The Ultimate 10 Day Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary

a beautiful sunset at five islands in maine

If you’re looking for the best way to experience summer on the East Coast, it’s got to be driving the beautiful coast of Maine.

With over 4,000 islands and the most coastline of any state in the United States, road tripping the coast of Maine is a bucket list item if there ever was one!

Taking a Maine coast road trip encompasses everything that is quintessentially New England in summer, from its seafood shacks to its charming coastal towns to its sandy beaches on the pristine Atlantic coast.

This road trip itinerary includes plenty of scenic Maine coastal drives, small towns worthy of day trips, and yes — plenty of beach time!

How This Maine Itinerary Works

This road trip begins in Southern Maine and ends in Northern Maine. It assumes you are within driving distance of Maine and are bringing your own car.

When I did this Maine road trip, I flew to Boston, Massachusetts from San Francisco. My friend came down to meet me in Boston, where we spent two days, and then we drove up to Maine from Boston.

If you do this Maine road trip from Boston, I suggest renting a car in advance from Boston Logan International Airport. They have the best rates and their location is convenient for the city. Compare prices on car rentals here.

From Boston to the first stop on this coastal Maine is only an hour and a half drive, so it’s easy enough to start your trip there. 

From the end of this itinerary, you could return your rental car in Bangor (the nearest airport to the final stop, Acadia National Park) or you could drive back to Boston if that’s better on your budget. 

One-way rentals are often really pricy, so while this definitely adds time and mileage to your trip, it may be worth it for the cost savings. 

The drive directly from Acadia National Park to Boston is about 5 hours with normal traffic, though it may be worse on weekends or holidays.

Where to Stay in Maine

This itinerary is crafted to be customizable to your personal travel style. Depending on how you prefer to road trip, you can adjust it.

I personally hate moving hotels every night, so I crafted this Maine itinerary with this in might, so that wouldn’t be strictly necessary.

However, if you do the itinerary this way, you may have to do a little more driving in between each stop and that may also involve a small amount of backtracking. 

Alternately, you could move hotels each night to keep moving without backtracking quite so much.

(No matter what, to some extent some backtracking is unavoidable due to the unconnected peninsulas and islands you’ll visit, particularly in Midcoast Maine.)

Here are two ways you could do it:

NightOption 1 (Fewer Stops)Option 2 (More Stops)
1Ogunquit or KennebunkportOgunquit
2Ogunquit or KennebunkportKennebunkport
3PortlandPortland
4PortlandPortland
5Brunswick or BathBailey Island
6Brunswick or BathDamariscotta
7CamdenRockland
8CamdenCamden
9Bar HarborBar Harbor
10Bar HarborBar Harbor

Your 10 Day Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Ogunquit

Many boats in the marina of Ogunquit on a sunny day in Maine along the coast

Southern Maine is home to some of the few sand beaches along the Maine coast, which tends to trend rockier as it goes further north.

York, Ogunquit, and Kennebunkport are the three most popular beach getaways in Southern Maine – and in this itinerary, we’ll cover the latter two.

These three beach destinations tend to be quite busy with day and weekend trippers from New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, since it’s a relatively short distance from other points in New England.

A general rule of thumb: the further south you are in Maine, the busier it’ll be – with the exception of Acadia National Park, of course.

I didn’t get a chance to visit York on this trip, but I did get to see both Ogunquit and Kennebunkport.

I have to say that I preferred Kennebunkport, but my time in Ogunquit wasn’t ideal as the remnants of a tropical storm were blowing through (which is why I’m using primarily stock & other people’s photography in this section — my photos are really dark and gloomy!)

Drive to Ogunquit.

Coastline of Ogunquit with reeds and other plant life

The first destination on our whistle-stop tour of the Maine coastline is the charming seaside hamlet of Ogunquit.

Frankly, my experience with Ogunquit was subpar, simply for the fact that the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred made there be a total downpour during my stay in the town. It rained to the point of flooding: hardly what you want on a beach getaway!

However, I did get to eat a meal in Ogunquit and browse some of the shops and restaurants, so here is what I recommend you do when in Ogunquit.

Walk the Marginal Way.

Photo Credit: Dumphasizer via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

First things first: parking in Ogunquit can be a bit of a nightmare. The parking gets worth the further out towards Perkins Cove you drive.

As you drive towards the pier area, there is a very small municipal lot where you can park for $4 per hour… and that’s assuming you can find a spot! We had no such luck, and it wasn’t even a weekend.

More likely, you’ll have to pay $25 for a day pass for private parking. Alternately, you can park in a municipal lot up the road, also at $4 per hour, but then there is a lot of walking. We parked here at Obed’s Lot.

The Marginal Way stretches from the area near Obed’s Lot to Perkins Cove. I suggest parking at Obed’s Lot because it has a lot more space and the walk along Marginal Way along the coast is spectacular!

Admire all the beautiful buildings of Ogunquit on this peaceful coastal walk that passes Little Beach and Israels Head on a one-mile coastal walkway. It takes about 20 minutes to reach Perkins Cove.

Explore the Perkins Cove and Harbor area.

Grassy area looking over to perkins cove with boats in the marina

Once you arrive in Perkins Cove — either via Marginal Way or driving directly to Perkins Cove and parking — it’s time to explore the charms of Ogunquit, particularly the harbor area around Perkins Cove. Here are a few shops worth stopping in.

  • Whistling Oyster for whimsical and beautiful jewelry inspired by the sea
  • Perkins Cove Pottery Shop has gorgeous ceramic pieces for the home — it’s hard not to leave without something
  • Blue Whale Trading Company for beautifully curated pieces from local New England artists

Have the first of many seafood meals.

Wood house with white trim and planter basks and american flag and sign that reads "lobster shack" and "open"
Photo Credit: Jasperdo via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

When it comes time for lunch, hit up The Lobster Shack – it has the best reviews of any restaurant in Ogunquit and good prices to boot given what’s on offer.

I didn’t heed my own advice as the Lobster Shack was totally full when we visited and we had to make alternate plans!

It was pouring rain and we couldn’t find parking downtown, so we hopped back in the car and headed to Rose Cove Restaurant. I ordered the fried haddock tacos and they were just OK. Honestly, I wouldn’t go back.

Walk along the Footbridge.

Photo Credit: JR P via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This manually operated drawbridge is one of the biggest draws to Perkins Cove — just look how cute it is!

Take a stroll over the bridge to complete your walk of Perkins Cove and see it from the other side for perspective (and photo opps!).

Spend the day on Ogunquit Beach.

Sandy beach of Ogunquit Maine on a sunny summer day with rippled sand and water

Time for your first of a handful of sandy beaches in Maine! The main (ha) reason why people come to Ogunquit is for its enormous stretch of sandy shoreline… an anomaly in the mostly rocky coastline of Maine.

The powdery sand and gentle waves mean that Ogunquit Beach is a great place for families who are looking for some calm water to wade in and soft sand to luxuriate on.

End the day with another meal.

Photo Credit: JR P via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

If you want more seafood, head back to Perkins Cove for one of the other delicious restaurants. Other recommended places in the area include Footbridge Lobster and The Trap.

If you want something different, the Front Porch has a wide variety of sandwiches and entrées for a break from seafood.

Day 2: Kennebunkport

Spend the day on Gooch’s Beach.

Allison Green, the author of the article, in a green bathing suit and reddish-brown hat sitting in the sand

I hope you didn’t have too much beach time yesterday… because it’s time for what is, in my opinion, one of the best beaches in Maine!

Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunkport is simply stunning. Lots of sandy coastline means that you can walk nearly a mile on the sand, the cool Atlantic water lapping at your ankles.

Note that the beach is on the narrow side and that during high tide, there can be very little room on the sand for towels! There is more room on the north side of the beach, as this is where the beach is wider.

Waves crashing on Kennebunkport beach on a sunny day in Maine in summer

Another caveat: parking here is rather pricy, at $25 for a day pass for street parking using one of the meters or the Passport app. We found it worth it, but if you are staying in a hotel in the area, you may be able to walk instead.

Parking here at Gooch’s will also allow you free parking access to Middle Beach and Mother’s Beach, as it is all one zone. So you can beach hop to all three Kennebunkport beaches… but frankly, Gooch’s is the best by a decent margin!

Have lunch at the Clam Shack.

Once you’ve soaked up a lot of salt air and need a break from roasting yourself in the sun, head back into downtown Kennebunkport for a delicious seafood meal at The Clam Shack.

Skip their lobster rolls: they’re trifling (who the hell puts a lobster roll on a hamburger bun?! Team hot dog bun for life).

The offending lobster roll.

But their fried clams are what they’re known for, and that’s absolutely what you should order.

Their fries and coleslaw aren’t half-bad, either!

Walk around the wharf and harbor.

The harbor area of Kennebunkport with a large sailboat and waterfront restaurant

Once you’ve had a filling meal, digest a little with a walk around the cute downtown area of Kennebunkport.

Since you’re already at the Clam Shack, start with a little wander around the wharf and marina area, where the Kennebunk River heads out to sea.

