Maine is the best New England state for a road trip because it’s the largest, has by far the longest and most scenic coastline, has a mountainous interior, and has several coastal towns and cities worth visiting. The following itinerary can be done in a week and covers a good chunk of the state.
Source: Phillip Capper
If you’re coming from outside of the region, we’ll assume that Portland is your starting point. Surprisingly, Portland doesn’t even make it into the top 20 largest cities in New England, but other than Boston, we’d say it’s the region’s next best city.
Things to do:
- Walk down the cobblestone streets of Old Port.
- Eat at Central Provisions or another one of the endless supply of quality restaurants.
- Take a brewery tour at Shipyard or Allagash.
- Go to a show at the State Theatre.
- Take a ferry to Peaks Island.
The drive from Portland to Acadia takes almost three hours without traffic. Once you arrive you’ll be greeted by the crown jewel of the rugged Maine coastline, and it will quickly become clear why the park is one of the most visited in the entire country. Opportunities for adventures at land or sea abound, but two of the best activities are catching the sunrise from the summit of Cadillac Mountain and hiking the cliffs along the Precipice Trail. The towns of Bar Harbor and Southwest Harbor are also nearby with some good local shops, restaurants, and bars.
Located a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, the Bold Coast is much more remote and far less visited than Acadia. This stretch of coastline is perhaps the most impressive in the state, but since it’s such a far drive from any heavily populated area, you won’t have to share it with many other visitors. The Cutler Coast Public Reserve has a loop trail that runs alongside the cliffs overlooking the ocean and provides opportunities to see seals, whales and eagles. There are tent sites along the trail, but we opted to camp on the side of one of the cliffs.
4. Mt. Katahdin and Baxter State Park
Mt. Katahdin is best known for being the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and we’d argue that it’s also the best hike in New England. Although very strenuous, the views from the summit and the infamous Knife Edge make it worth the effort. Baxter State Park also has plenty of other more moderate hiking trails, as well as opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the resident moose.
Where to Stay: Big Moose Inn & Campground
5. Puffin Cruise
Visiting Pemaquid Point and the nearby town of New Harbor is a great way to kill two birds with one stone…well, not actually kill. You can see the famous Pemaquid Point Lighthouse and take a boat ride from New Harbor to see the puffins. Puffin watches run through the Spring and Summer, and most of them have migrated by the end of August.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of things to see in do while in Maine, but if you have a week to drive the state, you can’t go wrong with this itinerary.