Powered by Blogger.

Maine Coastal Lighthouse Road Trip Itinerary Overview

I just got back from a truly amazing adventure through the coast of Maine where I spent 10 nights and 11 days exploring little towns on the water and getting my fill of lighthouses. Did you know that Maine has 65 lighthouses? I didn't, until I started to plan this trip. Some of them are accessible by land, and many of them are on smaller islands, and are only accessible by boat or ferry. But, there is absolutely no shortage of them to see, and plenty of beautiful, pine tree-lined coastline to take in during such a beautiful drive through the state. 




I was lucky enough to visit 10 lighthouses, and also see a couple from the water, during my trip. Planning out my itinerary was a challenge and it took me a lot of time to figure out the best route so that I covered a lot of ground while also dividing up my driving time each day so I didn't feel like I was spending too much time in the car. So, I thought I would do a little overview post of my itinerary in hopes that it will help someone out there retrace my steps for the perfect coastal Maine lighthouse road trip.

MY GOALS FOR THIS TRIP

This road trip was not the most relaxing, and I planned it that way on purpose because I wanted to see as much as I could, and leave knowing I crossed a lot of things off my list. That said, I did leave a few days where I had some down time without any real agenda. My motivation for this adventure was really to see all the beautiful lighthouses, so that was what guided my final plans in the end. 

It's important to note that this itinerary includes a lot of driving. I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would because the drives were mostly beautiful, and meandered through small towns with lots of antique stores lining the road, restaurants and other fun things that grab your attention from the driver or passenger seat window. I rarely felt bored, so make a good play list and settle in for a long, but fun, drive. 


SEASON

I did this road trip in mid-May. I've actually always wanted to do this trip in either May or October because I love traveling to summer destinations in the off or shoulder seasons. I knew going into it that a lot of places would be closed, and weather may be iffy, so I packed an umbrella and rain coat, and prepared myself for having to eat at whatever place was open, and deal with any weather Mother Nature threw at me. 

I definitely experienced a lot of restaurant closures - quite a few seafood shacks and roadside eateries didn't plan to open until Memorial Day, or even Father's Day. But, I was still able to find some great places to eat, and checked a lot of restaurants' social media pages to look for opening day announcements, which I found to be the most helpful. If planning a trip like this in mid-June through early to mid-September, this won't be an issue. Any other time of year, you'll want to keep this in mind.

I also lucked out with weather, and had mostly sunny days in the mid-60s (which is my sweet spot), a couple of perfectly moody, New England overcast days, and one afternoon where it poured rain for about an hour, and then stopped. 

ROUTE BREAKDOWN

I drove from the Albany, NY area, and started my trip in Cape Elizabeth/South Portland. Below is a breakdown of my stops.

Day 1 - Portland Head Light/Bug Light | Overnight in South Portland (5hr drive from home)
Option to add Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse which I recommend - see below.

Day 2-3 - Doubling Point & Squirrel Point Lighthouses (50mins from South Portland) | Boothbay Harbor & Puffin Tour (45mins from Squirrel or Doubling Point Lighthouse)

Day 4-5 - Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park | Bass Harbor Light (2h30m from Boothbay)

Day 6 - Lubec | West Quoddy Light & State Park (2h10m from Bar Harbor)

Day 7-8 - Winter Harbor & Schoodic Peninsula in the A.M. (1h40m from Lubec) | Drive to Camden in the Afternoon (1h45m drive from Schoodic Peninsula) | Free Day in Camden

Day 9 - Owl's Head Lighthouse (30 mins from Camden) | Marshall Point Lighthouse (30 mins from Owl's Head) | Pemaquid Point Lighthouse & Park (1h15m from Marshall Point) | Overnight in Bailey Island
Option to stop in Friendship, ME or spend the night in the Georgetown area - see below.

Day 10 - Drive to Ogunquit (1h30mins from Bailey Island) | Spend The Night

Day 11 - Cape Neddick | Nubble Lighthouse | York | Drive Back Home (4 hour drive)



Day 1 - Cape Elizabeth | Portland Head Light & Bug Light
These were my first two stops on the road trip, and these lighthouses are only about a 12-min drive from one another. Accommodations (especially in May) were limited and expensive in the Cape Elizabeth area, so I drove into South Portland for the night, which was only about 20 mins away, with traffic.

Portland Head Light.

Bug Light.