There are lots of beautiful buildings along this harbor area and the sailboats in the marina are beautiful when they bob in the waves.

Shop around the cute downtown of Kennebunkport.

a coffee shop in downtown kennebunkport maine

There are also a lot of shops and galleries you could explore. A few places we enjoyed were:

  • Dock Square Coffee House for an iced coffee pick-me-up after lots of time in the sun
  • The Candyman for homemade fudge, salt water taffy, truffles, and all sorts of other sweet goodness!
  • Fine Print Booksellers for a small but thoughtful selection of books that are perfect for beach reading

Drive to Point Walker.

the famous bush compound where the bush family summers in maine on the water at walkers point on a sunny day

Kennebunkport is famous for its Bush Compound summer home – you’ll see all sorts of Bush family regalia all over the town. They take it pretty seriously – even the Clam Shack is shilling Barbara Bush’s book!

If you’re curious to cast an eye on where the Bushes spend their summers, drive to Point Walker, about 10 minutes from downtown Kennebunkport. It’s absolutely stunning and you’ll be able to spot the Bush compound from here.

Have dinner at one of Kennebunkport’s finest.

The famous Alissons restaurant in Kennebunkport Maine which is known for its delicious and creative lobster dishes

Once you’ve had your fill of sightseeing, sand, and sun, it’s time to start thinking dinner. Luckily, Kennebunkport is a really thriving and bustling seaside town, and there are a lot of options.

So far, I’ve had you overdosing on seafood, so I’ll be sure to include a non-seafood option for dinner.

(And don’t worry – the next two days bring us to Portland, for a respite on seafood, before diving back into the seafood mania as we head up the coast!).

  • Alisson’s Restaurant: while I may be biased to the name, this gets the best consistent reviews in town and it’s located conveniently right in Dock Square. They’re famous for their lobster poutine, which is just as decadent as it sounds! They also have lobster pizza and lobster mac ‘n cheese. It’s as Maine as it gets!
  • Chez Rosa for casual, French-inspired seafood like moules frites as well as non-seafood options like beef bourgignon and French onion soup.
  • Old Vines Wine Bar for expertly curated wines and small plates so you can sample your way through a delicious dinner.

Day 3: Portland

Have breakfast at Becky’s Diner.

Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

One of Portland’s main institutions is Becky’s Diner, and you can’t go wrong following the crowds to eat one of th best, heartiest breakfasts in Portland!

Lines can be long, so arrive early and expect to wait. Don’t miss their wild blueberry pancakes!

Wander around the Old Port.

Becky’s Diner is a short walk from the Old Port neighborhood, so it’s time for a short walking tour of this charming part of town!

There are a lot of cool sights in this area; let me list a few favorites.

First, walk to the fisherman’s wharf area with lots of lobster traps and quintessential New England fisherman vibes.

If you walk from J’s Oysters via the back alleyway to Harbor Fish Market (also a great stop!), you’ll see this view that seems right out of a painting!

Another favorite area in the Old Port is the one stretch of street that remains cobblestoned with beautiful buildings surrounding it (pictured above at the start of this section).

You can find the cobblestoned street pictured above at the intersection of Fore Street and Silver Street but there are some other cobblestone streets around on the side streets in the area.

Getting hungry for a mid-morning snack? Grab Maine-style potato donuts (odd — and frankly not a favorite — but unique to Maine) at The Holy Donut.

Take a harbor cruise.

Cruising out on the water in Portland Maine in Casco Bay on a sunny summer day

There are a few short cruises you can take that depart from the Old Port that explore beautiful Casco Bay.

While there are many islands you can access from Portland, on this coastal Maine itinerary we unfortunately don’t have time for that – even with 10 days in Maine!

Instead, hop on a boat for a quick harbor cruise!

I suggest the Diamond Pass run by Casco Bay Lines which leaves at 11 AM and takes 2 hours, returning at 1 PM.

Grab a quick bite before your brewery tour.

Photo Credit: saramarielin via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Next up on this itinerary is a brewery tour at 3 PM – but you don’t want to sample Portland’s best brews on an empty stomach!

Let’s grab a bite to eat in the Old Port area first so that you can remain conscious for the rest of this Maine itinerary!

There are a number of great restaurants in the Old Port area. Here are our top recommendations for you to choose from:

  • Duckfat for delicious French fries fried in — you guessed it! — duck fat. Double up on the indulgence by having it as poutine, Canadian-style with cheese curds and gravy.
  • Eventide Oyster Co. for tasty fresh oysters from all up and down New England as well as delicious lobster rolls
  • The Thirsty Pig for tasty homemade sausages paired with excellent local beers

Go on a brewery tour.

A beer tasting flight of four different color beers

Maine is burgeoning as a craft beer destination, and Portland is at the very heart of it! There are a number of breweries in Portland proper, as well as many breweries elsewhere in Maine that have pubs and offerings in Portland.

You could do a self-guided tour of a few of Portland’s breweries, but frankly, it’s a lot more fun to do a brewery crawl!

This brewery tour starts at 3 PM and will take you to several of the best breweries in Portland on a guided walking tour. You’ll get to sample several beers at each stop and see a great representative sampling of the Portland, Maine brewing scene.

Book your brewery tour online here!

Walk up and over Munjoy Hill.

the charming munjoy hill neighborhood of portland with a red obseravatory tower on the highest point

After all those beers, it’s time to sober up with a walk through one of Portland’s most scenic and beautiful communities: Munjoy Hill.

Yes, it is a hill, and it is a bit steep, but it’s really worth the walk as this is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Portland.

Once you reach the crest of Munjoy Hill, there is a cool observatory tower called the Portland Observatory. It’s a historic maritime signal tower that was built in 1807, and it’s the only remaining tower of this type made of wood known in the United States!

Bonus: there’s also a museum inside, and you can ascend the observatory tower for fantastic views over all of Portland! It costs $10 and includes a tour.

Note: If you do the brewery tour, you will arrive here too late to do the tour as the tower closes at 4:30 PM, but you can see the exterior and maybe head back here on another day if you want to ascend the top and do the museum tour

Head down to the water’s edge.

a pillar memorial in front of the water and islands at the edge of portland

Once you arrive down at the water, you’ll find the Cleeve-Tucker Memorial marking the end of Portland’s East End neighborhood.

Along the water’s edge, you’ll find a lot of cool food trucks here!

There’s also East End Beach (rather a small beach, but it is possible to go for a dip here) and Fort Allen Park, which offer incredible views over Casco Bay.

Have a delicious dinner in Portland.

As you can see, Portland is all about eating your way through the city!

I’ve already recommended a lot of places above, so you can choose from one of the other sections.

If you want other suggestions, I’d pick: Sichuan Kitchen for delightfully authentic “ma la” spicy Chinese food from the Sichuan province, Boda for Thai street-style eats, or Central Provisions for trendy cocktails and small plates.

Day 4: Portland

Spend the morning on Washington Ave.

mural at portland pottery on washington avenue in portland

Like its West Coast sister city of the same name, Portland, ME is becoming a hipster-topia.

Nowhere else is that more obvious than on Washington Avenue in South Portland!

Start the day with a delicious breakfast at Portland Pottery Café, a hybrid pottery shop and café.

Their biscuits and gravy is obscenely large and obscenely delicious!

They also have a selection of great sandwiches if you’re not feeling particularly breakfast-y. The Figgy Piggy is also delicious: fig jam, prosciutto, what could go wrong?

Alternately, you could get a bagel at Forage, which looked really vibrant and popular with locals.

a mead brewery with benches outside

After breakfast, wander down Washington Avenue and explore some of the cool small businesses that have popped up here. Here are a few favorites.

  • Maine & Loire: a wine shop with a great selection of wines, though at a high price (I wish there were more mid-budget options)
  • The Cheese Shop of Portland: exactly what it sounds like — a delicious local cheese shop with a great selection
  • Maine Mead Works for mead (a fermented drink made of honey water!) and Oxbow for beers, particularly their sours

Drive to Portland Head Light House.

allison standing in front of portland head light house on a sunny day in summer

Located in Fort Williams Park, the Portland Head Lighthouse is an absolute can’t-miss on any Maine itinerary. Of all the lighthouses in Maine I saw, this one was my favorite!

The lighthouse is exquisite and there is a coastal trail where you can see a few different viewpoints of the lighthouse with different compositions, which is great for photographers.

There is also a cliff trail that goes on the other side of it, and there is an area where you can walk down to the beach if you want to swim in the water with lighthouse views behind you!

rocky beach in front of portland head light house where you can swim if you want

There are also a handful of food trucks in the area: I saw one gelato shop and two lobster shack style restaurants selling seafood sandwiches and fried seafood.

However, I have you getting lunch at the next destination, so only grab something to eat if you’re super hungry or planning to skip the next destination on this list.

Parking is $2 per hour with a minimum of 2 hours (so effectively $4 – honestly, you won’t really want to spend more than two hours here, and even that is pushing it).

Have lunch at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth.

a small beach cove in front of one of the twin lighthouses at two lights

Two Lights is the name of both a lighthouse and a state park in the Cape Elizabeth area south of Portland.

