free dishes here too!

Where To Stay In Ogunquit

The grand hotel (ogunquit).

⭐️ Rating: 8.9/10 (581 Reviews) Price: $101 per night 📍Location: 276 Shore Road, Ogunquit, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

If you want to live the high-life for a hot minute then the Grand Hotel will help you to relax in style! Because on top of having a spacious room with a private balcony, you’ll also enjoy access to an indoor heated pool and an outdoor jacuzzi for maximum pampering!

“Location was perfect, room was spacious and clean! One of the nicest rooms I’ve ever stayed in. Entire property was super clean. Price was very reasonable. Small balcony with chairs off the bedroom, wish I would have had more time to enjoy them. Will definitely stay here when I return to Ogunquit! Well done!!” Kim ( read more reviews now! )

There’s also plenty of deck space here for an evening drink outside at this well-located hotel, which sits less than a mile away from the Ogunquit Museum of Modern Art!

Wells Moody Motel (Wells)

⭐️ Rating: 8.6/10 (626 Reviews) Price: $89 per night 📍Location: 119 Post Road, Wells, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

Just up the highway from Ogunquit, the Wells Moody Motel offers guests all the friendly and exceptional service you could hope to receive during a Maine road trip.

“We were greeted in the office very warmly. check in was easy. First impression of the Motel was it was very cute. property was well taken care of. We pulled around to our room there was a cute little porch in front. went into the room and it was very clean! T he bed and pillows very comfortable. The bathroom was very clean. The 2 rooms we were in looked like they had maybe been recently updated. very pleased with our stay.” Michelle ( read more reviews now! )

They offer bright and well-equipped rooms that will make you feel right at home. The beds here are also super comfy, and include access to an on-site, outdoor pool!

2. Kennebunkport

Dock Square in Kennebunkport Maine with the colorful red building and a boardwalk that is a great spot to add to your road trip to Maine.

It’s time to head further north to iconic Kennebunkport – at least if you to make this Maine Road Trip truly epic. Because if you want beaches, Kennebunkport has got em’! So, be sure to give both Goose Rocks Beach and Arundel Beach a try!

And you know people love them since this coastal town has been offering visitors professional levels of hospitality since the 1800s. So, they’re obviously pretty dang good at it by now!

Because with stunning sea views, sandy summer beaches, historic churches (St. Anne’s Episcopal Church dates all the way back to 1887 and features stunning architecture), and beautiful fall foliage, Kennebunkport is truly one of the best romantic getaways in Maine .

It’s even magical when it’s covered in snow! That’s why there’s really no time of year when this place doesn’t look like it belongs on a postcard!

Things To Do In Kennebunkport:

Visit the goat island lighthouse.

If you head over to Cape Porpoise, you’ll find this nearly two-hundred-year-old landmark of New England standing proudly by the shore on its own little island.

Legend has it that this ancient watchtower used to be a lookout point for Secret Service agents of George H.W. Bush, WAY back in ye olde 1993. I know, that’s not that long ago. But it’s still history, y’all!

Check Out The Seashore Trolley Museum

This is one of my favorite things to do in Kennebunkport Maine ! There are over 250 antique streetcars, buses, and other vehicles all collected together in one place. And they don’t all just sit there either!

Because every 45 minutes you can board one of these vintage trolleys, take a ride around the museum, and experience what it really felt like to travel in the early 1900s!

What To Eat In Kennebunkport

Alisson’s restaurant.

When planning a road trip to Maine, food is of the utmost importance. And thankfully, you can get almost anything you want, at Alisson’s Restaurant!

There’s a huge amount of generously portioned pub food available, including lobster mac ’n’ cheese, steak and shrimp salad, mussels, clams, tacos, pizzas, sandwiches, and of course, blueberry pie!

And since Alisson’s is also a pub, there’s a large selection of cocktails, wines, tequilas, and whiskeys to help you party the night away!

Rococo Artisan Ice Cream

Time to satisfy that sweet tooth! And in addition to all the crowd-pleasing, traditional flavors, Rococo also specializes in creating unique – yet tasty – varieties of ice cream.

I mean, have you ever had Goat Cheese ice cream? How about Garam Masala? Or Banana Red Hot? Now’s the time to try them out and be adventurous!

Where To Stay In Kennebunkport

The breakwater inn and spa (kennebunkport).

⭐️ Rating: 7.2/10 (21 Reviews) Price: $199 per night 📍Location: 127-133 Ocean Avenue PO Box 560C, Kennebunkport, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

This historic Victorian-era property is a charming Maine guest house. It has all the trappings of a comfortable night’s rest, with the added bonus of a spa, a fitness center, free wi-fi (obvs), continental breakfast, and bike rentals for getting your fitness on while you sight-see!

The in-house restaurant also provides guests with great views of the ocean, which goes well with the Breakwater Inn’s nautical theme!

The Lodge at Turbat’s Creek  (Kennebunkport)

⭐️ Rating: 8.9/10 (176 Reviews) Price: $199 per night 📍Location: 7 Turbat’s Creek Road, Kennebunkport, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

The Lodge at Turbat’s Creek is well situated, friendly, and extremely comfortable. The furnishings are also high quality, the breakfast is very generous, and you can meet other travelers out in the garden, pool, and restaurant areas. Perfect for a well-deserved pit stop during your road trip to Maine!

3. Portland

The colorful fishing boats docked at the harbor in Portland, Maine with the setting sun in the background is just one of the stops on this road trip in Maine.

Portland is easily one of my favorite places to visit in Maine. So much so that I’ve been there at least 15 different times!

Because this hipster paradise has it all: the cobblestone streets of the Old Port area, the historic beauty of Victorian mansions, the amazing art of the Portland Museum of Art, the inventiveness of craft beer breweries, and even its very own observatory for all y’all science geeks!

But, one of the best things about Portland is that while it is a city, it still has tons of green spaces and expansive natural areas that allow you to enjoy all the natural beauty of Maine. Yup, it really is the best of both worlds!

I mean, you can easily go from vibrant nightlife and culture to strolling along the Eastern Promenade, breathing in the sea air. You could also take scenic photos at nearby Bug Light or walk along the breakwater to ever awesome Spring Point Ledge Light (it’s tucked away inside a college campus).

Or, you could head over to Cape Elizabeth and do a bit of lighthouse spotting! Wait, Kelly, is that a sport? Well, it is now since Maine is famous for its lighthouses, with over 150 lining the Northeast, with plenty of them being in Portland.

Pro Tip: While you’re in Portland, definitely do a day trip to Cape Elizabeth. There are a ton of great parks here and this is also where you can see Portland Head Light and Cape Elizabeth Light!

If you want, you can even check out my list of the best lighthouses in Portland Maine if you’re interested!

Things To Do In Portland

Visit the victoria mansion museum.

Fancy a blast from the past? This 1860s Italianate palace is one of the best historic homes to visit in Portland Maine. The elaborate frescoes, the intricately detailed carpets, and the period-piece furniture will have you falling in love with the good ol’ days.

See, you don’t really need a time machine to find out just how lush and OTT they used to have it back in the day – just come and see Victoria Mansion!

Take The Ferry Out To Peaks Island And Rent A bike

If you’re looking for cute streets and lush wilderness in which to ride around and feel the wind in your hair, just hop onto the big yellow Casco Bay Lines ferry and take the 20-minute trip out to Peaks Island. Here you can rent a bike (or a golf cart if you’d prefer not to have to do too much peddling) and take in the many MANY gorgeous views of the ocean!

What To Eat In Portland

Duckfat friteshack.

You heard me! If you want the crispiest, tastiest, LARGEST portion of fries in the state of Maine, make sure you stop by the Duckfat Friteshack.

These hand-cut fries can be a quick snack or their own full meal, depending on your appetite. Each portion comes with your choice of two of the Friteshack’s dips – truffle ketchup is my personal fave!

The Holy Donut

Ok, so following this Maine road trip itinerary may not be the healthiest choice for your figure, but we’re here to have fun, y’all!

And eating at The Holy Donut is one of the best things to do in Portland Maine, period! These donuts are big enough to share (if you’re feeling generous), so tuck into a sea salt and chocolate donut (highly recommended) as fast as you can!

Where To Stay In Portland

Inn at st john portland (in-town, portland).

⭐️ Rating: 8.4/10 (989 Reviews) Price: $149 per night 📍Location: 939 Congress Street, Portland, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

Located right in the heart of Portland and never too far from anything you could want to see, this cozy and colorful inn will leave you feeling fresh and ready for a fun day of sightseeing. The Inn at St John Portland In-Town is also pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friends along for the ride!

Portland Harbor Hotel (Portland)

⭐️ Rating: 8.5/10 (766 Reviews) Price: $179 per night 📍Location: 468 Fore Street, Portland, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

With a restaurant, fitness center, free bike use, flat-screen TVs, and wi-fi all conveniently tucked away inside the Old Port district, this hotel ticks off a lot of boxes! And for those looking for a splash of luxury during their Maine road trip itinerary, this is definitely of the best places to stay in Portland Maine!

4. Waldoboro

Waldoboro is one of those towns that you will definitely drive through during your road trip to Maine. It is known for its three lakes and has a rich and thriving fishing and agricultural history. 

Take your pick of Duckpuddle Pond to Damariscotta Lake or Pemaquid Pond and spend a relaxing summer day swimming, fishing, or watching a gorgeous sunset. 

For more outdoor fun hit the trails at the Goose River Peace Corps Preserve and Pond. Or take refuge from the elements and head over to the Waldoboro Historical Society and learn more about this quaint New England town.

Things to do in Waldoboro

Visit fawcett’s antique toy museum.

This quirky museum is right on Atlantic Highway and it is worth a stop if you are just driving through town. Every surface is covered with memorabilia as far back as the 1920s and 1930s. 

Owl’s Head Transportation Museum

Even though Waldoboro is known for its lakes, this museum isn’t focused on boats but on other types of transportation. On display are antique cars, trains, and motorcycles. 

What To Eat In Waldoboro

Moody’s diner.

You can’t miss Moody’s Diner if you are on Route 1 driving through Waldoboro during your road trip to Maine. It is a family-owned restaurant that has been serving the local community since 1927. Classic diner fare is on the menu but watch out for the blueberry pie or whoopie pies for an extra special Maine treat. 

Odd Alewives Farm and Brewery

Just behind Moody’s is the Odd Alewives Farm and Brewery. Odd Alewives uses ingredients from their own land and other local farms. There is plenty of seating on the premises and they even have a fire pit to roast marshmallows and make smores. Their beer is also great to pair with pizza that they also make on-site in a brick oven.  

Where To Stay In Waldoboro

Friendship harbor historic home (friendship).

⭐️ Rating: 8.3/10 (3 Reviews) Price: $236 per night 📍Location: Waldoboro, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

This Victorian Harbor House is right on the water and has its own dock. Literally, in 15 seconds you’ll be in the water! It may be from the 1800s but it is newly renovated with modern amenities plus it is near enough to town but still quiet.

The owners live nearby and their sons can drop off lobster that they catch themselves. Without a doubt you’ll get the full Maine experience! 

Damariscotta Lakefront Retreat (Newcastle)

⭐️ Rating: 5/5 (18 Reviews) Price: $636 per night 📍Location: Nobleboro, Maine, United States of America Details: Read more on Vrbo!

If you are craving a quiet retreat away while on your road trip in Maine, this cabin is just the ticket. It is steps away from Damariscotta Lake where you can go swimming or you can spend your days relaxing on the deck and doing nothing. Hey, it’s your vacation and you can do you! 

5. Rockland

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse with a stone path leading right up to it and water flanking it on either side is one of the cool places you will visit on this road trip to Maine.

