Maine is one of our favorite states in the United States and without a doubt one of the best road trips in the USA. With so many beautiful landscapes and unique views, it’s hard not too. That is why we want to help you plan the most epic Maine road trip with the “must-see” stops. We try to visit Maine every year as it has many beautiful landscapes and unique views in every season. The best weather to visit Maine is during late Spring, Summer and early Fall.
Maine will steal your heart with its beautiful scenic roads, stunning lighthouses, delicious lobster rolls, and breathtaking national park, Acadia. We have added the best stops you must include into your Maine road trip itinerary from where to eat to where to stay. While we recommend the hotels we have experienced, Maine also so many cute and romantic Airbnbs that it is worth comparing prices.
Maine has a spectacular combination of welcoming people, delicious food and multi-generational activities. No matter your age, race or gender Maine has something fun to offer to every visitor.
When visiting the midcoast of Maine you will quickly come to enjoy the slow pace and relaxed atmosphere of the region take over your vacation. We visited on the shoulder season at the beginning of May and the weather was fantastic, the prices were lower and the places were less crowded.
In this guide we have split the coast of Maine in three regions: The Maine Beaches, the Midcoast of Maine and DownEast Acadia.
The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Maine Coast
My favorite things to enjoy in the midcoast of Maine are visiting the many charming small towns, taking a stroll through each downtown and visiting many of the arts venues and quaint shops. When in Maine you need to photograph and visit as many of the state’s 65 lighthouses. Maine is one of those states that keep pulling you back to visit again.
Getting to Maine
The best way to explore the coast of Maine and start your Maine road trip is doing it by car, so you can stop at any historic town or beautiful viewpoint you come across. Mazda provided us with the 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD which is perfect for road trips with a cool HUD (heads up display) too keep our eyes on the road, integrated navigation and up to 27 MPG.
One of the main and closest airport to Maine is Boston Logan International Airport. As one of the largest airports in the region it is a hub for many Airlines and it has a big range of flights from different cities around the country and even the world. This makes it very convenient for your road trip to Maine.
We recommend either taking the bus/train from Boston or rent a car at any of the rental companies, such as Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, Alamo, BOS, Thrifty, and Advantage and start your Maine road trip right then!
Main cities to visit: Kennebunkport, Portland, Wiscasset, Camden and Bar Harbor.
The Ultimate Maine Road trip Itinerary – The Maine Beaches
Maine is well known for having the best lobsters and the iconic Acadia National Parks. Yet, it also has endless sandy beaches and relaxing oceanside towns that will make your vacation hard to forget.
The Maine Beaches is a short drive from most of New England, only 70 miles from Boston and a 5 hour drive from NYC or Montreal. The beaches of Maine is where you want to be in the Summer. The warm sun and cool breeze make for enjoyable days at the water. If driving is not an option you can always take the Amtrak Downeaster Train, the bus or catch a flight to Portland.
Day 1: Drive to Ogunquit Beach
We started our drive from Boston towards the Maine Beaches. We left earlier to take full advantage of the day. To reach the Maine beaches region you can either take the quicker I-95 or more scenic US Route 1.
Cape Neddick Lighthouse
The Cape Neddick Lighthouse, also known as Nubble Light is a small but beautiful lighthouse in York and it is a must stop for your Maine road trip. It is perched on its own little island that can only be enjoyed across the water from Sohier Park.
Have lunch at Fox’s Lobster House
After photographing one of the most iconic lighthouses of Maine, make sure to stop at the Fox’s Lobster House in York to try the famous lobster roll or in our case we opted for the fresh fish and chips.
Marginal Way to Ogunquit Beach
Ogunquit Beach is a the perfect place to enjoy and afternoon at its sandy beaches or walking down the art galleries, doing some shopping or even enjoying a delicious meal.
If you like beautiful coastal landscapes, then make sure to walk along the rocky seashore on the paved Marginal Way path. Enjoy this 1.25 miles long path from Perkins Cove all the way to the sandy shores of Ogunquit Beach.