Two Lights is so named because there are two lighthouses that look almost like twins about 300 meters from each other. You can see them at the same time, but they are not as close together as I expected.

picnic tables overlooking the ocean with some green lawn

If you want something to eat, I recommend heading towards The Lobster Shack at Two Lights.

Near the seafood shack, there is a small coastal path where you can walk out to get a better view of the lighthouses as well as a small cove where you could swim if you’ve brought your bathing suit.

Visit the Arts District and Portland Art Museum.

After exploring the Southern Portland area, it’s time to head back to downtown Portland: particularly the Arts District which is centered around the Portland Museum of Art.

This is one of my favorite areas in all of Portland. It’s artsy and funky, it’s full of great local small businesses, and there’s a lot of old-fashioned architecture given new life by the upstart businesses occupying there.

Here are a few of my favorite places in the Arts District area:

  • Speckled Ax for wood-roasted coffee — it’s quite unique, I haven’t had anything like it!
  • Yes Books for a wonderful selection of secondhand books
  • Flea For All for a great flea market on Fridays and Saturdays

After strolling around the Arts District area, you may or may not want to go to the Portland Museum of Art, depending on time, budget, and your interest in art.

The next activity on this list is also a museum, so you may want to opt for one over the other.

Portland Art Museum costs $18 and contains art ranging from 18th century works through to contemporary art.

Do a tour of Victoria Mansion.

a 200-year-old historic building in portland maine

The next place is a short walk away from the Portland Museum of Art but it feels a world away!

While the Portland Museum of Art is rather contemporary, the Victoria Mansion is elegant and old-fashioned, almost untouched over the last 200 years.

You can take a tour of the mansion – the final tour finishes at 3:50 PM (summer hours), or you can just check it out from outside if you are on a budget or are not interested in seeing the interior museum.

Tours are required and tickets cost $16. Booking in advance is recommended, particularly on weekends and rainy days.

Explore the neighborhood.

Rainbow houses in Portland Maine near Victoria Mansion

The area around Victoria Mansion is perhaps even more beautiful than the mansion itself! This is where I found virtually all of my favorite buildings in Portland.

Don’t miss the rainbow-colored row of townhouses (formerly carriage houses, I believe) which are just kitty-corner from Victoria Mansion. It looks almost like Rue Cremieux in Paris, minus the crowds!

Eat in downtown or head back to Washington Ave for drinks and dinner.

facade of a vietnamese restaurant with the words pho ga, bun cha, cong tu bot on it.

After a full day exploring downtown Portland, you have two areas where you could get a delicious dinner.

If you don’t want to leave the downtown area you’re currently in, here are the places I suggest: Bao Bao Dumpling House (a few blocks away from Victoria Mansion) or Sichuan Kitchen.

Alternately, you can head back to Washington Avenue for some more exploration of this charming part of town! There are a lot of great restaurants that are open for dinner here, many of which are Portland favorites.

  • Duckfat for poutine if you didn’t already have it at the other branch in Old Port.
  • Cong Tu Bot for delicious Vietnamese food like bun cha (pork patties served with herbs and dipping sauce)
  • Terlingua for Mexican food

Day 5: Mid-Coast Maine (Freeport, Brunswick, Harpswell & Islands)

Stop at the outlets in Freeport.

Allison wearing a black dress in front of a fake ll bean boot car

If you want to do a little morning shopping, head to the town of Freeport which is known for its outlets and massive L.L. Bean.

Take a photo with the giant Bean Boot — it’s cheesy, yes, but it’s a Maine must!

There are a number of good outlets, and I snagged a 40% off blazer at J. Crew, some of my favorite Smartwool socks from L.L. Bean… and tore myself away from the Loft outlet, because my credit card was weeping.

Take a stroll in Brunswick.

red building that used to be a fort called fort andross in brunswick maine

Brunswick is a delightful small city in Maine with a vibrant Maine Street (hopefully you enjoy the pun as much as I do) and great shopping and activities.

It’s home to Bowdoin College and as a result, there are a lot of businesses that cater to its large student population, and the town has a younger feel than other places in Maine.

There is a surprising amount to do in Brunswick! 

Take a walk by the Sea Dog Brewing Company on the Frank J Wood bridge (stop and admire the falls on the other side) to the Topsham side of town, and then take the pedestrian swinging bridge over the river back to Brunswick.

On your way back, walk past Fort Andross (and pop into the flea market there), or go shopping on Maine Street.

Grab something to eat in Brunswick before you go: I suggest Sweet Angel for Thai! It’s not on Maine Street, but it’s worth the detour. Currently, they are doing take-out only.

Take a hike on Orr’s Island.

rocks on the ocean on orrs island

After you’ve grabbed something to eat in Brunswick, it’s time to burn off that lunch with a hike!

Devil’s Back in Orr’s Island sounds intense, but it’s a relatively easy hike that is incredibly beautiful. It’s just 2.5-miles round trip with 200 feet of elevation gain, so rest easy that it’s not too strenuous!

Kayak around Bailey Island and stop at Cook’s for lunch.

kayaking in an orange kayak pointing torwards orrs island houses after leaving bailey island

If you haven’t exhausted yourself with all that hiking and eating, it’s time for one of my favorite things to do in Maine in summer: sea kayaking!

Luckily, you can rent kayaks easily at the rental company stand outside of Salt Cod Café, technically on Orr’s Island but located right next to the cool bridge to Bailey Island.

You could grab a bite to eat at Salt Cod Café, but I recommend saving your appetite for a delicious lobster feast at Cook’s after you kayaking!

Check out the Giant Steps and Land’s End for a great view.

the so-called giants steps in bailey island which are a series of steps going up to the water

Once you’ve returned your kayak and had a delicious lunch, it’s time to explore a bit more of Bailey Island. Luckily the island is very small, so it’s pretty easy to see the best of Bailey Island in a quick visit.

First, head to the Giant Steps. This is a short trail where you can see some cool rock formations: a set of volcanic rocks that look like a staircase that perhaps could have been used by a giant!

After, drive to the end of Bailey Island at Land’s End. Here, there is a small gift store, a memorial to drowned and lost fisherman, and stunning views of other islands further out in Casco Bay.

Finally, on your way back, be sure to stop at Mackerel Cove. This is one of the main harbors in Bailey Island and has an incredible view!

Grab ice cream at Pammy’s.

hand holding an ice cream sundae in front of a pink ice cream shop

I know this coastal Maine itinerary is full of food… but that’s the kind of traveler I am (and I hope you are too!)

It may seem crazy to say ‘dessert first’ but I think the vibe of Pammy’s is even more fun during the day.

When we went there was some live music and it was really pleasant to sit in the pink-painted Adirondack chairs and admire Pammy’s vision for her ice cream shop.

I got the coffee heath bar sundae and it was DELICIOUS.

Have dinner at Dolphin Marina & Restaurant.

Allison standing in front of the sunset at Dolphin marina making a silhouette

Finally, it’s time for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Maine: Dolphin Marina & Restaurant.

This is a spectacular place for sunset views because it’s out on one of Maine’s “fingers” and therefore is one of those rare East Coast spots that has a spectacular sunset view.

The food is also excellent. I had a jerk salmon sandwich with chili slaw and jammy roasted tomatoes – it was divine. We also split the crab cakes, which I could have eaten a half dozen of…. easily.

salmon slaw burger with jammy tomatoes

I suggest getting to Dolphin Marina & Restaurant about 1.5-2 hours before sunset. It’s really busy and it takes a while to get your table.

Luckily, there is a great bar area and you can grab a drink while you wait and there are plenty of places to walk and sit with a drink while you wait.

Aim to finish up your meal just before sunset so you can take a walk on the grounds and admire views like those above!

Day 6: Mid-Coast Maine (Bath, Wiscasset, Damariscotta, Georgetown)

Head to the charming town of Bath.

sign for bath brewing company in a brick building in downtown bath maine

Of all the towns in Maine to choose from, Bath is up there as one of the most charming.

Take a walk down Main Street, stop in some bookstores or shops, and peruse to your heart’s content.

If you’re thinking breakfast, I suggest just getting a small pastry from Cafe Creme or Mae’s Cafe & Bakery, because Maine’s largest lobster roll is waiting for you at our next stop!

Wander through Wiscasset.

Route 1 runs through it, and you could blink and miss it — but the charming town of Wiscasset is definitely worth the stop!

Wiscasset is one of those towns that is like a living museum. There are a lot of information placards throughout the city that showcase all the different architectural styles and buildings and their historical importance.

Another cool place to visit in Wiscasset is the Butter Mold Company. It’s a very unique place where they still make butter molds from scratch.

Bonus: everything there smells like cinnamon and apple pie. The owner is also extremely nice and great to chat with.

Grab one of Maine’s most famous lobster rolls.

people waiting in line at reds for a lobster roll

Wiscasset is best-known for its famous lobster shack, Red’s Eats. Frankly, there is always a huge line, and the price is not cheap.