Just a couple of hours further up the highway from its half-namesake on the mid-coast of Maine, Rockland has all the charm of many other New England coastal towns.

But, it’s much less busy than Portland -and other more southern towns – since it’s a bit further away from Boston. In fact, if you’re planning a road trip to Maine during the off-season, that’ll be the perfect time to visit this jewel of the east coast!

See, Rockland’s local economy moved away from fishing in the 1990s, and began to focus more on catering to the increasing amounts of tourists coming to stay.

As a result, the downtown area is now full of boutiques, cute little restaurants, museums, and other assorted historical buildings. No wonder their nickname is Vacationland!

And some of the best things to do in Rockland include a stop at the Support Puffin Project Outpost in town, a visit to the Maine Center for Contemporary Art, a quiet walk along the Rockland Harbor Trail, a visit to the historic Olson House, and a cruise aboard a vintage Windjammer.

Things To Do In Rockland

Visit the farnsworth art museum.

Good news everyone! Rockland has its very own regional art museum, and it’s pretty dang good!

In total, there are 15,000 different paintings, sculptures, and other works of art collected here, with several exhibitions going on continuously throughout the year, covering everything from local artistic contributors to world-famous American artists.

Come and see what they’ve got for yourself – there’s even a cute little library!

Walk Along The Breakwater to Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse

Not only is this activity totally free, but the walk is wonderfully scenic and culminates in a stop at an enchanting lighthouse from 1902. Just be careful since the breakwater is extremely uneven.

However, if you visit during the summer, you’ll be able to explore the interior of the lighthouse after walking 7/8th of a mile out there!

What To Eat In Rockland

Archer’s on the pier.

For the best in locally owned and locally prepared Rockland food, Archer’s on the Pier is your Maine (get it?) port of call! There’s all the usual amazing seafood options – lobster for days, yo! – as well as steaks, burgers, sandwiches, and pasta. Depending on when you dine, you might even get treated to some live local jazz music!

Cafe Miranda

It’s chowdah time people! Fresh, creamy, delicious seafood chowdah, and lots of it! The portion sizes here are also HUGE, so come hungry! Whether you go for the chowder, or would rather have a hotdog, a sammie, or a salad, prepare to feel full when you leave!

Trust me, enjoying a meal at Cafe Miranda with its quirky array of pink flamingos (I’m not even joking) is one of my fave things to do here.

Where To Stay In Rockland

The craignair inn by the sea (spruce head).

⭐️ Rating: 9.4/10 (26 Reviews) Price: $164 per night 📍Location: 5 Third Street, Spruce Head, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

At the end of a long dead-end road lies a beacon of rest and relaxation. Just south of Rockland, the Craignair Inn by the Sea is like something out of a storybook.

Seriously, picturesque doesn’t even cover it! The owners are also super friendly and accommodating, the beds are soft and warm, and the rooms are well equipped and spacious. Get yourself here now!

Trade Winds Inn (Rockland)

⭐️ Rating: 7.7/10 (647 Reviews) Price: $107 per night 📍Location: 2 Park Drive, Rockland, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

To truly get a taste of coastal Maine, make sure you try out this boardwalk-style hotel. It sits right on the banks of Rockland Harbor and has just the right balance of antique and modern facilities. The bar area is casual and comfy while the indoor pool and fitness center are both first class. Need I say more?

A bird's eye view of green trees and harbor of Camden from Mount Battie which is another great stop on your road trip to Maine.

Up, up, up the coast we go! Because Camden is our next stop on this Maine road trip itinerary. And residents of Camden love to be “where the mountains meet the sea”, and I am here to tell you that that is accurate!

After all, Camden lies right at the foot of Camden Hills State Park, meaning visitors can enjoy the vibrance of the harbor town community while still being able to escape into the sprawling wilderness of natural New England.

So, whether you want to exercise your body or your mind – or your tastebuds – Camden will have something for you!

Pro Tip : If you’re short on time when planning your road trip to Maine (and who isn’t) you can combine a trip to Camden with a stay in Rockland.

I mean, Camden is only about twenty minutes down the road from Rockland so you could EASILY do a day trip here. I also personally preferred Rockland to Camden but, hey, that’s just me.

Things To Do In Camden

Camden hills state park.

As I said before, Camden is right next door to this State Park. And with 30 miles of hiking, biking – and in the winter months, skiing – trails available, you can lose yourself for hours in this lush oasis of greenery.

And if you’re feeling truly adventurous, you can hike up to the top of the 1,384 foot tall Mount Megunticook, for some of the best views of Penobscot Bay as you conquer one of the best hikes in Maine !

Picnic at Megunticook Lake

Pack up your picnic basket and travel just a few miles north of Camden Harbor to find this highly Instagrammable slice of the quiet life! Because Megunticook Lake has tons of designated picnic areas for you to use that come complete with grills and tables.

Plus, if you fancy a swim, the lake itself has a floating diving platform for you to use, as well as a shallow area for younger swimmers!

What To Eat In Camden

Fresh & Co – This family-owned local business is the place to go for fresh, down-to-earth meals. Fresh & Co primarily focuses on sustainability, with extra care given to the ingredients and the flavors of their dishes. They also showcase local artwork on their walls. It’s truly a deep dive into Camden local life!

40 Paper – French, Spanish, Italian, and Mediterranean influences all come together in this former mill from the civil war! But don’t worry: while the dishes may be very European, the ingredients are all fresh from Maine since 40 Paper works with local farmers and fishermen to bring you the best of the catch!

Where To Stay In Camden

Cedar crest inn (camden).

If you’re looking for great service and great value, Cedar Crest Inn will provide! Located just to the south of downtown Camden, this seasonal motel has an outdoor pool, on-site restaurant, and comfortable rooms.

There’s also an outdoor play area for those traveling with young children!

Elms of Camden (Camden)

⭐️ Rating: 9.3/10 (63 Reviews) Price: $186 per night 📍Location: 84 Elm Street, Camden, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

Elms of Camden features cozy and luxurious rooms that all come with a complimentary, multi-course breakfast that is served to you fresh, every single morning. Why yes, I will take another helping of pancakes, thanks for asking!

“Gary and James are gracious, thoughtful hosts, taking pride in their commitance. they obviously love it and so do their” Nicholla ( read more reviews now! )

The hosts here are also all about hospitality, and will work extra hard to make sure your Maine road trip is the best ever!

7. Acadia National Park

A view of Jordan Pond with the rocks on the banks and the green hills in the distance. Easily one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park and a stop on this Maine itinerary.

Meet Acadia National Park. It is the only national park in all of New England but comes fully outfitted with 47,000 acres of land. 158 miles of hiking trails. 1,100 different species of plants, and over 400 different species of animals. Oh, and a casual 20 mountains for you to climb.

Like the notorious Cadillac Mountain, which is the perfect place to go to see the very first sunrise in the United States. However, if you don’t feel like climbing all the way to the top, you can always drive up and just do the easy, 0.5-mile loop trail around the summit.

Not surprisingly, Acadia is easily one of the top 10 most visited national parks in the United States and it’s one of the last stops on our road trip to Maine!

And what a stop it is. Once you cross the bridge onto Mount Desert Island, you’ll feel like you’re really getting back to nature as you head towards the forests, lakes and hills of Acadia National Park. So, stretch your legs and enjoy all that this amazing stop on your Maine road trip itinerary has to offer!

Things to do in Acadia National Park

I do believe i mentioned the hiking trails….

As with many State Parks, Acadia National Park has hiking trails for all levels of expertise and challenge. Beginners and casual walkers can enjoy the Jordan Pond Nature Trail, or see panoramic views on the Cadillac Summit path.

For a good afternoon hike though, visitors can try the Ship Harbor Nature Trail, or head over to Bar Island to explore its beautiful forests (though only at low tide – make sure you keep your eye on the time or you’ll be trapped)!

And If you’re feeling more adventurous, the Great Head Trail will take you out to the Sea Cliffs on the east side of Sand Beach. Otherwise, if “hiking” is basically your unofficial middle name, then Precipice Trail awaits you!

It’s one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park and features small obstacles like an almost vertical 1,000-foot climb at one point. Erm, if you need me, I’ll be in the bar ….

Take A Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

Sure, you could hike. Or would you rather have the gorgeous natural scenery roll gently by you as you pretend to be Queen of All you Survey in your very own horse-drawn carriage? Yeah, I’d opt for the latter too.

So, If you feel like I do, then make your way down to Wildwood Stables on the southeast side of the island and you can do exactly that! Daily carriage tours are provided here from May through October and follow along roads originally constructed by John D. Rockefeller in the early to mid-1900s!

And if you really want to have the Maine road trip of a lifetime and you lead an enviable lifestyle, you can bring your own horses with you and ride with them instead!

What to eat in Acadia National Park

Do you ever wish for the purrr-fect breakfast? Well, that’s what you’ll find at 2 Cats in Bar Harbor! Their creative homemade breakfast combinations feature everything from pancakes and bagels to tofu scramble and granola.

Plus, you’ll get baked biscuits and strawberry butter with pretty much every order! Yup, now that’s what I call a Maine road trip winner.

Jordan Pond House Restaurant

Believe it or not, there’s actually a restaurant INSIDE Acadia National Park. It overlooks Jordan Pond and is great place to go for some pop-overs, chowdah, and a fresh Maine lobstah roll.

Where To Stay In Acadia National Park

Acadia inn (bar harbor).

⭐️ Rating: 8.7/10 (1090 Reviews) Price: $134 per night 📍Location: 98 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

This stylish and well-maintained hotel comes with an outdoor pool – complete with hot tub – a complimentary breakfast buffet, flat-screen TVs, and wi-fi.

“Excellent location about a mile from downtown Bar Harbor. It’s an easy walk to town, so you don’t need to drive and stress about parking. Also very close to Acadia and all the top attractions. Bed was very comfortable and the room was clean, good water pressure in the shower, convenient grab and go breakfast, and a hot tub to top it off. I’d definitely stay here again.” Justin ( read more reviews now! )

But most importantly, it lies connected to a trail that leads directly into Acadia National Park itself! Just grab yourself a good night’s sleep, fill up on their tasty breakfast, step out the door, and start walking. It’s that simple!

Bar Harbor Grand Hotel (Bar Harbor)

⭐️ Rating: 9.1/10 (631 Reviews) Price: $189 per night 📍Location: 269 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

With its location right in the center of downtown Bar Harbor, you’ll be well connected to both Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor’s sprawling coastal beaches.

But, you might be tempted to just stay indoors since the rooms here are super comfortable and well furnished, with modern fixtures amongst period decor.

“Location is great . Furniture and setting is so nice . Parking is comfortable and large of space.” Gerardo ( read more reviews now! )

Heck, there’s even an indoor pool and fitness center just in case you want to get your fitness-related swerve on. It’s honestly one of the more luxurious places to stay during your road trip to Maine!

8. Bar Harbor

Aerial view of bar harbor  with the colorful buildings and the green hills in the background which is one of the best stops on your road trip to Maine.

This not-so-secret coastal town is a not-so-secret stop on our Maine road trip itinerary. And that’s basically because Bar Harbor is known as the gateway to everybody’s favorite…Acadia National Park.

So, if you’re short on time, You could always do a day trip and experience all that Bar Harbor has to offer as part of your trip to Acadia.

Because honestly, there really is a ton to do in this picturesque coastal town, besides visiting nearby Acadia National Park of course. I mean, if you’re at least a semi-morning person, you could get up before dawn and walk the length of the beautiful Shore Path.

