5 days road tripping around the coast of Maine during fall foliage.
North AmericaUnited States4 days / September 2020
Highs & Lows
Fresh Lobster from a woman owned restaurant on the water.
We ended up being a little too early for peak fall foliage.
My friend and I decided to drive from NYC to Maine for 5 days in search of some lobster, lighthouses, and fall foliage. We left from Brooklyn very early in the morning to beat traffic and it only took us about 6 hours to reach Portland, ME. Portland is not a huge airport but is the largest one in the state so if you are planning to fly in, that will be your best option. For us it was cheaper to drive from NY with my own car. Another option to help cut down on costs would be to fly in and out of Boston and rent a car from there. Since Boston is a much bigger airport theres a chance you will find better flight and rental car deals.
Portland had such great food options! Duckfat Frites Shack is a sister shop to Duckfat. It is a small shack that offers the famous duckfat fries without having to wait to be seated in the Duckfat restaurant itself. Bonus: they're only a few blocks away from each other. I got the duckfat poutine with an egg on top and oh my goodness it was the best fry meal I have ever had. I have since contemplated flying to Portland for the day just to get some food from Duckfat because it was THAT good!
I am a real sucker for lighthouses. I think they are beautiful both architecturally and symbolically. Lighthouses mean a lot to me on a spiritual level and I knew that I wanted to see as many as we could. Even though Maine is the state with the second most amount of lighthouses (behind Michigan), it is still dubbed "the lighthouse state". We spent time both in the daylight and at night around the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse whereas the Portland Head Lighthouse closes off the parking lot at night.
Speaking of good Portland food, on the morning before we left to drive North, we stopped at the Holy Donut for breakfast. I am not kidding these donuts were so insanely good. But you'll never guess what they were made out of... POTATOES!!! The donuts are mostly made from potatoes which I was a little worried about at first. I got one potato donut and one seasonal apple based donut. They were amazing and I am starting to drool just thinking about them. Make sure to go early because the stores close once they sell out!
On the final day we were back in Portland at the end of the trip, we stopped for whoopie pies to take home as gifts to our friends and family. We got a wide range of flavors and Cape Whoopies was phenomenal.
L.L. Bean's flagship store is located in Freeport, ME and definitely worth a trip. The place is huge and feels like its own little community. Out front it has a giant L.L. Bean boot and you can often seen their boot-mobile parked somewhere out front. L.L. Bean has amazing outdoor equipment and it's a great place to pick up stuff if you're headed north to Acadia National Park like we were.
Maine is also known for its whoopie pies and Wicked Whoopies is definitely one of the staple shops. 10/10 recommend popping in to pick one up.
In the iconic 1994 classic, Forrest Gump, Forrest runs across the country and back. Coast to Coast. From the Santa Monica Pier to Maine. More specifically, to the Marshall Point Lighthouse!!!!
I absolutely love Forrest Gump so we had to drive out of our way to get to this lighthouse. It was beautiful and a very fun pitstop. It was very out of the way from the straight shot from Portland to Bar Harbor but it was worth it. Afterwards we stopped for lunch at the nearby McLoons Lobster Shack. It is a women own lobster restaurant and the food was incredibly fresh. The shack is right on the water at the dock so the boats bring the food straight from the boat inside. It was beautiful, peaceful, and delicious.
From there we continued the drive up to Bar Harbor. From our previous stop in Freeport, we got off 95 and took Route 1 the rest of the way. It is a very historic road. It was nice to be on more back roads instead of the highway to be able to stop whenever we wanted and at anything that looked cool.
Bar Harbor is super cute and has a good amount to explore. We took one full day to hike around Acadia National Park and one full day to explore the town and more of the coast. Bar Harbor is not very big city wise so all of the restaurants are very close to each other. But there is a good amount of nature to explore, especially in the National Park. Cadillac Mountain is the peak of the National Park and is the first place you can see the sunrise in the US. If you're up for an early morning I totally recommend heading up there to see the sunrise. We ate a lot of lobster because...when in Maine! But there are plenty of other options for those that don't or can't eat shellfish.
Bangor is a small town not too far from Bar Harbor that, as an aviation geek, I knew I needed to visit. Bangor has the most amount of emergency landings of any airport in the US. This is because it is the furthest north east airport in all of the US. So if a plane ever has an emergency over the Atlantic, Bangor is the first safe space to land on US soil. Before advances in aviation, private planes headed to Europe had to stop and refuel there. It has been a huge hub in aviation and has a very deep history.
Stephen King's house is also located in Bangor not very far from the airport. Lastly we stopped in Augusta to drive around and see the capital building before heading back for one final night in Portland.
Q & A
What would you have changed?We did not get to stop at Red's Eats in Wiscasset, ME and I really regret that. We had heard such good things and when we drove by the line was around the block. Next time we will make sure we stop there. I also would have added more time on our way back to be able to stop freely like we did on our way up.
Anything go wrong during the trip?Bar Harbor is not a huge town. During peak season it can get pretty crowded in the restaurants. I'd recommend making reservations whenever possible. Sometimes we were ordering food to-go because there were was a long wait, then sitting and waiting for the order because it was too cold outside at night.
Tips you would give a friend?Get to Acadia National Park early! There will be less crowds and better parking. It might be colder in the morning but wear layers and go take a nap in the late afternoon when others are just getting to the park.
Packing tips?Layer layer layer! Fall time is unique in New England because things can start off super chilly in the morning and by noon you are sweating buckets. Especially if you are planning any hikes, make sure you have good layering options.
Any surprises?People were very nice, friendly, and even in the more rural areas we still felt safe the entire time. As being two young women (one American, one Filipina) we are always on guard with our safety and aware of our surroundings. We felt very safe the whole trip and had no issues which isn't always the case when you're in more rural and secluded areas.