Coastal Maine Road Trip: Best Places, Lobster, and Craft Beer

One of the long-time items on my Bucket List was to stay in a Bed & Breakfast on the coast of Maine and eat lobster.

I’m here to proudly CHECK that off and tell you about my Maine road trip, passing along some of the advice that was given to me, and rounding up the places I stayed and things I did along the way (and… ahem, the beer I drank).

First, I have to recommend that you visit Maine in the fall, around the middle of October when the leaves are changing. This is the first time I’ve experienced a New England fall, and there is simply nothing like it in the world.

Kennebunkport
Lobsterman cleaning up his boat for the day.

My Coastal Maine Road Trip Itinerary

Maine Craft Beer

Route: Ogunquit (including Kennebunkport, York) > Portland > Freeport > Camden > Bar Harbor (Acadia National Park)

Time: Two weeks

Mode of Transportation: My grandma’s van! I did not camp because I did not have gear, but if you can camp, that is absolutely the way to go (because $$$).

Goals: Eat lobster every day, drink lots of local craft brews, and see lots of fall colors (all of which I accomplished)

Note: Maine is not cheap if you want to eat lobster every day and not camp. Prices seemed to be peak while I was there because of tourists and colors, but apparently, it’s still considered off-season by many hotels. Somehow, it was still expensive. This is why I road trip and camp a lot in the U.S. because it’s hard to travel cheaply here.

Accommodations in this country are grossly overpriced, but, that’s a subject for another day.

Related: Motion Sickness Tips for Travelers

Things to Do in Ogunquit, Maine

I stayed for a week in Ogunquit with family in Perkin’s Cove, which is a must-visit, even if you don’t stay there. It is a tiny little peninsula packed with shops, restaurants, lobster roll shacks, and a marina. We stayed in a vacation rental right on the tip of the peninsula.

Lobster

  • Foot Bridge Lobster – A tiny shack in Perkin’s Cove, my second favorite lobster roll.
  • Old Salt’s Pantry – An almost hidden spot in Kennebunkport. This was my favorite lobster roll of the trip.
  • Ogunquit Lobster Pound – This is the place to go for a whole lobster. I actually had the seafood scampi here (I can’t be bothered to deal with eating a whole lobster), and it was easily the best seafood scampi I’ve ever had. Also, when looking up this place on TripAdvisor to provide you guys a link, I saw my own face in one of the photos!

Craft Beer

  • Federal Jack’s in Kennebunkport – Get a flight and try them all!
  • The York River Landing – Try the lobster mac and cheese. This is also where I first tried and fell in love with The Substance by Bissell Brothers: a big, beautiful, unfiltered IPA. I’d give it a 6 out of 5 if I could.
The Substance Beer Maine
“The Substance” IPA – thick and delicious.
Best Lobster Roll Maine
Maine’s pride and joy (and my new favorite food): the Lobster Roll.

Activities

  • Cruise – in the Perkin’s Cove harbor there are a number of hour-long cruises to choose from, including interpretive, sunset, and lobster trips. I did an interpretive lighthouse trip down to the Nubble Lighthouse in York. We enjoyed drinks from the onboard bar, saw a few sea lions, and the Captain even let us drive the boat!
  • Ogunquit Playhouse – Go see a musical! This was the most unexpected, yet worthy activity. Million Dollar Quartet was playing while we were there, and it felt like going to a live concert with some of the Greats. Adult beverages are available, make it a fun night out.
  • Walk/Run the Marginal Way – Starting (or ending) in Perkin’s Cove and stretching all along the rocky shoreline into town is what’s known as the Marginal Way. It is a paved walking path, and it is a must-do. If you take it to town and then cross the bridge to the outer beach, you could have yourself a nice 5+ mile run! Whatever you do, don’t miss the sunrise here.
  • Kennebunkport, York, and Kittery are all easy day trips nearby. Kennebunkport may be the cutest town in Maine, Kittery has a plethora of outlet stores if that interests you, and York has a famous taffy shop and the Nubble Light House.
Marginal Way
Ogunquit sunrise. Wake up early for it, it’s worth it.

Things to Do in Portland, Maine

I stayed for two nights at an Airbnb near downtown Portland. An Uber into town was only about 5 bucks, and even though I had a car, I paid for the Uber because I knew I would be sampling a lot of beer! (Drive smartly, people)

Click here to save $55 on your first Airbnb stay.

Lobster

  • Bite into Maine – A food truck that you will have to go out to Portland Headlight (Fort Williams Park) to try, totally worth it.

Craft Beer

  • Bissell Brothers Brewing Co – Brewers of my favorite New England IPA “The Substance”
  • Rising Tide Brewing Co – Try the Waypoint Porter, a delicious coffee porter that I give a 5/5. Also, try the Zephyr IPA.
  • Liquid Riot Bottling Co – Honestly this place was the biggest surprise. From the outside, I thought it looked like that store Hot Topic, and I never would have gone on my own, but accompanied by a local, we went in for a flight. What a delicious selection of brews! Try the Blue Note Porter and the Copa IPA.
  • Little Tap House – Several delicious local brews on tap, the burgers are good as well.
  • Sebago Brewing Co – This place has sports on TV and decent bar food, and I enjoyed a perfectly delicious IPA here, which I also give a 5/5 – the Hop Swap, and I would recommend a stop here to any IPA lovers.