It was originally built in 1880, is about a 1/2 mile long, starts at the town pier and Agamont Park, and offers you stunning views of the surrounding, Porcupine Islands.

Afterward, explore the Wild Gardens of Acadia, which are truly stunning to behold and home to over 200+ incredible plant species. Next, check out the Abbe Museum, which is a full on, Smithsonian institution that educated visitors about Native American history and culture in Maine.

And if that’s still not enough fun stuff for you to do during your road trip to Maine, then you could always visit other local attrations like the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History, the College of the Atlantic Gardens, and the Mount Desert Oceanarium.

Pro Tip: Wanna get out of the country and explore Canada? If so then hop aboard the high-speed CAT Ferry and take it all the way to Canada! The journey lasts about 3.5 hours and will drop you off in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Once here, you can enjoy the beauty of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and admire the Halifax Public Gardens of the Halifax Citadel National Site,

What to Eat in Bar Harbor

Ben and bill’s chocolate emporium.

Fudge? Check. Ice cream? Check. Candies? Oh yeah! Plus, pretty much everything on offer here is homemade and guaranteed to send your tastebuds spinning. And, FYI, I mean that in the best possible way.  

And with over 70 different flavors of ice cream and gelato available, you’ll feel like a kid in a … well, you know what I mean!

The Barnacle

Stuff your face silly at this amazing Bar Harbor restaurant, which is known for its delicious cocktails. Personally, though, I love their oysters and their next-level awesome pesto pasta.

CIAO Food/Drink

This place is equal parts popular and small. So yeah, you’ll probably have to wait to get inside. But once you’re across the threshold, your patience will be rewarded with delicious French lobster rolls, pork belly tacos, and fried cauliflower.

The portions are also on the small-ish side so definitely order a few things.

Where to Stay in Bar Harbor (see above for more recs)

The inn on mount desert (bar harbor).

⭐️ Rating: 9.3/10 (913 Reviews) Price: $199 per night 📍Location: 68 Mt. Dessert Street, Bar Harbor, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

This charming family-owned inn has a modern but relaxed feel about it that everyone will love. Rooms here are also well-priced at around $150 per night and include free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, tea/coffee-making facilities, minifridges, and more.

“Had the feel of a BnB much more than a hotel. Delicious homemade breakfast including omelets to order as well as homemade muffins and bread. EXTREMELY CLEAN. Short drive to Acadia Natl Park!” Macayla ( read more reviews now! )

As a guest, you’ll also enjoy a delicious, daily breakfast as well as access to a private balcony with harbor or garden views.

The white Little River Lighthouse with its red roof framed against the green trees and rocks in Cutler is another lovely spot to add to your road trip to Maine.

Full disclosure, this is a supremely quiet, extremely tiny town along the Northern coast of Maine. So yes, this stop on your road trip to Maine will be pretty chill and mainly for people who love the great outdoors.

But it’s a wonderful, sleepy little fishing village that was first founded in 1826 along the Machias.

Today though, you can make your way through one of the area’s many awe-inspiring hiking trails, including Bog Brook Cove, Cutler Bold Coast Trail (it’s an amazing hidden gem that you shouldn’t miss), and the trails within the Western Head Preserve.

However, because you’re so far North, you could easily cross the border into Canada and check out the Bay of Fundy since the border with Canada is only about an hour and fifteen minutes away. If you want to drive all the way to Nova Scotia though, it’ll be about a 6-hour drive, so be prepared.

Things to do in Cutler

Hike or bike on through the cutler coast public reserved land.

This 12,334-acre wilderness area is brimming over with expansive blueberry barrens, pristine woodlands, and peatlands that feature jaw-droppingly beautiful cliffside views of the Bay of Fundy. There are also a ton of remote campsites here where you can really channel your inner Bear Grylls if you so desire.

Little River Lighthouse

Take a scenic walk to this quaint AF lighthouse, do a guided tour of the facility to learn about its fascinating history, and – if you’re lucky – spend the night for a truly memorable stay in Cutler.

Go On A Cruise With The Bold Coast Charter Company

Go on an amazing boat ride to Machias Seal Island. While you’re here, you can marvel at the single biggest puffin colony in all of Maine.

What to Eat/Where to Stay in Cutler (there are a distinct lack of options here)

For food, you can enjoy some delicious local fare at Heen’s Restaurant. Otherwise, you can venture into either Jonesboro and Machias for a wider selection of good eats.

The Bluebird Motel (East Machias)

⭐️ Rating: 8.4/10 (252 Reviews) Price: $99 per night 📍Location: 231 Dublin Street, Machias, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

Yeah, there aren’t a ton of places to spend the night in Cutler. However, the rooms at the Bluebird Motel are well-priced (less than $100 per night) and consistently given great reviews by guests since they have everything you need for a comfy stay.

10. Rangeley Lake (An Inland Stop For Anyone With A Bit Of Extra Time)

Houses along the shore of Rangeley Lake in autumn with the yellow orange trees and the lake in the foreground is a fun stop on your road trip to Maine.

If you have an extra day or two to spare, then here’s another great spot to add to your Maine road trip itinerary! It’s located in western Maine, a mere 40 miles from the New Hampshire border.

Because the Rangeley Lakes region is a picturesque, expansive area that is filled with stunning natural beauty. It also includes a grand total of six different lakes, like Rangeley Lake itself.

This idyllic rural destination also has a large number of green spaces and waterways for visitors to enjoy, perfect for spending time getting back into nature, and enjoying all the comforts that a small-town vacation can bring.

And if you’re a fan of seaplanes, then you’re in luck because Rangeley Lake is a designated water landing zone for seaplanes. Therefore, you might find yourself watching one of these bad boys speeding down and coming to a steady stop on the surface of the water!

Things To Do In Rangeley Lake

Rangeley lake state park.

Almost 90 acres of land makes up this state park. It also sits on a section of the Appalachian Trail that runs along Saddleback Mountain and is a popular place to rent a kayak and get yourself out onto that crystal clear water!

However, If you’re more of a landlubber like me, then there are plenty of trails for hiking, camping, and picnicking areas, as well as spots for viewing tons of amazing wildlife. There are also plenty of opportunities for fishing since the waters here are full of trout and salmon.

Rangeley Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum

If you’re more of a city person, and the idea of actually catching a fish yourself sounds like a total nightmare, then you can always just learn more about such outdoor pursuits right here!

Situated at the most northwestern point of Rangeley Lake, in the village of Oquossoc (yes, you read that right), this museum introduces visitors to the past, present, and, in some cases, future of outdoor sports!

Yup, this small, but delightful, museum is packed full of information that spans thousands of years of sporting history, from the Native American experience all the way to President Eisenhower’s 1955 visit, making this the perfect place to visit during any road trip to Maine.

What To Eat In Rangeley Lake

The red onion.

This place serves all of the home-cooked Italian food you could ask for! So, expect to find pizza, pasta, spaghetti, burgers, wraps, meatloaf, salad, and even steak! Yup, just an all-around cute, family-owned place that was first pulled into position by horses back in the early 1900s.

Since then, they’ve enjoyed a stable little spot in between City Cove and Haley Pond, where they’ve managed to expand and add a few more amenities, including the main dining area and bar!

Classic Provisions

This is another family-owned and operated store that also has a breakfast and lunch menu for anyone who wants to take a load off and enjoy the atmosphere of a cozy restaurant.

Everything here is seasonal, and the owners are proud to provide meals made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. And if you like a dish enough, you can always buy the ingredients off the shelves and make it yourself once you get home!

Where To Stay In Rangeley Lake

Rangeley saddleback inn (rangeley).

Just down the road from the above eateries is the Rangeley Saddleback Inn . This warm and welcoming hotel comes with its own indoor saltwater pool, hot tub, fire pits, and barbecue grill. There are also several pet-friendly rooms for anyone traveling with their best good boys and girls!

Rangeley Town & Lake (Rangeley)

⭐️ Rating: 8.3/10 (460 Reviews) Price: $185 per night 📍Location: 2668 Main Street, Rangeley, ME Details: Read more on booking.com now!

Rangeley Town & Lake motel is perfect for those looking for affordable yet comfortable accommodations during their road trip to Maine. Everything about this place says “feel at home”, from the wood-paneled walls to the cozy furnishings and décor.

“The room over looked the lake. There were chairs to sit and visit neighbors on the open walkway. The open field had ducks running around and going to the lake. The bed was comfortable. The room was equipped to allow a longer stay and next time we will.” Gregory (read more reviews)

The view of the lake is also excellent, and the location is within walking distance of everything you might want to see or need!

Road Trip To Maine FAQ

What is the best month to go to maine.

September is the best time to visit Maine. This is because the crowds have left after the Labor day holidays so the touristy locations are not very crowded. Accommodation is also so much cheaper during this time because the demand has dropped considerably.

The weather on the other hand is still great. It hasn’t got chilly yet and you can see the start of the fall foliage before the next season’s crowds head in. In fact, the weather is still warm enough to even head out for a swim if you are in one of the coastal towns of Maine .

What Is The Best Time To Visit Maine For Lobsters?

Lobsters are available all year round in Maine so you really can’t miss them irrespective when you head to this gorgeous state. The largest catches of lobster however are caught between June and December.

How Many Days Do You Require For A Road Trip To Maine?

Honestly, there is just so much to see in Maine. It is hard to just narrow down on a few spots. A 10 -15 day trip however will strike a great balance between seeing a lot of Maine and getting some relaxation done edgewise.

What Is The Cheapest Month To Travel In Maine?

If you want a budget trip and you want good weather, then I highly recommend heading to Maine in the shoulder season which is between mid September and mid October. This avoids the Labor day crowds.

This is the time you will find the lowest rates on travel, accommodation, rentals and tours. So make the best of it!

Map of the Best Road Road Trip to Maine

A detailed map of the Best Road trip to Maine along with stops on the way.

Additional Resources You’ll Love

  • 13 Best Breweries in Portland Maine
  • 10 Amazing Scenic Drives in Maine
  • 15 Best Things to do in Bar Harbor Maine
  • 15 Best Things to do in Boothbay Harbor
  • Best Things to do in Portland Maine
  • Best New York to Los Angeles Road Trip

Well, there you have it! That just about wraps up my tips for planning an amazing road trip to Maine!

Tell me, did your fave stop on your maine road trip itinerary make the cut if not then let me know in the comments below so i can check it out., and if you found this post helpful, be sure to join our email list and pin this post now so that you can read it again later.

coastal road trip in maine

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The Maine Coast: A Great Summer Road Trip

Last Updated on December 7, 2023

a windjammer at anchor on the Maine coast

If you do it only once in your life, take a trip along the Maine coast…

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

By Jim Ferri

With the possible exception of a windjammer cruise , few pleasures are as unique in the Pine Tree State as an early summer drive on a Maine coast road trip.

people enjoying coctails on the porch of a hotel on the Maine coast

Here you’ll drive through scenery that continually morphs from forest to farmland and back to forest again.

And walk along the granite-strewn coast of Maine watching waves crash ashore beneath postcard-worthy lighthouses .

You’ll likely spend afternoons moseying about art shows and through antique stores in Maine’s coastal towns. And, of course, you’ll want to stop at a lobster shack or two along the way.

It’s an easy 1½-hour drive up I-95 from Boston to the Maine border, another half-hour to Portland if you want to stop there. But the real Maine road-trip fun starts on Maine’s Route 1 at Freeport where you’ll leave the Interstate behind . I didn’t include such southern Maine towns as Kennebunkport and Ogunquit since I wanted to focus more on rugged coastal Maine north of Portland.