This beach is one of the best vacation spots in Maine and it is definitely worth visiting on your Maine road trip.
Along the walk you are met with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and several smaller and more rocky beaches to dip your toes into the water. Ogunquit Beach itself is rated one of the best in New England, which comes as no surprise with its warm sands and calm waves.
End the evening off with a hair raising performance at the Ogunquit Playhouse. They run some of the best Broadway musicals and soon to be Broadway hits from the late spring through the early fall in a theatre built in 1937 exclusively as a seasonal theatre. Grab a drink at the bar before enjoy a musical delight with your loved one.
During our visit, we saw the lively Smokey Joe’s Cafe on its way to New York. The theatre has a different musical each month, so make sure to check the calendar on what is playing when you visit.
Where to sleep in Kennebunk?
The Port Inn is the perfect Inn to rest after a day full of beautiful landscapes and long walks. Melt into the comfortable king size beds in your spacious hotel room. With a delicious continental breakfast included and a relaxing pool on site, it is the perfect spot to rejuvenate or spend a lazy afternoon.
Day 2: Enjoy the Maine Beaches in Kennebunk
For a our second day in our Maine road trip itinerary we will be heading to Kennebunk. This beautiful coastal town in southern Maine is famous for its long sandy beaches. Other beaches you can visit in Maine are Goose Rocks Beach and Arundel Beach, which are located in Kennebunkport.
Kennebunkport is a historical shipbuilding and fishing village and one of Maine’s most popular seaside towns. It is famous for its picturesque harbor, colonial architecture, quaint shops and the Bush family’s summer compound.
Gooch’s Beach is the largest section of public beach in Kennebunk. Its clean white sands and proximity to downtown makes it a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.
Our second day at the Maine Beaches is full of fun in the sun and new adventures.
Parson’s Beach and shore walk
Parson’s Beach is a privately owned beach, which is open to the public. During low tide, you will find many locals fishing on the edge of the vast beach. Behind the sand dunes of the beach there is also a short walk among the salt marshes where you can spot local wildlife.
Morning scenic flight
Start the morning off right with a bit of excitement on a scenic flight. We were met at the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport by Andrew Button the Chief Flight Instructor of Southern Maine Aviation. We hopped into a Cessna 172 Skyhawk for a fun flight, with enough room for our dog, Gordo!
During the one hour scenic flight we made it all the way down to Portsmouth, NH before making our way along the coast to Portland and then headed back to the airport. Along the flight we had amazing views of the rocky seashore, long sandy beaches, several towns and of course many iconic lighthouses.
The hour long scenic flight is $195 per hour and holds up to 3 passengers, or two passengers and one calm dog.
Lunch at Fisherman’s Catch
After an exciting morning exploring Maine by air, head off the beaten path to enjoy lunch at Fisherman’s Catch in Wells, ME. We highly recommend sitting outside in the sun or at the cute boat turned into a bar. We got the Fish and Chips and the daily special, a salmon fillet sandwich. Lucky for us, the large portions meant we were left with an afternoon snack to go.
Hop aboard a train at the Seashore Trolley Museum
Take a ride on a historic streetcar at the Seashore Trolley Museum. Here you will find a collection of public transportation from across the country and throughout history. Enjoy the many restored trolley cars and related pieces. Our favorite part of the museum is riding on a restored streetcar, driven by volunteers, some of which come all the way from Boston for the day.
Other places you can visit near Kennebunkport are the beautiful St. Ann’s Episcopal Church and the lovely lobster-fishing village of Cape Porpoise and the Goat Island Lighthouse. Try some of New England’s freshest lobster rolls at Clam Shack.
Day 3: Spend the day at Old Orchard
Down Old Orchard St to Palace Playland
Spend the morning walking in the small bustling downtown of Old Orchard Beach. Starting at the top of Old Orchard Street work your way through the many shops on your way down towards the water. Make sure not to miss the local collections of souvenirs from Beachology or your childhood dream of endless candies, popcorn and fudge at Dickinson’s Candy.
