Maine is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and scenic states in the US. It is also one of the top destinations on any East Coast fall foliage itinerary. Rocky coasts, lighthouses, lobster, quaint boutiques, sandy beaches, and plenty of ocean views. One of the best outdoor destinations in the US, this 3 day Maine coast road trip is the perfect road trip destination for nature and adventure.
Whether it’s your first time visiting Maine or your hundredth, the beauty of Maine will always leave an impression.
3 Day Maine Coast Road Trip Itinerary
This 3-day Maine Coast Itinerary will take you from the lush wilderness and rocky coastlines of Acadia National Park to Kennebunkport’s charming, seaside fishing village. Along the way, you will be treated to some of the most charming, small towns with that New England feel.
Day 1: Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park
Begin your 3 day Maine coast road trip in Maine’s Bar Harbor area. Bar Harbor is the picturesque seaside town on Mount Desert Island bordering Acadia National Park. It’s considered one of the best national parks in the United States. Home to some of the best lobster and seafood restaurants in the state, Bar Harbor is full of quaint shops and easy access to the waters of Frenchman Bay.
A day well spent in this area will include some time strolling the streets of Bar Harbor after exploring the wilderness and coastal edges of Acadia National Park.
Drive Park Loop Drive
Take a drive along the Park Loop Drive in Acadia National Park. The 27-mile loop road through the park takes you past many of the park’s highlights, including many observation points.
The Park Loop Drive is a great introduction to the park and can help you decide how to spend the rest of your time here. One great option is to go to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast,. You can also relax at Jordan Pond and grab a bite to eat at the Jordon Pond House. Another great idea is to go for a swim at Sand Beach.
Go for a Hike
Acadia National Park is one of the top hiking destinations in the US. There are loads of hiking trails to choose from to suit all hiking abilities and itineraries. For those looking for beginning level hikes, Bubble Rock, the Ocean Path, the Wonderland Trail, or the Great Head Trail are great options.
For experienced hikers, options include the Precipice Trail, the Beehive Trail, the Dorr Mountain Trail, or a hike to the Cadillac Mountain summit.
Grab Dinner and Explore Downtown Bar Harbor
After exploring Acadia National Park, you’ll surely be ready for some of Maine’s famous local seafood. Visit the heart of Bar Harbor for plenty of dining options. One must-visit is the brand-new Brasserie Le Brun, a new French restaurant with a modern twist. You can also try out the Chart Room for delicious seafood or Havana Parilla for delicious Latin cuisine.
After dinner, enjoy a stroll along the waterfront or relax in the village green. Find yourself some unique, handcrafted souvenirs along Main Street, or visit the Bar Harbor Cellars Winery for a post-dinner wine tasting.
You Might Also Like: If you have an extra day or two, consider exploring some of beautiful New Hampshire, less than an hour south of Portland.
Day 2: Portland
One of Maine’s biggest cities, Portland has lots to offer visitors. From strolling the Old Port, finding unique gifts and treasures at local boutiques, and visiting some of Maine’s most scenic lighthouses.
The drive from Bar Harbor to Portland is 3 hours, so drive early to make the most of your time.
Step from the modern-day city to the historic, cobblestone streets of Old Port as you spend your morning sightseeing, shopping, and enjoying the history and culture of Portland. You will find a combination of local and brand-name shops along the old streets. You can find clothing shops, galleries, gourmet food stores, pottery, jewelry, and more.
Old Port is also blessed with many popular and quality restaurants, from quick service to fine dining style restaurants. One of the top new coffee shops that we recommend is Double Great Coffee, serving delicious coffee and desserts. For Latin food lovers, check out Papi, serving delicious coctails and Puerto Rican eats. The Continental is an amazing new spot in Portland serving authentic pub food and drinks.
If you want to get out on the water, join a 2-hour sail with the Portland Schooner Co. on an early 1900’s Windjammer for a sightseeing cruise taking in the famous local lighthouses and wildlife. See here for cruise details.
Recommended Tours in Portland Old Town
- Old Port Culinary Walking Tour – 3-hour tour learning about Maine’s famous culinary scene. Includes guide, food samples from locale restaurants and eateries, and beer tasting. See here for full tour details.
- History Walking Tour with Sweet Treat – 2 hour tour exploring the key landmarks of Portland and its 200-year history. A great way to get your bearings in Portland. Includes local guide and typical Portland sweet treat at the end. See here for full details.
Home of the Portland Head lighthouse inside Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth is one of the most well-known lighthouses in the US.
You can’t go inside the lighthouse, but there are plenty of areas for stunning views, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
If visiting on a hot summer day, you can also hit the beach area for a swim with views of the Ram Island Ledge Light (Beware, though, even in summer, the water will be cold).
With over 70 breweries within the city limits, a brewery tour should be on your 3 day Maine coast road trip. There are plenty of unique tour options, from a Haunted Pub Crawl, pedal bike tours, party bikes, bus, and private tour options. Alternatively, you can research Portland’s many breweries and take a self-guided brewery tour.
Recommended Beer & Brewery Tours
- Bike and Brew Tour – 1.5-2.5 hour options. Discover Portland and the local brew scene by bike. Choose between a morning coffee tour, an afternoon brewery tour, or an early evening beer, wine, and spirits tour. Includes all cycling gear, a local guide, and a selection of craft beverage samples. See here for full tour details.
- Sea Harbor Brews Cruise – 1.5 or 2 hours. Enjoy beers and boats on the waters of beautiful Portland Harbor and Casco Bay on a brews cruise. Sip local craft beers onboard the beautiful Elizabeth Grace for a 1.5-hour harbor tour or 2-hour sunset cruise. Includes cruise, guide, and 2 local craft beers. See here for full details.
- Tasting Tour to Local Breweries – 3 hours. Sip and taste your way through historic Portland on this walking brewery tour. Visit the city’s well-known breweries and enjoy samples at each stop along the way while learning about Portland’s beer history. Tour includes local guide, stops at three local breweries with three samples at each brewery and a light snack. See here for full tour details.
Alternate Portland Itinerary: Casco Islands
If you want to get out of the city and explore the surrounding waters, spend the day island-hopping the Casco Bay Islands. While there are over 700 islands in Casco Bay, there are six easily accessible islands via ferry.
You can enjoy various activities on the islands, including kayaking, museums, art galleries, shopping, hiking trails, sandy beaches, delicious restaurants, biking, historic forts/structures, fishing, and motorboating. Whichever island/s you choose, you notice the pace is a lot slower on the Casco Islands, and relaxation is a priority.
Day 3: Kennebunkport
For the final day, continue Southward along the coast to the seaside town of Kennebunkport. Kennebunkport is home to a quaint shopping district, gorgeous beaches, and a working fishing harbor.
Relax at the Beach
Kennebunkport Beach is a great swimming beach with options for getting out on the water in a kayak. If you are looking for a more relaxed beach, you will find calmer waves at Goose Rocks Beach with a very well-maintained shoreline. Hit the beach for a quick swim before heading out to see all that Kennebunkport has to offer, or choose to spend a few hours relaxing before moving on.
Cape Porpoise is a working fishing harbor just five minutes outside of Dock Square. You can watch the fishing fleets cruising in and out of the harbor, observing the different traps and bait barrels used. Like many other destinations along the coast of Maine, Cape Porpoise is a great stop for fresh seafood dining – the Cape Porpoise Chowder House is one of the best options.
If you have the time, a boat tour out to Goat Island to see the Goat Island Lighthouse is a worthwhile trip, The tour includes a narrated history tour and, afterward, takes you past Bumpkin Island, where you can spot seals sunbathing on the shores.
Catch a Show at Vinegar Hill Music Theatre
Finish up your day in Kennebunkport at the Vinegar Hill Music Theatre to catch some live entertainment. The theater is set in a renovated barn that currently offers live shows and a variety of concerts, from jazz, blues, rock, pop, and funk. The Theatre also has a bar where you can enjoy cocktails to start the night.
About The Author
Melissa is the writer and photographer behind Navigation Junkie, a family-focused travel blog. She writes about her travel experiences with her 6-year-old daughter and provides tips and tricks learned during those travels to help improve the experience of families from around the world hoping to create memories through travel.