It’s been a while since I’ve shared a travel post, and as those of you who follow us on Instagram might have caught, we just finished a trip to Maine early last week! So I figured this week would be a great time to share how we saw tons of things with 3 young kids on an east coast road trip to Maine!
We live in the Baltimore, Maryland area and had a goal of making Bar Harbor, Maine our home base for the majority of the trip, which takes about 11.5-12 hours (depending on stops and traffic) to drive straight through. So we decided to break our drive up into a few days, to both maximize what we got to see, and make it an easier drive. But we packed so many things into the drive there, that I’m breaking the trip into two blog posts. Here’s a basic itinerary of our drive up to Bar Harbor…
Day 1: Drive from Baltimore, MD to Portsmouth, NH
We left our house (an hour later than planned – whoops – we were trying to avoid NYC traffic on a Friday morning)!
Made a quick pit stop in Providence, RI. This was an unplanned stop, but I’m glad we did! The downtown area seemed like a cool place that you could easily spend a day or two exploring. I originally thought we could see some movie backgrounds for Dumb & Dumber (I really wanted to see the corner at Hope St where the limo scene took place in the opening credits), but turns out most of the Providence scenes were filmed in Salt Lake City, along with the limo scene. We did stop by the Big Blue Bug apparently seen in the movie as they leave town. Didn’t seem to be in the greatest neighborhood though; I’d say skip this. 😉
But again, super cute downtown area!
We tried the Small Point Cafe which had excellent coffee & pastries, and a fun inside!
Cranberry bog tour in Massachusetts! During research for our trip, I discovered that some cranberry farms in MA hold tours during harvesting season (only in October), so of course I had to make that happen! It was SO MUCH fun!! DO THIS! We learned a ton, and the whole family had a blast! I searched for a farm that would give tours the day we were driving through, as close to the route as possible (harder said than done – many only gave tours on Sat), and booked about 2 months out (definitely book early!!).
Accidentally drove through Cambridge, MA and got a quick driving tour of Harvard, on our way to Petsie Pies (their sweet potato pecan pie was PHENOMENAL – trying as much local pie as possible on vacations is a thing of ours… haha). It was a cool area with beautiful homes, so a happy accident!
We stopped outside of Portsmouth, NH for the night around 7:30pm.
Day 2: Drive from Portsmouth, NH to Portland, ME
We tried to visit Ft. Constitution to see the Fort Point Light, but it was closed for the season and you couldn’t see the lighthouse from outside the fort. But bonus – driving through the island of New Castle, NH was so charming!! We were so impressed by the houses and the entire drive was beautiful! It felt like being on a movie set (even their Post Office was cute!). We had breakfast at the cutest little cafe (go here if you ever find yourself in New Castle, NH)!Next we drove to the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion. We didn’t want to wait an hour for the next tour, so we just explored the grounds (and yes, I did peak into some of the windows – definitely looked cool inside). The grounds were so nice, they were actually setting up for a wedding that was taking place later that day! If you’re in the area (and your kids like throwing rocks into water) – check this place out!
We explored downtown Portsmouth. Okay… I could spend some real time in this town. I have a weird thing for doors, and there were SO MANY beautiful homes with statement doors! We tried some great clam
chowder chowdah and a delicious lobster roll from Geno’s, do yourself a favor if you’re here and try them out!
Here’s a peak at the outside and inside each of the Wentworth-Gardner house (1760; one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the U.S.) on the upper right, and middle and lower right; and the Tobias Lear house (1740 Georgian house in worse shape) on the upper and lower left. These were nearly across the street from Geno’s!
The kids fell asleep in the car, so I went solo to the Strawbery Banke Museum, which has a bunch of historic houses from different eras (from 1695 to 1954!). It was really cool if you’re into that sort of thing (but a bit expensive; glad I didn’t pay for the whole family when only I would’ve appreciated it).
After Portsmouth, we stopped at the Nubble Lighthouse and drove through Kennebunkport on our way to Portland. This was probably my favorite lighthouse, but that might just be because I got some really cute pictures of the kids, haha.
The town of Kennebunkport seemed cute, but tiny. The best part was seeing the unbelievable homes on Ocean Avenue (to include the Bush family summer home, known as Walker’s Point). St. Ann’s church on this stretch was pretty, too.
