If you’re looking to take a Portland to Acadia National Park road trip, you’re about to embark on an amazing journey! There are so many stops to make along the way that will highlight the very best of coastal Maine, and provide amazing and memorable experiences.
This guide isn’t going to take you on the most direct route because, well, that’s not as much fun. In order to get to these places, we’ll be taking some detours and getting off the beaten path to explore some incredible sites. The great thing is, you can tailor this road trip to your liking, and adjust the itinerary to fit your interests and schedule. Keep in mind that you can also visit half the stops on your way to Acadia, and the other half on your way back.
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How Far Is Portland From Acadia National Park?
Portland, ME is a 3-hour drive from Acadia National Park when driven on the most direct route, without stops.
When using this travel guide to plan your journey, your driving time will vary depending on which stops you choose to make (hopefully all of them!), and if you decide to visit some on your way to Acadia, and some on your way back to Portland.
13 Incredible Stops To Make On Your Portland To Acadia National Park Road Trip
The list below is organized in order starting from Portland and heading toward Acadia National Park. If you want to take your time driving to Acadia, and hit up all of these stops, this is the order you’ll want to do them all in. If you want to break up the stops, and do half on your way to Acadia, and the other half on your way back, be sure to scroll down to the end of the list for a suggested itinerary.
Freeport is known as the home of the flagship L.L. Bean store, but it’s also a quaint little shopping town that has a mix of franchises and independently-owned shops, and is a really nice and easy stop to make during a road trip.
The L.L. Bean flagship store is definitely worth a visit, as it’ll have everything available that the brand makes, including a really awesome home section. Be sure to grab a photo with the giant Bean Boot outside!
Stroll down Main Street to do a bit of shopping, and most definitely pop into Wilbur’s of Maine to grab some chocolate covered blueberries (and well, anything else that involves chocolate because they have it all).
Restaurant Suggestion: My favorite place to eat in Freeport is Tuscan Brick Oven & Bistro. The food here is amazing, and the atmosphere is very warm and cozy. They also have delicious cocktails.
Estimated time needed at this stop: 2-4 hours, depending on if you want to add time lunch or dinner. Without stopping for a meal, 2 hours will do.
2. Giant’s Stairs on Bailey’s Island
This off-the-beaten path stop is a must when driving from Portland to Acadia National Park. In fact, the entire town of Bailey’s Island is pretty idyllic. While there’s not much to do on Bailey’s Island, it’s packed with picturesque scenes at every corner, and you can drive the whole thing in about 15 minutes.
One of the best things to experience is the Giant’s Stairs trail. It’s a very short trail along a bluff overlooking the ocean, and it will lead you to giant rock formations you can climb to get some amazing views of the water.
It goes without saying that you should exercise caution when climbing on the rocks. I felt very safe while there, but if it happens to be a wet, slippery day, just be careful. Closed-toed and sturdy shoes are recommended.
Tip: Google Maps navigation will take you right to the trail, but parking can be a bit confusing. Use these coordinates to get to the parking area: 43.723383502260596, -69.99533644395135. There will also be signs along the way.
Estimated time needed at this stop: 1 hour.
Georgetown is often featured in a lot of stock photos for coastal Maine because it’s a picture-perfect small fishing village town. It also has some beautiful things to do when passing through.
Besides walking around to just appreciate its natural beauty, here’s a list of my suggestions on what to do while in Georgetown:
- Reid State Park has three beaches and nature trails to explore.
- Georgetown Pottery to shop for handmade porcelain pieces.
- Five Islands Lobster Company for amazing and fresh seafood overlooking the water.
- Five Islands Farm is a great stop for specialty and gourmet foods, as well as beautiful handmade pieces, gifts and artwork.
Estimated time needed at this stop: 1-3 hours, depending on if you stop to eat, or explore the trails and beaches at Reid State Park.