There is also another lighthouse very close to this area called Spring Point Ledge Light. I didn't visit it on this trip because I was short on time, but I did get to see it a couple of years ago during a fall trip to Kennebunkport, so I've included a picture of it from that trip. I love this little lighthouse as well - it's a relaxing walk on a rock jetty out to the actual lighthouse, and it's just a few minutes from Bug or Portland Head.




Day 2 & 3 - Boothbay Harbor | Downtime to Explore & Puffin/Lighthouse Tour via Boat
On my drive to Boothbay Harbor, I stopped at Squirrel Point and Doubling Point Lighthouses, which are both situated along the Kennebec River. They would make an easy side excursion from Boothbay, if you wanted to do that instead. They're located only about 45 mins from the center of Boothbay.

Doubling Point Light.

Squirrel Point Light.


Boothbay Harbor has been on my list for years, and it didn't disappoint. I recommend staying right in town to walk everywhere, as there are a lot of one-way roads where I got turned around quite a bit, and I would imagine that the parking areas would fill up fast in peak season. This was one destination where I didn't plan much besides exploring the town, and relaxing a bit. I did also plan a puffin boat tour on the day I checked out of my hotel, which was such a treat. On that tour, you will also see Ram and Burnt Lighthouses, and from a far distance, Pemaquid Point. You can visit Pemaquid Point Lighthouse by foot as well (see below).

There is a town I drove through near Boothbay and the two lighthouses above called Wicasset, and while I didn't stop, it looked like a lot of fun to explore. There's a restaurant there called Red's, and both times I drove by it on two separate days, there was a line down the block and around the corner. It's apparently a very famous seafood shack, so I would recommend stopping to try it out if you're in the area. I wish I had because it has a ton of rave reviews online.

Boothbay Harbor.



Day 4 & 5 - Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park | Bass Harbor Light
I've seen pictures of Bass Harbor Light in Acadia National Park for years, and seeing it in person was even better. I also did a few of the easy scenic walks in the park during my stay (mainly Ocean Path), as well as the Great Head trail, which was spectacular. Exploring downtown Bar Harbor is also always fun, and since I've done the infamous sunrise at Cadillac Mountain already once before, I decided to visit for sunset on my last night during my time here.

Bass Harbor Light in Acadia National Park.


Day 6 - Lubec | West Quoddy Light & State Park
West Quoddy Lighthouse has also been on my must-see list for the past couple of years or so, and the beautiful, quaint town it calls home, Lubec, is the perfect little fishing village to experience once in your life. The state park nearby also had amazing ocean views and hiking trails to explore, and I'm really glad I spent a night here. Lubec isn't for everyone - the actual town itself, while so charming and worn-in, doesn't have a lot going on with very few restaurants and shops (I love that kind of thing, but felt it was important to mention it). But, the lighthouse grounds and local hiking trails are such a hidden treasure. 

West Quoddy Head Light.

Boot Head Preserve Trail in Lubec.



Day 7 - Winter Harbor | Schoodic Peninsula
This was a place I hadn't heard of before researching this trip, but it was a great area to stop and break up my drive to the next destination. The Schoodic Peninsula is actually the lesser-visited area of Acadia National Park. Raven's Nest is an absolute must-see lookout point, and there are so many other trails and viewpoints to stop and take in amazing views of the coastline. Raven's Nest is no longer a marked trail in the park due to safety issues, but in a more detailed upcoming post, I'll have more information on how to get there. I drove to Camden that afternoon to spend the next two nights.

One of the pull-off's along the Schoodic Peninsula.



Day 8 - Camden | Free Day to Explore
Josh and I drove through Camden the last time we road-tripped through Maine years ago, and I made a mental note to come back because it looked so wonderful. I just spent some time exploring and experiencing the town, which was nice after hiking and walking around a ton the prior few days. 

Camden has a true Main Street/village atmosphere with really beautiful local shops, great restaurants and a stunning harbor. It's also home to Camden Hills State Park, which has hiking trails, and an auto road that allows you to drive to the summit of Mt. Battie, where you can take in bird's eye views of the harbor below. I had a great time here. 

Camden's harbor had some beautiful sail boats docked. 


Day 9 - Owl's Head, Marshall Point & Pemaquid Lighthouses | Overnight in Bailey Island
On your way from Camden to the Harpswell/Bailey Island area are these three lighthouses. Actually, you also have the option to add a fourth lighthouse, which I sadly didn't do because I was short on time. Breakwater Light is one you can tack onto Owl's Head, or make it a side excursion from Camden since it's close by. I ended up spending so much time exploring Owl's Head and the neighboring beach and harbor area, that I ran out of time to visit Rockland Breakwater. But, for me, Owl's Head was one of my favorite lighthouses I visited, and was well worth the extra time. Pemaquid Lighthouse was also beautiful and surrounded by lots of coastline to walk around and explore. Keep in mind that there is a $3 entrance fee for Pemaquid. And I love Marshall Point so much, I had to go back and see it. 

