7-Day Scenic Road Trip Across Coastal Maine

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Advisor - Kelsey Casey
Curated By

Kelsey Casey

  • USA

  • Maine

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Domestic Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Road Trip Travel

  • Hiking

  • Foodie

  • Outdoors

Trees next to body of water with cloudy skies during daytime
Curator’s statement

Growing up in Maine, I've always been drawn to the state's rugged nature juxtaposed against its peaceful and cozy interior. Its scenic coast allures both locals and travelers alike who are drawn to its severely gorgeous landscape, sea-to-table feasts and historic charm. This road trip is for those looking to explore Maine like a local, while also not missing the greatest hits along the way.

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Where to stay

Days 1-2: Portland & Waldoboro

Red house with white lighthouse on rocky hill during daytime

Once you touch down in "Vacationland," Maine's state slogan, grab a quick bite to eat downtown before heading north to Tops’l Farm in Waldoboro. Lunch spots include Central Provisions, known for their hearty sandwiches, Eventide Oyster Co., famous for their fresh seafood and creative New England fare (a heaping platter of freshly-caught oysters is a must) or HighRoller Lobster for a tasty lobster roll. Once all bellies are full, it’s off to the coast where you'll find yourselves hugging the rocky shoreline as you drive due North. 

Upon arrival at Tops’l Farm, check into your room (we stayed at the red cottage and it was absolute perfection) and take a tour of the property. While you're here, there will be plenty of fun to be had with free time and space to roam. The farm’s 83 acres offer up a chance to get some much needed fresh air and an overload of starry skies during a woodland escape in Maine. 

Dinner this evening will be a picnic organized by Tops’l Farm that you can eat anywhere on the property! Then, it’s off to bed after a long travel day.

Start your second day by driving to Moody’s Diner for a hearty breakfast. This place is an institution in Waldoboro, serving up simple diner eats since 1927. From there, drive south to the beautiful Pemaquid Point, where you can see an iconic Maine lighthouse and get out on the bay with Maine Kayak at their Colonial Pemaquid State Park Outpost.

You'll have likely worked up an appetite paddling, so drive to Ancho Honey for a bite to eat. It doesn’t get any better than a fresh grilled cheese sandwich on local sourdough here on the patio. Before heading back to Tops'l Farm, enjoy a local wine tasting at Oyster River Winegrowers (and give their unreasonably cute Corgi big pets for me!) or head to Odd Alewives Farm Brewery for some local brews.

Once back on property, there are many activities to choose from depending on energy levels. You can grab a canoe and hit the river. Take a hike nearby. Or you simply give yourselves the opportunity to relax and do (blissfully) nothing at all. 

Options for dinner are countless, but my favorites include: Round Pound Lobster Co-op, Muscongus Bay Lobster, Shuck Station Raw Bar, Primo Restaurant or Sterlingtown Public House.

Days 3-4: Camden, Belfast, & Deer Isle

Body of water next to wooded area during daytime

Camden, Maine

Before you hit the road today, enjoy a breakfast sandwich and coffee provided by the farm. Then, begin your slow trod up the coast, tacking east on North Shore Drive to get out to Owls Head State Park. This is woodsy Maine coast at its best; park in the lot and do a lovely hike to Owls Head Light, a functioning 19th-century lighthouse that's as beautiful as the landscape over which it presides. After hopping back in the car, stop in the beautiful coastal town of Camden. Here, you owe yourselves a walking tour (it won't take long). Stroll Main Street, aka Route 1, for the shops and scenery, and be sure to stop at Sea Bags to pick up one of their funky-chic tote bags made from recycled sails. Then, make your way through the well-manicured Harbor Park, which gracefully notches the top of postcard-pretty Camden Harbor.

Belfast, Maine

As you continue North, stop near Belfast for lunch at Young’s Lobster Pound, a famous waterfront destination for lobster rolls, grilled fish and casual seafood. The mussels are served on a lunch tray and to this day, I remain full from this one meal. Other great options nearby include: Long Grain, a Michelin star Thai restaurant serving up curry, stir-fries and housemade noodles, Tinder Hearth, a local bakery renown for their pizza and baked goods, and Suzuki’s Sushi Bar, a bright eatery offering the freshest sushi on the coast. 