Getting closer to the water are two staples of Old Orchard Beach; Palace Playland and The Pier. Palace Playland is a little amusement park right in the center of town with rides for all ages, including a massive arcade. The area is open for all to enjoy as you pay per ride, with the option for an all-day pass for the rides.
The Pier is the ultimate food and entertainment destination out over the water. The Pier features several restaurants, bars and even a few souvenir shops upon its wooden planks.
Rooftop lunch at Joseph’s by the Sea
Just a five minute walk down the beach from the center of Old Orchard Beach is the spectacular Joseph’s by the Sea. If you have the opportunity, enjoy your meal and drinks from the rooftop for unfettered views of the ocean.
Halfway through our stay we needed a break from the seafood capital of the world with some juicy hamburgers and well-crafted cocktails. Even if you are not looking for a full meal, head on over for a tasty drink in the sun with the best view in town.
Where to sleep near Portland?
Along the shores of Cape Elizabeth, just a 10 minute drive south of Portland, you will find the ultimate eco-friendly beach resort. The Inn by the Sea is perched on the hillside above the expansive Crescent Beach State Park.
Make your way to this elegant example of luxurious hospitality perfect for any romantic or family getaway to Maine.
The Ultimate Maine Road trip Itinerary – Midcoast of Maine
Cape Elizabeth is one of the most beautiful stop and lighthouse in all of Maine. You must include Cape Elizabeth on your Maine road trip. Other lighthouses you must visit in this region that are active and with incredible views are Portland Headlight, Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse, and Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse.
Day 4: Explore Portland and surrounding areas
Explore Fort Williams Park and Portland Head Light
This stunning lighthouse is located inside of Fort Williams Park. Here you can enjoy the beautiful Head Light, the powerful rocky Maine coast and explore some military ruins and old batteries.
➳ Read More: A Complete Guide from Portland Maine to Bar Harbor
Waterfront along Commercial St.
Portland, Maine is a fantastic stop during your Maine road trip. Go for a stroll along the historic cobblestone roads of Commercial St along the waterfront. Along the road you can enjoy rows of beautiful brick architecture with plenty of interesting stores to take a peek into. Walking along the waterfront there are a handful of working piers that you can go down. Make sure to make a quick stop along The Old Port, where you will find fishing wharves, warehouses, and delicious restaurants.
Climb to the top of America’s last standing maritime signal tower. The Portland Observatory was built in 1807 to help manage Portland’s significant maritime movements. You can now climb to the top of this wooden tower for breathtaking panoramic views over the city of Portland and surrounding waters. Making your way through the interior of the tower you learn the history of the port city along with ideation and construction of the tower.
Lucky Catch Lobster Cruises
No trip to Portland or Maine is complete without the chance to catch some live lobsters. With Lucky Catch Cruises the tour is not just about picking up the lobster traps. You can also refill the fish bait bags, learn the history and laws regarding lobstering of Maine and about the life of a lobster/fisherman.
Did you know that to keep a lobster caught in Maine there are strict size requirements and cannot be too big or too small?
The lobster cruises enjoy a scenic ride along the way, with route options including White Head Passage, a chance to spot seals, and even a glimpse of Portland Headlight.
Tickets for the 90 minute lobster tour are $35 per adult with the opportunity for you to purchase some fresh caught lobster at the end of the tour.
Where to sleep in Portland?
If you are looking to stay at the center of the action in downtown Portland with your pup, look no further than the Hilton Garden Inn. Enjoy views out into Casco Bay and down the bustling waterfront. Besides the spacious rooms and comfortable beds.
Day 5: Explore the Harpswell and Boothbay Peninsulas
The Harpswell and Boothbay Peninsulas offer sweeping views over northern Casco Bay. The handling on the Mazda CX-5 is great for an afternoon drive along the winding roads across the remote landscape. Several historic and charming towns offer a handful of places to stop and enjoy some fresh seafood.
➳ Read More: The best Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary
Visit the Giant’s Stairs in the Harpswell Peninsula
We made a quick stop at the Giant’s Stairs to witness the ruggedness of Casco Bay. It is powerful as you watch the waves forcefully crash into the rocks below.