I ended my day in Bailey Island, but you could stay anywhere in the Harpswell region, or even Georgetown. There were a lot of places in this region that I wanted to stay, actually, and ended up choosing Bailey Island because it seemed very small and not as popular, and I found a cute and affordable motel that was right on the water. I've also heard great things about the Georgetown area. 

Owl's Head Light.

Marshall Point Light.

Pemaquid Point Light & State Park.



Day 10 - Drive to Ogunquit | Free Afternoon to Explore
I've never been to Ogunquit, but everyone that's been has told me how much they loved it. I was only there for just about 24 hours, but I'm so happy I finally got to see it. It has a great little town area with shops and tons of restaurants, a huge sandy beach that's perfect for relaxing strolls, and the best part for me was Marginal Way, which is a walking path along the dramatic, rocky coastline. It was a great place to spend my last night of the trip before heading home.

Before arriving in Ogunquit if coming from the North, you could also swing by Old Orchard Beach to take in views of its famous pier and beach. I had planned on doing this, but once I arrived, I had major issues finding affordable parking, since most of the lots charged by the day. So, I left after circling for a few minutes. But I would like to see it at some point. The town had a very Atlantic City feel to me, and it was much different than the rest of my stops. There was a small amusement park right by the ocean, if that helps you to feel out the vibe.

Marginal Way in Ogunquit provides amazing coastline views. 



Day 11 - Stop in Cape Neddick to see Nubble Lighthouse | York | Drive Home
On my way home, I stopped in Cape Neddick to see Nubble Lighthouse, which may be one of the more popular lighthouses in Maine. It gets photographed a lot during the Christmas season while it's decorated in lights. This lighthouse is on its own little island, so you technically drive to Nubble Point, and view it from across the water. I thought I would be seeing it from a fairly long distance because of that, but you're still actually quite close to it (see photo for reference). It was pretty crowded when I visited on a weekend, but had no trouble getting a parking spot in the designated lot.

Views of Nubble Light from Nubble Point.


Bonus option for your last day: make a pitstop at the Stonewall Kitchen flagship store in York, which is only 15 mins from Nubble Point. I know Stonewall Kitchen products are sold in a lot of stores around the country, but honestly, there's something really fun and relaxing about their flagship store. They have every product that they make stocked, loads of cute gifty type things, some home and kitchen decor and also a cafe/restaurant that actually serves really good food and baked goods. It's a fun little way to end your trip, and I've honestly loved everything I've ever gotten there (I especially love their brownie mix, and Josh is partial to their Sriracha Aioli). York also has a good amount of antique shops, so a little antiquing excursion before your drive home may be something to consider.

There is, of course, so much more to share - this was just a basic breakdown of my itinerary to give you an idea of the ground I covered, and the highlights from each destination. Coming next will be more detailed breakdowns of things to do in each destination, tips for visiting, restaurants I visited, and more photos that will hopefully express how truly breathtaking this state is. Stay tuned.








I traveled to this destination in May 2021, just after the CDC announced its recommendation that face masks were no longer suggested for indoor and outdoor activities for those who were fully vaccinated. I was fully vaccinated for this trip, and followed all local Maine guidelines, which still mandated wearing a mask indoors. That is why you won't see me wearing any face masks outdoors, though. If you're not fully vaccinated and plan to travel, please follow CDC and local state/country guidelines, and protect yourself by wearing your face mask in public settings when social distancing is not an option, especially indoors. 


Links included in my posts will sometimes be an affiliate link, which offers me a commission if you choose to use that link to make a purchase of something featured in my blog. The only time I ever use affiliate links is if I truly stand by the product, have used it and believe you may benefit from it as well. If I don't think something is worth your time, I simply will not link to it, or make it an affiliate link. Anything I earn from affiliate links is used to invest in my blogs to provide even more content for you.

2 comments

  1. I absolutely enjoyed this. I have been visiting this part of the country for the past 4 years. I have visited many of these lighthouses and i felt like i was there again. I hope to go this year and continue to explore and experience it even more. I truly love it. #Myheartplace. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so happy you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for stopping by. If you have any tips for anyone that may read this, please let them to share other fun destinations and places to visit :)

      Delete