Get on Route 1 there and let it take you northward along some of the prettiest coastline in the USA. The Maine coast is one of the best road trips in America. If you love the ocean and its bays and islands you’ll be smitten by this part of the New England coast. And with so many islands, nooks and crannies, Maine’s coast is actually longer than California ’s.

a boy with an ice cream cone at a custard stand on Maine's Route 1

Route 1 Maine

I made the transition from city to country quickly on Maine’s Route 1. Almost immediately I saw cars with canoes and kayaks strapped to their tops, signs to watch for moose on the roadway, little piles of wood on people’s lawns with signs advertising “camp firewood.” It was almost as if I’d stepped into another country.

My first stop on Route 1 was at an old classic roadside burger shack in Freeport. I placed my order for a burger and fries (thick-cut Maine potatoes, skins and all) that soon arrived in a little takeaway carton. I then quickly headed next door for a real treat: an old-fashioned soft-serve custard.

Popular tours of the Maine Coast with no cancellation fees

Not too far down the road, I found the L.L. Bean campus , the mother ship of the popular outdoor apparel chain. After a short stroll about, I asked the clerk how long it would take to reach Camden on Penobscot Bay.

“It will only take you about an hour,” she told me. She then added, “the only problem you’ll have is near Wiscasset because Red’s Lobsters there serves the best lobster roll and there will be traffic.” I made a mental note to stop at Red’s.

a waitress handing a customer a loberster roll in Wiscasset, one of the popular Maine coastal towns on Maine's Route 1

Lobster Rolls in Wiscasset

Route 1 to Wiscasset is flush with wildflower fields and many antique, kayak and canoe stores. Wiscasset is an attractive little town complete with a welcome sign opining it’s “The Prettiest Village in Maine.” I soon found myself in a small antique store that had a bed-and-breakfast tucked in out back. I got to talking with the owners, a couple who also own an apartment in the South of France, where they find respite from the Maine winters.

An antique store in one of Maine's coastal towns on Maine's Route 1

When I left, I found Red’s Eats just down the road, where I enjoyed the first lobster roll of my life. Many more were to follow.

I soon became engrossed in conversation with some folks at an adjoining picnic table. I then realized that’s the problem with driving in Maine: you can never make a quick stop for anything. You often start chitchatting with someone and get engrossed in conversation. Or while driving along something catches your attention and you detour to see it. A 15-minute stop quickly turns into an hour.

To my chagrin, I was only beginning my Maine coastal road trip, and was already running late. I made up my mind to stop with the stops and keep pushing northward.

boats at anchor at down in one of Maine's coastal towns on Maine's Route 1

Quintessential Coastal Maine

If you stick to Maine’s Route 1 , with a turnoff here and there, you’ll see plenty of Maine’s coastal towns. Just don’t try to see all of it on the drive northward. At some point, you’ll probably need to turn back, and you’ll want to visit some towns on the southward journey. Keep in mind also that Route 1 can be bumper-to-bumper in the summer months. I avoided most of the traffic by taking my road trip in late June.

people on a dock awaiting a schooner in Camden, one of the popular towns on Maine Route 1

From Wiscasset I headed to pretty Rockport and Camden further north on the coast of Maine, saving Boothbay and Bath for the return drive. I found Rockport to be a pretty little town with beautiful old homes dotting the shoreline of a small scenic bay.

In nearby Camden , I found more beautiful old homes plus inns and an occasional B&B. Geraniums cascade from lampposts here, providing a bright splash of color to old multi-colored buildings. Every once in a while I’d catch the sight of a windjammer sliding across Penobscot Bay.

When leaving Camden, keep heading north to Searsport , another of Maine’s coastal towns and the self-proclaimed “Antique Capital of Maine.” Aside from Antiques, here you’ll also find Penobscot Marine Museum, eight buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings .

North of Searsport, near Bucksport, turn right onto State Road 175 to the fishing village of Stonington on Deer Island. It’s worth a detour to the beautiful, quaint little town, the kind you find on Maine postcards. Even its small post office – Stonington, ME 04681– is postcard-worthy.

people on a mountain top looking out over the ocean in Acadia National Park, reached near the northern end of Maine Route 1

Beautiful Bar Harbor

Don’t miss Bar Harbor, only an hour or so north of Searsport, one of the most famous of Maine’s coastal towns . It’s an artsy little town with galleries vying for space with numerous restaurants, small shops, and cafés.

people at an art fair in Bar Harbor, one of the popular towns on Maine Route 1

It’s also a great town to wander about. While here be sure to take the fun (and highly rated) Lulu Lobster Boat tour . Aboard with Captain John, you’ll learn a lot about marine life about you.

He regaled us about lobsters, birds and sea mammals, even teaching us how to sex a crab. He ended the tour pulling some of his traps from the water to give us a first-hand look at the catch.

Bar Harbor is also the gateway to Acadia National Park, one of the famous national parks in the Eastern USA. Drive by the smorgasbord of restaurants and hotels on its periphery and spend the day wandering about this natural treasure.

Don’t miss the drive up to the top of Acadia’s Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain in the Eastern U.S. There you’ll enjoy an incredible view out over the islands off the coast of Maine and the vast forests about you.

people in a lighhouse museum in Rockland

South On Route 1 to the Lighthouse Museum

Leaving Bar Harbor, you have a choice: continue northward on Maine’s Route 1 to the Canadian border and Campobello International Park (a 2½-hour drive) or continue your road trip by heading back south visiting those towns you skipped along the Maine coast. Campobello was the summer retreat of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt. Although in Canada, it is an actual international park that’s jointly administered, staffed, and funded by Canada and the United States.

Lacking time to see Campobello I headed back south down towards Rockland to visit more of Maine’s coastal towns. Along the way, I saw more antique shops than I could count, as well as many signs for homemade pies, fresh strawberries, and camp firewood.

I was interested in visiting the small Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland . Lighthouses are a part of Maine history, and the museum is dedicated to everything having to do with them.

For those of us who only view lighthouses as tall structures, this small museum is an eye-opener. It shows just what was required 100 years ago to keep lighthouses operating to ensure the safety of mariners. The museum not only covers lighthouses and lifesaving services in the U.S. but in several foreign countries, as well.

coastal road trip in maine

A Quick Sidetrip to a Jewel of Coastal Maine

Leaving the museum, I decided to see the real thing: the famous Pemaquid Lighthouse near Bristol , about an hour south. (Take Route 1 to Route 130 south of Nobelboro and continue on to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park.)

It was well worth the drive to see this historic lighthouse on the Maine coast. At Pemaquid Light, there’s a Fishermen’s Museum and a pretty little park around it, all sitting atop a rugged coastline of granite dropping off into the Atlantic. It was quietly beautiful and dramatic at the same time. And although it delayed me in getting to Boothbay Harbor when I wanted to, I left wishing I had come earlier and brought a picnic lunch along.

evening in Boothbay Harbor one of the most popular Maine coastal towns

On to Boothbay

I continued my Maine road trip to Boothbay Harbor, which like Bar Harbor, I found to be another artsy town . (To get there take Route 1 south; just east of Wiscasset turn on to Route 27 south to Boothbay ). Adding even more pizazz to the weekend, I was there was the Windjammer Day Festival . It’s the one time during the year when all of Maine’s windjammers come into port for the Windjammer Parade.

You may also enjoy: Maine Cruises – Experiencing the State From A Different Perspective / Windjammer Cruises on Maine’s Penobscot Bay / Historic Boston: Following the Freedom Trail

From the deck outside my hotel room, I realized I would have a fantastic view of the parade. But I was a day early, and since I was only staying overnight, I wasn’t going to be there for the show. I decided instead to take a walk about Boothbay. With the region’s pretty wooded rolling hills and the charm of the town I quickly got a sense why so many people enjoy summering in the region.

people in a maritime museum in Bath on Maine Route 1

A Preeminent Maine Coastal Town: “The City of Ships”

Leaving Boothbay Harbor the next morning, I headed to Bath, a charming city that calls itself “The City of Ships.” Visit the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, and you’ll quickly learn why.

The museum is a fascinating place with interesting exhibits, some in outbuildings, all brought together in a century-old shipyard. On an adjoining green is the actual way where many old ships were constructed.

a museum docent with a model ship in a museum in Bath

As I walked out of the museum’s main building onto the lawn, I was astounded by what I saw. In front of me was a true-to-size reconstruction of the bow, main mast, and stern of the Wyoming , the largest of seven schooners built in the yard. For a minute or so I just stood staring at it, shocked by its size.

Also immensely enjoyable was a tour of the nearby Bath Iron Works, included with your admission to the Museum. The Bath Iron Works is the renowned yard where many great modern ships have been built. Today, however, the Iron Works only constructs destroyers for the U.S. Navy.

In your tour of the yard, you’re required to stay inside a trolley-style bus and not allowed to bring any cameras or cell phones on the tour for obvious security reasons. Our guide, a recently retired employee, gave us a fascinating description of how the large ships are put together. Since 1884, the Works has built more than 425 ships for the world’s naval and commercial fleets.

From Bath it’s only a 45-minute drive back to Portland on Maine’s Route 1 and Interstate 295. Instead of ending your Maine road trip there, however, you could continue on to visit Kennebunkport and Ogunquit . Do that and you’ll have visited the majority of the most popular Maine coastal towns.

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May 1, 2019 at 2:41 pm

I would love to take a summer roadtrip to Maine. It’s one of the many places in the US I have wanted to visit for a long time. Your post makes me want to visit even more and have some of that lobster and custard!

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May 2, 2019 at 7:38 am

Hi Elizabeth, If you’re thinking about a road trip to coastal Maine, it’s easy to combine it with a trip to other areas of New England (Boston, Rhode Island. etc.) and with the Maritime provinces of Canada.

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May 1, 2019 at 5:50 pm

The lobsters in Maine are worth the entire trip! Maine is such a lovely country and its coast with its lighthouses is so pretty. Would love to go back!

May 2, 2019 at 7:34 am

Hi Federica, Obviously you love lobsters! You won’t find any fresher than those in Maine.

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May 2, 2019 at 12:59 am

A road trip to the Maine coast looks like a lovely experience. My husband and I, both love road trips, but haven’t done one near the coast. The Pemaquid Lighthouse looks so beautiful, and so does the Boothbay Harbour. The Maritime Museum too, sounds like an interesting place to visit.

May 2, 2019 at 7:31 am

Hi Amrita, There are several great places in the U.S. that are road-trip worthy. The coast of Maine is one of the best.

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May 2, 2019 at 2:24 am

Heard a lot about Maine but reading this offered a lovely vicarious trip. Pemaquid lighthouse looks especially intriguing, with the museum being in it! Thank you for sharing!

May 2, 2019 at 7:29 am

Thanks Namita. I enjoy helping fellow travelers visit with me vicariously. But someday you should visit Maine yourself.

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May 2, 2019 at 4:53 am

I never visited the Maine Coast but it sure looks like an interesting choice for a summer road trip. The City of Ships sounds like a place I would definitely like to visit someday. Thank you for sharing this lovely article, I realyl enjoyed it 🙂

May 2, 2019 at 7:28 am

Hi Daniel, Yes Bath is interesting, especially the museum there.

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May 3, 2019 at 2:29 am

Sounds like the perfect vacay! I love roadtrips, lighthouses, rugged coastlines, and plenty of things to take photos of. I also adore how you got people to smile when they gave you your food orders — such a friendly bunch!

May 3, 2019 at 7:40 am

Hi Tami, It’s a great place — where lots of people smiled at me!

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May 3, 2019 at 4:39 pm

This brings me back to my childhood and a family trip we took out East. I recall eating lots of ice cream, but never did try the famous lobster rolls. As a kid I hated seafood and my adult self is regretting that!

