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The Best 10-Day Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary For An Amazing Trip

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By Jessie Festa. This Maine coast itinerary includes affiliate links to trusted partners!

Do you need help planning a coastal Maine road trip itinerary?

Then you’re in the right place!

Located in the New England region of the United States, Maine is the country’s easternmost state and borders Canada to the north.

Its cooler climate and coastal location are what allow visitors to enjoy many of the things Maine is most known for: delicious seafood, juicy blueberries, beautiful beaches, rocky coastline, and stunning landscapes that offer some of the world’s best hiking and outdoor activities.

There is a lot to enjoy on a Maine road trip, though with so many options, it can be hard to narrow down what to actually add to your itinerary.

Luckily, I’ve done the hard work for you, and you’ll find a road trip through Maine mapped out below — complete with recommendations for where to go, what to do, where to eat, and tips for having the best trip possible.

This itinerary is based on a summer road trip I did with my husband Andy, though solo travelers, families, and friend groups can also enjoy the below suggestions.

My goal:

To help you have the best Maine road trip possible; one complete with incredible memories you’ll truly never forget!

Renting a car for coastal Maine road trip? Check out Discover Cars to quickly compare your rental options. Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% by using their tool!

There are also a number of fun guided Maine tours to add to your itinerary, like an Old Port Culinary Walking Tour from Portland or an eBike Tour of Acadia National Park’s Carriage Roads from Bar Harbor.

Psst, don’t forget to pin this Maine itinerary for later!

coastal Maine road trip itinerary

Table of Contents

Free Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary Resources

But first, before we dive into our Maine road trip planner, I invite you to grab my free Ultimate Travel Planning Kit — which also includes a downloadable Google Map of my full Maine coastal road trip itinerary (with 80+ attractions, hikes, and hotels pre-plotted!).

There isn’t great cell reception in many of the places on this route, so downloading the Google Map will save you time as you can pull it up before you leave your hotel for the map to work offline.

Simply add the map to your phone to have it ready to go for your trip.

Bonus: The kit comes with 40+ other travel resources — from printables to quizzes to itineraries — all meant to help you explore the world beyond the guidebook!

On that note, let’s go over how to have the absolute best road trip in Maine.

10-Day Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary (Quick Facts)

To help you save time, here is a quick overview of the Maine coast vacation itinerary detailed below.

Maine car rental: Use DiscoverCars to compare prices across various car rental companies. This can really help you save money when traveling to Maine or heading out on a road trip.

Maine travel insurance: I use and recommend SafetyWing, which offers budget-friendly yet robust coverage.

Road trip planning tool: Wondering how to plan a trip to Maine? Check out Roadtrippers Plus, which helps you plan your route, estimate gas costs, book hotels and tours, create maps, and more. Use code “BTR5QTP” for $5 off!

Stop #1: Portland (2 nights)

Stop #2: Bar Harbor (3 nights)

  • Stay: We stayed at the Acadia Pines Motel based solely on the price, and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. It was fine for what we needed, though if I did it again I’d probably choose the reasonably-priced Little Fig Hotel, which also has a better location right in Bar Harbor’s walkable village.
  • Eat: 2 Cats Restaurant (made-from-scratch breakfast), Terrace Grille (delicious lunch on the water), Merchant & Frye (farm-to-fork eatery), and Geddy’s (fresh local lobster).
  • Do: Hike in Acadia National Park, wander the walkable village and its coastal Shore Path, and go on a tour with Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co.
  • Tours: Click here for a full list of tours in Bar Harbor, Maine.
hiking in Acadia National Park on a coastal Maine road trip
Hiking up Parkman Mountain in Acadia National Park

Stop #3: Camden (2 nights)

  • Stay: The High Tide Inn, a quaint bed & breakfast with gorgeous views and a private beach.
  • Eat: Ports of Italy (Italian), Peter Ott’s on the Water (waterfront Maine fare), and Sea Dog Brewing Co (comfort food paired with local beers + they have a waterfront patio).
  • Do: Hike in Camden Hills State Park, take in the view from Mount Battie, enjoy a sunset sail, and wander the walkable village.
  • Tours: Click here for a full list of tours in Camden, Maine.

Stop #4: Kennebunkport (2 nights)

Renting A Car For Your Coastal Maine Road Trip

The best way to visit Maine is with a car.

If you need to rent a car for your Maine coastal road trip, it’s recommended to check out Discover Cars to quickly compare your rental options.

Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!

Route 1 Maine Road Trip Map

When it comes to Maine driving trips along the coast, many people like to take Route 1 since it’s smooth, scenic, and parallels the Maine coast.

To help you save time, you can click here for a Google Map for your Route 1 Maine road trip itinerary with the above-mentioned destinations pre-plotted.

coastal Maine road trip itinerary map

10-Day Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary (In-Depth Plan)

Now let’s go over our best coastal road trip in Maine in-depth.

In this section, I’ll detail a number of recommendations in each stop based on my own unforgettable 10 day Maine itinerary — so that you can steal them for your own travels.

Of course, this list of ideas for a road trip through coastal Maine is not exhaustive. If you have your own suggestions, please share them in the comments below!

Maine Road Trip Stop #1: Portland (2 Nights)

One stop you should definitely add to your Maine trip is Portland, a hip city with a rich history.

Originally called “Machigonne” (great neck) by the Native American Algonquians, the area was later named after the English Isle of Portland.

According to Britannica, it changed names a few more times before eventually becoming Portland again, and its history includes being a fishing and trading village, seeing many wars (and being destroyed and rebuilt many times), and playing a big part in the transportation industry.

Much of this history, and more, can be explored at Portland’s many museums.

Portland is actually Maine’s largest city, and today you’ll find loads of opportunities to discover great restaurants, bars, nightlife, tours, and cultural institutions.

