The Ultimate Boston to Maine Road Trip

Last updated on February 9, 2024

Acadia National Park

Lucky you! If you’re reading this post, I presume you’re planning a road trip from Boston to Maine, and if so you’re in for a treat. It’s one of the most charming road trips we’ve ever done.

You’ll pass through colourful seaside towns, picturesque coastal byways, a feast of American history, and top it all off with a visit to the spectacular Acadia National Park. And that’s not to mention the food. We were enchanted by the whole journey, and it included some of the best highlights from our whole New England road trip

So here’s our guide to putting together a perfect Boston to Maine road trip. We cover general tips for the Boston-Maine route, plus short guides to each destination, including things to do, places to stay and where to eat. And we delve into each destination in more detail in other posts around the site. It should be all you need for your Boston to Maine adventure.

Don’t miss our other road trip itineraries and guide to how to plan a road trip.

New England travel guides

We LOVE New England and have loads of tips to help you make the most of your trip. And just let me know if you have any questions!

Itineraries: Boston to Maine road trip | New England road trip

Destination guides: Things to do in Boston with kids |Things to do in Portsmouth, NH | Best places to vacation in Maine | Things to do in Southern Maine | Things to do in Vermont with kids | Where to find the real Stars Hollow

Accommodation guides: Glamping in New England | New England family resorts | Maine family resorts | Vermont family resorts

What is the Boston – Maine road trip like?

This route from Masschuchets to Maine dips briefly into New Hampshire, but the bulk is spent in Maine, on a gorgeous coastal Maine road trip. It’s a state that bills itself as ‘Vacationland’, and it certainly felt like that in summer. The whole coast up to Acadia is seemingly dedicated to tourism with miles of inns, roadside restaurants, antique centers, galleries and family attractions, from miniature golf to fun fairs. It’s a place of lobster rolls, colourful mansions and plentiful outdoor pursuits. A visit there fill wholesome.

The route isn’t well known in the UK, but is no secret to Americans, so the vacation vibe was palpable. And despite the focus on tourism, there’s also a strong sense of local community along the way, especially in places like Portland, Belfast and Camden where the cafe notice boards are filled with local events. There’s a definite hint of Stars Hollow.

All of this is set to a backdrop of epic coastal views, forested mountains, pristine lakes and lobstering. Plus a rich and long (for the USA) history. It’s a route that perfectly blends plentiful culture, nature and adventure, and is easy to adapt to all tastes. It’s perhaps why we saw so many multi-generation family groups vacationing along the way (see our guide to the best family resorts in Maine).

Whether you’re travelling domestically or venturing from afar, we think it’s a place that is a surefire hit for a fabulous trip. It exceeded all our expectations.

How to use this guide to plan your route from Boston to Maine

Like with all the itineraries on Bridges and Balloons, this is a recipe for a perfect trip, but that doesn’t mean you need to use all the ingredients. You could copy it completely (and we can vouch for that being an amazing journey). Or pick and choose the destinations that speak to you and use the guide to create your own ideal route from Boston to Maine. After all, we all have different priorities. 

It’s certainly a route that’s stuffed with incredible options. For me, I’d say the only place you should definitely try to get to is Acadia – it’s the furthest point, but you definitely won’t regret it. Beyond that, I struggle to say what to prioritise as we really loved it all.

Places we didn’t visit, but that you might like to, include Cape Ann, which is a popular weekend destination from Boston. You could follow the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway to get there and stop in places like Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport (MA) and Gloucester. 

And in northern Maine, you could extend the trip up to Bangor (home of Stephen King). We’d have also liked to see more of the area around Acadia, including Deer Isle. Rockland, Maine is another stop many people recommended.

If you want to extend the trip around more of New England, see our full New England itinerary, which covers all six states.

And for shorter trips, I’ve also put together a guide to the best places to vacation in Maine.

Who is this route for? Families, couples?

I’ve put this post together for everyone, from couples to families to solo travellers. We did it as a family with a 3 and 5 year old. But the route would also suit couples or people going solo.

Our style of family travel means that we try to do as many “grown-up” things as we can, while also keeping the kids happy with visits to playgrounds and family-friendly museums etc. So this itinerary, like most of our posts, is still well suited to adults as well as kids – you might just skip some of the more kid-focussed activities. 

Our Boston to Maine road trip at a glance

  • Boston – 3 nights
  • Salem – stop en route
  • Portsmouth – stop en route
  • Southern Maine – 2 nights 
  • Camden/Rockport/Belfast – 3 nights 
  • Portland – 2 nights 
  • Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor – 3 nights

Boston to Maine road trip map

Boston to Maine road trip FAQs

How long do you need for a Boston to Bar Harbor road trip?

The Boston to Bar Harbor drive only takes 4 hours 50 minutes with no stops. However, we recommend at least a week so you can make the most of it all. Ten days to two weeks would allow you to go at a leisurely pace and spend around two nights in each destination. That said, a week would be ample for the highlights.

One approach would be to only stay the night in Portland and Bar Harbor, and treat all the other destinations as stops along the way. Of course, if you’re not familiar with Boston, then make sure to add at least a night or two to explore the city.

We spent 10 days on the trip, plus a week in Boston. However, if I did it again in 10 days, I’d add an extra night in Portland (to stay in the city) and spend one less night in Camden. A night in Ogunquit or Portsmouth would have also been nice, rather than just visiting those places on day trips.

If you’re doing a round trip and need to get back to Boston, perhaps choose one of the stops for an overnight stay to break up the drive (maybe Belfast or Portland).

When to drive from Boston to Maine

Victoria, Arlo and Ottis in Sand Beach, Acadia National Park

By far the most popular time to drive from Boston to Maine is autumn when leaf peepers flock to New England to see the famous fall foliage. The best time to catch the leaves at their most glorious is generally between late September to mid-October. But differing weather each year may alter this slightly. See below for the best places to see fall foliage on this route.

We did the Boston to Bar Harbor road trip in the summer, from late July to early August. It’s a gorgeous time to visit with long, mostly sunny days. It got a bit humid at times, but this was generally tempered by being close to the ocean. And we did have the odd thunderstorm and cloudy day. I liked this time of year because of the vacation vibes of all the coastal towns – it felt like everyone was there to have a good time.

Spring is a quieter option. And in the winter, you could enjoy some winter sports along the way. Although bear in mind, it does get very cold, especially in Maine where you can expect snow from December – February.

Where are the best places to see fall foliage from Boston to Maine?

The whole route from Boston to Acadia is filled with opportunities to see New England’s famous fall foliage, especially along the coastal Old Route 1. 

Some of the highlights for fall foliage in Maine and along this route include:

  • Acadia National Park (especially the view from Cadillac Mountain)
  • Camden Hills State Park in Camden, Maine (great view from Mount Battie)
  • Boston Common, Arnold Arboretum and the tree-lined streets of Beacon Hill in Boston
  • Kennebunkport and its mansions surrounded by trees
  • Portsmouth where the fall foliage makes the pretty town even more spectacular

What to pack for a Boston to Maine road trip

Layers are the way to go for New England’s variable climate, and you’ll definitely want to bring a raincoat whatever the season. 

A few more essentials:

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How to get from Boston to Maine

We hired a car with Discover Cars, which is our favourite site for rentals nowadays. They search hundreds of other rental companies and tend to always come back with the best deals. They also have good cancellation/amendment policies. 

As an alternative, I also recommend Expedia, another place that gets good deals. 

Our actual rental was with Dollar, but it’s cheaper to book through a third party rather than with them directly.  

Bear in mind it’s often cheaper to rent for a week-long period rather than an odd number of days (you often get a discount for seven days or a month), so play around with the booking dates and see what comes up. Find the latest car hire deals here.

Tips for driving around Massachusetts and Maine

Consider the scenic routes

The route from Boston to Maine passes through some stunning scenery, including a couple of official scenic byways: New Hampshire Coastal Bywayand the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. These are right next to each other, covering the whole length of coast from just south of Salem, through Cape Ann, up to Portsmouth. 

When planning your route, consider taking these routes and doing a scenic drive from Boston to Bar Harbor, rather than any shorter alternative that Google suggests. We only did part of the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway on our itinerary, but you might choose to drive the whole thing and add Rockport to your itinerary too.

Be ready for toll roads

Be prepared for tolls, especially in Massachusetts. Keep some cash on hand or consider an electronic toll pass for convenience. Most toll booths don’t accept payment by card, so if you don’t have cash or a toll pass, you have to pay online that day to avoid a fine.

Be aware of the weather

New England weather can be unpredictable. Be prepared for varying conditions, especially during the fall and winter months. Check weather forecasts regularly, and pack accordingly.

Think about parking

In cities like Boston, parking can be challenging. Use public transportation when exploring downtown, and try to find accommodation with parking facilities. Also familiarise yourself with the different parking restrictions and signs. We got a parking ticket in Boston because we misunderstood the sign. 

Where to stay in New England

We stayed in some gorgeous places in New England. As you can imagine, they do charming guesthouses really well, plus there are some lush opportunities to stay in lodges amid the region’s glorious nature.

We’ve detailed everywhere we stayed in the accommodation section for each destination below. Plus we also have separate guides to the best New England family resorts, the best family resorts in Maine, and the best Vermont resorts.

Boston to Maine road trip stops

Boston

A beautiful view of Charles Esplanade, Boston

Boston is a stunner of a city with gorgeous historic buildings, a riverside location and plenty going on to keep you occupied for days. Birthplace of the American Revolution and home to two of the USA’s most prestigious universities, it has a refined air that’s balanced by down-to-earth locals, fiercely proud of their city’s history (and the Red Sox!). It’s also home to one of my favorite accents in all of America.  

I loved it more than I’d anticipated, and especially found it to be a brilliant destination for families. I’ve written a full guide to things to do in Boston with kids

Things to do in Boston

I’d recommend spending at least a couple of days in Boston, but there’s easily enough to fill a week or even more. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Wander around the Beacon Hill neighborhood. This was my favourite spot in Boston, an area characterized by its historic buildings and cute boutiques. Don’t miss the Beacon Hill Bookstore.
  • Go to the SoWa Open Market on a Sunday. The South End district, home to many galleries and hip boutiques and restaurants, is also worth visiting any day of the week.
  • Hop over the bridge and visit Harvard (technically in Cambridge rather than Boston). 
  • Go on an iconic Boston Duck Tour for an excellent intro to the city (very touristy, but worth it).
  • View Boston is a perfect place to go up high and get an overview of the city’s landscape.
  • Relax at Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden where you can ride the historic swan boats and kids can cool off in the Frog Pond (or ice skate there during the winter).
  • Follow the Freedom Trail, marked by a redbrick line, for an insight into Boston’s history and the American Revolution. 

Where to eat and drink in Boston

Boston doesn’t have a reputation as a foodie city, but there are lots of excellent meals to be had, especially in the food markets and in some of the neighbourhoods away from the city centre, like Jamaica Plain and South End.

Here are some of my top picks…

  • Tres Gatos – a cool spot in Jamaica Plain for brunch or tapas. It was the best meal we had in Boston
  • Boston Public Market – a one-stop shop for lots of Boston favourites, including Bon Me (a Vietnamese food truck turned restaurant) and Boston Public Donuts. The coffee at George Howell is also excellent. 
  • Life Alive – a casual chain of Boston cafes, serving healthy vegan food in a characterful setting.
  • Mei Mei Street Kitchen
  • Regina’s or Umberto’s in the North End/Little Italy for some of the city’s best pizza
  • Casa Verde – another favourite in Jamaica Plain, this time serving top notch Mexican food. 
  • J.P.Licks – the place to go for ice cream. They have branches across the city. 
  • Mike’s Pastry – famous for its humongous cannolis in a rainbow of colours and flavours. 

Where to stay in Boston

Boston has lots of different neighbourhoods to choose from, all with a different character. For luxury and convenience, head to Back Bay or downtown. We stayed in Seaport, which is a rapidly developing neighborhood with lots of restaurants, museums (including the amazing Children’s Museum) and green space. It’s also really convenient for the airport (about a 15-minute drive).

We also did a home exchange in Jamaica Plain, which was a great opportunity to experience local Boston life and eat at some of our favourite restaurants in Boston. It’s around 20 minutes from downtown on the train and home to the fabulous arboretum. 

Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Seaport District

In Seaport, we stayed at the Homewood Suites by Hilton. It’s convenient for public transport with a bus stop less than 5 minutes from the door. And the views were great from the upper floors. They just need to cut down on their single-use plastic.

Check the latest deals and book now.

How to get around Boston

Boston has a great public transport system made up of buses, commuter rail and the ‘T’ (the city’s subway service). This map shows the routes for the ‘T’ and commuter rail. We used both while there with ease. It was especially useful when staying in Jamaica Plain and traveling into the city centre. It felt clean and safe, especially in comparison to New York. We also used the bus system, which again was easy to navigate. 

Parking is fairly plentiful in garages around the city, but it’s expensive (starting around $12 for an hour), so I’d recommend using public transport instead. That said, it does get incrementally cheaper the longer you park. To search for garages, we used Parkopedia.   

Salem, MA

I bet a dollar the first thing you think of when you hear the word Salem is witches (either the witch trials or Sabrina!). And of course, this is the reason most people visit.

Home to the infamous witch trials of 1692, it has a mysterious and horrifying past. The city has leant into that reputation and its now an epicentre for the occult.

Explore its history at the Salem Witch Museum. And to fully appreciate it all, visit around Halloween when crowds flock to the city.

But bear the mind Salem does have more to offer than witches. There are gorgeous historic homes and a rich maritime history. Plus it’s also the birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

For this itinerary, we recommend stopping in Salem en route to Portsmouth or Southern Maine. But you could also spend a night there.

Things to do in Salem

Some of the highlights for things to do in Salem include: 

Where to eat and drink in Salem

How to get around Salem

If you’re reading this post, you’ll more than likely be arriving to Salem by car. But it’s also possible to get there via the commuter rail from Boston. Check MBTA for schedules.

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Once there, Salem is easily walkable. Boston’s Blue Bike system has been extended to Salem. And there’s a trolley tour. Or they even have their own ride-share system, the Salem Skipper.

Portsmouth, NH

A doorstep in Portsmouth Maine

Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s coastal city, was the first place we experienced that quintessential New England charm and its characteristic Georgian and Federal architecture. It’s so colourful that we invented a game called “rainbow houses” where we had to spot a house of every colour. It became a staple road trip game for the whole trip!

The small, walkable city dates back to the 17th century when it played an important role in colonial trade and shipbuilding. Nowadays, it retains an old-world charm with cobbled streets, historic homes and chances to explore the city’s past. Even if history isn’t your thing, you’ll still sure to be charmed by Portsmouth’s beauty. Plus there are lots of chances to get out on the water too.

Things to do in Portsmouth, NH

We’re writing a full guide to things to do in Portsmouth, but here are a few highlights…

Where to eat and drink in Portsmouth, NH

See our Portsmouth guide for all our favourite Portsmouth restaurants, but here are some highlights:

Where to stay in Portsmouth, NH

We stayed around 45 minutes outside of Portsmouth at Huttopia (see the section on Southern Maine), but these are some well reviewed options in the city itself. 

The Hotel Portsmouth

The Hotel Portsmouth is part of the Lark Hotel group, which prides itself on unique accommodation and memorable stays. The mansion house hotel is just steps from Market Square and is a beautiful example of Queen Anne Victorian architecture.

Check availability and book here. 

Hotel Thaxter

Probably the most beautiful boutique hotel in Portsmouth is Hotel Thaxter where minimalist art deco decor is the backdrop for Portsmouth native Celiz Thaxter’s art and inspirational life. The 15-room hotel is beautifully designed and centrally located.

Check availability and book here. 

Sailmaker’s House

Renovated in 2017, but dating back to 1801, The Sailmaker’s House has historic charm, modern tech and stylish decor with a maritime edge.

Check availability and book here. 

How to get around Portsmouth, NH

Downtown Portsmouth is easily walkable. For parking, try High-Hanover Parking Garage or Foundry Place Garage. Or there’s metered parking for around $1.50 per hour.

There’s also the Coast Bus system that has accessible buses around Portsmouth and the Seacoast.

Southern Maine

Lake view at Ogunquit, Southern Maine

Southern Maine is a gorgeous area of quaint seaside towns, sandy beaches and rugged coast. It encompasses Portland and everywhere south of the city. I’ve covered Portland by itself in the next section, so this one focuses on some of the smaller towns of Southern Maine, including Ogunquit and the Kennebunks. 

I hadn’t heard of most of these places before this trip, but Ogunquit was one of my favourite towns we visited. We highly recommend spending at least a night in this area to get a taste of the charm of small-town coastal Maine, and part of what makes this route so special.

Things to do in Southern Maine

See our guide to Southern Maine for loads more things to do and places to eat and stay, but here are some of the highlights.

