Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
There are numerous “right“ ways to do a Coastal Maine road trip, as there are numerous must-see coastal gems to add to your itinerary. But what we’ve put together is a nice intermingled list of stops that will give travelers a taste of just about everything, from nature to seafood, of course. Campgrounds are abundant but must be booked far in advance most of the time, but enriching authentic inns work hard to provide a personalized, pristine stay in these classic areas. Take our tips to cultivate your own route, or follow our suggested trip below.
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.
Flying into Portland, Maine is typically an easy experience with little confusion. Almost immediately after setting off on the highway, you can get that Maine vibe in the air. Portland is a cool city, chock full of trendy seafood restaurants that offer more twists than simpler but equally exciting seafood huts through the state. Bob’s Clam Hut originated in Kittery in a backyard, but now there’s a Portland location that offers gluten-free chowder and gluten-free fried clams. But you might not want to limit your food options to seafood alone in Portland. Spend a night in a historic hotel, take a downtown trolley tour and keep rolling.
Just 30 minutes drive away, Kennebunkport will take you south, and while the area is quite upscale, it’s quintessential Maine and would be a shame to miss. From planters with flowers lining the bridge to adorable Halloween decor come fall, Kennebunkport is perfection. Grab a bundle of clam bellies from the Clam Shack before meandering eclectic downtown shops, then grab a wine goat cheese scoop of ice cream in a pretzel cone at Rococos. For dinner, Nunan’s trumps all with classic lobster and what is, by far, the best blueberry pie in town. Stay a night in a water view room at the Nonantum Resort. Sandy Pines Campground is a good option for RVers.
Wiscasset is another charming Maine nook just 1.5 hours away, which warrants a drive-through, and a stop at the accurately hyped Red’s Eats. During peak season, lunch lines can be crazy long (we are talking two hours), so picking an obscure time is recommended. Or just enjoy conversation with friendly travelers and water views. Red’s has a killer lobster roll, and the best, butter-drenched gluten-free bread ever. After eating, move on to Camden.
Less than an hour away and you can be in Camden, one of the most beautiful small towns in the U.S. It sits right on the ocean, and the downtown area is full of shops where you’ll likely rack up on most of the trip’s souvenirs. Explore parks or book a trip out on a classic schooner. When here, staying in one of the luxury inns is something every traveler should treat themselves to. And don’t forget to stop for blueberry pancakes at Boynton McKay on the way out. And if your up for a detour, veer inland to pick the most flavorful Macintosh apples at Hope Orchard during early autumn.
Deer Isle will take adventurists away from the more populated areas of Maine, and out into the sprinkling of islands off the coast. Only a 1.5-hour drive away, the Isle is serene with pristine kayaking terrain and meandering hiking trails to granite flats. Nervous Nellies is a must-visit attraction in the woods, featuring artistic castle structures and other bizarre displays to explore. In the cottage, you’ll find fresh-made jams to taste and buy, along with teas and locally made goodies. Quaint lodging awaits, like the historic Pilgrim’s Inn.
After driving a little over an hour from Deer Isle, you’ll arrive in Bar Harbor, which is likely the top tourist town in all of Maine – for good reason. You can try lobster ice cream, and many notable restaurants, some with bay views, are packed in this one-stop. However, venturing into Acadia National Park proves to be most rewarding. Bike the carriage roads, stop at the historic Jordan Pond House for popovers and jam, and see ocean spray bound over the rocky coastline. Opt for a bed and breakfast like the Ivy Manor Inn.
Schoodic Peninsula is the too often overlooked side of Acadia only a short hour drive from Bar Harbor, offering some of the most serene overlooks in the state. When here, make the 15-minute drive to The Pickled Wrinkle, to taste two undersung classic Maine delicacies—pickled wrinkles (a type of preserved shellfish), and fiddleheads (a swirly green plant that has to be cooked just right or it’s poisonous). Together the combo is refreshing, but call ahead to make sure they have these particular items, or you’ll end up with another cup of chowder. Summer is usually the time.
Bangor is about two hours away, located ever so slightly inland, and really worth a stop. Not for its traditional coastal feels, but for its charming downtown, and strong correlation with Stephen King. One night will do, just be sure to venture out with SK Tours, which will take you by sites that inspired famous King stories, as well as the writer’s very own crimson colored home complete with bat detailed iron fencing. Pretty cool stuff. You might even see a clown hand coming from a storm drain—photo op!
A little over two hours and you’ll be in Lubec, which is as far up and east as you can go without being in Canada. Quoddy Head State Park is technically the Easternmost Point of the United States and is complete with a plaque saying so, along with a lighthouse. You can peer over the water toward Canada. The Wharf is excellent for both lodging and for enjoying fresh seafood just hauled in on the boats. Monica’s Chocolates for dessert couldn’t be a better finish to a road trip up the Maine Coast.