This is a charming little village that sits along the Sheepscot River, and is most known for being the home of Red’s Eats, a little seafood shack that always has a line around the corner because it’s that good.
Stoping to eat at Red’s Eats is definitely worth your time during your drive from Portland to Acadia, and you can combine it with a beautiful stroll around the historic village and Main Street. The welcome sign as you enter the village will even claim that Wiscasset is the “Prettiest Little Village in Maine.”
Estimated time needed at this stop: 1-3 hours, depending on how long that line is at Red’s!
5. Boothbay Harbor
Boothbay Harbor is one of my favorite towns to visit in Maine because I find it has so much character, and also stays true to its roots as a fishing and boating community.
I have so much to say about Boothbay, in fact, I have an entire post all about the best things to see and do. If you’re planning to stop in Boothbay on your drive from Portland to Acadia, click below to read my travel guide.
Estimated time needed at this stop: 1-3 hours, depending on if you stop to eat.
6. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse & Park
I love this stop along the coast of Maine because not only is it a beautiful lighthouse, it’s also a park with long stretches of rocky coastline to walk along and explore.
The cost to visit this lighthouse is $3, and there are also public bathroom facilities here, which is great during a road trip! Visitors are able to climb to the top of the lighthouse tower, but this is only offered at certain times throughout the day, weather permitting. Be sure to check the lighthouse website by clicking here for more information on planning your visit.
Restaurant Suggestion: If you’re looking for a lunch or dinner pit stop, Pemaquid Seafood is a 15-minute drive from the lighthouse, and has awesome seafood with a great view of the water.
Recommended time needed at this location: 1 hour, plus more if you stop for lunch or dinner.
Friendship is a very small little fishing town, but it’s also home to probably the most adorable little convenience store & market you ever did see, Wallace’s. Friendship is worth going out of the way to visit just to pop into Wallace’s for market finds, and even a great lobster roll! But this town also has a really lovely little harbor area that’s worth taking a few moments to explore.
Restaurant Suggestion: In addition to Wallace’s, which actually has really good prepared foods, you can also stop at Jameson Point Lobster Company.
Estimated time needed at this stop: 30 minutes – 1 hour, depending on if you stop for lunch/dinner.
8. Marshall Point Lighthouse
Most famous for being featured in the movie Forrest Gump, Marshall Point Lighthouse is one of my top 3 favorite lighthouses in all of Maine. It’s a bit off-the-beaten path, so not as many people venture over to make the stop, meaning I’ve never seen it crowded. It’s always such a peaceful and serene visit, and a beautiful lighthouse to see when driving from Portland to Acadia National Park.
There are also a couple of picnic tables right by the lighthouse, so this is a nice place to stop and have a snack during your road trip.
Estimated time needed at this stop: 30 minutes.
9. Owl’s Head
Owl’s Head, ME is home to another one of my top 3 lighthouses in Maine, as well as a lovely little harbor and a relaxing pebble beach.
You most definitely have to stop and see Owl’s Head Lighthouse, which sits atop a cliff and offers amazing views of the water. Along the walkway to the lighthouse from the parking area, keep an eye out for a small path on your right that leads down to the water. There’s a little pebble beach that’s very small, but really beautiful.
The Owl’s Head harbor is also very small, but a working harbor with fishermen coming and going, and is a really authentic stop to make when in the area to appreciate the fishing culture in Maine.
Estimated time needed at this stop: 30 minutes to see the lighthouse, 30-45 minutes if you see the lighthouse and stop at the pebble beach, and 1 hour if you also stop to see the harbor.
10. Rockland Breakwater Light
This is a great stop to make to really stretch out your legs and go for a walk along a breakwater rock jetty that’s almost a mile long.
At the end of the breakwater sits Breakwater Lighthouse and the attached lightkeeper’s house. Since the breakwater is so far out into the water, it offers the unique experience of seeing the town from the water without having to get on a boat. This is especially beautiful at sunset if you’re able to time it right!