Activities

  • Bike tour with Summer Feet Cycling – I did the 5 Lighthouses day trip, which was a beautiful ride from Portland all along the coastline to five different lighthouses, ending in Port Elizabeth. This trip also included the amazing lobster roll lunch from the Bite into Maine food truck. It was well-paced, an easy ride, and we got back to Portland around 2-3 pm, perfect timing to begin visiting breweries!
  • Brewery hopping, obviously.
Bike Tour Portland
At “Bug Light” with my friend Norman, owner of Summer Feet Cycling. © Summer Feet Cycling

Driving Up the Coast of Maine

Freeport, Maine

TONS of outlet stores, and here you will find the famous L.L. Bean campus (it’s intimidating). Also not to miss is Maine Beer Co., one of the best breweries in Maine – IPA fans, try “Lunch,” and if you’re incredibly lucky, try “Dinner” (rated 100 on Beer Advocate).

Follow them on Twitter or Instagram to find out when it will be released next.

Camden, Maine

Camden is an adorable, cramped, and crowded little town, but worth a stop. I stayed at Towne Motel, ate at Peter Ott’s on the Water (small and overpriced lobster roll), ate at Camden House of Pizza (best budget option around and provided leftovers for my drive the next day), and went for a beautiful run all the way out the peninsula to Rockport and back.

Just north of Camden is Camden Hills State Park, where you can drive up Mt. Battie and have a view overlooking Penobscot Bay and much of the Maine coast on a clear day.

Rockport Maine
A hidden spot off the road at the end of the peninsula that I found on my run in Camden.

Things to Do in Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park

Bar Harbor and Mt. Desert (pronounced like “don’t desert me”) was the last stop on my trip up the coast of Maine. I stayed at the Edenbrook Motel, which is only a mile outside of Bar Harbor, close to one of the entrances to Acadia, and a great value compared to other options in this area ($65/night).

Lobster

  • The Chart Room – This place was open consistently, while the lobster shack several miles up the road that I really wanted to try was closed. We had the lobster rolls here, and you get good portions of fries and slaw with them.
  • McKay’s Public House – I never order carbonara from restaurants, because I’m convinced my carbonara is better. However, I had to try the lobster carbonara here, and I will say that it was delicious (while not quite carbonara, don’t get me started), it was a tasty American lobster pasta dish.

Craft Beer

  • McKay’s Public House – Ask for the “Beer Geek Menu.” Yes, it exists, and no, they don’t give it out to everyone. Select from this list if you want to try a bottle of something special.
  • Atlantic Brewing Co – There are two tasting room locations, one downtown Bar Harbor and one across the island, where you can sample beers for free and buy as many bottles as you want. I tried them all, my favorite was the Coal Porter, but the best thing that came out of this brewery was that I scored a bottle of the elusive “Dinner” (Maine Beer Co) from one of the bartenders. Oh, the magic of Beer Geekdom.

Activities

  • Explore Acadia National Park – Use the REI Hiking Project app to find hiking trails
  • Bring your bike – Acadia is full of “carriage” roads, which go on for miles and are perfect for bike rides.
  • Jordan Pond – There is a beautiful 3.3-mile walking trail (don’t bring your bike here) around Jordan Pond in the middle of Acadia National Park. I walked the whole thing and it was incredibly peaceful and beautiful with the fall colors. The Teahouse at Jordan Pond is famous for its popovers, but don’t expect to get one unless you’re willing to wait an hour for a table. There is also a coffee shop on the second floor of the gift shop there, with rooftop seats and a beautiful view over the lawn and lake.
  • Cadillac Mountain – Drive up to the top for the sunset or sunrise, as it is the first place in the U.S. where the sun hits in the morning.
  • Coffee & Breakfast – Check out Choco-Latte for good coffee and breakfast sandwiches in downtown Bar Harbor.
  • Cafe This Way – Tucked into a back alley, this is the place to go for a sit-down breakfast.
  • Walk along the ocean path – Go down to the marina in Bar Harbor and take a right onto the path once you reach the water. This winds out and around the beautiful houses and B&Bs along the coast.
Jordan Pond Path
Path around Jordan Pond.

Maine Road Trip Final Thoughts

1. Lobster is my new favorite food.
2. Maine craft beer blew my expectations out of the water, and I have high respect for the efforts going on in the beer scene there. And there are so many more I haven’t even tried! Have to save some for next time, I guess.
3. The fall colors in Maine are not as vibrant as they are in New Hampshire or Vermont, but the contrast with the ocean makes leaf peeping there completely worthwhile.
4. It is a perfect road trip destination because the distances between the towns are short, and the drive is beautiful all the way.
5. I will definitely be back, perhaps for longer next time…

What did I miss? Tell me in the comments so I can go back and do it next time!