Looking for a short New England adventure? There are plenty of gorgeous places to take a weekend getaway or day trip from Boston. If you want to really experience the best of Maine, then a Boston to Acadia National Park Road Trip, should be top of your list. While this trip can be done in one day, as driving time to Bar Harbor, Maine is only about 6 hours, we’ve split it into two. More time to wander and visit the places that catch your fancy. No need to rush. No matter the time of year you visit, there will be plenty to see, do and photograph.
Ready for a Boston to Acadia road trip adventure, featuring epic coastal views, historic cities, and beautiful parks? Let’s go.
Distance from Boston to Acadia National Park
The distance from Boston to Acadia National Park is only about 275-mile / 436 kms, and takes about 6 hours to drive. While this drive can easily be done in one day, two is recommended to really enjoy the beauty of coastal Maine. You don’t want to rush your Boston to Acadia National Park Road trip, as there is so much to see and do.
BOSTON TO ACADIA ROAD TRIP
I’ve highlighted the distance, recommended route, driving times, and things to do at your destination from Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine. Sites along the way are activities, or places you can visit often off the main route if you have extra time, or are interested in taking a detour closer to the coast.
If you only have a day or two, stick to the main destinations, or pick and choose those that suite your needs, preferences and Maine bucket list.
Renting a car in Boston is another great way to make your way down to Acadia for a day trip, or a night or two.
Boston Things to Do
If you have a couple of extra days, then a stay in Boston, is an essential New England getaway. Home to the Boston Red Sox, world famous clam chowder, the Boston Marathon, and the bar from Cheers. Not to mention the birthplace of the American Revolution (Boston Tea Party folks!). So many adult and family friendly activities to experience, you don’t want to short change yourself.
If you want flexibility, then a 3-5 day trip to visit Boston and then drive from Boston to Acadia National Park would be perfect. Add on a couple of days for a visit in the park.
Ideas to add to your Boston Bucket List:
- Grab a Go City Boston Pass to save money on many city attractions as you can fit in.
- Boston Museum of Science
- Red Sox ball game
- Tour Fenway Park
- USS Constitution Museum
- Museum of Fine Arts
- Boston Children’s Museum
- Underground Donut & historical city tour
- Martin’s Park & Playground
- New England Aquarium
- Legoland Discovery Center
- Walk & reflect on Boston’s history on the Freedom Trail
- The Lawn at D – an interactive outdoor art exhibit
- Visit a historic fort at Fort Independence on Castle Island or Fort Warren on Georges Island
Day 1: Boston to Salem, MA
Distance: 20 miles / 32 kms
Route:1A N to 107N or via I-93 N and I-95 N
Driving Time: 45 minutes
Things to do Salem, ME: Shopping, Salem Witch House, Salem Witch Museum, Witch Trials Memorial, Walking Tours, Hocus Pocus House
Your first stop should be Salem, MA, only a short drive from Boston. This historic, and likely haunted town is most famous for the Salem witch trials of the 1690s.
If you have a bit of time, then this guided Salem history and sightseeing tour is a must. Learn all about the witch trials, & Salem’s history in the American Revolution. Tour iconic sites like the Witch Trials Memorial, the Pickering House, and the Ropes Mansion and Gardens. Fun fact, that’s where the movie Hocus Pocus was filmed.
Visit the Salem Witch House, once home to Jonathan Corwin, a judge of the witchcraft trials of 1692. It’s the only building still standing linked directly to the witch trials. So no wonder it’s believed to be haunted.
Salem Witch Museum is one of a kind, with its bewitching and thrilling retelling of the trials and modern museum.
Stop by Gulu Gulu Cafe for your morning coffe & a light snack. They also offer hard-to-come-by craft beer if you visit later in the day.
Day 1: Salem to Portsmouth, NH
Distance: 44.3 miles / 71 kms
Route: I-95 N
Driving Time: 1 hour
Sites along the way: Detours to Cape Anne Peninsula (Gloucester & Rockport fishing villages), Hampton Beach State Park, Granite State Whale Watch
Things to do Portsmouth, NH: Tax free shopping, Strawberry Banke Museum, Labrie Ice Skating Rink, Prescott Park, Portsmouth Lighthouse
Portsmouth is a little piece of coastal heaven, and tax free shopping (no sales tax).
Explore historic downtown, and the cute shops and small local businesses lining the boulevards.
Favorite Portsmouth shops & restaurants include:
- Visit Inside Out for unique Portsmouth souvenirs and fashionable women’s and men’s clothing, gifts, crafts, homeware, and kids toys and books.
- Give Sault a try, for menswear & those hard to buy for men’s gifts.
- Portsmouth Book and Bar for you guessed it books and a bar (or coffee).
- Portsmouth Brewery – for a pint of local brew.
- Flat Bread Pizza – for delicious wood-fired pizza using locally sourced ingredients.
Only a 10 minute walk from dowtown is the 10 acre outdoor history museum of Strawberry Banke. They’re dedicated to bringing 300+ years of local American history to life.
Explore their eight heritage gardens, historic buildings, traditional crafts, and hands-on activities, and stories told by costumed role players. During the winter months ice skating at the Labrie Family Skating Rink (open December to February) is fun for the whole family.
Wander the ten-acre waterfront Prescott Park, located on the banks of the Piscataqua River. A short jaunt from downtown. Enjoy music, movie nights, and plays in the summer months during the Prescott Park Summer Festival. Other seasonal festivals happen year round.
When in coastal New England…….. Portsmouth Lighthouse can be seen from afar, or up close every Sunday from late May (Memorial Day weekend) through mid-October (Columbus Day weekend). Tours are available first-come, first serve and no reservations are necessary.
Heading to Portsmouth over Christmas? Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth is a famous month-long holiday celebration starting December 1st. Throughout the month of December enjoy the Portsmouth Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Parade, vintage trolley rides in a downtown loop and candle light strolls through the Strawberry Banke museum, to name a few activities.
Day 1: Portsmouth to Kennebunkport, ME
Distance: 29.6 miles
Route: I-95 N
Driving Time: 30-45 minutes
Sites along the way: Kittery shopping outlets, York (Nubble Lighthouse, 4 sandy beaches), Ogunquit – Marginal Way cliff walk
Things to do Kennebunkport, ME: Goose Rocks Beach, Lobster Rolls at The Clam Shack, Kennebuck Beach, Shopping, Art Galleries
Kennebunkport is known for having some of the best beaches in Maine, as well as being home to former President Bush’ summer house. Downtown lives up to the quaint New England vibe, with delightful eateries, boutique shopping and numerous art galleries.
Seafood is the name of Maine’s game, and Kennebunkport delivers with fresh clam chowder & infamous locally caught lobster & lobster rolls at the seaside The Clam Shack.
You’ll definitely want to stop and take advantage of the beaches, even if it’s too cold to dip your toes. Or be brave and dip them anyway!
- Goose Rocks Beach is the largest beach in Kennebunkport, ME and super popular in the summer. Grab your paid parking pass from the Goose Rocks General Store. Protected white sand beach with gentle waves are perfect for a relaxing, summer swim, especially with young kids.
- Kennebuck Beach is split into three areas. Mother’s Beach is a small, narrow beach, with a lifeguard, perfect for families. Middle Beach is a quieter, small pebbled beach good for getting away from the crowds. Gooch’s Beach, the most popular white sand beach that has good surf, and a jetty you can fish for bass from, in the beautiful Kennebunk River.
Where to stay in Kennebunkport:
If you want to avoid the big city of Portland for the night, then Kennebunkport is a lovely alternative for an overnight stay. In the summer try glamping or staying in one of the cottages at the Sandy Pines Campground.
Or relax at the family friendly Lodge at Turbat’s Creek , which doesn’t require a two night stay. Pool, close to all activities and a delicious breakfast make this a popular choice.
King’s Port Inn is also loved for their comfortable stays within walking distance of beaches & town for restaurants, shops & activities. Excellent breakfasts and friendly staff make your stay even better.
👉 Does it snow in Maine? Find out about weather & winter in Maine here
Day 1: Kennebunkport to Portland, ME – Stay over night in Portland
Distance: 28.5 miles / 45.9 kms
Route: via US-1 N and I-95 N
Driving Time: 30 – 40 minutes
Sites along the way: Old Orchard Beach, Scarborough Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth
Things to do Portland, ME: Portland Head Lighthouse, local craft brews, Fort Williams Park, Foodies delight, Shopping, Art, Museums
On the road again…. This time for only about 30-40 minutes, heading to Maine’s oldest and arguably coolest city, Portland, ME. From historic lighthouses, to mouth watering restuarants and an enviable local craft brew scene, it embodies the hipster to historical in one vibrant mix. If you have time, stay 2 nights to soak in all the day and night life.