Quite honestly, there is enough to do to warrant a longer stay in Portland; however, as this is only a 10-day Maine itinerary and we’ve got places to go, I’m keeping it at 2 nights. That being said, feel free to extend if you have the time!

Where To Stay In Portland

Airbnb with hot tub. During our road trip to Portland, Maine, we stayed in a charming Airbnb housed in a building that’s on the National Historic Registry. Known as the Leonard Bond Chapman House (circa 1868), the home is a classic Second-Empire Victorian, and once featured vast farmland and a successful nursery — though today you’ll find the land has amenities like a hot tub, pool, and relaxing lounge areas.

Historic Airbnb in Portland on a coastal Maine road trip itinerary
Portland Airbnb with a hot tub

Hotel in Portland’s Old Port. If you’d prefer to be in the heart of the action, staying in the historic Old Port with its cobblestone streets and beautiful brick buildings is a smart idea. You’ll be within walking distance of loads of restaurants, bars, cafes, and boutiques — plus the waterfront is nearby if you’d like to enjoy a promenade walk, waterfront meal, or sunset cruise.

Things To Do In Portland, Maine

-Bike The Lighthouses

One fun activity to do along your coastal Maine road trip is to bike the lighthouses Portland is so well known for.

You can rent a bike from Lighthouse Bikes in South Portland, which offers rentals for $10 per hour or $35 per day, which also gets you a helmet, bike lock, and a map.

There are 5 lighthouses on the main route, though most people only do the first 4 — Bug Light, Spring Point Ledge, Ram Island Ledge, and Portland Head Lighthouse.

visiting Portland Head Lighthouse on a coastal Maine road trip
Portland Head Lighthouse

The latter is Maine’s oldest lighthouse since 1791 and is the most beautiful of them all. Located in Fort Williams Park, you’ll enjoy lovely coastal walking paths and views looking out over Portland Harbor and Casco Bay toward Portland, Cushing Island, Peaks Island, and other lighthouses.

Along with lighthouses, vacations in Maine on the coast should include fresh seafood. While at Portland Head Lighthouse, you absolutely must get a lobster roll from Bite Into Maine — a permanent food truck with a short but delicious menu of fresh and unique lobster rolls.

I opted for “The Picnic” with coleslaw, butter, and celery salt. Yum!

-Visit Peaks Island

Accessible only by ferry, Peaks Island is a fun day trip from Portland — especially if you love great views.

While there isn’t a ton to do on the island, the vistas are gorgeous, and you can rent bikes to explore the island’s 3.7 mile loop.

Along the way, make sure to stop at the two public beaches:

  • Sandy Beach, which is sandy and swimmable
  • Cairn Beach, which is rocky and dramatic

You can also see the remains of Battery Steele. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s the largest WWII gun battery on Peaks Island and one of the largest ever built in the USA, according to peaksisland.info.

-Visit Portland’s Beaches

Speaking of beaches, Portland has many near to the city. Some top Maine beach recommendations here include:

  • Willard Beach, the closest beach to Portland and known for being quiet with beautiful views
  • Crescent Beach, a stunning beach near the award-winning Two Lights Lobster Shack and next door to another beach, Scarborough Beach State Park
  • Old Orchard Beach, which is one of the most popular Maine beaches with an amusement park, boardwalk, and 7 miles of coastline

If you don’t mind driving about an hour from Portland, you can also visit Popham Beach State Park, a pristine and beautiful beach known for having one of Maine’s longest stretches of sand.

Here you can also have a unique adventure: walking out to Fox Island at low tide to scramble the rocks and enjoy the views.

beach in Portland seen while driving up the coast of Maine
Beach in Portland

-Explore the local breweries

Portland has a rich beer culture, with at least 16 different breweries in the city. You’ll find big name breweries, like Allagash Brewing Company, as well as local favorites, like Liquid Riot Bottling Company.

You can choose to visit a brewery on your own, or book a beer tour to try a few different options.

For instance, Maine Beer Tours introduces visitors to the local craft beer scene — from the history to the process to the taste as you sample a variety of local brews.

-Wander Portland’s many neighborhoods

For those who love to wander on foot, Portland has many walkable neighborhoods worth exploring, a few of which include:

The Old Port. I mentioned the Old Port above, but this charming district features cobbled streets, brick buildings, and a beautiful waterfront. Plus, there are so many local businesses you’ll never get bored.

East End & Munjoy Hill. Located next to the Old Port, in many parts of the East End and Munjoy Hill you’ll find an industrial chic vibe — though it’s also a great area to see some impressive homes. Here you can also take in views at the Portland Observatory, which is the USA’s last standing maritime signal tower, and along the Eastern Promenade out over Casco Bay and Portland Harbor.

The Arts District. This section of downtown Portland was designated as an area to promote art and culture in 1995. Wander around to enjoy numerous museums, galleries, live music venues, and creative eateries.

waterfront view in Portland on a Maine coastal drive
Waterfront view while walking from the Old Port toward the East End

-Enjoy the museums

There are many museums in Portland, like the Maine Jewish Museum, Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum, and the Umbrella Cover Museum for those wanting a little quirky Maine fun.

Probably the most popular is the Portland Museum of Art, which boasts over 22,000 works of American, European, and contemporary art, as well as pieces from Maine that celebrate local artists. They’re known for having the state’s largest collection of European art, and they also offer film programming.

Where To Eat In Portland, Maine

Rose Foods. Start your day with breakfast at this New York-style bagel shop offering a wide array of spreads and fish toppings. They make their bagels in house every morning, and there are rotating daily specials. If visiting on a Wednesday, make sure to get the Egg-In-A-Bagel — which features an egg actually baked into a bagel.

woman eating a Rose Foods bagel on a coastal Maine road trip
Egg-In-A-Bagel at Rose Foods in Portland, Maine

Central Provisions. One of Portland’s most renowned eateries, Central Provisions has a creative menu focused on fresh ingredients — with many tasty options for vegetarians, too. Pair a craft cocktail with caramelized sheep’s cheese, baked goat ragu, or heritage chicken and, if the weather is nice, enjoy on the outdoor patio.

Blyth & Burrows. This cocktail bar and restaurant in Portland’s Old Port serves up tasty sharables like deviled eggs and haddock sliders alongside delicious craft cocktails. The space actually has a speakeasy element, too, as the bookcase opens up to a secret room.

Personally, I loved the “Ship Captain Crew” featuring dandelion bourbon, rhum, Montenegro, amontillado, lemongrass, spruce tip, and pecan wood smoke. The waitress poured half into a glass while table-side, then left the other half in a bottle to preserve the smoke.

"Ship Captain Crew" cocktail at Blyth & Burrows in Portland, Maine
“Ship Captain Crew” cocktail at Blyth & Burrows in Portland

Liquid Riot. While they have a food menu, I’d recommend coming here just for drinks. They brew their own beer and distill their own alcohol — meaning the libations are delicious. Plus, the space is really cool with giant glass windows showing the behind-the-scenes of the operation, wine barrels as tables, and indoor-outdoor seating.

Drink recommendation: the “Wild Hearts” made with Liquid Riot Bonfire Spirit, mezcal, banana Cognac, lime, prickly pear, grapefruit, and spice.

Holy Donut. This beloved local donut shop is known for their made-from-scratch potato donuts that come in flavors like chocolate sea salt and blueberry lemon. My top pick: the vegan chocolate caramel coconut, which looks and tastes like a Samoa cookie!

lavender Holy Donut in Portland, Maine

Tours In Portland, Maine

Add the following tours to your Maine coastal drive for an unforgettable trip:

Click here for a full list of Portland tours.

Tips For Visiting Portland, Maine

Know where to park for cheap in Portland. Parking in Portland can be expensive, especially as many lots make you pay a set price until 2am instead of hourly. The cheapest parking lot we saw was called Simba Parking, or Spare Spot Parking on Google Maps. It’s located at Fore and Franklin Streets and costs $15 for all-day parking.

Stay in downtown Portland if you don’t want to drive. We loved our Airbnb for the historic charm and hot tub, but it also meant we had to drive or Uber to restaurants and bars. If you want to be walkable for a night out, stay downtown.

Ubers aren’t prevalent at night. At least in our experience. In fact, when calling one at 10pm on a Tuesday night we had to wait almost 30 minutes. If you’re nervous about this, there are local taxi companies where you can arrange a ride home in advance if needed.

Maine Road Trip Stop #2: Bar Harbor (3 Nights)

Located on Mount Desert Island, at the base of the looming Cadillac Mountain, sits Bar Harbor — a resort town known for its delicious lobster, coastal views, and for being the gateway to Acadia National Park, one of the most beautiful East Coast national parks.

Within the charming and walkable Bar Harbor Village, you’ll also find loads of bars, cafes, ice cream shops, interesting stores, and restaurants advertising plates of fresh Maine seafood.

No guide to Maine coast tourism would be complete without mentioning this popular destination. Here is how to maximize your time in Bar Harbor.

Where To Stay In Bar Harbor, Maine

One important consideration when planning a Maine vacation is your accommodation location. For Bar Harbor, it’s recommended to stay in Bar Harbor Village, or as close to it as possible. A few options for this:

Little Fig Hotel. If you’re on a budget, this charming property is just a few minutes walk from the water. It is pet-friendly and offers modern, clean, and spacious rooms at a lower rate than many of the other local options.

Bar Harbor Inn & Spa. If you have some extra cash to spend on a truly opulent Bar Harbor hotel, look no further than this stunning waterfront property overlooking Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands. Everything is grand and rich in detail, with luxury accommodations, an onsite spa, multiple restaurant options from fine dining to outdoor eating, and expansive lawns for taking in the views.

visiting Bar Harbor Inn on a Maine road trip
Bar Harbor Inn

Things To Do In Bar Harbor, Maine

-Explore Acadia National Park

The 47,000-acre Acadia National Park is gorgeous and is hands down one of the best places to visit on the coast of Maine.

You can explore the park through its many hiking and biking trails or opt for a scenic drive — like the drive up Cadillac Mountain, best enjoyed at sunrise or sunset. Just note you’ll need to book a permit for $6 here to do this popular drive.

We did a ton of hiking in Acadia National Park. A few of our favorite trails include:

The Beehive Trail. This short but steep trail was my personal favorite, and if you want to have the best road trip through Maine I highly recommend including it — especially as it offers jaw-dropping views from 520 feet, as you can see in my Instagram Reel here.

It can be a bit scary at times as you’ll be scrambling and scaling a cliff with very thin ledges (don’t look down!), but if you can handle the heights you’ll be greatly rewarded with expansive vistas of Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Great Head, Penobscot Bay, and the east side of Mount Desert Island.

We extended this gorgeous trail to also include The Bowl and Gorham Mountain — highly recommended for additional gorgeous views.

woman hiking The Beehive in Acadia National Park on a coastal Maine road trip
Hiking up The Beehive in Acadia National Park

Parkman Mountain & Bald Peak Loop. This moderate 2.4-mile trail takes you up two peaks offering beautiful views of Somes Sound, Northeast Harbor, Upper Hadlock Pond, and numerous Maine islands.

Otter Point & Ocean Path. If you’re looking for an epic Acadia National Park sunrise hike, this one is stunning and is much less crowded than the more popular Cadillac Mountain. Hike from Otter Point toward Otter Cliff and choose one of the many rocky outcroppings to sit and enjoy the sun floating over the horizon and casting an array of colors over the Atlantic Ocean.

After taking in the sunrise, continue walking the flat and scenic Ocean Path. This easy Acadia trail has a number of lookouts and attractions — like Thunder Hole, a carved-out inlet where you can view (and hear) the sea loudly smashing against rocky shoreline, and Boulder Beach, a beach featuring thousands of boulders.

End at Sand Beach, a unique beach where 70% of the sand is composed of broken shells. The beach also showcases gorgeous views of Great Head and Acadia’s curving coastline.

woman walking the Ocean Path in Acadia National Park on a Maine road trip
One of the many beautiful views along the Ocean Path in Acadia National Park

South Bubble to Eagle Lake via Connors Nubble. Beautiful views of Jordan Pond and Eagle Lake as well as popular Acadia peaks like Pemetic, Sargent Mountain, and Cadillac Mountains abound on this moderate hike — which ends with a fun trek around the lake and a bit of scrambling.

Beech Cliff Ladder and Canada Cliff Loop. This moderate 1.8-mile loop offers some fun sections where you’ll climb up ladders built into the mountain that takes you up to Beech Cliff for lovely views over Echo Lake Beach as well as out toward Acadia and St. Sauveur Mountains.

-Explore Maine beer culture

You’ll find no shortage of local craft beer options when exploring the coastline of Maine, including a number of breweries and taprooms right in Bar Harbor.

This includes Atlantic Brewing Company, a local brewery showcasing a wide variety of beers to suit every taste — from IPAs to ales to porters and beyond.

One must-try beer is their Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale made with real Maine blueberries, though it isn’t too fruity or sweet.

-Walk Bar Harbor’s Shore Path

Beginning at Agamont Park, this paved half-mile path follows the shore of Frenchman Bay and rewards you with gorgeous views of the Porcupine Islands, Balance Rock, Egg Rock Light, and the Schoodic Peninsula, to name a few Maine attractions.

It’s a flat and easy path and perfect for those looking to simply enjoy some stunning Maine scenery or take photos.

waterfront views along Bar Harbor's Shore Path on a Maine road trip
Waterfront views along Bar Harbor’s Shore Path

-Go Whale Watching.

One highlight of a coastal Maine road trip itinerary is seeing the local wildlife — particularly the whales; however, to see these incredible creatures, you’ll need to book a cruise.

Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co is a recommended local operator. Not only are their tours top-rated with a high rate of success when it comes to actually seeing whales, but they care about conservation.

Along with being certified under the Whale Sense program and following their guidelines, their boats host researchers from a number of non-profits who collect data that helps ensure sustainable wildlife tourism and the protection of humpback whales.

-Shop Bar Harbor Village.

You can’t visit Bar Harbor without wandering its charming village, where shops, cafes, and eateries beam with Maine pride.

You can easily wander without a plan, though a few notable shops include:

Indigo Blues. This shop sells locally-made products, art, jewelry, and food products — many of which celebrate Maine’s delicious blueberries.

Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop Bar Harbor. If you love supporting local bookstores when you travel, this place is a must-visit. Along with a wide selection of books across genres, Sherman’s sells toys, cards, unique gifts, and more.

The Rock & Art Shop. Hands down, this is the coolest shop I’ve been to in years. On the bottom floor, they sell crystals, stones, and plants — including many rare and unique varieties, like Stapelia, a cool plant meant to look like “dead animal butts” that’s pollinated by flies.

On the second floor, things get more bizarre — in a good way — and it feels like you’ve entered the home of a zany collector or mad scientist.

Rock & Art Shop in Bar Harbor Village in Maine
2nd floor of the Rock & Art Shop in Bar Harbor

Here you’ll find animal bones (like a giraffe femur), giant insects in shadow boxes, and oddities in jars — like a Gila Monster, which spends 90% of its life underground and is the only venomous lizard in the USA.

You’ll also meet a replica of the Feejee Mermaid, an object composed of the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish that PT Barnum falsely promoted as a “mermaid” to attract customers. He made a fortune off it.

Where To Eat In Bar Harbor, Maine

Jordan’s Restaurant. For a classic diner experience, Jordan’s is excellent. For a full taste of Maine, opt for the “Maine Delight Omelet” — a western omelet with Swiss cheese, American cheese, and Maine potatoes folded inside and served with a wild blueberry muffin made with local blueberries. Another tasty option is the wild blueberry pancakes served with local maple syrup.

2 Cats Restaurant. This spot offers the best breakfast in town. Food is served in an eclectic space full of colorful mismatched furniture and adorable cat photos, and every dish is served with care — from the homemade hash to their fresh-squeezed juices to their giant made-from-scratch biscuits.

Tofu scramble with a biscuit and spicy homefries at 2 Cats Restaurants in Bar Harbor on a Maine road trip
Tofu scramble with a biscuit and spicy homefries at 2 Cats Restaurants

Geddy’s Restaurant. No vacation on the Maine coastline would be complete without savoring some local lobster. This eatery in Bar Harbor Village is known for its fun nautical decor and fresh lobster caught right in the Maine waters out front. Pair a Lobster Bake — which comes with lobster, corn, and homemade blueberry pie — with a local Atlantic Brewery beer.

Merchant & Frye. This hip eatery in Bar Harbor Village serves up seasonally-inspired dishes that pair perfectly with their craft cocktails, local beers, and carefully curated wines in a stylish space with open kitchen, fun artwork like regal dog portraits, and classic diner tables and stools.

We loved the Maine mussels appetizer — served with seed crackers and aioli for a unique flavor. It’s also recommended to try the Crab Cacio & Pepe with thick rye pappardelle pasta and a generous helping of crab meat, and the 12-hour smoked brisket with marinated heirloom tomatoes.

Crab Cacio & Pepe at Merchant & Frye in Bar Harbor on a Maine coastal road trip
Crab Cacio & Pepe at Merchant & Frye in Bar Harbor

Graffiti Donuts. This dessert cafe’s specialty is donut creations — including “Donut Nachos” featuring fresh-made cinnamon sugar donut holes, whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, and rainbow sprinkles. Yum!

Terrace Grille. Here you can savor an amazing lunch with a front row view of the harbor. A few standout dishes include the fish tacos made with local Maine haddock, the shrimp and haddock grits, the lobster roll, and the homemade New England Clam Chowder in a bread bowl. Pair with a local Atlantic Brewing Co beer or their charitable cocktail of the day (it was “Bubbles For Books” when we visited).

woman having lunch at Terrace Grille in Bar Harbor on a coastal Maine road trip
Enjoying the view at Terrace Grille in Bar Harbor

Tours In Bar Harbor, Maine

Add one — or more — of the following Bar Harbor tours to really experience the best of coastal Maine:

Click here for a full list of Bar Harbor tours.

Tips For Visiting Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor has free parking after 8pm. This is true even in the large main lots.

Book your trip in advance. While this goes for all of coastal Maine, Bar Harbor is particularly tricky when it comes to finding affordable lodging. Especially if visiting during the busy summer months, book your accommodation, tours, and transportation as far in advance as possible.

Plan your Cadillac Mountain visit in advance. When researching what to do in coastal Maine, visiting the iconic Cadillac Mountain — the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard at 1,530 feet tall — will undoubtedly come up as a recommendation. The thing is, you need a permit to drive to the summit, which books up quickly. You can find full information on making a Cadillac Mountain reservation here.

Maine Road Trip Stop #3: Camden (2 Nights)

If you want to explore the best places to go on the coast of Maine, Camden should definitely be on your road trip itinerary, especially as many consider it to be one of the prettiest coastal Maine towns.

“Where the mountains meet the sea” is Camden’s motto, as it’s one of only two places on the Atlantic seaboard where inland hills roll right up to the harbor to kiss the water.

This makes for absolutely breathtaking scenery whether you’re hiking in the local Camden Hills State Park or wandering the charming waterfront village full of galleries, shops, restaurants, and breweries.

Actually, the Native American Penobscots, who originally inhabited present-day Camden, called it “Megunticook,” meaning “great swells of the sea” — which references the silhouette of the Camden Hills. Hopefully, you’ll have some bright days in Camden during your coastal Maine road trip, as this is when the visual is most apparent.

On that note, let’s go over how to have an amazing time in Camden on your road trip to Maine.

Where To Stay In Camden, Maine

High Tide Inn. We absolutely loved our stay at this bed & breakfast — which is only a 6-minute drive to the walkable village and a 3-minute drive to Camden Hills State Park.

Owned by two sisters, they offer cottages and motel units, many of which have ocean views.

Along with a delicious breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, and homemade baked goods, you can enjoy sipping a glass of wine, seeing a sunrise, or stargazing on their beautiful lawn (with lawn chairs) or on their private beach.

woman a private beach in Camden on a coastal Maine road trip
Enjoying the private beach at High Tide Inn at sunset

Abigail’s Inn. If you’d prefer to ditch the car and stay directly in the walkable and historic Camden Village, this beautiful bed and breakfast offers spacious rooms, a porch and stone patio for relaxing, and a delicious daily breakfast included.

The inn is also rich in history, formerly being home to a congressman, a Mayflower descendent, an antique collector, and more.

Things To Do In Camden, Maine

-Go stargazing

One of the top highlights of our coastal Maine road trip was laying out on the lawn chairs or heading down to the private beach at the High Tide Inn and starring up at the sky after dark.

The sky is full — and I mean full — of stars, and you can easily make out a number of constellations. You may even want to download a stargazing app like SkyView.

If you’re into star photography, you’ll definitely want to bring your tripod for this stop.

-Hike In Camden Hills State Park (Including Mount Battie)

When planning a road trip to Maine, it’s recommended to add in some active adventures — because the state is full of them.

There are 30+ miles of hiking trails in Camden Hills State Park, with many paths leading you to gorgeous views.

Part of our coastal Maine road trip itinerary involved doing two stunning trails here, including:

Mount Battie. Mount Battie is one of the most popular attractions in Camden. While you can drive to the top, a more fun option if you enjoy adventure travel is to hike it. This short but challenging trail includes stone steps and rock scrambles — but your hard work will be rewarded with 360-degree views of Camden Village, Cadillac Mountain, and Penobscot Bay with its many islands.

woman taking in the view from Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park while driving through Maine
View from Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park

Maiden Cliff. We did this trail via the Scenic Path, which made this a 1.7-mile loop. The moderate hike includes a mix of woodland walking and uphill ascents — though you’ll also enjoy numerous viewpoints. The highlight is the view from Maiden Cliff, which gives you a bird’s-eye view over Megunticook Lake from 800 feet high.

woman taking in the view from the Maiden Cliff in Camden Hills State Park while driving through Maine
Taking in the view from the Maiden Cliff in Camden Hills State Park

-Go sea kayaking on Penobscot Bay

One of the top things to do along the coast of Maine is kayak — which you can do with Breakwater Kayak Co, a company that operates out of nearby Rockland and offers Camden Harbor Tours.

These depart from Steamboat Landing in Camden, and immerse you in the beauty of Penobscot Bay and the surrounding hills as you look for seabirds and harbor seals and make your way toward Curtis Island to see a historic lighthouse.

They also offer sunset kayak tours, stand up paddle board tours, and more.

-Do a sunset cruise (or day time cruise)

Speaking of sunsets, one great addition to any coastal Maine itinerary is a sunset sail — such as the Windjammer Classic Sunset Sail in Camden.

You’ll board a traditionally-built windjammer sailboat for 2 hours of sightseeing and taking in stunning Maine coastal scenery while sipping drinks and trying to spot wildlife.

-Wander the historic Camden Village

As mentioned above, Camden is home to a walkable village where local makers and entrepreneurs showcase their talents, whether it’s cooking up a delicious local lobster or showcasing locally-made goods or art.

A few notable locally-owned shops include:

Once A Tree. This unique gift shop sells goods made by local Maine artisans — from wooden bowls to pottery to jewelry and beyond.

Owl & Turtle Bookshop Cafe. Along with an extensive selection of books across genres, including Maine-centric reads, this shop serves delicious coffee made from locally-roasted beans as well as locally-made pastries.

The Smiling Cow. This family-owned business since 1940 sells books, puzzles, apparel, and Maine-centric gifts.

shops in Camden - a quaint Coastal Maine town
Wandering the historic village of Camden

-Explore Camden’s museums & galleries

If you’re looking to add some culture to your Maine coast trip itinerary, you’ll find many interesting museums and galleries in and around Camden.

While Farnsworth Art Museum showcases over 15,000 works that honor Maine’s role in shaping American art, the Camden-Rockport Historical Society is a great place to learn about local history.

Then there is the Maine Lighthouse Museum, which has the country’s largest collection of Coast Guard, lifesaving, and lighthouse artifacts.

-Drive around and see the historic homes

Simply driving down High Street between the High Tide Inn and Camden Village introduced us to so many stately homes.

While you can simply drive without a plan to see stunning houses and buildings, a few noteworthy areas are the High Street Historic District for 19th-century architecture and Chestnut Street Historic District, which represents Camden’s transition from a shipping hub to a summer resort destination.

Both of these areas are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Where To Eat In Camden, Maine

Ports Of Italy. This Italian restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating, impeccable service, and delicious dishes. Start with the caprese salad — served in a unique edible parmesan bowl — and then opt for the black ink pasta with shellfish. Yum!

woman eating an edible parmesan bowl at Ports of Italy in Camden on a Maine coastal drive
Edible parmesan bowl at Ports of Italy in Camden

Camden Deli. Not only does this deli have delicious sandwiches — including a number of yummy options for vegetarians — it has a back patio with waterfront views and a rooftop.

Sea Dog Brewing. Enjoy elevated pub fare like crab rangoon dip, creamy lobster bisque, or a veggie sweet potato burger on the back patio with waterfront views and pair with one of their many beers: wild blueberry ale, hazelnut porter, light-bodied wheat ale, hoppy IPA, and more!

Peter Ott’s On The Water. Treat yourself to a nice meal at this fancy restaurant on the water. Prices are reasonable for the level of service and the quality of the dishes — like the homemade lobster corn chowder, panko-crusted haddock, or my personal recommendation, lobster fettuccini. Order it and thank me later!

Lobster fettuccini at Peter Ott’s On The Water in Camden on a tour of the Maine coast
Lobster fettuccini at Peter Ott’s On The Water

Tours In Camden, Maine

Camden is one of the best places to visit on the Maine coast, especially if you add some of the following tours to your itinerary:

Click here for a full list of Camden tours.

Tips For Visiting Camden, Maine

Explore Camden early. Camden Village closes down early, with most shops closing around 5pm or 6pm and dinner restaurants closing around 8pm or 9pm. Many places — especially those on the water — will have a wait, so if you can get there before 6pm you’ll avoid having to wait for an hour.

Parking is cheap. Along with paid parking spots and lots that are typically $2 per hour, there are a few free lots — including one on Washington Street behind Camden Fire Department and one past the Camden Public Library on Atlantic Avenue.

Maine Road Trip Stop #4: Kennebunkport (2 Nights)

Sitting at the mouth of the Kennebunk River, right along the Atlantic coast, sits Kennebunkport — one of the Kennebunks, which consists of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel.

To the Native American Abenaki, Kennebunk meant “the long cut bank,” believed to reference Great Hill at the mouth of the Mousam River.

The place we call Kennebunkport today was named Cape Porpus by settlers in 1653, and then Arundel in 1717. In 1821, it was finally called Kennebunkport — a name derived from an Abenaki or Mi’kmaq word translating to “long sandbar,” according to Britannica.

Today, the hub of activity is in and around the Dock Square neighborhood of Kennebunkport. Here you’ll find a walkable village with local shops and eateries, waterfront restaurants, and activities like kayak and bike rentals.

That being said, there are numerous places to explore in and around Dock Square to enhance your Maine coastal road trip.

Where To Stay In Kennebunkport

Paris In Kennebunk (Airbnb). This cozy and comfortable Airbnb is located in nearby Kennebunk and is walkable to a number of yummy restaurants. There is also a backyard with a grill, fire pit, hot tub, and loads of seating options for relaxing under the stars with a glass of wine.

Kennebunkport Airbnb booked on a road trip through Maine
Paris in Kennebunkport Airbnb

The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel and Restaurant. If you’d prefer to be near the water and in the heart of the action, The Boathouse is a great hotel option. Overlooking the Kennebunk River, the property offers nautical-themed rooms and suites, a tasty waterfront restaurant, kayak and bike rentals, and a location that allows you to walk to restaurants, bars, shops, and other Kennebunkport attractions.

Things To Do In Kennebunkport

-Walk the Parsons Way Trail

This beautiful flat 2-mile walking path takes you along the coast for gorgeous waterfront views. You’ll pass small rocky beaches, a beautiful seaside church, and stunning multimillion dollar homes. Plus, you’ll get a view of the massive Bush family compound on Walker’s Point; as in, the summer home of the 41st President of the United States, George H. W. Bush.

Along the way, make sure to stop at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, which sits right on the water. In fact, they often hold mass outside overlooking the Kennebunk River and the Atlantic Ocean.

woman looking out over Maine coast on a road trip
One of the many beautiful coastal views along Parson’s Way in Kennebunkport

-Explore the shops of Dock Square

Dock Square is home to many local shops worth exploring. A few I personally loved were:

Compliments Gallery. This shop showcases impressive glass art, kaleidoscopes, ceramics, jewelry, and unique home decor. I fell in love with a metal statue of a playful cat with a bird feather hanging out of its mouth. If I only I didn’t live in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan and had space to put it!

Cat artwork at Compliments Gallery in Kennebunkport on a Maine coast driving itinerary
Cat artwork at Compliments Gallery in Kennebunkport

Whimsy. Here they sell whimsical home decor and gifts, like decorative lamp shades, hand-carved bird statues, and Maine-themed ornaments.

Minka. This boutique showcases sustainable and handmade apparel, accessories, and art.

Note that these are hardly your only options, so add exploring Dock Square for a few hours to your coastal Maine road trip itinerary!

-Relax on the beach

The best Maine road trips always include time in the sand. Luckily, There are many local beaches in Kennebunkport and Kennebunk, like Kennebunk Beach, Mothers Beach, and Parsons Beach.

Probably the most popular — and the one you’ll see in many Maine tourism ads — is Gooch Beach, which features an expansive stretch of sand with swimmable waters, waves for surfing, and views of lovely local homes.

This is one of the best places to visit along the Maine coast. Plus, if you book the above-mentioned Airbnb, a beach parking pass is included with your stay!

woman swimming at Gooch Beach in Kennebunkport- a highlight of a coastal Maine road trip itinerary
Gooch Beach in Kennebunkport

-Meet local Maine makers

Kennebunkport has a rich art culture. In fact, the Kennebunks are home to a thriving artists’ colony — and you can see the works of many artists along the Art Trail Of The Kennebunks.

A few noteworthy stops if you’d like to meet local makers along your Maine road trip include the:

  • Big Red Barn in Cape Porpoise for shopping farm-to-table lifestyle goods from small batch makers.
  • Kennebunk Artisans Marketplace in Kennebunk to shop high-quality goods from artists, florists, bakers, foragers, weavers, herbalists, and more.
  • River Tree Arts in Kennebunk is a nonprofit hosting art, dance, and music classes if you’d like to work alongside and learn from creative locals.

-See unique and historic homes

You’ll be blown away by the impressive homes in and around Kennebunkport — some of which are very unique, like the Wedding Cake House, often touted as the most photographed house in Maine.

Located at 104 Summer Street in Kennebunk, the house looks like a wedding cake due to its many buttresses with pinnacles linked together by ornate woodwork.

Additionally, within the Kennebunk Historic District you’ll find loads of historic buildings and homes from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Wedding Cake House in Kennebunkport on a coastal maine road trip itinerary
Wedding Cake House in Kennebunkport

-Take a cooking class at The Elective

Owned by the delicious 50 Local Restaurant, The Elective hosts fun cooking and cocktail classes.

Additionally, the space has a retail store selling local goods like fresh pasta, homemade sauces, and homemade bar items like bitters and brandied cherries. It’s a great spot to pick up a souvenir on your Maine road trip.

-Kayak the port

Maine coastal vacations should always include some time spent on the water. And if you like to get active, you can rent a kayak (or bike) from Coastal Maine Kayak & Bike.

While they’re pretty pricey, particularly if you go during high tide when you’ll be limited in where you can explore, it’s fun to see Kennebunkport from the water, and there are small beaches and coves to enjoy, as well. If you’d prefer a guide, they also run tours!

woman kayaking in Kennebunkport on a road trip through Coastal Maine
Kayaking in Kennebunkport

-Explore local museums

There are many interesting museums in Kennebunkport — like the First Families Kennebunk Museum, which allows you to explore an 1853 Greek Revival home. Inside, exhibits cover two centuries worth of local history.

Another option is the Brick Store Museum. Dating back to 1936, it now showcases over 70,000 artifacts that tell the story of Kennebunk culture.

Where To Eat In Kennebunkport & Kennebunk

Aunt Marie’s (Kennebunkport). Get a scoop of locally-made ice cream in classic flavors like Mint Chocolate Chip and Cookie Dough — or go hyperlocal with a scoop of refreshing Maine Blueberry.

The Boathouse Restaurant (Kennebunkport). There are a number of waterfront restaurants in Kennebunkport for those looking for a dockside meal — like The Boathouse. Sip a local craft beer in the sun while digging into a poke bowl, Maine crab cakes, or some New England-style baked haddock.

woman in front of the water in Kennebunkport on a road trip through Maine
Along with great food, The Boathouse also has great views

Crotux at Garden Street Bowl (Kennebunk). A hip restaurant in a bowling alley? Yes, it’s a thing. Forget stale pretzels and nachos with cheese, as Crotux takes bowling alley fare up a notch with creative meals and cocktails. Start with the poutine before digging into dishes like duck ramen, truffled mac & cheese, or a “Vegan Bowl” featuring black bean and jackfruit chili, blueberry marinated fried tofu, pickled onions, and pepitas. Afterward, play some pinball or air hockey in their game room.

Mabel’s Lobster Claw (Kennebunkport). This indoor-outdoor eatery has been serving local Maine seafood since the 1950s. Opt for a bowl of rich Maine clam chowder, one of the “Maines” like the lobster risotto, or a signature dish like “Mabel’s Baked Stuffed Lobstah” featuring scallops, shrimp, bacon, and creamy clam stuffing.