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May 9, 2019 at 8:43 pm

Looking at this as a trip option with our daughter who is headed to college in August. She’s always wanted us to visit Maine. What are your suggestions on the best airport to fly in to (we live in Georgia)? And what’s a practical number of days to plan for an enjoyable road trip? Thanks!

May 11, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Hi Cynthia, You’re in Georgia? I’m just heading home from Georgia now. Lovely state. As for Maine, another lovely state, it’s rather easy to reach. You could fly into either Portland, ME or into Boston, MA. I chose Boston since I wanted to stop there for a couple of days and found it was an easy drive up to Portland to start my trip. For a good taste of coastal Maine I’d suggest 5-7 days, which would let you explore a fair amount of the area. You could also add a few more days on and drive up into the Canadian Maritimes, another beautiful area. Be aware, however, that the roads get crowded in the summer months. June and September are great times to visit. Let me know if I can provide you with further info.

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July 15, 2022 at 3:47 pm

Hi Jim I’m trying to plan a sisters trip. Starting in Portland where we will pick up one of the 3 sisters. Then we have about 5 days for our road trip. Mid October is our time line. Thinking northern Maine. Any suggestions. Would like to stay on the ocean at night.

July 15, 2022 at 4:23 pm

Hi Jo, Maine in October…you’re going to have a great time. I would stick to Route 1 as your main Maine road.You’ll be lucky because most of the tourist traffic will be gone in October. Get a map and look at the points along the coast that you might want to see ((Boothbay, etc.) and then make them side trips. Or, perhaps even better, make them the place where you’ll overnight. I think if you pretty much follow the route / making the stops that I did, you’ll be okay. Do you ever use the site http://www.Rome2Rio.com ? It’s excellent for planning a trip like this since in addition to giving you all the means of transportation for getting anywhere, it also gives you the distance and driving time. Use it to plot each day of your trip. but leave lots of time for just walking about. When I did the trip I wrote about, I had to do it in 4 days. 5 days would have been much easier. Make certain you get to Acadia National Park outside Bar Harbor, which will be spectacular in the Fall. You can have 3 days driving and then 2 days for the return. I’d also speak with teh people at Maine’s (very good) tourist office. They can help give you some good local information. I hope you have a great trip! Jim

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May 18, 2021 at 2:41 pm

Portland Maine Jet Port

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May 11, 2019 at 7:03 am

omg that Maine lobster roll looks SO good!!! It’s funny, living in New York for so long, I’ve always had lobster rolls but never made it to Maine for one. This road trip looks like a lot of fun!

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March 28, 2021 at 9:22 am

What is the weather in early may

March 28, 2021 at 1:00 pm

Hi Angeline, May/springtime is a good time to visit the Maine coast, although it may be a little cool. June-August brings the best weather but also the crowds.

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May 18, 2021 at 5:31 pm

We’ve been to Maine many, many times & all the places you wrote about. My wife is a Mainer. All my heritage from Maine & New England.

Nothing comparable to the coast of Maine. Thinking of moving there. Ayah

May 19, 2021 at 7:24 am

It’s a beautiful place. I greatly enjoyed it.

May 19, 2021 at 7:26 am

The coast of Maine is beautiful. I really enjoyed it.

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May 23, 2021 at 7:19 pm

We are planning a fall trip. 9 days but are flying into see Niagara Falls first and then coming over to Maine for 7days. Thinking of staying near bar harbor a few days and then Kannenbunkport for the remainder and flying home from Portland. Please give honest feedback on our choices. It’s my moms 70th and on her bucket list. Thank you very much.

May 26, 2021 at 6:56 pm

Hi Mandy, I don’t know when in September you’re planning your trip, but I’d opt for early September since average Sept day temperatures are in the 60s and 70s. It’s also cool at night. I expect that you’ll be renting a car for the trip so you can enjoy the Maine Coast. You may want to stay a night somewhere along the coast between Bal Harbor and Kennebunkport (where I’d stay one day). Overall, though, I think it’s a great trip for 9 days. And one other thing, the best view of Niagara Falls is from the Canadian side. At this time, however, you can’t enter Canada due to the Corona virus, but I think (and hope)that will not be the case in September. Pls let me know if I can help you more.

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June 7, 2021 at 9:28 pm

There are indeed, many fine places in Maine to enjoy a lobster roll. The absolute best in taste and atmosphere would be The Clam Shack in Cape Elizabeth where you may sit on the rocks on the rugged coast of Maine, enjoying your lunch and being awestruck by the magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean. You will never understand the beauty of Maine Oceans until you see for yourself. ❤️

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June 13, 2021 at 9:01 am

We are looking at visiting the Maine coast in mid-October. What weather can we expect? Is there a central location we could stay and return to daily or should we plan on a night or two in different towns? We will be driving from north-central Pennsylvania.

June 14, 2021 at 3:22 pm

Hi Debbie, October is a beautiful time of year anywhere in New England. You can expect the temperature to be in the 50s during the day, in the 30s at night. I would definitely stay in different locations. One of them should be Bar Harbor, a wonderful town, so you can enjoy Acadia National Park (a beautiful spot). I also enjoyed Boothbay Harbor further south to explore that area. You’ll love the area. Have a great trip!

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June 26, 2021 at 5:27 pm

What exact road trip would you recommend from NY? I’d like to see Boston and the highlights of coastal Maine. I’m all about the nature, animals, National parks, must-see things, whale watching, beaches, mountains, white water rafting, kayaking and spontaneous stops along my drive to pull over and absorb the views. Sunrise and sunset spots along the Atlantic coast suggestions? Ty!!

June 27, 2021 at 8:48 am

Hi Kim. I’ve made road trips from NY up through New England. Coastal Connecticut is beautiful as is Rhode Island. Definitely spend a few days in Boston (you can also take whale-watching trips out of there). From Boston head for Portland Maine, which is a nice city. You only pass through a snippet of New Hampshire along the way, so if you have time I’d drive inland a bit further into the state, which is beautiful. From Portland just follow the coast norhtward, wandering off wherever you feel there’s something of interest. You don’t try to hit every site in Maine or elsewhere on the drive up…you can leave some places for your return trip. I hope you have a great trrip!

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July 3, 2021 at 7:29 am

Hello Jim, I just found your site! and I am loving not only reading your travel blog but also the questions and answers. I will be attending a retreat at the Mary Joseph retreat center in Biddeford Maine October 11 through the 14th. I also am planning to move to Maine because I love New England and Maine seems to be coming up a lot. I have been there many years ago. I travel mainly to western Massachusetts four times a year with hops to NH. I am tired of the road congestion and ever growing population. I’d like to make a lovely excursion trip either before or after the retreat spending about five days traveling around. My budget is somewhat limited as I am just publishing a book coming out around July 12. So, that has taken a lot and I have enjoyed it immensely. It is my second. I am sure that my publishing person who happens to live in Maine will have some ideas of bookstores etc to stop at and have been contacted ahead of time. You will probably be aware of these places being a writer yourself, so maybe we can roll that in. Clean budget hotels, Motel 6’s, that sort of thing with one grand stay at a magnificent place before I head back into SE Pennsylvania by way of Merritt Pkwy towards home. Please let me know if there is anything you need to know I may have left out. Thank you for this!

July 5, 2021 at 6:05 pm

Hi Kas, and thank you for teh kind words. A lot of readers ask me for budget info, which is near impossible to provide, since we all travel differently. What some may consider $15,000 a good budget, others may feel $5,000 is more realistic. Others much less. I can only suggest that you go online to sites such as Booking.com and hotels.com and look up hotels in the places where you’d like to travel. That will be the best barometer to help you get a real sense of a budget. I know you’re going to have a wonderful trip! Stay safe.

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July 8, 2021 at 12:14 am

Enjoyed your Maine driving trip story. Just enough detail to give fellow adventurers an idea of what to expect. Timely weather and traffic info is so helpful. It’s funny.. my wife loves to chat with other folks we run into on vacation. I have to literally pull her away.. or we’ll never get back on the road. But we have met people from all over the world who we still keep in touch with and have visited. It’s the magic of travel. Do you think mid October would be good for a Maine driving trip? Thanks.

July 13, 2021 at 12:58 pm

Hi Dan, and yes, I think October would be a good time for a Maine trip. The weather will be cooling down a bit. I’d try for early October to catch some of the autumn leaves. I think the view from Cadillac Mt. would be spectacular in the fall.

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August 5, 2021 at 4:23 pm

I have been to the custard spot and they are delicious. But, in looking at Google maps, I do not see a hamburger place next to it. To the left, up the road are boats. To the right is a car parts store. Could they have closed?

August 6, 2021 at 4:18 pm

I just looked at Google maps and see what you mean. The hamburger place is no longer there, at least on Google maps. Another bit of Americana gone. That’s sad.

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August 9, 2021 at 2:22 pm

Hello Mr.Ferri, I am visiting Maine in late September, looking for a romantic trip in the mountains and local food spots along the coast. What do you recommend? My stay is only 3 days. Thanks

August 13, 2021 at 11:18 am

Hi James (a good name btw), I checked with some colleagues who are associated with the very good Maine Office of Tourism ( visitmaine.com ) and they suggested that with only three days, you concentrate on the Maine’s MidCoast area. Camden has the coastal food spots including everything from lobster shacks to fine dining, AND they have mountains. Mt. Battie Park and Mt. Megunticook in Camden Hills State Park have nice hiking trails and spectacular views of Penobscot Bay, Lake Megunticook, Cadillac Mountain and Bald Mountain. A second option is to stay along the southern coast and then in Portland – one of the best food cities in the country. Then go west for a day to Bethel in Western Maine. This mountain town is perfect for hiking and biking and beautiful fall foliage. You’ll find Maine beautiful in September – have a great trip!

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August 14, 2021 at 12:42 pm

I’m planning on driving Route 1 and visiting towns on Maine coast in September. Are you able to drive into Nova Scotia or St. John’s, or catch ferry to get into any part of Canada?

August 16, 2021 at 8:11 am

Hi Stephanie, September is a great time to visit Maine. You also should be able to enter Canada if you are fully vaccinated. To be certain that you meet the requirements for entry, go to this page: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/wizard-start Have a wonderful trip (I envy you)!

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October 17, 2021 at 2:08 pm

My husband and I are thinking of taking a last minute road trip from SC to Bar Harbor, ME , Oct 19, 2021. I love your suggestions for the Hwy 1 road trip up the coast. Will the lobster stands and lighthouses and museums still be open?

October 18, 2021 at 4:37 pm

Hi Kathleen, Everything should still be open. That’s leaf-peeping season in Maine. Have a great trip! Jim

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November 1, 2021 at 9:41 pm

Born in Norway Maine, raised in Texas. Have lots of family in South Paris Maine and own 6acres of the original 600 acres. Never developed my small plot. I so love all that Maine has to offer. I’ve never traveled past Augusta inland, nor too far North of Portland. My Texas gkids, their mother and step dad, just bought 130 acres north of Bar Harbor, and inland about 5 miles off the coast, and another 5acres on the coast. They are slowly developing and hope to live there FT after the last gchild has graduated. I’ll be 70 by then. As much as Ive always hoped to develop my small inherited plot, it’s just not meant to happen. But, I’m so thrilled that my own gkids will enjoy Maine on a different level. They being born and raised in Texas, but, someday may live out their lives in Maine, where the Plummer’s began their American roots and the Hills came in hopes of better opportunities, over from Scotland. Maine will always be in me.