Deer Isle, Maine

After another hour or so on the road, you'll arrive at Aragosta Cove, your home for the next two days. While on-site at the property, you must enjoy the dinner tasting experience, which will entail multiple courses featuring the seasonal flavors of the coastal region. Sample plates include Deer Isle Scallop Crudo with umami soy and citrus vinaigrette and Goose Gove Lobster Tortellini with shelling pea and buerre blanc. 

TIP: If you’re planning on eating here, be sure to make a reservation well in advance on Open Table. It was worth every penny! If are unable to snag a reservation, take advantage of their happy hour and/or brunch. Check their website for the latest details and timing on these events. Additionally, I highly recommend booking either the Elm or Rosa Rugosa cottages at Aragosta as they’re right on the water with unobstructed views of the ocean. The waves will put you right to sleep! 

During your only full-day on Deer Isle, begin by eating breakfast at Aragosta, which is included in your stay. Then, explore all the island has to offer. Options include:

Hiking on Deer Isle

There are many hiking trails on Deer Isle, including Barred Island Preserve (easily accessible from Aragosta, walking distance in fact, but you must pay attention to the tides in order to access Barred Island itself), Settlement Quarry, Shore Acres Preserve, and Edgar Tennis Preserve (this was our favorite hike on the island - mainly on the coast and great views). 

Outdoor Activities on Deer Isle

Kayaking, canoes, bicycles and paddleboards are all are available to rent from The Activity Shop via Aragosta. There is a $50 dollar fee for delivery to Aragosta, so it may be worthwhile to have the shop deliver to a closer destination. Otherwise, Stonington Paddle is another local canoe and kayak rental service.

Other Activities on Deer Isle

Visit Isle au Haut. A beautiful island off the coast of Stonington that is home to portions of Acadia National Park. Isle au Haut is accessible by ferry from Stonington. 

Coffee at 44 North. This coffee shop features small batch, custom roasted, organic coffee. Serving cold brewed and slow drip coffee, plus locally baked goodies. 

Driving Route 15 around the island. The island has so many nooks and crannies that are found simply by driving around the main road. Highly suggest seeing where the road takes you!

Another dinner option on the Isle includes Burnt Cove Boil, which offers simply steamed lobster, crab and corn at a picnic table by the sea. Jake requires reservations since it’s a one-man gig, so be sure to reach out in advance. You’ll need to bring everything you need for a picnic, but he’ll do the rest!

After an adventurous day, return to Aragosta for a relaxing evening on your private deck.

TIP: Most businesses and restaurants are closed on Mondays on the Isle, so plan your stay here accordingly.

Days 5-6: Acadia National Park

Body of water next to rocky coastline and trees with blue skies during daytime

Once you're packed and ready to go, hit the road for Acadia National Park. Your first stop is Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, the quintessential image of Maine. After snapping a few photos, head to the Long Pond and Great Notch Trails, a 4.8 mile loop trail along Long Pond. I recommend starting clockwise to hit the higher elevations first, ending with the pond to the left. 

By this point in the day, you're likely craving some lunch, so head to Thurston’s Lobster Pound for fresh seafood by the water. There’s always a line to order, but that means you can linger as chefs lower net bags of lobsters, clams, mussels and corn cobs into steaming vats of boiling water outside the door. Once you've recharged your batteries, you can decide what your appetite is for more activity in the area. Hiking options include Beech Cliff Ladder and Canada Cliff Loop, a 2 mile loop located near Mt. Desert, Acadia Mountain and Man O’War Trail, a 2.5 mile loop trail located near Southwest Harbor, and Ship Harbor Trail, a 1.3 mile loop located near Southwest Harbor. Otherwise, to get on the water, National Park Canoe & Kayak Rental on Long Pond offers the only boat rentals on Mt. Desert Island. On a hot summer day, this is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

With your legs likely requiring a break at this point, drive 20 minutes east to Bar Harbor. Once here, you can opt to walk the Shore Path. It's a small but perfect work of Bar Harbor genius: about 1.5 miles of well-manicured walkway tracing the coastline from the Town Pier to Wayman Lane. The path is flat and graveled, suitable for a leisurely stroll. You'll get great views of the rock formations along the shoreline, and of course the sweeping harbor, the islands and the boats trickling in and out. You can also stop at the Ivy for drinks in their beautiful garden, situated perfectly for people watching and relaxing. Other stops may include Fair Trade Winds for handmade crafts and Cool As A Moose for cheeky Maine and Acadia gear. 