The market price for a lobster roll was $35 when I went, compared to other places where it was $20-30!) – but their lobster rolls are massive, about double the size of other ones.

I made a mistake and didn’t wait in line at Red’s (I’m a bit contrarian about lines) and went to Sprague’s instead and got a crab roll. It was disappointing. Do as I say, not as I do, unless you also like disappointment.

Shop in Damariscotta.

street in damariscotta maine

There are a bunch of great boutiques and art galleries in Damariscotta. 

In fact, of all the places I shopped at in Maine (which was a devastatingly highly number), my favorite stores were in tiny little Damariscotta, and I even wrote a whole post on this charming small town!

There’s a great brand-new store called Wildings that I highly recommend. It’s hard not to leave with half the store! If you’re a millennial who loves plants, pots, jewelry, and quirky accessories, you’ll be hard-pressed not to leave without a maxed-out card.

Other things to do in Damariscotta include checking out the excellent bookstore and grabbing a cup of coffee at the adjoining café, walking around the pretty wharf, or visiting the oyster midden.

Wait, oyster midden? An oyster midden is a small ‘mountain’ of oyster shells left behind by the Native Americans who lived in this region for centuries. You can find one unperturbed midden at this park!

Have dinner at Five Islands.

a whole steamed lobster, steamed corn on the cob and a blueberry soda

From Wiscasset to  Five Islands Lobster Co. in the peaceful town of Georgetown, Maine is quite a trek… but it is worth it. It’s one of the most beautiful restaurants in Maine, hands down!

They serve delicious fried fish sandwiches and lobster rolls (get yours with cilantro mayo!), perfect onion rings, and exquisite steamed lobster dinners. 

sunset at five islands lobster shack with a beautiful sunset

The setting, though, almost edges out the food as the main draw. It’s one of the most beautiful harbors in all of Maine, with boats bobbing amidst a close cluster of, well, five islands.

One caveat: mosquitos LOVE this place, more than anywhere else I went in Maine. And according to the people I went with, it’s always that way. Bring lots of mosquito repellent and suck it up!

Day 7: Rockland

Visit the Olson House in Cushing.

black and white horse in front. ofa farmhouse

If you’re a fan of Andrew Wyeth, I strongly recommend making a detour to Cushing to visit the Olson House.

When we visited, a majestic black and white horse was just grazing in front of the house, and he came right up to us for pets and scratches!

This is where he painted his most seminal work, Christina’s World, as well as innumerable other paintings over his nearly 20 years living on the grounds.

The grounds and the house are currently closed for renovations, but you can still see the house from the field from afar, and you can visit his gravestone.

graveyard with old grave stones where andrew wyeth and his wife are buried

Cushing is a brief 15-minute detour off of Highway 1 on the way ro Rockland, so it’s not a huge sacrifice for a big art history lover.

However, if you don’t have much interest in Wyeth or pastoral landscapes, you can safely skip this part of the itinerary.

Have breakfast at a Rockland Cafe.

cafe in downtown rockland

Upon arriving in Rockland, it’s time to grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafés in this charming town.

There are a number of places serving breakfast pastries; I suggest Atlantic Baking Co.

Visit the Farnsworth Art Museum.

the interior of the excellent farnsworth art museum in rockland me

Rockland is considered the Art Capital of Maine and with good reason: the Farnsworth Museum is one of the best art museums in the country! 

The Farnsworth Museum has a rich collection of Andrew Wyeth works as well as gifts from the Wyeth family, recently bequeathed by Andrew Wyeth’s late widow and muse Betsy Wyeth, who passed away in 2020.

There is also a large collection of contemporary art by Mainers and other New England artists.

Stroll and shop down Main Street.

main street of rockland maine

Rockland is an arty little town and that extends beyond just the Farnsworth!

There are a number of excellent galleries and boutiques that are worth window shopping — or entering, if your wallet dares!

Grab a beer at Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery.

Once you’ve had your fill of Rockland, grab a drink and maybe a bite to eat at the Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery.

Don’t have too late a night — we’re going to wake up bright and early for a morning hike tomorrow!

Day 8: Camden

Take a hike in Camden Hills State Park.

allison at the top of mt battie

Camden is best known for its beautiful state park, Camden Hills State Park, just a few miles north of the city of Camden but feeling like a world away!

Camden Hills State Park has a lot of wonderful hiking trails available. You could hike up the trail to Mt. Battie (it’s about 3.1 miles with 800 feet of elevation gain).

You can also drive up to the summit if you’re unable to hike… no shame or judgment here: these beautiful views are for everyone!

At the top of Mount Battie, you’ll be treated to incredible views over Camden Harbor and the islands off the coast of the mainland dotting Penobscot Bay. It’s spectacular and you’ll absolutely want to spend some time up here, relaxing, meditating, taking pictures, perhaps eating a picnic lunch if you hiked.

From Mount Battie, you can even spot Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island off in the distance on a clear day!

For a much more intense hike, Mount Megunticook is an option. It’s a moderate hike, 3.8 miles roundtrip with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain (and then of course, just as much elevation in descent). Bring lots of water and a snack, and be prepared for Read trail reports here.

Unfortunately, during my visit to Maine I was having a chronic pain flare-up and wasn’t able to hike, but my friend has hiked Megunticook several times and insists it’s one of the most beautiful hikes in Maine.

Grab a bite to eat.

After your Camden Hills exploration, you’ll probably be hungry.

We wanted to eat at Merriner’s, which is excellent and came highly recommended by my friend, but we arrived too late (lunch ends at 2 PM!).

Instead, we had a Cuban sandwich next door at Camden Café and it was delicious – and the views of the harbor are impossible to beat.

Stroll and shop in downtown Camden.

shopping in a boutique in camden

Camden is one of the most charming small towns in coastal Maine and there is so much to do and see in Camden that I’ve written in a blog post here!

You should definitely spend some time walking around the Harbor area and the Harbor Park, shopping at some of the shops on Main Street and Bay View Avenue, and admiring Megunticook Falls in the harbor.

Take an afternoon swim at Laite Memorial Beach.

the beach at laite memorial beach with boats off in the distance, grass and a tree

If you’re feeling hot and sticky after all that hiking and walking and eating, it’s time to refresh yourself in the small but lovely beach just beside the harbor at Laite Memorial Beach.

It’s not the largest beach nor the most beautiful, but I loved going for a cool refreshing dip on the sandy/pebbly beach and bobbing in the water with sailboats off in the distance. It was magical.

Go sailing on the bay.

sailing past curtis lighthouse in the water near camden maine

Finish your magical day in Camden in the most magical way: on the sea on a boat cruise to explore the Bay and even get to see the beautiful Curtis Lighthouse on an island off the shore.

You may also get to see wildlife like seals, cormorants, porpoises, and more – and perhaps even some lobstermen pulling in their traps!

Day 9: Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park

Drive to Mount Desert Island and visit Sand Beach.

Let’s leave Camden bright and early to make our way to our final stop on this coastal Maine itinerary: Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park.

Once you arrive at Mount Desert Island and check into your Bar Harbor hotel, it’s time to hit the ground running… or relaxing!

Since this itinerary has been pretty fast-paced, I think a little relaxation by the ocean is in order.

Although most of Mount Desert Island’s coastline is composed of rocky cliff faces (like much of Maine), there is one sandy ocean beach hidden inside Acadia National Park for all to enjoy!

Sand Beach is about a 20-minute drive from the Bar Harbor town center and is one of the first attractions along the Park Loop Road. The parking area tends to fill up quickly, so be prepared to scout for a parking spot.

The beach is staffed with park lifeguards to make swimming in the chilly water safe for all the brave souls that choose to do so. Though lately, Maine’s water has been warmer than ever before… a bittersweet side effect of the sad reality of global warming.

Sand Beach is the perfect spot to set up for a sunny afternoon with a picnic, beach chairs, and plenty of sunblock — that New England summer sun is no joke! 

Hit one of the hiking trails.

the iron rungs of the dificult beehive trek

If you’re not interested in swimming, there’s still plenty to do in this area, such as searching through tide pools and walking the shoreline to search for shells.

There are a couple of fun trails that take off from this area too. One of the nearby trailheads is for the Great Head Loop Trail, which starts on the east side of Sand Beach.

The shorter loop option is 1.6 miles around and offers spectacular panoramic views of the area, including a scenic overlook of Sand Beach.

If you want to add a more challenging hike to your Acadia itinerary on the first day, the trailhead for the Beehive Trail, a tough but rewarding 1.6-mile loop, is located right near Sand Beach.

It uses iron rungs to climb up the more difficult part of the trail. Be extremely careful here as some hikers have died. Do not descend the same way you ascended.

If you begin the hike, be prepared to finish it so that you do not endanger people who are coming up the iron rungs. This is not one for those with a fear of heights!

Stroll around Bar Harbor.

After soaking up the sun and relaxing the afternoon away, it’s time to head into town and enjoy all the cool things to do in Bar Harbor!

Bar Harbor is a charming New England coastal community with quirky boutique shops and amazing seafood restaurants.

Before dinner, take a walk along the Shore Path, which begins at the Town Pier. This short path offers beautiful views of the boats anchored in the harbor for the evening.

Have dinner at The Terrace Grille

Dine right on the water at this gorgeous restaurant!

The outdoor seating is decorated with beautiful yellow umbrellas and offers five-star views of Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands. Not only are the views great, but the food is too!

Keep it classic with a boiled Maine lobster or indulge and order the Maine Lobster Bake.

The portion size is no joke, and definitely not for one: it comes with all the goods including New England clam chowder, steamed mussels and clams, over one pound of Maine Lobster, seasonal sides, and homemade blueberry pie!

Grab a cone at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream

Hope you saved room for dessert. Is any evening by the ocean complete without an ice cream cone? You already know the answer to that question!

The ice cream from Mount Desert Island Ice Cream is unlike any you’ve had before. Maybe it’s the premium flavors mixed with the ocean air, or maybe it’s the care that goes into every homemade batch. Yum!

Day 10: Acadia National Park

Drive the Park Loop Road

green trees along the road in acadia national park

Roll the windows down and let in that warm sea breeze as you head out to tour Acadia’s Park Loop Road.

The 27-mile road loops around Acadia National Park, and it is one of the best scenic drives in Maine, taking you from the ocean to the mountains and everywhere in between.

Set aside at least half a day to make the drive. There are lots of places to stop along the way, but here are some of the best sights.

Stop at Sieur des Monts.

leaves on the ground in a path in acadia national park

Sieur de Monts is the heart of Acadia National Park and one of the first attractions you’ll see when driving the scenic Park Loop Road.

This area is home to many sights, including the Sieur de Monts Spring, Acadia Nature Center, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Abbe Museum, and historic memorial paths.

See Thunder Hole with your own eyes (and ears!)

wild crash of water in. asmall rocky cove inlet

Thunder Hole is named after the booming sound like thunder that the ocean waves make as they slam against the rocky shore.

The force of the wave pushes air and settled water to the surface, creating a loud “thunderclap” made of water.

The small rocky inlet at Thunder Hole may not be as wild at low tide, so don’t be disappointed if you see it and it doesn’t live up to its name.

Check a tide chart and wait for some choppy water to come in with the high tide, and you’re sure to hear what all the hype is about.

Marvel at the views at Otter Point.

red rocky cove and sandy beach and trees.

Less than a mile past Thunder Hole, there will be a parking area for Otter Point.

This rocky shoreline is named after Acadia National Park’s spunky river otters. The most impressive feature at this stop is Otter Cliff, which stands an impressive 110 ft high!

This is a great spot to hang out in the sun and watch the ocean waves crash over the rocks.

 Lunch at Jordan Pond House Restaurant

After a morning of sightseeing, it’s time for a well-earned lunch break.

Famous for their mouth-watering popovers, the Jordan Pond House Restaurant is every foodie’s dream come true.

Take a hike around Jordan Pond Loop Trail.

After all that eating I’ve had you doing on this trip, It’s time to get a little hike in. Wouldn’t you agree?

The beautiful 3.5-mile loop trail around Jordan Pond is the perfect place. This scenic hike will take you along the shore of the pond, on a flat but rocky trail. Sturdy shoes are recommended for this trail.

Head home to end your time in Vacationland.

Whether you make the long drive back home or to Boston, or the shorter drive to Bangor to drop off your rental car and catch a flight, it’s time to say “see you soon” to Maine.

Make your plans to come back to Maine in other seasons. You’ve seen the glory of the summery coast. Plan to see the riotous fall colors or experience the desolate but sublime winter beauty.

Know that it’s not goodbye, but rather see you later: your first trip to Maine is just the beginning of a lifelong love!

12 Delightful Things to Do in Damariscotta, Maine

harbor of the town of damariscotta maine

There are so many charming small towns in Maine that it’s truly hard to pick a favorite!

If I had to pick, the area of Midcoast Maine and all of its charming small towns come to mind.

And in particular, I fell in love with the beauty and vibe of Damariscotta almost instantly.

It’s a small town — pretty much made up of one street and lots of beautiful bodies of water — but trust me that if you visit, it will steal your heart just as it stole mine!

Harbor of Damariscotta as seen from the water with an American flag

The Best Things to Do in Damariscotta, Maine

Wander around the galleries and jewelry stores on Main Street.

There are a number of excellent boutiques, galleries, and stores on the Main Street of Damariscotta, which stretches about three blocks long at its core.

Here are a few of my favorite stores:

  • Aboca Beads & Jewelry has well-priced classic pieces, including freshwater pearl necklaces, glass beaded jewelry, and other gorgeous sea-inspired jewelry.
  • Wildings has plants and all sorts of plant accessories, as well as devastatingly beautiful jewelry and accessories. I left with a beautiful blush pink belt bag; my friend left with a lovely brass geometric ring…. And that was us showing restraint!
  • Citizen Maine is a punnily-named wonderful shop selling all things Maine for your home décor.
Beautiful interiors shop selling minimalist pottery, plants, vases, etc.

Grab an old-fashioned soda at Rexall Malts.

Is there anything better than grabbing a frosty milkshake or soda float at an old-fashioned soda fountain? If you think of anything, I’ll be waiting.

Unfortunately, Rexall Malts was closed when I visited in 2021 due to a labor shortage, but they intend to reopen for the 2022 season.

However, I got to peer inside and it is all the vintage nostalgia that dreams are made of! I’ll definitely be returning for a float or a sundae sometime soon.

Bright red and white soda fountain selling ice cream, milk shakes, breakfast and lunch.

Have a wood-fired pizza with a view of the water.

Maine has so many delicious restaurants, with new ones opening frequently, and Damariscotta is no exception to the foodie fun!

Damariscotta has a new kid on the block in their small but mighty restaurant scene. There’s a brand-new pizza restaurant in Damariscotta called Oysterhead Pizza serving up wood-fired pizzas with a view of the harbor!

I didn’t get a chance to eat here, but like the soda shop, it’s on my list for my next visit to Damariscotta.

Blue building with wooden deck on a sunny day

Grab a pastry at Barn Door Baking Co, then browse some books.

There’s nothing I love more than grabbing a pastry and a coffee and browsing a bookstore.

Luckily, Barn Door Baking Co. is literally located within a bookstore, so a great book to stick your nose in is never far from reach!

The next-door bookstore is called Maine Coast Book Shop and it has a wide selection of Maine fiction and non-fiction as well as a great curated section of new releases.

sign for coffee shops and different coffee drinks inside the cafe near the bookstore in damariscotta, maine

Watch a movie at the Lincoln Theater.

I love small one-room theaters – perhaps because my hometown of Lafayette had one, and it was always fun to see what the (only) choice was for what to see!

In a world of Netflix and infinite options, sometimes it’s nice to have the choice made for you: and that’s just the case at Damariscotta’s Lincoln Theater.

When I was in Damariscotta, they were playing Roadrunner, the new Anthony Bourdain documentary!

I desperately want to see it, but I am not seeing movies in theaters at the moment due to the Delta variant. It’s on the list for next time!

Old fashioned movie theater with sign that reads Lincoln Theater

Grab some ice cream at Wicked Scoops.

If you haven’t already had enough to eat, grab something sweet at Wicked Scoops!

They serve ice cream from local Maine ice cream company Gifford’s which prides itself on its “HomeMaine” ice cream!

The two most delicious flavors are campfire s’mores and blueberry ice cream!

Sign for Wicked Scoops a popular ice cream spot in Damariscotta Maine

Have a cheeky drink at King Eider’s Pub.

I love a pub that looks like it comes straight out of another era, and that is exactly what King Eider’s Pub looks like!

With its British-inspired sign, brick façade, and Kelly green awning, the décor of this little pub is as classic as it gets.

The charming brick pub of King Eider in the Main Street of Damariscotta

Have a world-class seafood meal at Damariscotta River Grill.

I didn’t get a chance to eat dinner here, but my friend who was showing me around – who is a Maine local who lives nearby Brunswick – was raving about this Damariscotta River Grill.

Not sure what to get? She recommends the coconut-curry Thai seafood stew and the lobster cakes!

Window that says Damariscotta River Grill selling sea food, American flag and flag that says 'open

Wander around Damariscotta Town Harbor.

Virtually every Maine small town on the water – whether it be an ocean or a river – has its own little stretch of a harbor for locals to keep their boats.

Damariscotta’s harbor area is teeny-tiny but it’s lovely to go for a walk after digesting a meal at one of the many places I recommended in this post!

Boats and kayaks in the harbor of the Damariscotta River on a sunny day in summer

Go for a kayak or SUP.

Want to go kayaking? Head over to Midcoast Kayak in Damariscotta where you can rent a kayak.

Prices are reasonable: a two-hour rental costs $30 for a single kayak and $40 for a tandem kayak.

Stand up paddleboards are also available for $30 for a 2-hour rental. Other rental durations are available (half-day, full-day, weekly).

You might even see a harbor seal on the rocks in Damariscotta River — they love it here!

