Travel from Greater Portland and Casco Bay to MidCoast and up to the DownEast region with husband-and-wife adventure seekers Adam and Britni Ventling.
When planning this trip, we wanted to see as much of Maine’s coast as possible, so we decided to fly into the Greater Portland airport and fly out of Bangor, which is about a 1-hour drive from Bar Harbor.
Starting in Portland, we stayed at the The Press Hotel, Autograph Collection, a one-time newspaper building located at the center of Portland’s historic Old Port and Arts District neighborhoods. This historic seacoast town is frequently listed as one of America’s top cities to live, work and visit. And no wonder!
A walk down the Old Port cobblestone streets takes one to an array of markets, art galleries and restaurants in Federal-style buildings. You can enjoy Casco Bay from a ferry or private boat cruise. Or tour the Portland Head Lighthouse—in operation since 1791—situated on a scenic rocky coastline in Fort Williams Park
After a few days in Portland, we drove up the coast to Acadia National Park. Normally this would take about 3 hours without stops, but we planned to take a few detours along the way, so we scheduled a whole day. One detour off Route 1 brought us to Doubling Point Lighthouse, built in 1898 on Arrowsic Island on the Kennebec River. This is one of four lighthouses that provided navigation to Bath, the “City of Ships.” About halfway between Portland and Bar Harbor, we stopped in Camden, a charming harbor town that’s home to a handful of local restaurants and boutiques and plenty of scenic views.
In Bar Harbor, we stayed at the West Street Hotel, which is located on Mount Desert Island along Frenchman Bay. It’s just a 5-minute drive to the Acadia National Park entrance. One of the top things on our list while in the park was to visit Jordan Pond, where Adam had visited with his family when he was young. Jordan Pond is known for its exceptionally clear water (the average visibility depth is 46 feet!) and home to the Jordan Pond House, the only full-service restaurant in Acadia National Park. It’s a great place to partake in tradition by enjoying an afternoon tea and house-made popovers while viewing the breathtaking scenery.
A good way to work off one too many popovers is to hike the Shore Trail, a 3½-mile loop along the Jordan Pond shores. It is a relatively flat trail and includes a beautiful wooden boardwalk. We devoted several days to discovering Acadia National Park’s wooded trails, mountain summits and rocky shores.
Good Eats | (in Bar Harbor)
• Reading Room Restaurant
• Jordan Pond House
• Coffee Hound
• Cafe This Way
• West Street Cafe
• Sunrise Cafe
Prime Pics | Here’s what to snap
• Sunset Cruise
Take the two-hour cruise on the Margaret Todd, a four-masted windjammer that sails through Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands.
• Cadillac Mountain
The highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. Wake up early to be one of the first to see the sunrise.
There are so many beautiful lighthouses along the coast of Maine, but here are some of the best: Portland Head Lighthouse, Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse and Owls Head Lighthouse.
Cadillac Mountain: The highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard, it's definitely worth the short drive.
Thunder Hole: An hour or two before high tide, stop to see a semi-submerged cave that fills with water and makes a loud slapping noise; take a poncho!
Sand Beach: This is not your average beach. For one thing, it's sandwiched between two walls of pink granite and lots of evergreens. It also includes 290 yards of shoreline filled with sharp shells.
Shoodic Point: About an hour’s drive northeast from Bar Harbor, it features a fantastic show of waves crashing against the rocks.
Carriage Roads: There are no cars allowed on the wide and nicely graveled carriage roads, so they are perfect for a family-friendly bike ride.
Go Hiking: There are over 120 miles of trail in Acadia. Check out the Jordan Pond Path. Loop around Great Head. Or drive up to the South Bubble for a short hike to Bubble Rock.
Access & Fees: Check dates before you book your trip—most of Park Loop Road is closed for the winter (December 1–April 1). From May through October, entrance fees are $20 per vehicle, which is good for 7 days.
For details, check out nps.gov/acad/index.htm.