No one has mentioned the Yankee Italian sub sandwich, whoopie pies, fresh baked blueberry anything, clam chowder. If you drive inland, West of Portland about 45 miles, you’ll come into Oxford, West and South Paris, Norway, and some beautiful falls, and other scenic scenes that direction. Visit Kennebunkport to view the little peninsula, where President Bushes extended family retreat often.

I plan to drive up next summer, God willing, and take my then 82yo mother for one last visit to see family. We may just take our time and go up the coast to see all the towns mentioned in the article, and, hope to see the acreage the gkids are now blessed to have.

November 7, 2021 at 7:35 am

Hi Rebecca, What a nice story. I hope you and your Mom have a wonderful trip. Jim

November 7, 2021 at 7:43 am

Hi Rebecca, That’s a wonderful thing you’ll be doing with you mother. I hope you have a wonderful trip. Go explore about Maine with her! Jim

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March 16, 2022 at 6:07 pm

How long would this Maine coastal drive take

March 17, 2022 at 10:30 am

Hi Lisa, It’s an easy drive. It’s only about 170 miles from Portland to Bar Harbor, which is less than four hours if you drive straight through (which someone may want to do on one leg of the trip). I took my time and did it in three days,(stopping at a lot of places along the way) in June before the summer crowds create a lot of traffic. June and September are good months to go. I rate this as one of America’s great road trips. Jim

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April 7, 2022 at 2:12 pm

In late May, my husband and I are planning to fly from Texas and spend a week celebrating our 50th anniversary traveling up the coast of Maine. Any other suggestions for us? (Maine is #1 on our bucket list)

April 8, 2022 at 11:53 am

Hi Kathie, Congratulations on your 50th! I think you’ll have a wonderful time on the Maine Coast. It’s perfect for a road trip, although it is crowded in the summer months. June and September are good time to go without the crowds. I pretty much covered the places to go in the article. Have you considered taking a windjammer trip? They’re a lot of fun. And up in Bar Harbor take the LuLu Lobster Boat tour — also a lot of fun and quite interesting. Have a great trip! Jim

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April 16, 2022 at 7:22 am

So sorry you didn’t mention my home town of York Maine and the Nubble Lighthouse.

April 16, 2022 at 10:16 am

I’m sorry PJ! But there are so many things to see in Maine we can’t include them all! Jim

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April 19, 2022 at 10:04 am

I’m pretty sure Cadillac isn’t the tallest mountain in the eastern US, that title belongs to a mountain in North Carolina. I believe Mt Katahdin, up in Baxter State Park is taller than Cadillac, too. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to visit Cadillac!

April 19, 2022 at 1:54 pm

I hope you get to Maine soon, Cam Jim

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July 8, 2022 at 7:47 pm

A special time to visit Maine is in August, when the wild blueberries are being harvested. You will see people pulled off the road picking these delicacies. As a transplanted “Maineiac” , your article made me realize I’m overdue for a trip to my home state. A favorite spot to visit is the West Quoddy lighthouse in Lubec, This famous candy striped lighthouse is the Easternmost lighthouse in the USA. From there, you can cross the international bridge to Campobello. New Brunswick, Canada.

July 12, 2022 at 10:16 am

Hi Fran, How I envy you for heading back up Down East. And I love the term “Maineiac”! And also Maine’s wild blueberries. I wanted to see the West Quoddy lighthouse when I visited, and continue on to Campobello, but couldn’t fit it into my schedule. Maybe someday I’ll get back up there. Jim

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July 7, 2023 at 1:22 pm

Great post! We’ve been wanting to do a similar trip in the fall and include the Kancamagus Highway and Stowe VT. I’m semi-retired, and the “semi- part” is as an adjunct university professor, so I need to fully retire to do thi trip. I have most of the places on your itinerary on my plan already, but I appreciate your insights as I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area my entire life and have only been to Maine briefly once on a business trip. We love road trips and recently got back from a month and 1,800 miles of driving around Northern Italy and Tuscany.

July 12, 2023 at 10:23 am

Hi Dennis, I love road trips also. I did the ultimate road trip years ago when I got out of the army in Europe, stayed an adiitional9 months and drove all over Europe. It’s a great experience and a great introduction to many European countries. You’ll likely love the Maine Coast. Have a great trip! Jim

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coastal road trip in maine

10 Beautiful Coastal Stops On A Road Trip In New England

  • The New England coastline offers a tapestry of maritime history, artistic expression, and coastal tranquility.
  • Each destination along the coastal journey has its own allure and immerses travelers in unique experiences.
  • From Mystic, Connecticut, to Watch Hill, Rhode Island, the coastal towns of New England showcase a blend of historical significance, artistic inspiration, and the allure of the sea.

In the embrace of the Eastern Seaboard, a journey unfolds, tracing the contours of New England's storied coastline —a tapestry woven with the whispers of maritime legends, the brushstrokes of artistic expression, and the timeless allure of coastal tranquility. From the quaint allure of Mystic, Connecticut , where the waters of the Mystic River reflect the town's maritime history, to the opulent landscapes of Newport, Rhode Island, where Gilded Age mansions gaze upon the unfurling Atlantic horizon, this expedition transcends mere miles.

It is a voyage of discovery, unveiling Provincetown's artistic soul nestled on Cape Cod's tip and Rockport's picturesque harbor, where fishing shacks dance in vibrant hues. Each stop along this coastal odyssey is not merely a waypoint but an immersion, a chapter in a novel of experiences. From the rocky vistas of Ogunquit, Maine, to the urban vibrancy of Portland , each destination beckons with its own allure, a blend of historical significance, artistic inspiration, and the timeless allure of the sea, a siren's call that draws travelers into a journey beyond the ordinary, along the enchanting coastline of New England.

RELATED : Portland, Maine to Bar Harbor: 10 Things You Should Pull Over To See On The Way

Day 1: Mystic, Connecticut

Casting off the road trip in coastal charm.

As the journey begins in Mystic, Connecticut, travelers find themselves amid a town interwoven with maritime history and subtle coastal charm. While not directly facing the open ocean, Mystic's essence resonates with the gentle rhythms of the Mystic River and the allure of Long Island Sound.

The town's heart beats in unison with the tales of the seafaring past whispered through the cobblestone streets and the proud masts of historic ships anchored in the Mystic Seaport Museum. Despite not being on the immediate coastline, Mystic embodies a maritime spirit, drawing visitors into a world where the sea's embrace shapes daily life and stories of bygone eras continue to echo within its walls.

Things to do in Mystic, Connecticut

  • Explore Mystic Seaport Museum - This recreated 19th-century seafaring village brings New England's maritime history to life with historic ships, a working shipyard, demonstrators showing traditional maritime skills, and exhibits on whaling, sailors' experiences, and shipwrecks. Book Now - From $28.00 USD
  • Check out the shops and restaurants in downtown Mystic - The downtown area features cute boutiques, bookstores, cafes, ice cream shops, and seafood restaurants, many in preserved historic buildings.
  • Visit Mystic Aquarium - See and learn about seals, sea lions, penguins, sharks, stingrays, and other marine life at this large aquarium right along the water.

Day 2: Newport, Rhode Island

58 miles from mystic, connecticut.

Departing quaint Mystic, the coastal ambiance crescendos towards Newport, an opulent seaside playground perched along the shimmering Atlantic. Here, mansions like The Breakers stand as stoic landmarks to a gilded age when Vanderbilts and Astors sauntered along the Cliff Walk’s rugged course high above the sea. Though Newport conjures images of aristocratic luxury, its magnetism transcends material wealth.

The convergence of architectural extravagance against the untamed beauty of the pounding surf builds Newport’s inimitable coastal allure. Against the steady march of time, Newport remains frozen as a portrait of elegance and scenic grandeur, with one foot planted firmly in old money and the other perched atop craggy cliffs beside the unrestrained Atlantic.

Things to Do in Newport, Rhode Island

  • Tour the extravagant Gilded Age mansions like The Breakers, Marble House, and Rosecliff to see how America's wealthiest families of the late 1800s lived. Book a Tour - from $46.25 USD
  • Stroll along the famous Cliff Walk for dazzling views of the Atlantic coastline and a peek at the lavish backyards of the mansions
  • Explore the Brick Market Place and Bowen's Wharf area full of boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and street performers
  • Take a scenic drive down Bellevue Avenue to see the elegant historic "summer cottages" and get a taste of Newport's glamorous past

Day 3: Provincetown, Massachusetts

117 miles from newport, rhode island.

Transitioning from Newport, travelers arrive in Provincetown, a spirited haven sitting at the outermost tip of Cape Cod's hooked arm, beckoning all with its sandy shores and seaside charm. More than just a quaint coastal town, Provincetown harbors an artistic soul that intertwines with its coastal allure. It is a vibrant palette of creative expression where the Atlantic's embrace nurtures artistic spirits.

The sea, ever-present on the horizon, calls to poets, painters, actors, and artisans alike. Provincetown's streets, adorned with bursts of color from the many galleries and welcoming boutiques, echo with the laughter and inspiration sought by those creative souls.

Things to Do in Provincetown, Massachusetts

  • Take an art workshop or class at the Fine Arts Work Center - this nonprofit art colony has offered residencies and classes to aspiring artists since 1968
  • See a Provincetown Theater performance - this acclaimed local theater has premiered works by Tennessee Williams and other famed playwrights
  • Go on a whale-watching cruise from MacMillan Pier out into Cape Cod Bay

RELATED: 10 Vacation Spots in Rhode Island That Won't Break The Bank

Day 4: Rockport, Massachusetts

63 miles from provincetown, massachusetts.

Nestled on the craggy shores of Cape Ann, Rockport’s sleepy fishing village offers a serene seaside escape. Travelers meander down to the harbor as salty air and crying gulls beckon. The red fishing shack Bearskin Neck splash of crimson against the sea while waves shush rhythmically against weathered piers. The rocky coast cradles quiet coves and placid beaches, perfect for peaceful afternoon reveries watching the tide ebb and flow.

Motifs like Bradley Wharf’s small rowboats tethered by ropes evoke nostalgia for simpler times. And the jumble of art studios, galleries, and cafes celebrate Rockport’s motley harbor muses. For those seeking coastal solace, away from crowded beaches and bustling boardwalks, Rockport’s shores promise subtle beauty, at one with the brush of wind and brush of a painter’s hand.

Things to Do in Rockport, Massachusetts

  • Take a stroll along Bearskin Neck - This narrow peninsula features cute shops, art galleries, and beautiful views of the harbor and Sandy Bay
  • See Motif #1 - The iconic red fishing shack is one of the most photographed sites in New England
  • Hike the Halibut Point State Park trails - Trails wind through granite quarries, Babson’s Cove, and forested areas with ocean views

Day 5: Ogunquit, Maine

112 miles from rockport, massachusetts.

Ogunquit dazzles visitors with its miles of sandy beaches, postcard-worthy coves, and a bustling downtown filled with boutiques and bistros. Yet, like its quieter cousin down the coast, artistry pulsates through town. Along the Marginal Way, foaming surf hisses a rhythm for poets penning verses atop rocky outcroppings while photographers wait patiently to capture the next dazzling sunset.

In Perkins Cove, lobster boats glide through the harbor as colorful as any impressionist’s palette. And Ogunquit’s beachfront art colony resembles an outdoor gallery with easels planted in the sand painters committing the crashing waves to canvas. For travelers seeking inspiration where eternal summer leisure meets creative passion, Ogunquit’s seaside locale, artistic heritage, and resort town amenities beckon artists, nature lovers, and beachcombers alike.