A very cute brown harbor seal sitting on a rock surrounded by shells

Enjoy a peaceful day on Damariscotta Lake.

Damariscotta Lake is a short drive from downtown Damariscotta and it’s a great place to spend some time relaxing with beautiful nature views.

The lake is massive, covering some 4,000+ acres, and has many islands and islets inside the lake. The northern portion of the lake is protected as a state park as well.

Note: Check online before visiting Damariscotta Lake as it may not be good for swimming — as of August 2021, there’s a cyanobacteria bloom.

Forest reflecting onto the waters of Lake Damariscotta on an overcast day

Visit the historic shell midden.

One of the more unique things to do in Damariscotta is visit Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site where you can find a shell midden.

What is a shell midden, you ask?

A midden is a historic dumping ground for organic waste: in this case, the oyster shells left behind by the Native American peoples centuries ago. Here is some more information on the shell middens of Maine.

The middens along the Damariscotta River were thought to be left behind by the Wawenock (or Walinakiak, meaning “People of the Bays”) Abenaki Indians over 2,500 years ago (source).

They are not only ecologically important, but they also tell important stories of people who lived in the region millennia ago, who have much to teach us but no written history: which is why these sites are so important!

17 Cool Things to Do in Camden, Maine

sailboats in the harbor of camden maine

The beautiful seaside town of Camden, Maine is one of Vacationland’s best-kept secrets.

Located on Highway 1 in the more remote reaches of Midcoast Maine, about an hour and a half drive from Acadia National Park, Camden is worthy of a weekend getaway or a stop on a coastal Maine road trip.

With typical New England architecture, fantastic shopping and art galleries, and a state park with dozens of gorgeous hiking trails just minutes away, Camden offers something for everyone in a charming coastal Maine town.

Whether you prefer culture or nature, Camden, Maine has something for you: here are our top picks for what to do in Camden!

Where to Stay in Camden, Maine

INN WITH HARBOR VIEW | Lord Camden InnFor a stunning harborside hotel located in downtown Camden, this inn has all the amenities you’d want and a great location to boot. There is a fitness center, free WiFi, and fresh coffee from a Keurig in room. Some rooms have a harbor or river view, so check your individual room to see!

>> Check availability at Lord Camden Inn here!

Luxury B&B | The Belmont InnThis beautiful B&B is less than half a mile to a beach and has beautiful architecture and furnishings. The rooms are simple but elegant, and there is a garden available for guests to enjoy. The B&B includes a delicious breakfast — your choice of traditional American or vegetarian.

>> Check availability at the Belmont Inn here!

Traditional B&B | Elms of Camden: This charming bed and breakfast is a great choice for those who love something a bit traditional. In addition to tastefully decorated rooms (some with their own fireplace!), guests can also enjoy a shared living space, multi-course breakfasts served in the inn each morning, and an on-site garden.

>> Check availability at Elms of Camden here!

Best Things to Do in Camden Maine in the Summer Months

Walk around the edge of Camden Harbor.

Camden Harbor is one of the most scenic harbors along the main coast, with stunning views of Penobscot Bay.

Taking a scenic stroll around the edge of the harbor is a great way to while away a few hours on a hot summer day in Camden.

Admire all the sailboats and enjoy the breeze of the ocean water wafting into town.

boats on the harbor on a hazy summer day in camden maine

Marvel at Penobscot Bay on a cruise.

Taking a one-hour boat tour of Penobscot Bay is a great way to spend some sightseeing time in the Camden area — while also getting off your feet and out onto the open seas!

On a boating tour, you’ll get to see the Curtis Island lighthouse, as well as beautiful stretches of the Maine coastline — including some massive and gorgeous seaside mansions! 

In terms of wildlife, you may spot harbor seals, bald eagles, porpoises, and guillemots (which are related to everyone’s favorite bird, the puffin). 

You may also see lobstermen setting traps, or get to see their own boat pick up their lobster trap! You’ll also get to see views of Camden from the water, which is another beautiful perspective!

Book your harbor cruise online with Camden Harbor Cruises.

the lighthouse on curtis island as seen from the rough choppy waters out on the bay near camden maine

Sail out on Schooner Olad.

If you prefer a more historic boat (or a longer boat ride), head out on the Schooner Olad for a two-hour sail.

The Schooner Olad is a classic sailing yacht with gorgeous billowing sails — it was built in 1927 and has been lovingly restored so that it’s in as good of shape now as it was on its maiden voyage over a century ago!

Book your sailing cruise with Maine Schooners here.

schooner boat with four peach-orange sails and the lighthouse on the island

Snap a photo of the lighthouse from the overlook.

While you can see the Curtis Island Lighthouse on a cruise or sailing trip, sometimes once isn’t enough!

If you want to see it from another perspective (or you don’t want to go on a boat in the first place), you can see it from Camden town at the Curtis Lighthouse Overlook, not far from Laite Memorial Beach.

a beautiful white lighthouse with a red roof and lightkeeper house on a rocky outcropping in the bay near camden

Take a day trip to Rockland for the Farnsworth Art Museum.

The charming small town of Rockland is not far from Camden and makes a worthwhile day trip if Camden is your base during your stay in Maine.

The Farnsworth Art Museum is one of the best art museums in New England and has an extensive collection of Andrew Wyeth’s works, as well as works from other members of the Wyeth family.

Betsy Wyeth bequeathed a large collection of works by the Wyeth family upon her death in 2020, so the museum has been newly updated with her generous gift. 

Besides works by the Wyeth family, you’ll also find contemporary and modern art primarily by Maine artists.

Camp in Camden Hills State Park.

There are a lot of campsites available in Camden Hills State Park, whether you bring your own set-up or choose one of the set-up canvas tents which you can rent here!

They come fully furnished with beds and linens and this one can even sleep up to 6 with a queen bed bunk bed! It’s a great ‘glamping’ camping experience that’s still full of outdoor adventure.

There are lots of sites available if you want to bring your own tent, but you will want to book in advance on recreation.gov as these spots go quickly!

Soak in at the views from the top of Mount Battie.

There are two ways to soak in the ocean views at the top of Mount Battie: the easy way or the hard way.

The easy way to check out the views from the summit of Mount Battie is beautiful and requires virtually no sacrifice. You can simply drive up from the entrance of Camden Hills State Park.

The hard way involves a hike. The distance isn’t long — just 3.1 miles out-and-back — but it’s steep, with an elevation gain of more than 600 feet via the Nature Trail.

If you prefer your views steeped in sweat, this is the way to go! Alternately, you may opt to drive up to Mt. Battie, and then save your hike for an even bigger challenge: Mount Megunticook!

Frankly, I would have loved to hike Mt. Battie but I was battling some chronic pain so we drove up and parked and walked around to admire the views! It was remarkable and worth the stop, whether you drive or hike.

Take on the tough hike up Mount Megunticook.

The hike up Mount Megunticook is not for the faint of heart but it offers the best views in all of Camden…. if you can stomach the summit!

The hike is 3.8 miles roundtrip, but that short distance means you also have to do 1,000 feet of elevation gain (and loss) rather quickly as you hustle to summit Megunticook.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and a hearty snack or lunch for the trail. It’s rather exposed and temperatures can be surprisingly hot for how far north you are! 

It may be a slog, but the spectacular views are worth it! The trail is rated as moderate, but the incline is pretty steep in parts, so it’s best for more experienced hikers. Read a trail report here.

Take the Maiden’s Cliff Trail.

For a hike that’s shorter than Megunticook but still offers lovely views, the Maiden Cliff Trail is a nice option.

It is steeper, since you have to hike up 700+ feet over a 1.7 mile loop, but it’s good for a quick hike if you’re limited on time but still want a workout.

At the end, you’ll spot the white cross that marks a memorial site for a fallen young hiker, with a beautiful view of Lake Megunticook spread out below you!

Lake Megunticook from above with green trees and rocks and lake

Marvel at the beautiful Public Library.

Camden has a lot of beautiful traditional architecture and the public library in the heart of town is no exception.

The brick architecture is a lovely change of pace from a lot of the more standard wood-painted houses in other parts of coastal Maine.

The library has existed in some form or another since 1796, but it was destroyed in a fire that razed much of downtown Camden in 1892. 

By 1896, it was rebuilt by the residents of Camden, and has been maintained beautifully over the years since.

Shop on Main Street and its side streets.

Camden has some of the best shopping in Maine! There are a number of great stores you can choose from but a few of my favorites are:

– Glendarragh Farm Lavender where you can buy natural lavender products from the largest lavender farm in Maine.

 Sugar Tools is a great boutique with lovely, fair-priced accessories and home goods and a small selection of clothing.

– Jessie Tobias Design is a new store with beautiful (but pricy!) home goods, bags, dresses and blouses, candles, and other gift items.

Clothing, bags, and small accessories in a fancy boutique in Camden ME

Cool off at Megunticook Lake.

Megunticook Lake is located in both Camden and Lincolnville and is a favored place for locals and visitors to cool off in the hot summer months!

One of the best places to go is to relax at Barrett’s Cove. It’s a small little beach cove on the lake, close to the Maiden Cliff trailhead.

