View Road Trip: Maine's Rocky Coast in a larger map
Fly In: Portland International Jetport
Fly Out: Hancock Country-Bar Harbor Airport
With its jagged, island-strewn coastline and mountainous tree-covered interior, it's hard to find any other U.S. destination more diverse in natural beauty than Maine. The Pine Tree State has it all from the cosmopolitan cities of the south to the quaint coastal towns further north. Forbes called Portland America's most livable city while Bon Appetit Magazine dubbed it the foodiest small town in America. Further north, the coast is home to several artist enclaves with quirky cafes, organic groceries, and galleries galore where scraggly artists and scruffy fishermen mingle at the local pub in peaceful harmony. There is no stretch of American coastline more dramatic and no trip more romantic for a B&B crawl than the scenic road from Portland to Bar Harbor.
Day #1: Portland
Portland Head Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Maine, commissioned by President George Washington in 1791. (creative commons/foroyar22)
Arrive in Portland
Fly in to the Portland International Jetport and grab your car for a romantic ride up the rocky coast.
Explore the Old Port
Downtown Portland -- or the Old Port -- combines big city amenities with small town Maine charm. Wander through the cobblestone streets and eclectic stores for anything from eccentric dog supplies to surf gear or classical music. Portland is home to a thriving art scene and the galleries keep their doors open late the first Friday of each month for an Art Walk down Congress Street. This seaside city's historic downtown district is easily walkable and the Victorian architecture is photo perfect.
Dinner at the Portland Lobster Company
Maine may be the Pine Tree State, but most know it as a haven for lobster lovers. Few can argue with the merits of anything lobster (bisque, roll, macaroni & cheese, or just plain armed with a pair of crackers and a bib) or blueberry (pie, pancakes, or jam). Portland Lobster Co., located in the center of Portland's scenic waterfront, is a city icon with some of the best fare in town - not to mention the views. Pair your lobster with a pint of Allagash White, the signature beer from Portland's most famous brewery.
Day #2: Booth Bay
Boothbay Harbor in the Morning (creative commons/Timothy Valentine)
Freeport (16 miles; 20 min)
Snag a bargain in Freeport, known as one of the United States' premier destinations for outlet shopping. Shoppers will find deep discounts at North Face, Coach, Ralf Lauren, and more. Freeport is also home to Maine's most famous brand, L.L. Bean. The store is sprawled across town with five separate buildings and is open 24/7, 365 days a year. For a break from shopping, try the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, a dive seafood restaurant that remains a secret due to its hard to find cove-side location overlooking local lobster and fishing boats in South Freeport. Try the fried clams, onion rings, or the lobster delight, which comes complete with lobster, clam, and corn on the cob.
Stroll through the Art Galleries and Antique Shops of Booth Bay (40 miles; 1 hour)
The Boothbay Harbor Region offers a fine selection of galleries, a variety of live performance venues for music and stage, historic sites and museums, as well as festivals and special events throughout the year. Incorporated in 1764, the old town of Boothbay has dreamy B&B accommodation with views of this one-of-a-kind landscape of lakes, islands, forest, and sea. Take some time to unwind and enjoy the vista.
Take a Romantic Sunset Sail
At its peak, Maine had more than 70 lighthouses to guide ships away from the craggy coast. With new GPS technology however, lighthouses are seen as less of a necessity. Yet, their beauty against the jagged Maine coast remains. Take a romantic evening sail aboard a Friendship sloop or schooner and listen to the stories of seasoned captains as the sun sets over the sea. Explore the scenic islands and towering lighthouses of Boothbay Harbor and watch seals, puffins, and whales amble about in the water below.
Day #3: Bar Harbor
View of Acadia Ocean Path in Acadia National park (creative commons/Princess Stand in the Rain)
Watch the Sun Rise
Cities along the Maine Coast are the first in the United States to see the sun rise. Get up early and watch the orange rays stretch out across the ocean before taking the scenic drive up the Maine coast to Bar Harbor. The drive can be made in less than three hours, but with so many quaint towns and costal viewpoints, it will likely take longer. For any budding photographers, the stretch from Rockport to Belfast is particularly delightful.
Explore Acadia National park (120 miles; 2 hours, 45 min)
Acadia is one of the nation's most visited national parks and one of Maine's top attractions - and for good reason. Visitors come to the park -- located on Mount Desert Island -- to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. The first national park east of the Mississippi River, Acadia is truly a four-season destination with summertime beaches, wintertime snow sports, spring flowers, and fall foliage. Be sure to take a break for afternoon tea and the famous baked popovers at The Jordan Pond House Restaurant.
Dinner at Town Hill Bistro
Just a quick drive from downtown Bar Harbor, the Town Hill Bistro specializes in creative, farm-to-table Maine cuisine. But make sure to call in for reservations ahead of time because this popular restaurant serves just 30 guests in a cozy, cabin-like dining room. After dinner, head back to the B&B and enjoy the last quiet hours of your romantic Maine getaway.