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.
How to Get to Maine for Your Road Trip to Maine
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 – 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.
- Bus – 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
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
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-focussed 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!
- So Zap – 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) – 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! 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) – 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. 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!
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) – 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) – 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!
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 i 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) – 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) – 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!
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) – 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) – 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!
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) – 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) – 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?
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) – 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! 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
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:
- 2 Cats – 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) – 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. 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) – 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. 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
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) – 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. As a guest, you’ll also enjoy a delicious, daily breakfast as well as access to a private balcony with harbor or garden views.
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) – 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)
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) – 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 decor. The view of the lake is also excellent, and the location is within walking distance of everything you might want to see or need!
Map of the Best Road Road Trip to Maine
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