If you’d like to kayak, there are rentals available at Maine Sport in Rockport and in town!

the beautiful calm waters of megunticook lake

Relax in Camden Harbor Park and Amphitheatre.

This small public park area in downtown Camden is a lovely green space that can be a nice escape on a hot and humid summer day in Maine.

It’d also be a great place to take a picnic if you grabbed a sandwich to-go from Camden Deli!

bench, walkway, and harbor with church steeple in the town skyline in the background on a partly cloudy day in summer in camden maine

Check out the Megunticook Falls in town.

Adjacent to Camden Harbor Park, as you walk along the harbor edge you’ll notice the ‘waterfall’ that cascades into the harbor. 

It’s not a true waterfall but rather the final stage of a many-tiered dam that controls of the flow of water from Megunticook Lake to Camden Harbor. Regardless, it’s beautiful.

Unfortunately, the falls are currently under threat of destruction so it may not be here forever — but for now, it’s one of the best things to do in Camden!

waterfall cascading over the rocks with some buildings behind it and a branch of a tree

Enjoy Laite Memorial Beach.

One of the most amazing things about Maine is that even within walking distance of the downtown of a rather large town, you can find a beautiful beach right at your fingertips.

While Laite Memorial Beach is just adjacent to the harbor, the water is clean and beautiful. The beach is a combination of small pebbles and coarse sand. 

Though some people may prefer a more remote, more natural beach, I loved swimming at Laite Memorial Beach. Personally, I found that the sailboats in the distance just add to the allure!

Check out the Owls Head Transportation Museum.

If you’re interested in vintage modes of transportation — classic cars, old airplanes, carriages and the like — head to the small town of Owls Head, about 25 minutes south of Camden.

It’s a great stop for history lovers and car enthusiasts to see some historical vehicles in a decommissioned aircraft hangar.

3 Days in Acadia National Park: Itinerary for a Perfect Trip!

Rocky cliff walls meet the Atlantic Ocean in Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island.

Commonly known as Vacationland, Maine offers everything from delicious locally sourced seafood to beautiful outdoor terrain. There’s something for everyone to enjoy here!

Bar Harbor, Maine is the lively gateway community to Acadia National Park. With fun shops, walking trails, and restaurants, Bar Harbor makes a perfect basecamp for your Acadia adventure.

Choose from the many New England-style bed and breakfasts, modern hotels, or even campgrounds when you go to book your trip accommodations.

Grab your map, camera, hiking gear, and National Park Pass for a fun 3-day tour of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island — some of the best places to visit in Maine!

rocky shoreline at acadia national park in maine
PLANNING FOR ACADIA AT A GLANCE:  

When to Go: Since the winter temperatures go below zero and the main road through the park closes during winter, early spring, summer, and fall are the best times to visit Acadia National Park. 

Where to Stay: Unlike most National Parks that have park lodges, Acadia has none — except for camping grounds. 

There are 3 developed camping groups but I recommend camping at Blackwoods Campground on the East side of the island or Seawall Campground on the West side. These camping grounds are open seasonally (between May to October) but you'll need to book 6 months in advance from the official website directly.

However, if you find all the campgrounds booked out or you're just not into camping, you can find a number of hotels, lodges, cabins, etc. in Bar Harbor town or other areas of Mount Desert Island like Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, or even Bass Harbor.

If you opt for Bar Harbor, I recommend staying at The Inn on Mount Desert which is not far from the park and it's in a few minutes walk to several shops and restaurants, Holiday Inn Bar Harbor Regency Hotel for a luxurious stay, Chiltern Inn for a romantic treat and Eden Village Motel and Cottages if you're looking for a more affordable option.

If you don't get accommodation in Bar Harbor, another beautiful area to stay on Mount Desert Island is Southwest Harbor. Drydock Inn & Cafe is what I recommend for budget travelers, and Harbor Ridge for stunning views of the mountains of Acadia National Park with a touch of luxury. 

And if you prefer a homey feel, this charming Log Home is a perfect choice. 

How to Get Around: It's easy to get around Acadia since there is only one main road! Park shuttles are available but I don't advise heavily relying on them as they can be crowded and slow. This means that the best way to get around the park at your pace and see all the major spots is by driving. If you're renting a car, compare car rentals and prices here. Alternately, you can rent an RV or campervan via RVShare and save on accommodations.  

3 Things Not to Forget to Pack: Binoculars are key for spotting wildlife -- I suggest these Nikon binoculars. For hikes, you'll want a sturdy pair of hiking boots -- I love my Ahnu boots -- and chemical-free organic sunscreen to protect your skin.

Know Before You Go: If you plan to visit multiple national parks in a year, the America the Beautiful Pass will save you a bundle! It costs $80 for an annual pass (for an entire vehicle traveling together) to all US national parks and federally managed sites.  

Renting a Car for Acadia National Park

looking down on a lake in acadia national park from a rock at the top of a hiking area

If you’re road-tripping Acadia with your own vehicle, you can skip to the next section!

If you plan to fly to Acadia, I suggest flying into Bangor International Airport (BGR) as it’s the easiest connection and you can easily rent a car from there to connect to Bar Harbor, Maine.

At Bangor International Airport there are plenty of car rentals available.

Not sure where to get the best deal on your rental? I’ve rented cars dozens of times through various search engines and have settled on Kayak as the best car rental search aggregator – it sifts through dozens of trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental! Compare prices on Kayak here.

What to Pack for 3 Days in Acadia National Park

sunset over acadia national park -- water and rocks and trees

You can check out my complete road trip packing list but for a quick overview, here are the travel essentials you shouldn’t leave behind when going to Acadia National pack.

Travel Guides: This 3-day itinerary for Acadia National Park has everything I think you’ll need but if you want a more detailed guide, I recommend taking this Acadia National Park & Mount Desert Island guide as it includes every little detail that I may not have been able to fit in one single post. So together with my personal experience and the detailed info in this guide, you’ll be on your way to having an amazing time in Acadia.

Layered Clothing: Even in the summer months, Maine is not known for having normal summer temperatures and it’s the same for Acadia, so you’ll need to pack clothes in layers.

For summer or early fall, I suggest taking at least 2 shirts (synthetic or wool, long and/or short sleeve depending on the season), 2 pairs of leggings or pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 fleece outer layer, a waterproof jacket, a beanie, gloves, and 3 pairs of socks.

Comfortable Footwear: Acadia is all about enjoying the outdoors by either hiking or climbing some rocks and you’ll need a good and sturdy pair of hiking boots for that. I love my Ahnu Sugarpine boots for women, and for men, I suggest the KEEN Durand boot.

Sunscreen: After being sunburned a few times, I learned not to ever leave sunscreen behind. Bring and wear sunscreen every day of your trip, and be sure to reapply it every couple of hours. I like this chemical-free organic sunscreen.

Sunhat: Take a packable sunhat like this one. It has a strap to prevent it from being blown away and you can easily wear it on your back if you get tired of wearing it on the head.

Day pack: Keep all your daily travel items organized and easy to reach in a daypack. I like this inexpensive and lightweight Osprey daypack and it’s not only durable but it also has mesh panels on the back to allow for airflow.

Snacks: To stay strong and energetic while hiking in the park, I recommend taking some snacks. Pack or pick a picnic or throw a number of energy-giving snacks in your daypack. I recommend protein bars (I love CLIF bars), nuts, or other high-density snacks.

Camera: If you want a lightweight and good quality camera, I recommend Sony A6000 — I’ve been using it for years and I am happy I found it! However, you’ll need to bring a zoom lens for wildlife and a wide-angle lens for landscapes since it’s just the body.

First aid kit: Don’t let blisters or scrapes inconvenience your experience in Acadia. I suggest taking this HART Weekend First Aid kit as it has everything you might need and it’s super lightweight.

Water filter bottle: Though there are water fountains at most picnicking areas in Acadia, I still recommend taking a water bottle with a filter so you can fill up anywhere there’s a water source.

There are quite a number of water filtration systems but I love GRAYL Geopress! With it, you can filter water from any source, and it filters out 99.99% of microplastics, viruses, bacteria, and other nasty particles making the water instantly safe to drink.

Bug Spray: Don’t let bug bites ruin your trip — take this bug spray.

Where to Stay in Acadia National Park

road in acadia national park

Unlike most National Parks that have park lodges, Acadia has none except for camping grounds. For campers, Camping in Acadia is a great way to experience the park even better with a touch of luxury as its camping grounds offer a bit more comfort compared to other typical camping grounds.

The park has 3 developed camping grounds with the 2 most popular on Mount Desert Island — Blackwoods Campground and Seawall Campground. I recommend staying at Blackwoods Campground as it’s closer to the main attractions of the park. But Seawall is equally good if you don’t find availability at Blackwoods.

These accommodations can only be booked on the official website and way in advance — like 6 months before your trip.

If you don’t find a spot at any of those camping grounds or you prefer sleeping in a hotel, lodge, or cabin, then you can find a variety of accommodations in Bar Harbour.