Enjoy a Lobster Roll at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset
As you might know, we do not eat shellfish but we have heard from locals and other tourists that you must stop at Red’s Eats to try the lobster roll dipped in butter.
During summer plan accordingly as a highlight of the region the lines are super long and it can take you 20 to 40 minutes to eat.
End your day at the Boothbay Peninsula
During the summer, Boothbay Harbor is one of the coolest towns in midcoast Maine. It is full of music, good vibes, exciting art galleries, restaurants and museums.
Throughout the Summer make sure to visit this spectacular peninsula. On the first Friday of each month to enjoy a First Friday Art Tour, where art galleries open their doors for everyone to enjoy the exhibitions.
On Sundays from June through Labor Day there is an epic and unique live music reggae cruise that you simply cannot miss.
Visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden
While you are on the Boothbay Peninsula you must visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. Covering over 300 acres, this beautiful landscape will take your breath away. The Botanical Garden has many woody trails, fountains, ponds, sculpture and a butterfly house.
Take a Red Cloak Haunted History Tour with Sally
If you are into historical tours, ghost tours or historical mysteries make sure to sign up for a Red Cloak Haunted History Tour. Sally, the founder, has the best stories and I can assure you will have an amazing time.
Where to sleep the second night:
We were really luck to experience the Midcoast of Maine with a twist of luxury. Staying at the Topside Inn made our whole experience a more memorable and cherish one. The hotel and the people who worked there made our trip more enjoyable.
Topside Inn in Boothbay Peninsula: The Topside Inn is owned by Brian Makarewicz and Mark Osborn, a lovely couple that make sure every detail is perfect. They offer a delicious gourmet breakfast every morning included with your stay. The Inn, overlooking the main street and waterfront, won first place for Inns in Maine and ranked #5 most romantic inn in the United States.
Day 6: Explore the Pemaquid Peninsula and the Penobscot Bay
The rugged and rocky Pemaquid Peninsula offers a less touristy experience of the powerful coast Maine is famous for. Jutting out into the Gulf of Maine it is the perfect spot for a relax enjoyment of the natural surroundings. Other places to visit to complete your perfect Maine road trip itinerary are the quaint town of Waldoboro, the Damariscotta Lake, the Pemaquid Pond and Duckpuddle Pond.
Pemaquid Point Light
Pemaquid Point Light is one of my favorite lighthouses in Maine, not only for the lighthouse but for the stunning rock formations and the crashing waves surrounding the building.
Pemaquid Point is at the tip of the peninsula, which you might recognize from the back of the Maine State Quarter. Nearby you will also find Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site with a reconstruction of Fort William Henry.
The Good Supply
One of my favorite shops in the Pemaquid Peninsula is the The Good Supply. The store is meant to help local artists and the community by selling the arts at this epic barn. The products at The Good Supply are inspired by Maine’s history, people, nature and culture.
Walk around Camden’s downtown
Camden is one of the most beautiful and most charming coastal towns of Maine. It is the perfect destination for ocean lovers, people who enjoy unique stores and anyone that loves the outdoors.
Camden receives most of its visitor over the summer making the town more vibrant and exciting. Camden has many different activities to offer to its visitor. You can take a boat tour, walk the historic downtown, visit the lighthouse, swim at its beaches and explore the Camden Hills State Park.
Take a cooking class at the Salt Water Farm
Make sure to take a cooking class at the renowned Salt Water Farm cooking school. Learn how to create Maine’s iconic flavors using fresh and local ingredients.
Where to sleep the third night:
16 Bay View is a luxurious boutique hotel built in a renovated historical 20th century industrial brick building at the heart of downtown Camden. The vintage inspired interior is mixed with state of the art amenities making for an amazing stay.
Before leaving the mid-coast Maine region make sure to take a quick stop at Rockland. You must add Rockland Harbor, Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse and Penobscot Bay to your Maine road trip itinerary as it has beautiful landscapes of the mountains and the sea.
