All American Road Trip: The Road to Acadia – 4 Magical Days Along the Coast of Maine

Maine is known for its lighthouses, maritime charm, delicious seafood and scenic coastal landscapes. It is also home to one of the country’s most beautiful destinations, Acadia National Park.

The National Park in Bar Harbor is a must-visit New England destination. With over three hundred bird species, twenty-seven lighthouses and the tallest peak in the United States, there is plenty to explore along Acadia’s rocky coastline.

This four-day road trip itinerary begins in Portland, Maine and ends at the iconic Acadia National Park.

Shops in Portland, Maine. Photo Courtesy of Domenico Convertini

DAY 1 – PORTLAND, MAINE

Maine’s largest and former capital city is a must-see destination for seafood lovers. There are tons to do in Portland, making it an excellent first stop on your coastal road trip to Acadia National Park. Check out some of the best things to do in Portland below.

The Old Port in Portland, Maine. Photo Courtesy of duluoz cats

Old Port

Old Port is where travelers can score artisan goods, eat fresh lobster and learn more about Portland’s unique history. The area boasts a vibrant dining scene featuring tons of bars, casual seafood eateries and gourmet restaurants. Draft beer fans may also enjoy a trip to one of Old Port’s many breweries, such as the Shipyard Brewing Company. Get a taste for the region’s fresh seafood at J’s Oysters, serving a range of dishes from steamed clams and raw oysters to New England chowders and lobster dinners.

Portland Head Light is a historic lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Photo Courtesy of Ken Lund

Portland Head Light

The oldest operating lighthouse in the state is located at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. Portland Head Light was built in 1791 and is among the most haunted places in the nation since it was the site of several shipwrecks. The park itself has plenty of picturesque locations to get an Instagram-worthy photograph.

The Portland Museum of Art. Photo Courtesy of Wally Gobetz

Portland Museum of Art

This magnificent art museum is another must-see attraction in Downtown Portland. The Portland Museum of Art has numerous collections, including works by famed artists Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Louise Nevelson.

Where To Stay In Portland

The lovely Hyatt Place Portland – Old Port is nestled in the heart of Old Port. Guest rooms are comfortable and often offer terrific views of the waterfront. There are two gourmet restaurants on-site, including EVO Kitchen & Bar, founded by Food Network star Matt Ginn—a must-visit during your stay.

The Press Hotel in Portland, Maine. Photo Courtesy of Dave Pinter

For a fun and one-of-a-kind stay, check out The Press Hotel in Downtown Portland, boasting seven floors and luxurious accommodations. It was formerly the office building of Maine’s most prominent newspaper, The Portland Press Herald. Today, guests may see many odes to journalism in the hotel’s décor and unique autograph collection.

Downtown Bar Harbor, Maine. Photo Courtesy of Domenico Convertini

DAY 2 – PORTLAND TO BAR HARBOR

On day two of your trip, take the three-hour drive to Bar Harbor, and enjoy the scenic views of the eastern coastline along the way. While Acadia National Park may be the town’s most noteworthy attraction, Bar Harbor has much to offer before exploring the park.

The Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. Photo Courtesy of Mattia Panciroli

Abbe Museum

Visit the Abbe Museum in Downtown Bar Harbor to see a fascinating collection of Native American artifacts, particularly from the Wabanaki. There is also a smaller roadside museum inside Acadia National Park that first opened in 1928 by Robert Abbe himself.

Sunset kayakers at Bar Harbor Town Pier. Photo Courtesy of Garen Meguerian

Bar Harbor Town Pier

Then, make your way to the town’s picturesque Bar Harbor Town Pier, a fishing and social hub worth checking out. There are numerous boutiques, pubs and eateries where you can get your hands on authentic Maine lobster rolls that will have you coming back for more. Check out Geddy’s which has been operating since 1974!

Afterwards, rent a watercraft from Acadia Stand Up Paddle Boarding or take a boat tour with one of the many local vendors such as Lulu Lobster Boat to spend the day out on the water.

The Bar Harbor Inn in Bar Harbor, Maine. Photo Courtesy of Todd Fowler

Where To Stay In Bar Harbor

For cozy yet scenic accommodations, stay at Bar Harbor Inn. During your stay, enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast, heated outdoor pool, three on-site dining options, and access to luxurious spa treatments. It also overlooks the stunning Frenchman Bay and is only a short walk away from downtown.

A gorgeous and budget-friendly option for travelers is the Acadia Hotel. Guest rooms are pristine and full of coastal charm. Plus, accommodations include a complimentary bicycle to take around town. Guests are also offered discounted rates to Acadia Indoor Golf, which may come in handy on rainy days.

Either of these hotels will be your base camp for the next few nights. If you decide to camp, we’ve also included some campgrounds below.

Champlain Summit in Acadia National Park, Maine. Photo Courtesy of John Manard

DAY 3 – BAR HARBOR TO ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

We’ve made it to the halfway point of your East Coast adventure! That means it’s time to explore Acadia National Park. Enjoy breakfast at the hotel or visit Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast for a homemade meal, including Betty’s Blueberry Pancakes, vegan burritos and classic breakfast sandwiches—there truly is something for everyone. Once you’ve enjoyed your fill, check out these things to do in Acadia.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park. Photo Courtesy of Timothy G. Lumley

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

No road trip to Acadia National Park would be complete without visiting the iconic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. The historic lighthouse with stunning views of Mount Desert Island was first built in 1858 and is among one of the twenty-seven others throughout the park.

Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park. Photo Courtesy of Ajay Sahu

Jordan Pond Path

This looped trail along the iconic Jordan Pond boasts incredible wildlife sightings. Think beavers, loons and more birdwatching opportunities. It is a relatively easy hike for beginners and families, spanning about 3.3 miles.

Make a splash with kayak or paddleboard rentals from National Park Canoe & Kayak Rentals—stop here on the drive from the lighthouse to the lake. Car top carriers are available to transport watercrafts. After exploring the area, the Jordan Pond House Restaurant is perfect for a scenic lunch.

Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park. Photo Courtesy of Wayne Hsieh

Beehive Loop Trail

Get ready for stunning sights on your last trail of the day. Adventurous travelers will enjoy hiking along the 1.4-mile Beehive Loop Trail, which begins by scaling a steep 450-foot cliff using metal ladders. However, the challenging trek up is rewarded with panoramic views of Sand Beach and Thunder Hole below.

A campsite at Blackwoods Campground in Acadia National Park. Photo Courtesy of Happy Photo Guy

Where To Camp In Acadia National Park

Many visitors seek accommodations in Bar Harbor; however, camping may be an excellent alternative if you want to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. The national park boasts four campgrounds, including Blackwood’s, Seawall, Duck Harbor and Schoodic.

Reservations can be made online using the official National Park Service or Recreation.Gov mobile apps. These apps also provide plenty of helpful information and maps of Acadia National Park.

DAY 4 – ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

Your second, and last, day in Acadia National Park will begin with a sunrise hike followed by a leisurely afternoon on the park’s only sandy beach. It’s the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation before heading back home.

View from Cadillac Mountain summit in Acadia National Park. Photo Courtesy of jesiehart

Cadillac Mountain

Acadia National Park is home to the nation’s tallest peak, Cadillac Mountain. Sunrise views from atop the mountain are breathtaking and unmatched, especially since the region sees the first in the United States. The trail to the summit is accessible via Park Loop Road. Vehicles are permitted by purchasing a parking pass, which you may reserve online.

PRO TIP: We suggest making reservations for the trail two days before your trip if you plan to watch the sunrise or sunset. Those time slots tend to go very quickly since Cadillac Mountain is one of the national park’s prime attractions.

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park. Photo Courtesy of Robin

Sand Beach

Time to get your tan—or your afternoon nap—on! Sand Beach is the best spot to relax after your sunrise hike. It is a beautiful area with ample swimming opportunities, stellar sunset views and access to the Great Head Trail. As Acadia’s only sandy beach, it is well worth the visit. Consider packing lunch for a sunny picnic on the beach.

Stay for a breathtaking sunset before departing this unforgettable outdoor destination in the Northeast.


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