We were in Boston early October last year for Ian’s Harvard alumni event and decided to take a quick 3 day road trip up coastal Maine to Acadia National Park. Though Ian originally planned this trip for me to see the beautiful fall leaves turning color (a novelty for me growing up on a semi-tropical island then spending 5 years in LA), my inner fat kid strategized our route to include as many local favorites and lobster shacks as I could fit in. Yes, I always plan my vacations around food.
Below is a sample itinerary for a road trip in coastal Maine:
Start heading north from Boston in the morning and after 1.5 hours you will reach Kennebunkport, just in time for lunch. This quaint little town is the perfect first stop to stretch your legs a little and walk around.
We grabbed lunch at the Clam Shack which has been around since 1938. Their lobster roll is unique because it is made with round white rolls instead of traditional buns. The owner also believes in handpicking the meat so flavors won’t be tainted by metal knives. The balanced proportion of claw, tail and knuckle meat makes a perfect lobster roll!
After lunch, walk to Rococo Ice Cream for some unique ice cream flavors. On the day we visited, they had Maine whoopie pie, goat cheese and figs, molasses gingersnap and raspberry red wine among many others. We decided to go with Nutella Cranberry.
Dinner on the way to Bar Harbor was at Five Islands Lobster Co. This place is usually packed during the summer season, so fall is a great time to go and enjoy your lobster peacefully. Definitely order the corn as a side!
We reached our bed and breakfast late in the afternoon. Many B&B’s have a minimum stay requirement of two nights during the weekend. This time we stayed at Holbrook House, and the owners were very accommodating with our one night stay.
The next morning, we walked over to Bar Island. At low tide, a natural sand bar appears and connects Bar Harbor to Bar Island (such creative names). This “bar” is accessible about two hours before and after low tide, so make sure to check the tides before visiting.
After leaving Bar Island, continue the road trip by driving into Acadia National Park. The entry fee is $25 per car and you will receive a pass that is valid for 7 days. We looped through the park, stopping frequently at scenic points. Suggested stops include Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, and Otter Cliff.
After looping through Acadia National Park, we started heading back down to Portland with a stop at Red’s Eats, another popular lobster shack, for lobster roll, fish and chips, and fried clams. The lobster roll was heaping with so much lobster meat, you can barely see the bun! After eating, we headed across the street to Box Paper Scissor and browsed through beautifully curated paper goods.
You will arrive in Portland shortly after. Stay at Portland Harbor Hotel, which is centrally located and an easy base to explore downtown Portland on foot. Enjoy a late dinner at Duckfat, which is famous for their delicious fries and poutine made with… you guessed it, duck fat. This actually makes the food taste less heavy.
For your last day in one of the best food cities on the Pacific Northeast, squeeze in more delicious meals. Go to the James Beard Award nominee Eventide Oyster Co. for lunch. I’m not a huge oyster person but they had the freshest oysters I ever tasted, and actually wanted to order more! They are also famous for their clam bake and lobster roll.
Maine is famous for its numerous lighthouses, and Spring Point Ledge was my favorite out of all the ones we visited. It has a “bridge” made of stacked rocks that you can slowly meander across, and during the quiet season of fall you could have the whole lighthouse to yourself. Time to sit on the ledge and take in the beautiful scenery.
If you’re thinking of taking a long weekend trip, New England is a great choice. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Even from the West Coast, if you have Monday off, take a red eye flight on Friday night and you’ll have three full days there. Ian and I are thinking of making it an annual fall trip. But if you really can’t get away to catch the fall foliage… you can always have them sent to you.
Maine Road Trip Cheat Sheet
The Clam Shack: 2 Western Ave, Kennebunk, ME 04043
Rococo Ice Cream: 6 Spring St, Kennebunkport, ME 04046
Five Islands Lobster Co.: 1447 5 Islands Rd, Georgetown, ME 04548
Red’s Eats: 41 Water St, Wiscasset, ME 04578
Duckfat: 43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101
Eventide Oyster Co.: 86 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101
Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream: 51 Exchange St, Portland ME 04101
Scratch Baking Co.: 416 Preble St, South Portland, ME 04106