The Ultimate Maine Road trip Itinerary – DownEast Acadia
DownEast Acadia not only has one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States but also boasts 2,330 miles of coastline. In this trip we visited the Blue Hill Peninsula, Bar Harbor and of course Acadia National Park.
Day 7: Explore Bucksport and surrounding areas
Take a tour at Fort Knox
Walk around the Fort and enjoy a panoramic view from the Penobscot Narrows Observatory. Take a stroll around the Bucksport riverwalk and have a delicious meal at the Friar’s Brewpub.
Visit Castine’s downtown
Take a guided tour of Castine to visit the city’s main highlights and learn its history. Walk along the water of Penobscot Bay or rent a kayak for the chance to witness the fluorescent bacteria over the summer, which makes the beach glow.
Where to sleep the first night:
The historic bed and breakfast of Pentagöet Inn in downtown Castine dates back to 1894. Enjoy a sunny afternoon on the pristine porch before heading to the vintage rustic inspired rooms.
Day 8: Explore Deer Isle
Start your day off in Harborside, a small unincorporated village on the coast of Penobscot Bay. Right next to Harborside is the Holbrook Island Sanctuary with over seven miles of walking paths to witness wildlife from a range of environments including shoreline, forests, ponds, and marshland.
Bucks Harbor Market is the perfect stop for lunch in Brooksville. With a well stocked deli, there are many cold sandwich options to go, but make sure to head there early as they often sell out.
Experience the Good Life Center to learn about the lives of Helen and Scott Nearing, and their sustainable and pacifist philosophies an a historic Forest Farm homestead.
For dinner, check out the fresh wood-fired pizza from Tinder Hearth. They offer pizza Tuesday through Saturday evening throughout the summer, and on Tuesday and Saturday the rest of the year. Follow them on Instagram to see what local ingredient pizza pies are on the menu each day.
Where to sleep in Deer Isle:
Step back in time at the Pilgrim’s Inn and its romantic bed and breakfast atmosphere. The building dates back to 1793 and has been excellently restored and maintained for all those who stay.
Day 9: Explore Deer Isle
Explore the coastal downtown Stonington by foot and enjoy the enriched arts scene, thanks in part to the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on Deer Isle.
Kayaking along The Maine Island Trail, a 375-mile water trail for recreational boaters, spanning Maine’s entire coast. On this trip you will have hundreds of islands and inlets to explore at your fingertips.
Go for a moderate 1.8 mile hike into the old Settlement Quarry Preserve. Along trail in the granite quarry there is informative signage to learn about the history of the site.
Head on over to Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies to taste the handmade goodness of these Maine inspired preserves and enjoy the sculptures of artist Peter Beerits.
Take a lighthouse boat tour to get up close and personal with eight of the lighthouses located on the shores of Deer Isle, including the Pumpkin Island Lighthouse and Goose Rocks Light.
Day 10: Explore Isle au Haut
Isle au Haut is a small island, which is part of Acadia National Park. To reach the island take the passenger ferry from Stonington to the Isle au Haut Town Landing. The ferry runs from mid-June through late September.
You can bike or hike to explore the island, but we highly recommend to bring a bike as the distances are quite long to just hike. The best trail is the Cliff side trail, as it offers amazing views of the open ocean.
Day 11: Visit Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor
Take a stroll around downtown Bar Harbor and make sure to stop and photograph the Bass Harbor lighthouse. While the city is beautiful and offers plenty of good food options, plan enough time to explore Acadia National Park.
Your Maine road trip will not be completed without stopping by Acadia National Park. This 47,000-acre recreation area is located on Maine’s Mount Desert.
Places to visit in Acadia and Bar Harbor are Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach, Jordan Pond, Bubble Mountain, Mount Desert Island, Ocean Trail, Schoodic Peninsula, and Frenchman Bay.
Acadia National Park covers 47,000-acre along the coast of Maine and is home to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast. While you can visit the park year round, the best time to visit is in the warmer months to take advantage of the over 120 miles of hiking trails.
Save this article for later: