Lubec is a small little fishing village in Maine that’s so far northeast, it’s almost to the Canadian border, and closer to Europe than any other town in the U.S. For that reason, you may be wondering, is Lubec, Maine worth visiting if the drive is so far? Is there anything to do up there? I’m here today to tell you why Lubec is absolutely worth your time, if it’s right for your vacation plans, and show you all the amazing things this little town has to offer.
How To Get To Lubec
To get to Lubec, you’ll absolutely need a car, as public transportation systems will not be able to accommodate travel to this town, or allow you to visit the sites. Most people who visit Lubec from the U.S. combine it with a trip to Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park, and the drive from here is about 2 hours and 15 mins.
The closest airports to Lubec are Bangor International Airport and Bar Harbor Airport, and you’ll want to rent a car from the airport and drive to Lubec. These drives to Lubec will take you between 2-2.5 hours from either airport since they’re not far from one another.
Tip: Bar Harbor Airport is smaller, and usually is more expensive to fly and out of. You’re likely to get better prices when flying in and out of Bangor International Airport.
Is Lubec, Maine Worth Visiting?
I most definitely think it’s worth visiting, but I can also see that for some, it may not be. I’m going to break down why you should consider visiting Lubec during your Maine vacation, and why it may not be worth it for you.
Lubec is worth visiting if you love true Maine culture, small, authentic towns and enjoy getting away from the popular destinations. When I first visited Lubec, I’ll admit that I was surprised at how small the actual town was. So small, in fact, there are no traffic lights. But, that’s also one of the reasons it appealed so much to me. During the walk through town, you’re rewarded with constant views of the Bay, and you can, quite literally, see Canada across the water.
While there isn’t a ton to do in the actual town of Lubec, you don’t have to drive far to get to its famous Lighthouse, the miles of hiking trails that are nearby, or even Canada. There are also enough restaurants, and even a brewery, to keep you entertained in the evenings. And because Lubec is so far northeast, it doesn’t see anywhere near the crowds you’ll see in Bar Harbor, or any other popular spot in Maine.
Lubec may not be worth visiting if you’ve never been to Maine before, and really want to focus on the more popular destinations. Places like Acadia National Park, Portland, Ogunquit and Kennebunkport are all popular for a reason – they’re beautiful and absolutely worth your time. Especially Acadia and Bar Harbor. Knowing that most people typically spend about 7-10 days on an average vacation, maybe even less, visiting Lubec may not be worth it for you, especially because this destination is the furthest away from everything.
Bottom line: I think Lubec is worth visiting for its slower pace of life, authentic charm and natural beauty, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite towns in all of Maine. But if you’ve never been to Maine before, or are short on time, it may be best to prioritize your time in the southern part of the state, and check some of the popular destinations off your list first.
Best Things To Do in Lubec, Maine
For being as small as it is, Lubec has a ton to offer to make it worth visiting. There are 97 miles of coastline to explore, lots of hiking trails that could rival views you’d see in Acadia National Park, plenty of day trip opportunities and amazing sunrise and sunset locations. Here are my favorite things to do in Lubec.
1. Enjoy The Drive & Fun Pit Stops
Getting to Lubec is half the fun! The drive between Bar Harbor and Lubec offers a few places to make fun pit stops, and I suggest you allow time to have a relaxed drive before planning your arrival in Lubec. These are two of the stops on the drive I suggest:
- Winter Harbor/Schoodic Peninsula. You’ll have to drive about 45 minutes out of your way to make this stop, but Schoodic Peninsula is really worth it, depending on your schedule. This area is actually the lesser-known part of Acadia National Park, so a park pass will be required for entry, and it’s very easy to visit because there’s only one road that runs the whole loop of the peninsula. Even from your car window while you drive, you’ll see some incredible views, and if you can only make one stop in Schoodic, I’d suggest Schoodic Point. Google Maps will take you right there if you type in “Schoodic Point.”
- Wild Blueberry Land. And hour away from Lubec is this really cool, almost kitsch (in the best possible way) bakery/gift shop/museum called Wild Blueberry Lane. There’s no way you can miss it from the side of the road because the building is shaped like a giant blueberry. They serve up freshly baked pies and other treats each day, as well as serve ice cream and sell merch inside their shop. It might be the best roadside stop/photo opp you can make in Maine!
Tip: Be sure to fill you car with gas before leaving Winter Harbor/Schoodic Peninsula. You’ll see gas stations on the way to Lubec, but they were few and far between, so better to be safe than sorry in this case.
2. West Quoddy Lighthouse & State Park
One of the most iconic lighthouses in Maine is West Quoddy Lighthouse. The lighthouse is the actual easternmost point in the U.S., and they’ll be a stone marker you can take a picture of to prove you were there. The lighthouse overlooks the Quoddy Channel and Bay of Fundy, and is surrounded by walking trails within the Quoddy Head State Park.
For an easy walk that maximizes opportunity for cliff views in a short amount of time, take the Quoddy Coast Guard Trail, which is just about a mile long. If you want to go for a bit of a longer hike, the Green Point trail is also pretty easy at just under 2 miles, and offers more dramatic rocky coastline views.
Tip: It’s possible to go up to the tower of West Quoddy Light in the summer months, but tours are sporadic, and usually only on Saturdays in July and August. For more information, visit their website.
3. Watch the Sunrise at West Quoddy Lighthouse
Since this location is where you can see the first glimpses of sunlight in all of the U.S., it’s a pretty special place to watch the sunrise. The sun will come up right over the waters of the Quoddy Channel at the lighthouse, so you’ll have a perfect view of it rising from the horizon. It tends to be a bit windy and chilly at this location, so even in the summer, it’s best to bring a sweater or jacket with you.
4. Visit the Colorful Town & Take In Views of Canada
The town center of Lubec is actually quite vibrant, with buildings and murals painted in bright colors. And since the town center is also situated along the water, you can take in several views of Canada right from the sidewalk. And I mean actual views, not from a distance with a telescope. You’ll even be able to get a great view of Canada’s Mulholland Lighthouse, right from town.
5. Visit Campobello Island
By taking a quick 10 minute drive from Lubec, you can cross the border into New Brunswick, Canada and visit Campobello Island, which is famous for hosting Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt’s summer home for many years. There is enough to do on the island to spend at least one full day here, and combining this with a trip to Lubec, Maine makes it worth visiting. Here are the best things to do on Campobello Island.
- Explore the Roosevelt Campobello International Park. The inside of the Roosevelt’s summer home has been preserved, and turned into a museum, and the outdoor grounds are also open to the public. The park is open Memorial Day through mid-October, and admission is completely free. Visit their website for more information on specific opening dates each season.
- Visit Head Harbor Lighthouse. This one will be a bit of an adventure, and require some planning ahead of time, but well-worth the effort. This lighthouse is known for being the second-oldest lighthouse in Canada, and for having a big, red cross painted on its side.
This lighthouse is only accessible by foot, and you must only attempt the walk at low tide. You’ll park at the parking lot, and in-season, pay a $5 fee, where the attendant will also be available for questions about visiting the lighthouse. You’ll have to walk up 4 flights of steep stairs, and also do a bit of rock scrambling, to get to the lighthouse, so shoes with a good grip, or hiking boots are recommended. Be sure to check the tide schedule, so you know when you have to begin your walk back to the parking lot.
- Have a drink and fresh seafood at Pier Waterfront. This restaurant has awesome food and amazing water views with outdoor seating. This is the perfect place to grab a lunch overlooking the water, or to end your day after exploring the island.
Tip: Be sure to remember your passport if you plan to visit Campobello Island during your trip to Lubec! In light of the COVID-10 pandemic, also be sure to stay up-to-date on Canada/U.S. entry requirements, as proof of vaccination or negative test result may be required.
6. Take the Ferry to Eastport
Down East Wind Jammers offers a ferry service between Lubec and Eastport, making this a great opportunity to tour the open waters, as well as explore a new town. The drive from Eastport to Lubec is about an hour, but the ferry ride is only 30 minutes. Eastport is small enough that you don’t need a car to explore the downtown area, and with plenty of unique shops, restaurants and art galleries, you won’t have a hard time strolling the streets for an afternoon before you take the ferry back to Lubec.
Tip: The Lubec-Eastport ferry only runs Fridays Saturdays and Sundays. Visit their website for information on schedules by season. Pricing is $25 per adult for a round trip ticket.
7. Hike Boot Head Preserve
This easy-moderate 2.5 mile loop trail offers absolutely incredible coastline views of Maine’s famous rocky cliffs, and this hike alone makes Lubec worth visiting. A good portion of the trail is through the moss-covered woods, but you have a few spots with overlooks that will definitely be picture-worthy moments.
Closer to the end of the trail, be sure to stop at the cliff inlet. It’s hard to miss because you’ll hear the water crashing into it, and there will be a bench and small platform for views. But this was a really nice surprise toward the end of the hike. If you’re wondering if Lubec, Maine is worth visiting, hopefully these views answer your question!
Tip: The parking area for this trailhead is small, so on weekends during July and August, it’s best to arrive early in the morning, or visit just before sunset.
8. Go On a Whale Watch & Ride a Natural Whirlpool
Owned by a husband and wife team, Down East Charter Boat Tours offers whale watching excursions that they claim are “more than just a whale watch.” Also included with your tour on their 25-foot lobster yacht is a ride on the Old Sow, the largest tidal whirlpool in the western hemisphere. You’ll also pass by some of the area’s lighthouses, and hopefully, you’ll also be able to spot some seals.
Pricing: To book a tour, you have to contact the company directly, as tour times vary by day, and are based on tide schedules. Tours are about two and a half hours long, and pricing is $75 per adult, and $50 per child 12 and under. They suggest you mention if riding Old Sow whirlpool is a priority for you so they can suggest the best day and time for your tour.
9. McCurdy’s Smokehouse Museum
This museum pays homage to the town’s long-standing history of the herring smokehouse and curing industry. In fact, these buildings were still in use as of 1991, and when they closed that year, they were the last standing herring smokehouse in the U.S.
You don’t have to go inside the museum to admire the beautiful structures – you’ll see them, and are able to get up close, right from town center. However, the museum employs several people who had worked in the smokehouse until its closure, and for a small fee, you can visit the inside of the museum, and learn from those who worked in the industry first-hand.
Price: Free to view buildings from outside, $4 per person to enter the museum.
10. Hike The Hamilton Cove Preserve Trail
This is an easy-moderate 2.7 mile trail through moss-covered woods that offers some spectacular views of the Maine coastline. There are several overlooks with benches and places to sit and admire the views, so this is a great place to pack a light picnic or snack (and definitely your camera) and linger a bit at each stop. I think both this trail, and Boot Head Preserve, are worth your time during your visit to Lubec, but if you had to pick one, I would probably suggest Boot Head because I found some of the views to be a bit more unique. But I highly suggest doing both if you can.
Tip: Similar to Boot Head, the parking area at this trail head is also small, so if planning a visit on the weekends in July and August, it’s best to arrive early.
11. Enjoy a Sunset Dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant
Attached to the Inn on the Wharf is Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant, and they have a small deck outside overlooking the water, with a great view of the sunset. They don’t take reservations, and there are only about 4-5 tables outside, so weekends in July and August will be tough to snatch one up. But it’s definitely worth the wait. The seafood here is also delicious, and I especially love the fish stew.
12. Hike The Bog Brook Cove Preserve
This is one of the lesser-known trails in the area, and there’s a good chance you’ll have it to yourself, even in summer (maybe not on weekends, though). It’s an easy 2.4 mile trail that does have some short inclines up to the ridge, and some minor rock-scrambling. But if you choose to do the entire loop, you’ll be able to walk out close to the cove waters, and hike up to view it from above as well, offering a lot of vantage points.
This trail will also give you some wildlife observation opportunities, as hikers have reported wild mushrooms, wild blueberries, and all kinds of wildflowers, along this trial. So keep an eye out, depending on the season, and see what you can find along the way!
13. Grab a Drink at The Lubec Brewery
This small but mighty brewery only has one barrel in their brew house, but they offer quite a few options on tap. Founded in 2015, they’ve since been supporting local farmers by only using Maine-grown barley, wheat and rye in their brews, and are always experimenting to come up with new flavor profiles. They post their hours regularly on their Facebook Page, so be sure to click on that before your visit.
Tip: Each of their brews pays respect to Lubec’s heritage, so be sure to sample more than just one!
14. Taste Homemade Chocolate at Monica’s
Don’t leave Lubec without having tried some incredible chocolate creations from Monica’s Chocolates. Just about a mile outside of the main town area, this little shop makes everything in small batches to ensure you’re getting the freshest chocolate possible, and offers everything from bon bons to truffles, to novelty chocolate lobsters, and even some Peruvian-inspired truffles to honor Monica’s heritage of growing up in Peru.
Not only does the shop offer an abundance of chocolates to choose from, it also has a small boutique of gifts, clothing and jewelry. This is definitely a must top when visiting Lubec.
15. Stay Overnight in a Lighthouse
While this isn’t right in Lubec, it’s only a 30 minute drive away, and definitely worth the short drive for such a unique experience. Little River Lighthouse in Cutler, ME offers overnight guests at their light station property.
During this stay, you’ll be taken by boat to the private 15-acre island where the light station is, and your group will have the entire grounds to yourself, including access to the lighthouse tower, during your stay. This is an incredible experience to see what it’s like to live as a light keeper, and also, have a true escape from busy, every day life. A night’s stay here would be an amazing opportunity before arriving in Lubec, and would make for some really wonderful memories.
Pricing: Nightly rates begin at $300, and the grounds can house up to 6 people in three separate bedrooms. To reserve, you have to call direct to book.
Note: The volunteer light keeper will be on the grounds with you in the keeper’s quarters on the first floor of the house. This is to ensure your safety and security during your stay.
What is Lubec Known For?
Lubec is known for two things. The first is that it’s the easternmost town in all of the U.S., meaning it’s the first spot in the entire country to receive morning light from the sun. While some people claim that the nearby town of Eastport, or Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, are the first to see the sun, most experts have concluded that it’s actually right here in Lubec. It’s worth visiting Lubec just to say you’ve once seen the very first sunrise!
Lubec is also known for the beautiful West Quoddy Lighthouse, which is an iconic red and white striped light station that marks the true most eastern point of the U.S. The lighthouse is situated on a 480-acre park that offers really nice walking trails with views of the Bay of Fundy.
Is Lubec Worth a Day Trip from Bar Harbor?
Depending on how much time you have, I think Lubec makes a wonderful day trip to escape the crowds of Bar Harbor. The drive from downtown Bar Harbor to Lubec is just over 2 hours without stops, so it’s definitely doable for a day trip, especially on a summer day when you have plenty of sunlight hours.
When deciding if Lubec is worth a day trip from Bar Harbor, I would suggest taking a look at how long you plan to be in Bar Harbor. If you’ll only be there for 1-3 days, I would suggest skipping Lubec, and really taking advantage of everything Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park has to offer, especially if it’s your first time visiting. If you’ll be in Bar Harbor for 4 or more days, Lubec may be worth a day trip.
During July and August, Bar Harbor is exciting and lively with summer tourists, but it can be crowded. This isn’t a bad thing, but something worth mentioning. Lubec would be a great option if you’re looking to escape the crowds for a day to break up the summertime buzz of peak season in Bar Harbor, and enjoy a slower pace in a small fishing village. Even better to visit Lubec on weekday, if you can, to really avoid as many people as possible.
If you plan to be in Bar Harbor for a week or longer, a day trip (or even an overnight stay) in Lubec is definitely something I would suggest you consider. While you could spend a month in Bar Harbor/Acadia and not run out of things to do or see, I think Lubec is special enough that it’s worth visiting just to experience a different side of Maine.
How Far is Canada from Lubec?
As we’ve touched on, Campobello Island in Canada is just a short 10-minute drive from Lubec, making it very close to the Canadian border. In fact, when I visit Lubec, my phone sends me a “Welcome to Canada” text, even though I’m never charged for international data. I’m just so close, it thinks I’m crossing the border.
Lubec is also only 1 hour and 30 minutes from the charming town of St. Andrews, New Brunswick, and 2 hours from Saint John, New Brunswick, a bigger seaport city that has lots to do along the Bay of Fundy.
How Far is Lubec from Portland, Maine?
Lubec is 4 hours from Portland, ME, and this would be a really great Maine road trip to take. Starting in Portland, you could visit Boothbay Harbor, Camden, Bar Harbor and finally, end in Lubec. With the drive only being 4 hours from start to end, you could do the road trip in as little as a long weekend, if only stopping for a few hours in each place. But this would make for an amazing week-long road trip through Maine.
Where To Stay
Lubec offers a great mix of B&Bs, hotels and rentals. Here are my suggestions for where to stay.
Inn on the Wharf is home of the Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant, which I touched on earlier as the best place for an outdoor sunset dinner. But the rooms here also offer incredible water views. I suggest booking a room with a private, oceanfront balcony – it’s more than worth it because you get a perfect view of the sunset right from your balcony. Pricing in summer season will range from $120-$160 per night for rooms and suites.
West Quoddy Station Rentals is outside of the main town area, but only a 5-minute walk to West Quoddy Lighthouse and State Park. This complex of buildings offers over 40 rooms to select from, some with efficiency kitchens if you’re looking for a longer stay. And, the best part is, you’ll be right on the water. Pricing in summer season will range from $120-$330 per night, depending on the type of room or apartment you want, and they also offer weekly rates.
Peacock House is a beautiful 1860’s home-turned B&B that looks like a summer cottage with the most darling turquoise blue shutters. Located right in the main town of Lubec, each stay includes a full, made to order breakfast, bicycles to use, and 4 common room spaces to make yourself at home. Pricing in summer season will range from $170-$190 per night based on the room you select.
Best Time to Visit
July and August are the best months to visit, as that is peak season in all of Maine, meaning all restaurants, shops and attractions will be open. You’re also likely to have the best weather with fewer days of rain. I’m a big fan of traveling during shoulder seasons to avoid larger crowds, but with Lubec being small and more remote, July and August are a great time to visit.
I’ve also been in mid-May and while most restaurants and tours were still closed for the season, I almost felt like I had the town to myself. So if you’re really looking to unplug and escape, and don’t mind not having access to all the local businesses, May, June, September and October would also be great months to visit to appreciate the town’s natural beauty. While there are year-round residents in Lubec, most of the town’s business are closed in the winter.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- The Best Maine Lighthouse Road Trip Itinerary
- Incredible Stops To Make Driving Portland to Acadia National Park
- Awesome Day Trips From Portland, Maine
- The Perfect Acadia National Park Itinerary
- The Most Incredible Things To Do In New England
- Fun Places For Blueberry Picking In Maine
That’s a Wrap On: Is Lubec is Worth Visiting?
If you’ve been asking yourself if Lubec, Maine is worth visiting, I hope I’ve been able to help you decide. Whether you’re considering adding Lubec to your Bar Harbor itinerary, taking a road trip from Portland, or making a special trip just to see Lubec and its surrounding region, you’ll be so happy you got to experience this amazing little town.