50 Local (Kennebunk). This eatery was walking distance from our Airbnb. The menu is focused on local ingredients and homemade recipes — from the lobster scampi to the homemade soba to the Maine mussels. Pair your meal with a quality wine or craft cocktail, like the “Mama Says Rose” made with rose, pisco, lemon, lime, and blueberry.

woman eating lobster scamp at Local 50 in Kennebunk while driving up the coast of Maine
Delicious lobster scamp at 50 Local

Tours In Kennebunkport / Kennebunk

No road trip along the Maine coast would be complete without visiting Kennebunkport. Elevate your itinerary by booking some of the following tours:

Click here for a full list of tours in Kennebunkport.

Tips For Visiting Kennebunkport

Know where to park. During busy times, the parking lot in the center of Kennebunkport gets full and it’s tough to find parking. Luckily, we discovered a large and empty free lot about a 10-minute walk from the village. The lot is next to the Kennbunkport Fire Station. Here is a pin you can put into Google Maps to find it.

Shorter 7-Day Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary Option

Not all great driving trips in Maine need to be long to be fun. If you don’t have time for a full 10 day coastal Maine road trip itinerary and only have a week to spare, I’d personally cut out Portland and shave one night off Bar Harbor.

With this in mind, your Maine coast driving itinerary would be:

  • Bar Harbor (2 nights)
  • Camden (2 nights)
  • Kennebunkport (2 nights)

This is especially true if visiting Maine in the warmer months when you’ll want to take advantage of the beaches and don’t necessarily care about exploring a bigger city as much.

If traveling to Maine in the winter, then you might instead consider removing Kennebunkport from the road trip itinerary.

With this in mind, your cool weather coastal Maine vacation itinerary would be:

  • Portland (2 nights)
  • Bar Harbor (2 nights)
  • Camden (2 nights)

If you’re looking for an unforgettable week in Maine, either of the above would be perfect. These are truly some of the best scenic road trips in Maine.

woman taking in a view from Camden Hills State Park on a coastal Maine road trip
Taking in a gorgeous view while hiking in Camden Hills State Park

Tips For Planning A Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary (FAQ)

The following advice will help ensure you have the best coastal trip in Maine possible.

Q: How long is the coast of Maine?

Maine’s tide coastline, which includes its many inlets and bays, measures 3,478 miles — though the general Maine coastline is much shorter at 228 miles.

Q: How long does it take to drive along the coast of Maine?

The quickest way to drive the coast is along Highway 95, which will take you about 4.5 hours. That being said, it’s recommended to make stops along the way, as there is a lot to see on a Maine coast road trip.

Q: When is the best time to visit Maine?

The best month to visit Maine really depends on what you want to do.

If you visit during summer, which is Maine’s busy season, you’ll encounter higher prices and crowds; however, there will be beautiful weather and loads of events and things to do. Plus, this is a great time for whale watching.

If you’d like to avoid the crowds and save some money, visiting in spring or fall means the weather isn’t blistering cold yet and you can still have a great trip. Fall in Maine is particularly beautiful with the changing leaves, especially in Acadia National Park.

Winter in Maine can also be worthwhile if you don’t mind the cold and enjoy snow sports.

Building on this, my biggest tip for deciding when to visit Maine would be to research the activities you’re most interested in — whether that be whale watching, white water rafting, or something else — and plan your trip around the best times for them.

woman taking in the view from the Beehive Summit in Acadia National Park on a Maine road trip
Enjoying the view from the Beehive Summit in Acadia National Park

Q: What should I keep in mind when planning a trip to Maine in the summer?

Book far in advance! I booked my accommodations a month in advance and almost everything was already full.

Try to give yourself a few months to plan your Maine road trip and make bookings to ensure you get the best rates as well as the experiences you desire.

Q: How much does a coastal road trip through Maine cost?

For our 10-day Maine coast driving itinerary, my husband and I spent about $4000 total, not including car rental.

Keep in mind:

  • We did our Maine road trip during the summer, which is when Maine tourism is most expensive
  • We waited until last minute to book our accommodation (which was $2000 total on its own for the 10 days)
  • We didn’t try to budget when it came to food and ate out every meal — and got lobster numerous times

You can definitely spend less than that if you opt for more budget-friendly accommodation (like camping in Acadia National Park), don’t eat at restaurants for every meal, and limit your lobster intake.

Q: Is a coastal Maine road trip safe for solo female travelers?

Absolutely! While I planned this coastal Maine road trip itinerary with my husband, I would absolutely feel comfortable — and have fun — doing the above itinerary on my own.

Q: Where should I stop along the way on a New York to Maine road trip?

If you drive to Maine from New York, a few fun stops along the way include:

  • Mystic, Connecticut
  • Newport, Rhode Island
  • Boston, Massachusetts

Travel Insurance For Your Coastal Maine Road Trip

Whether you decide to road trip Maine or somewhere else in the world, it’s wise to get travel insurance.

One of the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

Click here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

What would you add to this coastal Maine road trip itinerary?

coastal Maine road trip itinerary
coastal Maine road trip itinerary
coastal Maine road trip itinerary

About Jessie Festa

Jessie Festa is a New York-based travel content creator who is passionate about empowering her audience to experience new places and live a life of adventure. She is the founder of the solo female travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and is editor-in-chief of Epicure & Culture, an online conscious tourism magazine. Along with writing, Jessie is a professional photographer and is the owner of NYC Photo Journeys, which offers New York photo tours, photo shoots, and wedding photography. Her work has appeared in publications like USA Today, CNN, Business Insider, Thrillist, and WestJet Magazine.

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