Estimated time needed at this stop: 1 hour to walk the whole thing there and back.
Camden is another idyllic little harbor-side town that has an amazing Main Street with shops and restaurants, and a gorgeous harbor where some pretty incredible sailboats dock.
While Camden’s downtown is definitely one of the best things to do while visiting, another option is to drive or hike to the Mt. Battie summit, which give’s you a bird’s eye view of Camden’s harbor. Since this is a road trip itinerary with so many gorgeous stops to make along the way, I suggest taking the easy option, and driving to the Mt. Battie summit to save time.
Estimated time needed at this stop: 1-3 hours, depending on if you just stop to see the downtown area and harbor, or if you decide to also visit the Mt. Battie summit, or stop to eat.
12. Deer Isle & Blue Hill
Blue Hill is on a little peninsula along the coast of Maine, and as you probably guessed, Deer Isle is an island off the coast that’s just a short 25-minute drive from Blue Hill. You could choose to visit both, or just pick which you prefer to visit.
First, to get to this area, you’ll cross the Penobscot Narrows Observatory Bridge, which is the tallest public bridge observatory in the world. Yes, the world. It’s pretty cool to drive across!
Blue Hill is a small and quiet town located along Blue Hill Bay, and has become a haven for artists, who have found it very easy to be inspired by all the beautiful views. A bit further south is Deer Isle, which is a lobstering community, and also home to many art galleries and nature preserves. To get to Deer Isle, you can cross a bridge by car – no need to take a ferry.
Here’s a list of things to do in the Blue Hill and Deer Isle area:
- Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies – A charming little cottage-turned-store that sells its own jellies and jams made on-site, as well as gifts to bring home. This little shop also showcases acres (yep! acres) of handmade sculptures created with found items, which makes for a really unique experience.
- Blue Hill Co-Op Market – A lovely little market & prepared foods store that sources their ingredients locally, and is a great stop to pick up some sandwiches and snacks.
- Blue Hill Mountain Trail – A short 2-mile loop hike that offers amazing views of the harbor, as well as Mt. Desert Island, which is home to Acadia National Park.
- Walk Around Stonington Village – The little village at the very end of Deer Isle is absolutely beautiful with plenty of picture-worthy moments.
13. Young’s Lobster Pound
The great thing about stopping at Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast is that it’s directly on the route you need to take to Acadia, so you don’t have to go out of your way at all to visit. The best thing about Young’s, though, is that it has amazing seafood and a beautiful view of Penobscot Bay.
You can get any kind of fresh seafood here during your stop, including picking your own lobster from their tank. They also have an upper, outdoor deck overlooking the bay, and lots of picnic tables on their back lawn that also have water views. They even have a large indoor dining space as well if you happen to visit on a rainy day.
Young’s is also BYOB, so you’re more than welcome to bring a bottle of wine or some beer to enhance your meal!
How Many Days Do You Need To Drive From Portland To Acadia?
If you’re driving from Portland to Acadia National Park, and want to make stops, I suggest you budget a minimum of 4 nights. This will allow you to stop for a night on your way to Acadia, spend 2 nights in Bar Harbor/Acadia and then stop for another night on your drive back to Portland. I suggest you spend the night during the drive to and from Acadia because it will allow you to not feel rushed at each stop along the way.
If you’re short on time, you could also just do 2 nights in Bar Harbor, and try not to spend the night on your drive there or back. In that case, you could do this trip in a weekend. I would recommend that you try to only spend an hour max at each stop in that case.
If you have more than 4 nights, then I highly suggest allowing yourself 5-6 nights for this trip, which would be ideal. Acadia National Park is absolutely amazing with tons of things to do, and you can easily spend at least 4 nights just in Acadia and Bar Harbor. And then you would still have flexibility to stay overnight on your way there, and back so you don’t feel rushed.
Suggested Itineraries For Breaking Up The Stops
If you’d like to break up the stops during your drive from Portland to Acadia National Park, and do half on your way to Acadia, and half on your way back to Portland, these are the suggested routes to evenly break up your driving time.
Best Stops From Portland To Acadia National Park
- Giant’s Stairs on Bailey’s Island
- Boothbay Harbor
- Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (with an option for lunch at Pemaquid Seafood)
- Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
- Camden to spend the night, and the next morning
- Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast for lunch before getting to Acadia
- Acadia National Park – You made it!
Best Stops From Acadia National Park To Portland
- Deer Isle & Blue Hill
- Owl’s Head
- Marshall Point Lighthouse
- Friendship (with an optional stop at Jameson Lobster Point for lunch)
- Wiscasset to spend the night, and the next morning
- Back to Portland – What a great road trip!
Best Towns To Stay Overnight During The Drive
There are three towns that I think are the best for overnight stays if you’d like to take your time during the drive from Portland to Acadia and really enjoy all the stops along the way. These towns are: Wiscasset, Camden and Boothbay Harbor. I suggest these towns for overnight stays because they have the most to do, so you’ll have plenty of dining and hotel options, as well as sites to see in the area and things to do in the evening.
Wiscasset and Boothbay Harbor are very close to each other, so you’ll likely pick between these during one leg of your journey. Both are beautiful, but if I had to pick between the two, I would suggest Boothbay Harbor because I think it’s a more unique town and has more hotel options. It’s hard to go wrong with either choice, though.
Here are my suggestions for hotels in these three towns for overnight stays:
Boothbay Harbor: Harborage Inn, which is located right in downtown Boothbay Harbor on the water, and includes a wonderful breakfast and parking in the room rate.
Wiscasset: Marston House, an antique store that’s also a B&B is located right in Main Street in town, and includes an amazing breakfast in the room rate.
Camden: Camden Maine Stay Inn, a traditional-style New England B&B that’s just a few minutes’ walk into downtown, and serves a gourmet, 2-course breakfast, included in the room rate.
Portland To Acadia National Park Road Trip Tips
- Be sure to gas up frequently. I suggest you stop to fill up when you reach a half tank. Some of these stops are more remote, and while you should be able to find gas stations everywhere along this route, it’s best not to risk it.
- Pack snacks. I’ve noted a few places with some amazing stops for lunch, but there is a lot of driving on this route, so best to make sure you don’t get hangry, and have snacks at the ready.
- Have a light jacket or sweater handy in your car. These coastal destinations can sometime be a bit chillier than you’re expecting, so rather than digging around your suitcase if you get cold, it’s easier to just have it out in the back seat, ready to go.
- Keep in mind that Maine is very seasonal, and many things are closed between October/November-April/May. You won’t run into this problem as much with sites and landmarks, but restaurant hours may be affected. Be sure to plan accordingly and check hours of operation before making a special trip.
Other road trips you may enjoy:
- Best Stops To Make Driving From Boston To Stowe, VT
- Best Stops To Make Driving From Boston To Portland, Maine
- The Perfect 7 Day New England Road Trip Itinerary
- The Best Maine Lighthouse Road Trip Itinerary
- The Perfect New England Fall Road Trip
Other posts you may find helpful:
- Best Breweries In Portland, Maine
- Best Whoopie Pies In Maine
- The Perfect Acadia National Park Itinerary
- Best Day Trips From Bar Harbor
- Summer In New England: Best Places To Go & Things To Do!
- Fun Places For Blueberry Picking In Maine
- Incredible New England Resorts & Spas
- The Most Incredible New England Lighthouses To Visit
- Maine In October: Best Towns For Foliage & Things To Do!
- Maine In November: What To Expect & Things To Do
That’s A Wrap On The Best Stops To Make When Driving From Portland To Acadia
There are so many things to see and do when driving from Portland to Acadia National Park. Hopefully you’re now inspired to plan some extra time during your road trip to allow for all the stops on this list!