Ramble through Portland’s Old Port cobblestone roads, stopping in at charming boutiques, hip restaurants & bars & even a fishing pier or two. Many people also head here in June for the Old Port Festival or in December for Merry Madness.
A foodie’s delight, you’ll want to check out at least one or two iconic restaurants and snack shacks in Portland, Maine.
Not to miss eats in Portland, Maine:
- Eat a Holy Donut – Maine’s potato & flour donuts. Try one of their 18 flavours. Fan favorites include the Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt, Maple Bacon, and Fresh Lemon.
- Try authentic down-home cooking at Becky’s Diner – Featured on Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives. Inhale the Lobster Benedict for a true Maine inspired breakfast.
- Book a seat at Duck Fat – For cones of hot, golden, crispy duck fat-fried Belgian frites (french fries).
- Enjoy a craft beer – Nova Res Bier Cafe, Bunker Brewing Company, Rising Tides, and Allagash Brewery are popular places.
- Eat lots of lobster – Get your lobster fest on in Porthole, Luke’s , High Roller Lobster (get the Lobster Cheese Crisp taco with jalapeño mayo)
- Drink Coffee & eat pastries – Tandem is downtown Portland’s vintage gas station turned coffee shop & bakery.
If you have a bit of time then definitely consider a highly rated local food & history tour through the Old Port.
Then consider checking out the oldest lighthouse in Maine, at nearby Portland Head Light next to Fort Williams Park. Portland Head Light is only about 10 minute drive from Old Port. Perfect year round for taking a million of those quintessential New England lighthouse photos you’ve been dying to click.
If you just can’t get enough of windswept views, against the back drop of Maine lighthouses, then vist Fort Williams Park next door. Here you’ll find four more lighthouses – Spring Point Ledge Light, Ram Island Ledge Light, Halfway Rock Light and Cape Elizabeth Light.
Other fun kid friendly things to do in Portland, Maine include:
- Visit the Portland Observatory – This seven-story structure is the only maritime signal tower still standing in America. Each floor has displays related to Portland’s history, and maritime traditions.
- Spend an afternoon at Portland Museum of Art – Become an art critic, and peruse their collection of over 18,000 pieces on rotation, including works by Claude Monet and Andy Warhol.
- Donut Tasting Walking Tour – Get your taste buds dancing with skip the line visits to all three downtown donut shops.
- Take the Ferry to Peaks Island – Hop this 20 minute “mini cruise” ferry to Peaks Island. Eat fresh seafood at a local cafe, relax on the beachfront, or rent a golf cart to tour the entire island attractions.
Where to stay in Portland, ME
Old Port is a prime location close to many great restaurants, shopping, and fantastic waterfront views. These exceptional apartment hotels at the Docent Collection, are perfect for family getaways (fully equipped kitchen and dining area, close to fun activities).
In town, for a sweet mid-range option the victorian style Inn at St. John is a treat. Comfortable rooms, delicious breakfast, conveniently located only a 6 minute drive to Old Port.
Hilton Garden Inn Dowtown has gorgeous waterfront views of Casco Bay and Portland, Maine’s working waterfront, and is just steps from attractions and activities. Families love the pool and easy access to all Portland has to offer.
Day 2: Portland to Rockland, ME
Distance: 79 mi / 127 km
Route: I-295 N and I-95 N
Driving Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Sites along the way: Wolfe’s Neck State Park, Best lobster rolls at Wiscasset, Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, ME, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Things to do Rockland, ME: Lobster festival, Art Galleries, Museums, Lighthouses, Lobster Rolls, Project Puffin Visitors Center
Rockland is a quaint seaside village along Penobscot Bay. Here you’ll find a mix of restaurants, shops and museums in this artsy coastal community. Known for it’s art scene and the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.
Check out the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Farnsworth Art Museum or the Muir Garden for Contemporary Sculpture at Harbor Square Gallery.
If your visiting in the summer, check out the Maine Lobster Festival. A four day extravaganza dedicated to celebrating all things lobster, and includes parades, live music, arts, kids activities, crate racing and more. Usually the first weekend of August, from Wednesday through Sunday.
Next head out to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, a 4,000 feet (1,200 m) walk on granite stones. Then run those kids around the beach area off to the side. I never tire of gorgeous lighthouse views.
Project Puffin Visitors Center celebrates the success of Project Puffin in bringing puffins and other rare Maine seabirds back to their historic nesting islands.