Things to Do in Ogunquit, Maine

  • Take a trolley tour of Ogunquit - Hop on a trolley for a guided tour to learn more about the town's history and landmarks. July 1st through October/$5.00 USD for adults & $3.00 USD for kids
  • Explore the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge - Nature lovers can hike and bird-watch in this protected coastal area
  • Walk the Marginal Way oceanfront footpath - This picturesque mile-long walkway winds along the rocky coast with breathtaking views. It's one of the few oceanfront pedestrian paths in New England

Day 6: Portland, Maine

33 miles from ogunquit.

Portland's inviting harbor, lined with bobbing boats, bustling wharves, and swaying masts, welcomes visitors to Maine's vibrant coastal hub. Beyond the Old Port's cobblestone streets brimming with breweries, boutiques, and restaurants , Portland's coastal spirit shines brightest along the Eastern Promenade. Here, breezy cliffs overlook jewel-toned Casco Bay, speckled with islands rising out of the mist.

Lobstermen tend to their traps against a city skyline backdrop while ferry boats chart a course to nearby Peaks Island. With sweeping ocean vistas, working wharves, lighthouses, and a food scene celebrating Downeast bounty from sea to table, Portland proffers the best of Maine's coastal heritage and culture with cosmopolitan New England charm.

Things to Do in Portland, Maine

  • Take a cruise around Casco Bay - Enjoy a scenic boat tour to see lighthouses, islands, and marine wildlife. Book a Tour - from $150.00 USD
  • Explore the Portland Observatory - Climb to the top of this historic maritime signal tower for panoramic views of the city and harbor
  • Discover the Old Port District - Wander through historic cobblestone streets lined with boutiques, galleries, and excellent restaurants

RELATED: 10 Best Hotels In South Portland, Maine To Book In The Fall For A Perfect Seasonal Getaway Experience

Day 7: Bar Harbor, Maine

168 miles from portland.

On Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor comes alive as Acadia National Park’s iconic seaside getaway. There's a wealth of things to do here year-round . Its lively downtown buzzes as outdoor adventurers and nature admirers flock to the area’s rugged coastal beauty and endless opportunities for scenic hikes, sailing, and whale-watching excursions.

Travelers lose themselves along the Park Loop Road, absorbing vistas of forested mountains plunging into island-dotted Frenchman’s Bay from overlooks perched high above the thrashing surf. And few images embody Maine’s allure more than Acadia’s rocky headlands like Thunder Hole, where waves crash violently against the craggy coastline sending plumes of seawater rocketing skyward in a dramatic, thunderous natural display.

Things to Do in Bar Harbor, Maine

  • Explore Acadia National Park - Discover miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, and breathtaking coastal views within the park. Take an E-bike tour of the park - from $187.00 USD
  • Enjoy fresh seafood at Bar Harbor's restaurants - Indulge in lobster rolls, oysters, and other seafood delicacies at various eateries
  • Hike Cadillac Mountain - Enjoy panoramic views from the highest peak on the East Coast within Acadia National Park

Day 8: Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land, Maine

152 miles from bar harbor.

For travelers seeking remote, rugged wilderness instead of busy harbors and lighthouses, Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land awaits. Encompassing 12,000 acres of forests, marshes, and dramatic bayfront, Cutler is an unspoiled refuge far Downeast.

Visitors traverse miles of coastal footpaths at nature's pace, enveloped by the wild symphony of crashing waves, crying gulls, and snapping forests. Along striking seaside cliffs, the Bay of Fundy unfurls below in a stunning interplay of sapphire water, evergreen forest, and pink granite shores sewn by the tide. With world-class hiking routes and secluded pocket coves unfettered by tour buses or high rises, Cutler remains Maine's last stretch of undeveloped, preserved coastline left simply wild.

AllTrails lists the Best Hikes and Trails in Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land

Day 9: York, Maine

107 miles from cutler coast public reserved land.

York beckons road-trippers with its postcard quintessential New England coastal scenery. Rocky shores give way to quiet tidal rivers ideal for kayaking in the shadow of historic Cape Neddick Light. Further inland, colorful 18th-century homes surround York Village's pristine town green. But York's biggest lure is its beaches - Short Sands Beach boasts sweeping views of Cape Neddick’s “Nubble Lighthouse,” while Long Sands Beach impresses with miles of family-friendly golden sand.

With the hustle of outlet malls and theme parks nearby yet the peace of the sea always within reach, York offers the perfect coastal Maine town for road-trippers to dip their toes in the ocean while exploring lighthouses, learning about Native American and colonial history and enjoying locally-sourced lobster rolls, ice cream, and saltwater taffy.

Things to Do in York, Maine

  • The Wiggly Bridge and Steedman Woods - Take a walk on the smallest suspension bridge in the United States and explore the serene trails of Steedman Woods
  • Explore historic York Village - Discover colonial-era buildings, antique shops, and galleries in this quaint New England village
  • Old York Historical Society Museums - Visit historic buildings like the Old Gaol (jail) and Jefferds Tavern to learn about York's colonial past

RELATED: 12 Unique Attractions That Prove That Maine Is The Most Underrated State In America

Day 10: Watch Hill, Rhode Island

127 miles from york.

Watch Hill delivers a fitting seaside finale for a New England coastal road trip. Its prime location on Rhode Island’s southwestern shore rewards travelers with sunset vistas over Block Island Sound, where the Atlantic meets the horizon. Quaint New England clapboard cottages line the winding lanes reminiscent of coastal towns from Connecticut to Maine.

Yet unique attractions set Watch Hill apart, like its historic Flying Horse Carousel, spinning seaside with antique wooden horses since 1876, plus the landmark Ocean House hotel, recalling Victorian grandeur. With grassy bluffs for picnicking, boutique shopping and bay beaches meeting the open ocean, Watch Hill encapsulates the nostalgic coastal village charm trippers yearn for while still dazzling with its own distinctive seaside ambiance and activities.

Things to Do in Watch Hill, Rhode Island

  • Tour the Watch Hill Lighthouse - Take in panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound from this historic lighthouse
  • Explore Flying Horse Carousel - Ride the oldest continuously operating carousel in the United States, featuring hand-carved horses dating back to the late 1800s
  • Experience the Ocean House - Stay or dine at this luxurious historic hotel offering fine dining, spa services, and stunning ocean views

10 Beautiful Coastal Stops On A Road Trip In New England

Protect Your Trip »

16 most romantic getaways in maine.

Coastal towns and charming inns provide the perfect setting for a romantic getaway in Maine.

Most Romantic Getaways in Maine

Exterior of Cliff House Maine on a sunny day.

Courtesy of Cliff House Maine

The Cliff House Maine in Cape Neddick exudes romance.

Maine is the perfect place for a romantic getaway, offering breathtaking views, lovely beaches , cozy resorts, charming bed-and-breakfasts , historic villages and inspiring landscapes for scenic hikes. Grab your sweetheart and experience the romantic opportunities Maine has to offer at these idyllic towns, hotels and restaurants.

Romantic Getaways in Maine

  • Cliff House Maine
  • Berry Manor Inn
  • Glenmoor by the Sea


  • Harraseeket Inn

Moosehead Lake

  • Sebasco Harbor Resort

Old Port, Portland

  • Dockside Guest Quarters
  • Samoset Resort
  • The Craignair Inn by the Sea

Boothbay Harbor

  • Bear Mountain Inn + Barn

Cliff House Maine: Cape Neddick

Interior of Oceanfront Suite at Cliff House Maine.

When it comes to romantic getaways in Maine, the Cliff House is unmatched. The expansive 70-acre resort is perched atop Bald Head Cliff with sprawling ocean views, 226 rooms and suites, a luxury spa, a wellness center, and an oceanfront restaurant. If you love to unwind by the pool with your special someone, you're in luck. The Cliff House features two seasonal outdoor pools and two hot tubs, in addition to a year-round indoor swimming pool and hot tub. Guests can choose from rooms with private balconies, spacious suites or the Weare Cottage for larger groups (complete with a full kitchen and dining room). Be sure to take home a souvenir from the Spoondrift gift shop to remember your romantic escape.

Off-property activities include golfing, biking, hiking, river kayaking, fishing, lobstering trips, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and more.

Address: 591 Shore Road, Cape Neddick, ME 03902

Berry Manor Inn: Rockland

Champagne and chocolates on bed at Berry Manor Inn.

Courtesy of Jumping Rocks, Berry Manor Inn

When it comes to romantic getaways, the Berry Manor Inn is hard to beat. The lavishly decorated rooms at this Victorian bed-and-breakfast feature four-poster beds draped with satin, fringed window sconces, lace curtains, handcarved wooden headboards and floral wallpaper. While in your room, cozy up with your main squeeze by the in-room fireplace, relax with your favorite book in the comfortable reading chair or lounge around in the lush robe. Room rates include a full breakfast, evening sweets, access to a guest pantry (stocked with tea, coffee, pie and ice cream), turndown service, concierge service and parking. Recent visitors rave about the fresh-baked pie and ice cream.

Turn up the heat with the "Special Occasion" package that includes a romantic guest room, breakfast, a dozen long-stemmed roses, chocolates, sparkling cider and rose petals. The inn is situated in the historic district of Rockland, and travelers can check out the area's art galleries, diverse restaurants, seasonal festivals and iconic lighthouses while visiting.

Address: 81 Talbot Ave., Rockland, ME 04841

Glenmoor by the Sea: Lincolnville

This waterfront inn on Maine's midcoast is the picture-perfect setting for an enchanting vacation with the one you love. The unique selection of lodging options includes rooms at the motel, suites at the inn and cottages. Amenities at Glenmoor by the Sea include continental breakfast (delivered to your room – a favorite feature of recent guests), free Wi-Fi, parking, laundry, a fitness facility, access to the private rocky beach, tennis courts and a pool. Some of the adorable white cottages provide unobstructed views of Penobscot Bay and in-room fireplaces.

Couples can explore the surrounding areas and enjoy hiking at Camden Hills State Park, sit down for an authentic Maine lobster and seafood experience at McLaughlin's Lobster Shack (open from April to October), go shopping for snacks at Lincolnville General Store, buy locally made lavender products at Glendarragh Farm, cruise the water on a sailboat or schooner, or visit a local museum.

Address: 2143 Atlantic Highway, Lincolnville, ME 04849

Read: The Best Whale Watching Tours in Maine

Summer morning with calm harbor waters and boats at Camden, Maine.

Getty Images

The charming town of Camden is an idyllic destination for a romantic escape with its location on the beautiful Maine coastline. It's full of rich history with a historic district, a renovated opera house, an 1830s lighthouse and 19th-century architecture. The area also features several hiking trails with views of the harbor and the bay. During the winter, Camden is home to the only ski area on the East Coast with a view of the Atlantic Ocean – the Camden Snow Bowl. Take your loved one by the hand and stroll through downtown Camden, stopping in the various shops, restaurants and cafes. Couples can dine on fresh lobster during the warmer months at Peter Ott's on the Water, take a scenic cruise around the harbor aboard the Lively Lady or visit picturesque Curtis Island.

Where to stay: The luxurious Camden Harbour Inn offers deluxe suites, stunning views, upscale amenities and fine dining that will make this vacation one to remember.

Another boutique hotel, just steps from the water, is the Lord Camden Inn. Located downtown, this elegant inn offers suites with fireplaces and complimentary breakfast – plus it puts visitors within walking distance of shops, restaurants and the waterfront. According to recent visitors, the staff is very friendly and helpful, offering excellent recommendations of the area.

Cape Porpoise, Maine, is a small coastal village in the town of Kennebunkport, Maine, United States.

Kennebunkport is a coastal town in southern Maine with gorgeous beaches, a rustic stone church dating back to 1892, a quintessential Maine lighthouse and a lobster fishing village. You will feel the romance in the air as you explore local attractions including the alluring Lower Village, Dock Square, Ocean Avenue and Cape Porpoise. Couples can go whale watching, witness the blowing cave and spouting rock, visit the summer home of former President George H. W. Bush, or browse the unique shops.