For dinner, dine at Havana. A longtime favorite of both locals and visitors alike, Havana is perfect for a nice night out in Bar Harbor. While their tapas are perfection, the bar program tops it all off, offering an extensive wine list and expertly made mojitos. 

After a full day, head to your glamping tent at Under Canvas Acadia to rest up for another day in the park. 

The next morning, it's back off to Mount Desert Island with an early start. On the way, you can wake up with a cappuccino from Coffee Hound Coffee Bar or stop at Cafe This Way for breakfast. Afterwards, stop at the infamous Sand Beach for a morning stroll before completing the infamous Beehive hike, a 6.3 mile loop trail for those that are adventurous enough! You'll be scaling the mountain and climbing up bars that have been built into the mountainside to start, but the rest of the hike is gorgeous and even-keeled. 

From here, venture to Northeast Harbor, which is a quieter town in comparison to Southwest Harbor. There are cute boutiques on the main strip, including Main Street Mercantile, and delicious spots for lunch, like The Nor’Easter Pound & Market. Should you save your appetite for dinner, head to Sweet Pea Farm on your way back to Under Canvas Acadia. The setting is idyllic on a farm tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Bar Harbor. We ended up here instead for the night and loved the setting right on the farm and away from the hustle and bustle of Bar Harbor. Get here early for a picnic table out back and order their fresh house iced tea, which is a blueberry lemon tea so refreshing it’ll knock your sweat from the day right off. Pizzas and local vegetables are the other stars. 

Wind down that evening back at Under Canvas Acadia, where dinner and s’mores will greet you upon arrival.

Advisor - Kelsey Casey

A note from Kelsey

Parking in Acadia National Park is hard to come by, so I highly recommend you choose your priority hike for the day and get there early for a parking spot. We ended up doing the Beehive trail above first and parked in the lot nearby no later than 8 AM. There were still plenty of spots to park on the road, but we got the last spot in the lot and the trail itself was already packed with a line to do the ladders. The earlier you can get a head start in the park, the better!

Day 7: Portland

Body of water next to rocky cliff with white lighthouse during daytime

After grabbing a light, early breakfast at the hotel, you're off to drive back to Portland! The drive takes about 2.5 hours and once back at the Old Port, you'll make your way to grab a heartier lunch at a local institution you didn’t eat at on Day 1. Then, it’s off to the Lucky Catch dock for a catch and release lobster cruise. The boutique home goods store, Ember, awaits for you to grab some last minute Maine goodies. Then, it's time for a final supper in this beautiful place before you depart the next day. 

Other Portland Recommendations:

Where to eat in Portland

Tandem Coffee & Bakery: The best biscuits and baked goods alongside delicious coffee. Gail Simmons from Bon Appetit highly recommends this place!

Chaval: Spanish restaurant tucked into a cute neighborhood away from the tourist hotspots.

Becky’s Diner: A classic, no-frills diner with delicious pancakes

Scales: Upscale seafood restaurant on the port. Reservations are essential and must be made far in advance. Don’t skip out on the bread!

Standard Baking Co.: Great bakery in the heart of downtown.

Duckfat: Famous for their fries that are fried in duckfat oil.

The Shop by Island Creek Oysters: Same owners as Eventide, same delicious oysters.

Things to do in Portland

Visit the Portland Lighthouse.

Walk Washington Avenue between Cumberland Avenue and Loring Memorial Park. Tons of great boutiques, breweries, and restaurants to pop into, including:

Goodfire Brewing Company.

Root Wild Kombucha.

Oxbow Blending & Bottling.

Maine Mead Works.

Cheese Shop of Portland.

Venn + Maker: Gorgeous home goods store.

Maine & Loire: Stop here for a glass of wine and a lite bite mid-day or before dinner.

Sticky Sweet: Ice cream that is mainly plant-based and delicious.

Need to Know

For more adventure travel inspo, check out my guide to Norway: Outdoor Exploration in Norway: Lofoten, Bergen, Flam & Oslo and my guide to Iceland: 8-Day Road Trip Itinerary around Iceland's Ring Road.