The fourth part of our American East Coast Road Trip took us to the state of Maine. We spent 24 hours firstly in Portland, the most populated city of Maine and then drove onwards to Bar Harbor.
I had never been to Maine before, but it’s somewhere that has been on my American bucket list for a very long time. Plus, to visit in the summer was an added bonus as the areas we visited were along the coast of Maine with amazing seafood and water activities.
We had just left Salem, Massachussets and travelled 90 minutes by car to Portland, Maine. The drive was scenic and beautiful with trees lining the highways and the open road wide in front of us.
We started to see some road signs warning us of moose that might run across the highway which I found very exciting as I’d never seen a moose in person before. Ideally, one wouldn’t run in front of the car, but to see one on the side of the road would be great.
However, it wasn’t to be.
Portland Head Light
En route to Portland, we stopped at Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine.
This lighthouse is situated on the shores of Fort Williams Park and there are many vantage points around the area where you can sit and enjoy the view.
It was a beautiful morning when we arrived, and we sat in the sun looking out to see and taking in the lighthouse. The park was free to enter and I’d highly recommend stopping here on your way to Portland.
Where we stayed
As this was a road trip, we were budgeting our way around the East Coast of America. For our 24 hours in Portland, we decided for cheap and cheerful over aesthetics and being in the city centre.
We stayed at La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham on the outskirts of Portland. Our stay was fine and the room was rather big, but it was very much outdated and not the prettiest place I’ve ever stayed.
Plus in the night there was a boiler or something making a very large noise that sounded like it might explode which didn’t help with sleeping easily.
We chose to get Ubers to and from the main Portland area instead of driving and even our Uber driver was confused why we chose to stay in the area as apparently it’s quite sketchy. So I probably wouldn’t recommend staying here.
Once we arrived and checked in, we headed straight into Portland city centre. It’s funny to call places like this a city when I associate cities with skyscrapers and large office buildings, but Portland doesn’t have any of this.
The streets are incredibly quaint and cute with boutique shops, bookstores and restaurants dotted around.
I of course had to firstly visit Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop which seems to be a Maine-only chain of bookstores. They had a dedicated section to Stephen King who was actually born in Portland (fun fact for you) and set a lot of his novels in the state. I bought a book by Nora Roberts called Home Port simply because the lighthouse on the cover looked like Portland Head Light that we had visited that morning.
After wandering around the cobbled streets, we headed down to the water and piers.
The food scene in Portland
Our first food stop was one of the piers along the water that had a famous lobster restaurant at the end called Luke’s Lobster. We were seated outside on the jetty so were bobbing along with the water while sharing a lobster roll and having a cocktail.
After this, we headed to our next food stop called Duckfat. This spot is famous for its Belgian frites (fried in duck fat) and poutine (as Maine is quite close to Canada).
We had some poutine (cheese curds on the side as I hate cheese) with gravy and sat at the bar, taking in the hustle and bustle of the small restaurant. I would highly recommend!
Our final stop on the Portland food tour was The Highroller Lobster Co. for a dozen oysters. Like I said, seafood is a big deal here as you’re right on the coast of Maine. It would be rude not to have seafood at every opportunity.
Then it was back to the hotel for a not-so-restful night’s sleep.
The next morning, we were up early and headed to Bar Harbor which was a three hour drive. We firstly stopped at The Holy Donut, a famous donut shop in Portland.
Another fun fact to know about Maine is that it’s quite famous for its blueberries. If you see anything blueberry flavoured, you should probably get it. So I had my first blueberry donut and highly enjoyed en route to Bar Harbor.
Stops along the way
As it was a three hour drive, we decided to break it up with some stops along the way. There are many weird and wonderful things to see along the highways of America. On our route to Bar Harbor, we passed a lot of antique shops.
‘Antiques’ does seem to be another word for ‘junk’, but there was one antique shop that we couldn’t not visit on our way to Bar Harbor and that was 1A Relics. This was a huge building along the highway with as many ‘antiques’ outside the shop as inside.
There were many people browsing the dusty and old things in the store (my favourite was a meme pillow of Nicholas Cage) and it was easy to get lost in the many rooms and floors of the shop. You can find absolutely anything that your heart desires in this store. Even a traffic light. So, it was well worth the stop.
Dotted along the highway on the way to Bar Harbor were lobster shacks. Small huts on the roadside that served lobster, lobster rolls and clam chowder. We chose to stop at Happy Clam Shack as it was very pretty on the outside.
I had my tenth (probably) clam chowder of the trip as it was raining outside and definitely fit the mood of the drive. It was heavenly.
Where we stayed
Bar Harbor is insanely cute. You won’t find many hotels in the area, but mostly bed and breakfasts. This was my first ever experience staying in a Bed and Breakfast and I loved it. I felt like I was in an episode of Gilmore Girls.
We stayed at Canterbury Cottage, a five minute walk from the main town/port area. There was parking, free wifi and also two resident dogs which made the stay even more pleasant.
Even though we only stayed the one night, it was incredibly lovely and I would 100% recommend it.
Roaming Bar Harbor
Once we had checked in, we walked into the main area of Bar Harbor. It was raining quite heavily, but we still wanted to walk around to see the area as we didn’t have much time here.
The streets were busy with summer tourists, and I spotted another Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop so wandered in here to hide from the rain for ten minutes. They had an area dedicated to Acadia and Bar Harbor books which kept. meoccupied for a short time.
We then headed next door to a bakery to try one of the famous pop-overs. It looks like a very large Yorkshire Pudding and not entirely sure if I’d have one again.
The rain subsided a little bit and we headed down to the water to see the piers and boats out on the ocean. I imagine it would be a gorgeous view if the weather was sunny. I bought some tourist items like a Bar Harbor t-shirt and a Christmas tree decoration, before we headed back to the B&B to get in our rental car and head to Acadia National Park.
Acadia National Park
By this point of the afternoon it was absolutely lashing with rain, so we decided to get in the car and head to Acadia National Park.
A famous tourist attraction in Maine, there are many hiking trails, landscapes and nature to see. We paid for a three-day pass to enter the park as this was the cheapest option available.
The rain stopped for a while and we drove around different points of the Park, stopping at Thunder Hole to try and catch some large waves.
When driving through, it felt like I was on the set of Twilight with the misty and eerie weather, the trees and wet roads. You would have sworn you were driving through Forks, Seattle.
Food scene in Bar Harbor
That evening for dinner, we drove to a popular lobster shack (yes, more lobster) on the outskirts of Bar Harbor called C-Ray’s Lobster Shack.
Himself had a full lobster (when in Maine) while I had some clam chowder (yes, more) and a lobster roll. This was my last lobster roll of the trip as I had fully sickened myself with seafood by this point.
The food was really good and himself had a slice of blueberry pie for dessert.
After this, we headed back to Bar Harbor and took refuge in an Irish bar while it rained more outside. Fun fact, this Irish bar was the closest Irish bar to Ireland since it was at the most Easterly point of the US, which as an Irish person, was a very wholesome fact and I felt quite close to home.
The next morning, we were up at 5.30am to go whale watching. This was probably the part of the trip that we were looking forward to the most and had been quite skeptical the day before with the bad weather, but we woke up to bright and clear blue skies; the perfect weather for whale watching.
Or so we thought.
We arrived down at the pier only to find out that the whale watching had been cancelled. Even though the waters looked beautiful and calm, and the sun was shining, apparently further out in the ocean was a different story.
The sea-sickness level was noted as severe and after my experience with very bad sea-sickness in Bali, I was happy to not get on that boat.
Although we were very disappointed, it means that we’ll just have to book another trip to go whale watching.
Since it was around 6.30am, we headed to get breakfast at Jordan’s nearby that specialised in blueberry recipes so I had some mixed fruit and yoghurt (with blueberries) and a blueberry muffin.
Back to Acadia National Park
Since we still had the pass for Acadia National Park, we decided to check out of the bed & breakfast early and take another drive through the park since the weather was so drastically different.
And let me tell you, what a difference a day makes. It was like driving through a brand new park with the sun shining and bright blue skies.
We stopped off at a few more parts of the park, took in the scenery and snapped some photos and videos. And since it was so early, we decided to head to our next stop on the road trip as we had a seven hour drive ahead of us.
Next stop, Vermont
We put our destination into the sat nav while in Acadia National Park and it showed us we had a seven hour drive to go.
It was a beautiful way to end our time in Maine, driving through Acadia National Park again and I would love to come back in the future if plans ever allow. Plus, I need to go whale watching!