  • Ogunquit: Ogunquit is immediately charming with cute, candy-coloured homes, tree-lined streets, a gorgeous coastline and the exciting bustle of a popular seaside town. Its name literally means “the beautiful place by the sea”. Spend time in the town and beaches, and don’t miss the spectacular Marginal Way, a cliff walk along the rugged shoreline.
  • The Kennebunks: the Kennebunks includes Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, the latter most famous for being the home of the Bush family’s summer compound. But the towns are about much more than that. They have a beautiful, old-world charm – think cobblestone streets, riverside walks and historic Colonial and Greek Revival architecture. 
  • Wells: another cute coastal town where you can enjoy a beach day or coastal walk. But perhaps the biggest reason to visit is to stop at the famous Maine Diner.

Where to eat and drink in Southern Maine 

Find plenty more food and drink recommendations in our Southern Maine guide, but here’s a handful of favourites. 

  • Maine Diner – Maine’s most iconic diner and one that road trippers have religiously stopped at since the 1940s. 
  • Dock Square Coffee House – a charming coffee shop in Kennebunkport that reminded me of Luke’s Diner in the Gilmore Girls.
  • Sweet Pea’s Ice Cream – one of the best ice creams we had in all of New England.
  • Maggie’s Dine and Drive – a drive-through diner serving hearty breakfast sandwiches

Where to stay in Southern Maine 

Here are some top recommendations, plus also see our guide to the best family resorts in Maine.

Huttopia Southern Maine

We stayed at Huttopia Southern Maine, a stylish glamping spot on the shores of a lake, amid a glorious pine forest. It’s perfect for families with everything you need, from a playground to a pool to kids’ entertainment and a family-friendly restaurant.  Choose from safari tents or cabins and spend a few days relaxing in nature.

Check availability and book here. 

Nellie Littlefield Inn & Spa
Nellie Little Field Inn and Spa in Ogunquit

We ate ice creams next to the Nellie Littlefield Inn & Spa while I lusted over its architecture and style. It looks perfectly charming and the reviews confirm that.

Check availability and book here. 

Awol Kennebunkport

Awol Kennebunkport is a beautifully designed eco hotel that looks straight out of the pages of Kinfolk magazine. 

Check availability and book here. 

How to get around Southern Maine

While the seaside towns of Southern Maine tend to be highly walkable, you’ll ideally need a car to get between them. I give more details on the individual towns in our guide to Southern Maine. 

Portland, Maine

A street in Portland ME

Portland, Maine was one of our favourite places in New England and a place I could easily see myself living. It oddly has a lot of similarities with Portland, Oregon, including a fantastic culinary scene and a decidedly hipster bent. It’s much smaller in size, but packs a lot in, from galleries to green space to an amazing craft brew scene. And being on the shores of Casco Bay means you’re never far from the sea and the lick of salty air. 

As with all the cool places, it’s suffering from gentrification that’s pushing all the people out who made it cool in the first place – but for now, it remains one of the USA’s most vibrant and exciting small cities. 

Things to do in Portland Maine 

We’ve written a full guide to things to do in Portland, Maine, so pop over there for more details. But here are a few of the highlights…

  • Explore hipster Munjoy Hill where you’ll find what makes Portland so much like its sister in Oregon. We knew it as soon as we saw the local kombuchery! It’s also home to the Portland Observatory, which has a great view across the city. And then wander down to the Eastern Promenade park for food trucks and ocean views.
  • Visit Peaks Island, a small island around 15 minutes from Portland where you can walk, bike, or even hire a golf cart.
  • See the Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine. 
  • Wander Old Port with its narrow, cobblestone streets, red-brick buildings and many great restaurants and bars. 
  • Visit the International Crypto Zoology Museum (the study of hidden or unknown animals)!

Where to eat and drink in Portland, ME

This is the question on everyone’s lips when you say you’ve been to Portland: where did you eat? It’s known for its creative locavore dining scene and attracts foodies from across the country (same as Portland Oregon does).