PRO TIP: On your way to Rockland stop at the small town of Wiscasset (50 minutes from Portland). Grab a lobster roll from one of the local favorites and best lobster shacks in the area, Red’s Eats . Voted #1 Lobster Roll in all of New England in 2022!
Day 2: Rockland to Camden, ME
Distance: 8 mi / 12 km
Route: via I-93 N and I-95 N
Driving Time: 20 minutes
Things to do: Hike Mount Battie Trail, Camden Hills State Park, Sailing Cruise, Harbor Park festivals & concerts, Skiing,
Camden, Maine is the jewel of the Maine coast, complete with 19th century architecture and a picturesque harbor filled with sail boats.
If you’re tired of sitting in car then take the 1.1 mile, one hour return hike up Mount Battie Trail. This challenging hike will reward you with awesome panoramic views of Penobscot Bay below. Best hiked May through October.
Camden Hills State Park is another great place to hike & camp year round. With 30 miles / 48 kms of trails, there is something to suit everyone’s fitness levels.
Or enjoy Camden, Maine by boat and take a classic Windjammer Sailing Day Cruise. Get a taste for the scenic coastline aboard a historic wooden schooner.
Camden waterfront Harbor Park is lovely for a stroll, or to catch one of the many festivals, picnics and concerts held throughout the year.
Heading out in winter? Go for a ride at the Camden Snow Bowl. A community-owned ski resort and outdoor rec area boastinf the only US ski resort with ocean views. You can also ride the chair lift in Fall and enjoy the vibrant fall colors on the mountain.
Other family friendly Camden, ME activities include:
- Swimming at Laite Memorial Beach
- Christmas by the Sea – 3 day festival of shopping, carols, a live nativity, parade and more
- Camden Windjammer Festival – end your summer with this Labor Day festival full of live music, events, team-based treasure hunt, mini boats, and watch the schooner fleet in the water.
- Merryspring Nature Centre – Birdwatch in this 66 acre park, or head out on one if their trails, including an interpretive trail, a vernal pool, and arboretum.
Day 2: Last stretch Camden to Acadia & Bar Harbor, ME
Distance: 76 mi / 122 km
Route: US-1 N and ME-3 E
Driving Time: 2 hours
Stops along the way: Belfast Harbor Walk, Penobscot Narrows Bridge, Downeast scenic railway, Trenton Lobster Pound
Things to do in Bar Harbor, ME: Acadia National Park, restaurants, museums, shopping, Shore Path, Boat Tours, hiking
The final 2-hour drive along your Boston to Acadia road trip will take you along the coast, winding around and over the bays, rivers, and narrows. You finally made it to Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor, Maine!
Now I hope you saved a few days to explore Bar Harbor and Acadia as there is a lot to see here. From camping, & beach time, to hikes along the ocean, and sunsets atop Cadillac Mountain, plus so much more. including the quieter
For all the best things to do, and fun itinerary ideas check out our 4 day kid & adult friendly Acadia & Bar Harbor itinerary. Can easily be adjusted for 1, 2, or 3 day visits as well.
Where to stay in Bar Harbor, ME:
Budget friendly – Eden Village Motel & Cottages are a sweet option for families, friends or couples looking for a more affordable option. Eden offers simple and comfortable motel rooms, some which have connecting units, as well as 11 cottages.
Mid-Range – The Inn on Mount Desert, combines all the best things of Maine costal decor and a clean modern boutique hotel. Guests rave about the breakfast and location close to everything.
Luxurious – For a luxurious stay, the 8 acre oceanside property of the Bar Harbor Inn is a popular choice offering beautiful views, an infinity edge pool and two hot tubs, plus a spa. Enjoy stunning oceanside sunset views, instant access to the shore path and a delicious continental breakfast.
FAQs – Boston to Bar Harbor Maine
What is there to see between Boston and Acadia National Park?
The top stops on your road trip between Boston and Acadia include the Salem Witch House & Museum, Portsmouth Lighthouse, seafood and Kennebuck beaches in Kennebunkport, Portland foodie & craft brew scene, Penobscot Bay & the Maine Lobster Festival, Camden Hills State Park and Camden Snow Bowl and much more.
Boston to Acadia National Park Road Trip
So there you have it. A fun way to experience your drive from Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park. So you don’t miss out on any of the iconic New England coastal sites.
You may also like these New England trips, tips and ideas: