Travel Guide – Roadtrip to Maine (Acadia National Park and Portland)

One of the most beautiful and picturesque New England states, Maine is famous for its rocky coastline, mountains, fresh seafood and lighthouse views. Visiting Maine is an experience on its own with its outdoor activities, dining, fairs, festivals and art galleries.

On the way to Acadia National Park

Our trip plan was focused on driving the quickest route from New York City to Acadia with a planned stop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (NH). With both I-95 and US-1 going through Portsmouth, NH makes for a great stop with its quaint New England feel on the border with Maine. From there we made an ice cream stop 30 minutes from Bar Harbor before calling it a day at our Bed and Breakfast located within Bar Harbor.

Portsmouth, NH

Quaint New Hampshire border town before entering Maine from I-95 or US-1.

Great stop to break up the drive for a quick stretch of the legs at Prescott Park and Trial Gardens. Later on, grab something great to eat at one of the many fine dining establishments. Plenty of places to eat along Daniel St and nearby streets. We stopped by Fezziwig’s Food and Fountain for a quick bite of clam chowder before continuing our journey to Acadia. Fezziwig’s stop was delicious and recommended.

At Strawbery Banke Museum one can go back in history and see what life was life dating back to the 1700s. This is an outdoor museum with each building open to visitors to learn more about each property. However, entrance to each property is closed during COVID-19. Most of the construction on site has been preserved and maintained to stay original to the era.

Ice Cream Stop at Blueberry Hill Dairy Bar

From there, the road trip stopped at Blueberry Hill Dairy Bar in Ellsworth about 30 minutes from our Bar Harbor and our B&B for the duration of the trip. Here you will find several fantastic options such as their Black Raspberry ice cream. Other good options are the Blueberry and Black Raspberry softie as a single or twist. Yum!

Bar Harbor

It is highly recommended to stay in Bar Harbor. One is always close to sightseeing tours, equipment rentals, shopping, dining, and nightlife without dragging the car around. It’s a quick 10-minutes ride by car to enter Acadia from here, with convenient access to Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and more.

Tours

NOTE: Normally, getting space on a tour with little advance notice is reasonable. As all things 2020, COVID-19 social distancing rules have introduced limited capacity at many tour sites. Many of the tours are booked two weeks in advance, plan early and reserve your adventures prior to arriving in Maine.

Whale Watching
Tours can be obtained from Bar Harbor Whale Watching Co located by Agamont Park in Bar Harbor. The tour is 3 to 5 hours takes you out into the Atlantic Ocean to known locations of good whale sightings. Along the way, one will get views of some of Maine’s beautiful coastline. There are other tour options available here as well.

Equipment Rentals

We did not venture out for bike or canoe rentals. There is an abundance of rental options within Bar Harbor where you rent out equipment for the day or even the week. Make sure you have space in your car to haul the gear and have a blast!

Eat

Jordan’s Restaurant
Some of the best Blueberry and Strawberry pancakes around. My personal favorite was the strawberry pancake. Maine blueberries taste much better than the ones found in New York. We skipped the breakfast at our B&B for this place, it was worth it! Although, come early as this place does get busy.

Bar Harbor Beer Works
This is an excellent stop to grab a bite and enjoy the fresh outdoor air on their second-floor outdoor deck. There is a good selection of craft beers and entries with a relaxed atmosphere. Come early enough to get a table quickly.

Acadia National Park

ACADIA

See post Parks – Acadia National Park, ME for a detailed guide.

Camden

Camden is a classy coastal town in Maine along US-1 with Hampton’s vibe to it. It’s a great stop by itself. Nearby are some excellent parks, dining, boat tours to historic lighthouses and beach at Barret’s Cove. Camden Hill State Park has wonderful views of the bay and picnic area. For the more adventurous ones, can go for a 1.5-mile hike up Mount Battie.

Portland

Things To Do

Portland Freedom Trail
Self-guided walking tour dedicated to America’s dark history of slavery. For more information, can visit Portland Freedom Trail website. This walking tour takes you through 13 stops in downtown Portland Maine.

Bug Light Lighthouse

Bug Light Lighthouse was built in 1875 at the end of the breakwater to protect Portland’s inner harbor. The design is inspired from the fourth-century Choragic Monument in Athens.

Portland Head Lighthouse and Museum

Unlike the other lighthouse locations, this one brings big crowds and parking is extra.

Eat

The Holy Donut

When we arrived at the Holy Donut around noon, all variations of blueberry donuts were sold out. We settled on dark chocolate sea salt and the lemon donuts. The dark chocolate sea salt donut was pretty good. These donuts are good, but our favorite donuts are in Philadelphia.

The Independent Ice Co

The Independent Ice Co is located in the Waterfront district of Portland. Great spot for a quick bite and beer in- or out- side. The service is fast and the staff is friendly.

The Lobster Shack at Two Lights

Our favorite dining spot approximately 15 minutes outside of downtown Portland. It is takeout only, has ample seating space outside to camp out to have a nice meal right on the water.

Exit

Desert of Maine

The Desert of Maine attraction is a short 15-minute hop off the Interstate on the way out of Maine, with the only original structure being the 175-year-old barn from the Tuttle farm. While Desert of Maine may be a true phenomena as a result of the retreating ice glaciers during North America’s last ice age, I am skeptical of the recent history described at this site; it is associated with myth, gossip, and speculation. As a result, I would skip this money grab attraction and spend a little extra time in Portland or make another stop in Portsmouth, NH.

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