These are a few highlights:

  • Restaurante El Corazon – an atmospheric and kid-friendly family-run restaurant
  • Food trucks at Thompson’s Point – these are some of the best in the city 
  • Tandem Coffee – said by coffee snobs to be the best in Portland 
  • Jing Yan – some say Jing Yan serves the best Asian food in all of Portland. But it also has Izakaya Minato, Miyake and Cong Tu Bot to contend with. It seems you can’t really go wrong with any of them.
  • Eventide Oyster Co. – the place to go for seafood
  • Chaval – one of Portland’s most popular restaurants that defines its locavore scene.

Where to stay in Portland, ME

Fortland

Fortland is one of the best places we’ve ever stayed. Set within Fort Scammel on House Island, just a 10-minute boat trip from the city, it feels a world away from urban life. Go there to see how owners Stefan and Katrina have created a beautiful land of stylish yurts, communal spaces and the ideal place to simply “get away from it all”.

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Check availability and book here. 

Hotels in Portland city

If you want to be in the city of Portland itself, we heard good reviews of the Blind Tiger Portland and Pomegranate Inn, which are both really stylish boutique hotels. If I had to choose, I’d say Blind Tiger has the edge. 

How to get around Portland, Maine 

Parts of the city, including Old Port, are walkable. But to get between different areas, you’ll need wheels. There’s a bike share system or you could hire a bike. And taxis are readily available with rideshare apps like Uber or Grab.

There’s also a public bus system that services the city. We explored by car and found parking pretty easy to find.

Camden, Maine 

Coastal view of Camden Maine

We visited Camden by chance when a Home Exchange opportunity came up. And it turned out to be a highlight from our trip. The cute seaside town on Penobscot Bay is no secret to New Englanders, but for people like me, it was a surprise. 

The supremely cute downtown has an interesting mix of traditional stores, upscale boutiques (a necklace caught my eye that cost over $4k!) and a fair few creative hipster places, like Goods and Pastoralia.

We loved spending a few days there, slowing down, enjoying the water and meandering around the streets. It’s no wonder it’s a popular vacation spot.

Things to do in Camden Maine

  • Camden Hills State Park – the 5,700-acre Camden Hills State Park has 30 miles of hiking trails and includes Mount Battie, which you can either hike or drive. 
  • Barrett’s Cove – we spent a beautiful afternoon at Barrett’s Cove, which is a great place for a swim and a picnic. 
  • Get out on the water and see Penobscot Bay on a boat tour, like this sunset sailing cruise or historic schooner day trip.
  • Visit Curtis House Overlook for a fantastic view of the historic lighthouse.
  • We also recommend visiting neighboring Rockport, another cute fishing village. And Belfast is a bigger, less tourist-focussed town, about a 25-minute drive away.

Where to eat in Camden Maine

The first thing to know about eating out in Camden Maine is that places close pretty early around 9pm with last orders around an hour before that. We got caught out the first night when we wanted to get a takeout after the boys were asleep, and the only place left for food was a brewpub.

But if you’re early enough (and remember to book in advance), these are some excellent options. 

  • Zoot Coffee – the place to go for hipster coffee in Camden.
  • Owl & Turtle Bookshop Cafe  – our favourite spot in Camden. A charming bookshop with a cute cafe downstairs – what’s not to like? 
  • Long Grain – book in advance for Camden’s wildly popular Asian restaurant.
  • Mixed Greens – go here for a healthy fix of salad bowls and grains.
  • Goods – a minimalist hipster cafe and deli, plus a bar on weekend nights.
  • Lucky Betty’s – an eclectic, colourful bar, serving great cocktails.
  • Peter Otts on the Water and Waterfront are two of the most highly recommended seafood options.

Where to stay in Camden

Lord Camden Inn

Our home exchange was canceled so we stayed at The Lord Camden Inn, a charming boutique hotel on Main Street with exceptionally friendly hospitality.

The elegant, traditional rooms are comfy, some with cosy fireplaces. And they serve a daily buffet breakfast, including a freshly baked treat.

Our kids (and I!) loved the free cookies in reception.

Check availability and book here. 

16 Bay View
View from 16 Bay View, Maine

16 Bay View is the sister hotel of the Lord Camden Inn. We were given a free drinks token for their bar when we checked in, so visited one day.

It has a sophisticated bar downstairs, plus a rooftop bar and restaurant with fabulous views of the harbour.

16 Bay View is slightly more modern than the Lord Camden Inn, but has the same focus on elegance, comfort and top notch service.

Check availability and book here. 

How to get around Camden, Maine

Downtown Camden is completely walkable. And you could feasibly visit without a car as there are coaches and shuttle services that take you from Portland airport and other towns in Mid Coast Maine.

Once in town, a rideshare like Uber is unlikely, but there are some taxi companies, including Craft, which can take you to nearby sights (just be sure to book in advance).

Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park, the sacred land of the Wabanaki people, has the sort of name that promises magic, and its special blend of mountains, rugged coast, forests and lakes is a reality that delivers.

You could easily spend a week there, but we only had a few days so concentrated on Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island. If we’d had more time, we’d have also explored the Schoodic Peninsula and Deer Isle. 

I fell head over heels for Bar Harbor, the town next to Acadia. It brought to life a lot of my Stars Hollow dreams, complete with a bandstand and lively local community. And Acadia itself is stunning and really easy for families. It’s undoubtedly one of Maine’s biggest highlights. 

We have a guide to the best of Bar Harbor, plus a guide to how to visit Acadia with kids, but here are some of the highlights.

Things to do in Acadia National Park

What you choose to do in Acadia will somewhat depend on how adventurous you want to, or can, be. There are options for all levels and abilities. Here are some of the highlights…

  • Drive the Park Loop road – the most accessible way to explore Acadia, including stops at Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond and Cadillac Mountain. You need a pass to enter the park. Add on this audio guide for commentary along the way.
  • Jordan Pond Loop – an easy, flat 3.3-mile hike
  • Bubbles Trail – one of the park’s most popular moderate hikes, including two short spur trails.
  • Hire a bike and explore the 45 miles of carriage roads, a network of car-free roads throughout the park, offering spectacular views of the sights. You can also explore them on a horse and carriage ride. We hired bikes and a trailer from Acadia Bike Rentals.
  • See the sunrise at Cadillac Mountian, almost the furthest point east in the USA. Make sure to reserve a vehicle pass beforehand if you want to drive up. We went later in the day and the view was still spectacular.
  • Learn about the history of Acadia and the Wabanaki people at the Abbe Museum
  • Explore the beautiful town of Bar Harbor, filled with quaint shops, restaurants with cute gardens, and a bustling village square, complete with a bandstand. 
  • Go tide pooling on Bar Island or near Bass Harbor Lighthouse.
  • Do a boat trip to see the national park from the water. There are lots of options, including whale watching trips, scenic, sightseeing cruises, and fishing excursions.

Where to eat and drink in Acadia National Park

We have more detailed food options in our Bar Harbor guide, but here are some highlights…

  • Jordan Pond House – the only restaurant inside the park and the home of the famous Jordan Pond popovers.
  • Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast – a fantastic traditional American diner with excellent service 
  • Mount Desert Island Ice Cream – for small batch, innovative flavors
  • Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium – for sweets and lobster-flavoured ice cream!
  • Two Cats – excellent brunch in a cute historic house.
  • Side Street – popular crowd-pleaser with a family atmosphere (they even give the kids modelling clay on arrival)

Where to stay in Acadia National Park

Villager Motel

We stayed at the Villager Motel, which is a budget option right in the centre of Bar Harbor, in walking distance of everything. Despite its budget prices, it’s still clean and comfy and there’s a breakfast buffet every morning. The kids also appreciated the pool.

Check availability and book here. 

Ivy Manor Inn
Ivy Manor Inn at Bar Harbor

If you have a bigger budget, the Ivy Manor Inn, across the street from the Villager Motel, looked amazing. They have lots of fire pits that guests gather around, drinking cocktails come eventide.

Check availability and book here. 

Salt Cottages

On the way into Bar Harbor, there are lots of cute guesthouses that caught my eye, including the Salt Cottages. You’d have to weigh up their cuteness with the convenience of being in walking distance of everything in town. I’d perhaps lean more towards convenience.

Check availability and book here. 

How to get around Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

Victoria riding a bike around Acadia National Park

Bar Harbor and Acadia are fairly easy to explore without a car. The town of Bar Harbor is walkable unless you stay outside the main downtown area. And from there, you can either hire bikes or use the Island Explorer Shuttle, which is a free service that takes you all around Mount Desert Island. 

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2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Boston to Maine Road Trip”

  1. Friends trip for 7 nights…for Boston to Maine with flights to Boston from Dallas, what would you estimate trip to cost per person on average?

    Reply

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