Where to stay: Kennebunkport accommodations include the quaint and historic 1802 House Bed & Breakfast Inn. This Colonial inn offers a quiet retreat for twosomes to spend quality time together. With landscaped gardens, comfortable rooms with fireplaces and jetted tubs, and a three-course breakfast, this is the place to relax and unwind. Recent lodgers praised the welcoming staff and loved that the inn is a close walk to town.

Harraseeket Inn: Freeport

Sweethearts will love the 94-room, family-owned Harraseeket Inn located in the heart of Freeport Village. With an outdoor heated pool, in-room fireplaces, fitness center and two restaurants, the inn has all the amenities needed for a memorable weekend respite. You can even bring your fur baby with you and stay in one of the pet-friendly rooms with dog-friendly amenities. Both a daily breakfast buffet and traditional afternoon tea (many say this was a trip highlight) are included. Extras such as chocolate-dipped strawberries, Champagne or roses are available for an added fee. Couples can book standard rooms, deluxe rooms or townhouses.

Address: 162 Main St., Freeport, ME 04032

Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine.

If you're looking for a place to rekindle the romance, Bar Harbor has just what you need. Located on Mount Desert Island, the town of Bar Harbor offers hiking trails with sweeping views of the town, the bay and nearby Cranberry Islands, as well as scenic beaches, a town pier and plenty of outdoor recreation activities. With its proximity to 47,000-acre Acadia National Park , sweethearts can enjoy each other's company while exploring the woodlands, rocky beaches and granite peaks. Sightings of moose, bears and whales are not uncommon. Start or end your day in Bar Harbor on a romantic note by taking in the sunrise or sunset from Cadillac Mountain.

Where to stay: Overnight accommodations range from hotels , motels and bed-and-breakfasts to glamping, campgrounds, cottages and vacation rentals. The adorable Emery's Cottages on the Shores offers oceanfront views with private beach access. What's more, previous visitors say the sunsets are amazing.

For an upscale, secluded retreat, book a stay at the Balance Rock Inn on the ocean. The beautifully restored inn is reminiscent of the Gilded Age, with luxury accommodations that include antique furnishings and brick fireplaces, opulent decor like stained-glass windows and coffered ceilings, and carefully crafted meals with indoor and outdoor dining options available, not to mention top-notch service.

Reflections on Moosehead Lake, Maine's largest lake.

Moosehead Lake is a perfect place for a romantic weekend with water views, dark skies and plenty of nature to explore. It is situated in northwestern Maine and is the second largest lake in New England. Whether you and your better half want to relax by the lake, work up a sweat on the hiking trails, take an exhilarating whitewater rafting rapids ride, get a bird's-eye view from a seaplane, or just slow down and enjoy the sights and sounds of the natural environment, Moosehead Lake has it all. Book a casual dinner for two with a view at the Stress Free Moose Pub, Leisure Life Resort & Trailside Restaurant or The Lakeshore House.

Where to stay: If you're looking to stay overnight, duos can sleep in a cabin, bed-and-breakfast, lodge, inn, cottage or RV resort. The lakefront cottages and vacation rentals at Wilsons on Moosehead Lake not only provide full bathrooms and an on-site hot tub, but they also offer guided tours, such as fishing, hunting and sunset cruise excursions. Fishing was a highlight for recent travelers who stayed there.

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Sebasco Harbor Resort: Phippsburg

View of lighthouse and dock at Sebasco Harbor Resort.

Courtesy of Sebasco Harbor Resort

Escape and admire the natural beauty of Maine at the Sebasco Harbor Resort. For romantic endeavors, twosomes can go on a sunset cruise, try candlepin bowling, indulge in a lobster bake or sleep in a lighthouse with stunning views. Aside from the lighthouse, guests can opt to stay in the hotel-style Main Lodge, a luxury Harbor Village suite with ocean views or a rustic standalone cottage. Dining includes fresh seafood, casual pub fare and microbrews with a sea breeze at Ledges Pub & Patio (open seasonally).

Address: 29 Kenyon Road, Phippsburg, ME 04562

Old Port buildings, in downtown Portland, Maine.

Although the Old Port district in Portland is a quaint historic neighborhood, it has a lot to offer couples wanting variety while on vacation. Walk hand in hand down cobblestone streets as you admire the historic brick buildings, pop into a gourmet food store for a seafood snack, shop for nautical-themed souvenirs, enjoy the lively nightlife or have a romantic dinner at a waterfront restaurant. Don't miss the brown-butter lobster rolls, fresh oysters or clam bake at Eventide Oyster Co. or the handmade Maine potato doughnuts in enticing flavors at The Holy Donut.

Where to stay: Check in to the award-winning historic boutique hotel The Press Hotel , which flawlessly blends the old with the new. What was once the home of the Portland Press Herald has been converted into modern accommodations with nods to the past (think: typewriters, newspaper print accents and more). Settle in with your sweetheart for a game of Scrabble, admire the art gallery that features local artists' work or stay in bed for snuggles with the cozy Cuddledown comforters. Recent guests appreciate the location, fun decor and friendly staff members, but they warn not to get a room on the same side as the fire station since the sirens can keep you up.

Dockside Guest Quarters: York

Couples who sneak away for a romantic escape at the Dockside Guest Quarters are in for a treat. The waterfront bed-and-breakfast has beautiful views of the York Harbor, a restaurant serving traditional Maine fare, friendly service and unpretentious amenities. The property has five buildings that offer a variety of accommodations, with amenities like private decks, cozy fireplaces, kitchenettes, living rooms, private entrances, water views, dining areas, and washers and dryers. Recent travelers loved this property, praising the porches and views.

Enhance your stay with add-ons such as artisanal chocolates, a dozen roses or bath products to take home. For some on-site fun, duos can take advantage of an array of lawn games, a marina with tours just for inn guests, bikes to borrow or boats to rent. Other activities in the area include historical sites, beautiful beaches and interesting museums.

Address: 22 Harris Island Road, York, ME 03909

Samoset Resort: Rockport

Couches around a fire with pool in the background at night at Samoset Resort. Wine on table.

Courtesy of Samoset Resort

Lovebirds visiting the Samoset Resort will be treated to thoughtfully designed guest rooms and suites with private balconies and terraces that offer stunning views of Penobscot Bay. At the resort, guests say visitors can expect warm, intuitive service and elegant accommodations. Couples in particular can enjoy oceanfront dining, book a pampering treatment in the spa, play a round of golf together on the 18-hole championship golf course and relax in the zero-entry pool.

When it comes to accommodations, book a nautically inspired oceanfront guest room with a king-sized bed or two queen-sized beds, or a more spacious one-bedroom suite that comes with a private balcony with a hot tub (a favorite feature of recent lodgers), ocean views and spacious sitting area. For a longer stay with even more amenities, one- or two-bedroom condos are available with kitchens, dining areas, private balconies and jetted tubs.

Share laughs and friendly competition with your special someone over a game of disc golf, tennis, shuffleboard, pickleball, badminton, croquet or horseshoes. Or, celebrate a special occasion over an award-winning meal made with seasonal ingredients while taking in the beautiful surroundings. During the winter months, couples should have a cocktail at the Instagram-worthy outdoor Glacier Ice Bar where everything is made of ice – including the bar, barstools, chairs and drink glasses.

Address: 220 Warrenton St., Rockport, ME 04856

Buildings lining a street at night in Ogunquit, a seaside resort town in York County, Maine.

For a dreamy coastal Maine getaway, Ogunquit offers world-class dining and resort experiences with sandy beaches, dramatic rocky cliffs and a charming harborside town. Ogunquit means "beautiful place by the sea" in the Indigenous Abenaki language, and its name holds true to its translation. Smell the fresh, salty air as you put your arm around your partner during a coastal cliff walk or wander around the quaint shops, restaurants and galleries of the maritime town. You can also enjoy a romantic dinner at M.C. Perkins Cove in a dimly lit dining room with seaside views.

Explore the town by diving into the history of the area at the Ogunquit Heritage Museum, seeing a live performance at the S. Judson Dunaway Center or taking home a one-of-a-kind piece of art from the Abacus Gallery. Extend your stay with a night at The Beachmere Inn or the Meadowmere Resort, both of which offer the opportunity to cozy up, relax and enjoy some much-needed time alone with the one you love.

Read: The Top Things to Do in Maine

The Craignair Inn by the Sea: Spruce Head

Cobble beach room view at The Craignair Inn by the Sea.

Courtesy of The Craignair Inn by the Sea

The Craignair Inn by the Sea is surrounded by landscape that is stunning during all four seasons. To escape your hectic day-to-day obligations, plan a trip to this quiet escape and take advantage of the hospitality, cozy accommodations, authentic midcoast Maine cuisine and romantic setting at this historic bed-and-breakfast. Visitors highly recommend the food and loved the water views.

Stays include a gourmet breakfast and free Wi-Fi, plus access to a boutique art gallery and a fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs. Couples can enjoy spending some downtime reading a book from the library, playing the piano or guitar, sipping cocktails by the fire, trying their skill at a puzzle, or gazing out at the Atlantic Ocean. Guests can feel good about their stay since the innkeepers prioritize sustainable travel through electric vehicle charging stations, 100% organic linens, refillable soap and shampoo containers, and solar panels.

Address: 5 Third St., Spruce Head, ME 04859

Boats in Boothbay Harbor in Lincoln County, Maine. Boothbay Harbor region is a popular yachting and tourist destination.

As with many coastal Maine regions, Boothbay Harbor is a prime location for kayaking, sailing and yachting; it's also home to quaint shops, seafood eateries and historical museums. Rekindle the flame at one of the many inns, hotels, vacation rentals or even campgrounds. Available as a weekly rental in the summer or for shorter time periods other parts of the year, Seanook Cottage features a private dock and four decks in East Boothbay.

Dining in the area ranges from convenience stores and ice cream shops to fine dining and lobster bakes. The Tinnery restaurant, which sits on the site of Boothbay Harbor's old canning district, elevates casual "tinned" food (like sardines) using fresh local ingredients. You'll also find cheese and chocolate fondues on the menu. For romantic escapades in the area, there's no shortage of things to do on the land or water.

Explore the area by bike or boat, walk along the Boothbay Harbor Sculpture Trail, take a ferry to see puffins and seals, follow the historic walking tour throughout Boothbay Harbor, or ride an authentic steam locomotive. If you're visiting during the winter, grab a ticket to see the beautiful Christmas lights display at the nearby Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

Bear Mountain Inn + Barn: Waterford

Sunset at Bear Mountain Inn + Barn.

Molly Breton | Courtesy of Bear Mountain Inn + Barn

The Bear Mountain Inn + Barn is set in a stunning wooded landscape at the base of Maine's White Mountains with easy access to a nearby lake. The 25-acre property dates back to 1850 and provides a modern farmhouse retreat that is perfect for a romantic interlude. A variety of rooms are available at the inn; amenities include water views, oversized fireplaces and jetted tubs. For a more private getaway, the Sugar Maple Cottage is a freestanding building with lake views, a clawfoot tub, a kitchen, a wood-burning fireplace, a private patio, a fire pit and a porch.

A signature three-course breakfast is included with the room rates, and the property offers a host of activity options and amenities, such as a beach with a floating dock, hammocks and rocking chairs, daily snacks, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and even a private massage cottage. Recent visitors gushed about this property, with some describing it as an experience straight out of a fairytale.

Address: 364 Waterford Road, Waterford, ME 04088

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