Bar Harbour Accommodations

BUDGET | If you’re looking for something budget-friendly (well at least compared to other places in the area), I recommend staying at Eden Village Motel and Cottages.

It is located just 4mi away from Acadia National park, the rooms are clean and they come with basic appliances you might need for your stay — a kitchenette, coffee maker, and a cable TV.

>> Check photos and reviews on Booking.com | Book it on Hotels.com

BOUTIQUE | The Inn on Mount Desert has got to be the highly-rated hotel on Bar Harbor.

Located near the park and within a 5 minutes’ walk to various shops and restaurants, this hotel offers both a modern and old charm to its guests.

The rooms are very clean and you don’t have to worry about what to do when it rains as there are a number of indoor activities especially for people who want to stay fit and active.

>> Check photos and reviews on Booking.com | Book it on Hotels.com

LUXURY | If you want to enjoy Acadia with a touch of luxury, I recommend staying at Holiday Inn Bar Harbor Regency Hotel.

With soaring views of the Frenchman’s Bay, an outdoor pool, and a hot tub, nothing speaks the language of luxury like this resort.

The hotel features big cozy rooms with large windows to enjoy the views. And if you feel like unwinding, you can have a drink at their bar or cozy up next to the fireplace in the lounging area.

>> Check photos and reviews on Booking.com | Book it on Hotels.com

VRBO | If you want a full home to yourself while exploring Acadia National Park, I suggest staying at this beautiful and lovely log home.

With its inviting front porch and large windows, you’re bound to fall in love with the house immediately. It offers views of Raccoon Cove, Frenchman Bay, and the mountains of Mount Desert Island.

This 2 floored house can easily sleep up to 6 people and has everything that will make your stay memorable — from a big bathroom with a tub, a walk-in closet, a fully equipped kitchen, a fireplace to direct access to the shore.

>> Check photos and reviews on Vrbo

Day 1 of your Acadia National Park itinerary

Afternoon Sun at Sand Beach

Since you’ve just arrived on Mount Desert Island, a little relaxation by the ocean is in order. Although most of the coastline on the island is rocky cliff faces, there is one sandy ocean beach hidden inside Acadia National Park for all to enjoy!

Sand Beach is about a 20-minute drive from the Bar Harbor town center and is one of the first attractions along the Park Loop Road. The parking area tends to fill up early, so be prepared to scout for a parking spot.

The beach is staffed with park lifeguards to make swimming in the chilly water safe for all the brave souls that choose to do so. Sand Beach is the perfect spot to set up for a sunny afternoon with a cooler, beach chairs, and plenty of sunblock.  

If you’re not interested in swimming, there’s still plenty to do in this area, such as searching through tide pools to see who’s swimming around and walking the 290-meter shoreline to search for shells and sand dollars.

There are a couple of fun trails that take off from this area too. One of the nearby trailheads is for the Great Head Loop Trail, which starts on the east side of Sand Beach. The shorter loop option is 1.6 miles around and offers spectacular panoramic views of the area, including a scenic overlook of Sand Beach.

If you want to add a more challenging hike to your Acadia itinerary on the first day, the trailhead for the Beehive Trail, a tough but rewarding 1.6-mile loop, is located right near Sand Beach.

Stroll Bar Harbor

After soaking up the sun and relaxing the afternoon away, it’s time to head into town and enjoy all the cool things to do in Bar Harbor.

Bar Harbor is a charming New England coastal community with quirky boutique shops and amazing seafood restaurants.

Before dinner, take a walk along the Shore Path, which begins at the Town Pier. This short path offers beautiful views of the boats anchored in the harbor for the evening.

Dinner at The Terrace Grille

Dine right on the water next to the Town Pier. The outdoor seating is decorated with beautiful yellow umbrellas and offers five-star views of Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands. Not only are the views great, but the food is too!

Keep it classic with a boiled Maine Lobster or indulge and order the Maine Lobster Bake, which comes with all the goods including New England clam chowder, steamed mussels and clams, over one pound of Maine Lobster, seasonal sides, and homemade blueberry pie!

Grab a cone at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream

Hope you saved room for dessert. Is any evening by the ocean complete without an ice cream cone? You already know the answer to that question!

The ice cream from Mount Desert Island Ice Cream is unlike any you’ve had before. Maybe it’s the premium flavors mixed with the ocean air, or maybe it’s the care that goes into every homemade batch. Yum!

Day 2 of your Acadia National Park itinerary

Drive the Park Loop Road

Roll the windows down and let in that warm sea breeze as you head out to tour Acadia’s Park Loop Road. Turn on your favorite playlist and enjoy the ride!

The 27-mile road that loops around Acadia National Park is the best scenic drive in the area, taking visitors from the ocean to the mountains and everywhere in between. Set aside at least 4 hours for the drive. There are lots of places to stop along the way, but here are some of the best sights:

First Stop: Hulls Cove Visitor Center

Begin your scenic drive around Acadia National Park at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.

Here you can chat with a park ranger about your plans for the day, pick up a park map, buy souvenirs, and learn about the park’s natural and cultural history. The climb up the center’s 52 steps is sure to get your blood flowing!

Second Stop: Sieur de Monts

Sieur de Monts is the heart of Acadia National Park and one of the first attractions you’ll see when driving the scenic Park Loop Road.

This area is home to many sights, including the Sieur de Monts Spring, Acadia Nature Center, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Abbe Museum, and historic memorial paths.

Hiking around in this area is a great way to spot wildlife and a variety of native plants too!

Third Stop: Thunder Hole

Have your camera ready for this awesome feature!

Thunder Hole is appropriately named after the booming sound the ocean waves make as they slam against the rocky shore while pushing air and settled water to the surface.

The small rocky inlet at Thunder Hole may not be as wild at low tide, but wait for some choppy water to come in with the high tide, and you’re sure to hear what all the hype is about.

Fourth Stop: Otter Point

Less than a mile past Thunder Hole, there will be a parking area for Otter Point.

This rocky shoreline is named after Acadia National Park’s spunky river otters. The most impressive feature at this stop is Otter Cliff, which stands an impressive 110 ft high!

This is a great spot to hang out in the sun and watch the ocean waves crash over the rocks.

Fifth Stop: Lunch at Jordan Pond House Restaurant

After a morning of sightseeing, it’s time for a well-earned lunch break. Famous for their mouth-watering popovers, the Jordan Pond House Restaurant is every foodie’s dream come true.

In addition to the freshly made popovers, the menu is also loaded with fresh seafood options and entrees to satisfy every craving.

Last stop: Jordan Pond Loop Trail

It’s time to get a little hike in. Wouldn’t you agree?

The beautiful 3.5 loop trail around Jordan Pond is the perfect place. This scenic hike will take you along the shore of the pond. Sturdy shoes are recommended for this trail.

Although most of the terrain is level or boardwalk trail, there are a couple of sections of uneven rocky terrain.

Dinner at Leary’s Landing Irish Pub

After your drive around the Park Loop Road, take some time to relax at your campsite or hotel before heading out for an evening in Bar Harbor.

There’s nothing better than a meal from Leary’s Landing Irish Pub. Conveniently located right in town, this lively restaurant offers everything from bangers and mash to hardy Maine Lobster Rolls.

Don’t forget to add in one of their specialty cocktails!

Day 3 of your Acadia National Park itinerary

Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain

When you watch the sun come up from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, you’re watching the first sunrise in the entire country!

I hope you’re a morning person or can pretend to be one to experience this phenomenal sight.

Some folks choose to make the 3.5-mile hike to the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise, but you can drive to the lookout to sleep in a little longer. 

From Bar Harbor, it only takes about 20 minutes to drive up to the lookout.

Hike the Cadillac Mountain Summit Trail Loop

If you chose to drive up to the Cadillac Mountain lookout, there’s still a nice hike waiting for you at the top.

The Summit Trail is an easy half-mile loop that offers amazing views of the ocean and rocky shoreline during the golden morning hours.

Hike down the trail before the sun makes its appearance to find a secluded viewing spot. Don’t forget warm clothes, blankets, and hot beverages!

Breakfast at the Lighthouse Inn & Restaurant

An early morning adventure must be rewarded by a filling breakfast! Pack in a morning meal that will have you energized for the next fun activity in Acadia National Park at the Lighthouse Inn & Restaurant.

Whether you choose homemade blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup or the Fisherman’s Delight specialty omelette, you won’t be leaving hungry!

Take a Scenic Cruise

Until this morning, you’ve been admiring the Atlantic Ocean from shore. It’s time to get a new perspective!

At Sea Princess Nature Cruises, passengers can get out on the water for a chance to spot seals, osprey, and other ocean wildlife. The morning cruise is typically 3 hours long, and fills up in advance, so book early!

The boat makes a stopover at Little Cranberry Island, where passengers can see the 200-year-old fishing village and briefly explore the area.

In the last three days, you’ve watched the first sunrise in the USA, splashed around in the Atlantic Ocean, tried some of Maine’s famous seafood, and taken a scenic morning cruise. Now, it’s time to discover your next adventure in Vacationland!


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