After Kennebunkport, we drove to a viewing point to see the Goat Island Lighthouse. This stop wasn’t overly impressive because the lighthouse is pretty far.
Next we drove to Casco Bay Ferry company in Portland, ME to check out one of the Casco Bay Islands. Since it’s the closest island and had the most restaurants, we chose Peaks Island. The boys were thrilled to finally ride a boat after seeing so many different boats along the coast throughout the day! We ate dinner at the Cockeyed Gull where we had a beautiful view of the sunset. It was a great ending to the day; we stayed in a hotel just outside of Portland.
Day 3: Drive from Portland, ME to Bar Harbor, ME
We spent the entire morning exploring Portland, and of all the places we had seen by this point, I think Portland is where I could spend the longest amount of time. Easily 3 days! Anyway, we started with breakfast at The Holy Donut. Go here! I guess they’re potato doughnuts, and apparently, that’s my favorite kind of doughnut. Lol!!
We did The Real Portland tour for a quick tour to learn about the city. The guide is a local who is very knowledgeable about the city and was really entertaining – highly recommend this tour! We stopped at 3 different lighthouses, but saw 4 (Portland Head Lighthouse – Ram Island Ledge Light was visible from there, the Bug Light, and the Spring Point Lighthouse), and had a driving tour through the rest of the city where we learned and saw a lot!
After the tour, we tried some blueberry pie and whoopie pies from Two Fat Cats. We liked their whoopie pies better – I could’ve eaten 3 or 4 to myself, haha! (Apparently, blueberry pie is the state dessert and whoopie pies are the state treat).
We also walked around downtown a bit.
We stopped at several lighthouses on our way to up the coast to Camden Harbor, where we ate dinner that night. But first we drove through Freeport to see the L.L.Bean flagship store to see the tourist trap boot, and stopped at what has to be the prettiest McDonald’s in the country. It looks to be an old house that was converted. From there we drove out to the Five Islands area to try a lobster roll at Five Islands Lobster Co. I’m so glad we did – the views there were INCREDIBLE!!!
The reason we went to Five Islands is I had read that locals said it’s just as good as the famous Red’s Eats (allegedly Maine’s best lobster roll). So the plan was to eat both and judge for ourselves. But unfortunately there was an hour wait, and it was getting too late to wait (I still had a bunch of lighthouses I wanted to see, haha). Also, lobster rolls are good, but… an hour for a lobster roll?! Ehhh… no thanks.
Next was the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, which was great – it was large, you could climb it, and there was a large lawn area for kids to run!
After that we stopped made our way to Owls Head Lighthouse – it was a HIKE to get there. The light was at least a half mile from the parking lot, then there were several stairs to climb to reach the base of the light. But views of the bay were great (and the people in that sailboat waved to me, haha!). Totally worth it… Kind of… 😂
Then the Curtis Island Lighthouse (we had to park right near a driveway and go down a path through the woods – it was a little hard to find). It was the closest to the shore of the other lighthouses on an island we had seen (except for the Nubble Lighthouse), so that was a bonus.
We also stopped by the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse (after Owls Head Light) but it was a long walk down the breaker to see it well and it was close to sunset by then – I didn’t even get a good picture. If doing this again, I’d skip Owl￼s Head and Curtis Island Light and just do the Rockland Breakwater Light. I think the kids would have loved walking down the breaker!
Our last stop was Camden for dinner. Another cute little town! We could easily spend a day here (I also would like to check out downtown Rockland if we’re ever in the area again). We ate dinner at the Sea Dog Brewing Co, which was good (not amazing), and walked down to get a better look at the harbor while waiting for our table.
Afterwards, it was still another hour and a half to get to our cabin near Bar Harbor.
I can’t wait to share our Bar Harbor days with you – we had 6 full days to spend up there, so we did a lot!
But reflecting on our drive up, I think my favorite part was the cranberry bog (my husband agrees)! It’s just such a unique thing to do! Here’s another picture of that because, why not?!
Oh, and I forgot to mention, we did drive past the Ocean Spray headquarters on our way there (haha!), but we were driving too fast to get a good picture. I also really loved the beautiful houses (every where, but Portsmouth has the most), and Portland! Also, I liked seeing the different lighthouses, but the best way to see them is to probably just do a lighthouse boat tour. ☺️
Anyone else like taking road trips?! Let me know if you have any fun ones you would recommend- I’m all ears!