In the summer, with longer days and more predictable weather, it’s really the best time to go for a road trip and spend more time outdoors. On my blog, Style & Senses, I share a lot of road trip ideas of places I’ve been and trips I’ve done over the years. I hope to inspire you all to just go for it because these things are there and available for all. Road trips can be as easy as a day trip, a weekend trip, or a week-long trip to explore a corner of your town, city, state, or area of the country that you’ve never been to. It’s the best way to bond with someone!
In this blog post, I’m sharing with you my long weekend Maine road trip highlights in mid-July, 2022, including things to do in Acadia National Park, must-try lobster spots, lighthouses, and cities you should visit from New York to Maine.
If you’ve never been to this side of the country, New England, specifically Maine, then summer and fall are really the best time to go. East coast people are warm and friendly, and the food here is delicious. New England’s fall foliage will be the best thing you have ever experienced or seen, and trust me on this!
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
Acadia National Park is one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the US, located along the mid-section of the Maine coast, southwest of Bar Harbor.
Learn more about the park history HERE.
Start from Hulls Cove Visitor Center, from there, you can pick up the park map or purchase a hiking-friendly one. Ask rangers questions and suggestions on how to best spend your time there!
Here are things I’ve done and absolutely recommend you to do.
- Watch sunrise on Cadillac Mountain
- Camp inside Acadia National Park
- Hike Jordan Pond and Have Popovers at Jordan Pond House restaurant
- Go swimming at Sand Beach
- Hike Beehive Trail
- Drive Park Loop Road, Thunder Hole & Otter Point
- Stroll the streets of Bar Harbor
- Watch sunset at Bass Harbor Lighthouse
Always check for weather, park and road closure before planning your trip!
Have your National Park pass ready. I get my American the Beautiful pass every year from REI.
Things to consider booking in advance are accommodations such as hotels and campsites.
Download the park map on Google Maps in case there’s weak wifi signal, Acadia National Park app & Alltrails app.
1. Watch the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Summit Road is a three-mile drive to the top of the highest peak in the park. At the summit, you’re one of the first people in the US to watch the sunrise, so it’s definitely a special thing to experience once in your life.
Sunrise times range from 4:45 am in mid-June to 6:15 am in mid-October. I was there in mid-July, and sunrise was at 5:10 am.
PARKING RESERVATION IS REQUIRED from May 25 through Oct 22, 2022! It’s $6, and you have to book it 2 days in advance (some you can book months in advance, but this is for the remaining 70% of the tickets). One reservation is allowed per vehicle every 7 days. Link to reserve your spot is below.
I got extremely lucky with scoring a spot in the first round. After sitting in my hotel room trying to get a spot for over 15 minutes, just when I was about to give up (at around the 16th-minute mark), the system reset (somehow) and it let me in. I had my account all logged in and my credit card ready to go, so I was able to finish the transaction super fast!
The daytime parking reservation is not for the sunrise viewing, unfortunately, but you can still try to get it if that’s something you want to do during the day. I think it’s more worth it for the sunrise experience. If you can’t get a parking reservation, you can also hike up the summit. The hikes around here aren’t too long nor too hard. You just have to wake up early and hike there early before sunrise.
2. Camp inside Acadia National Park
It was our very time to take our tent out on an actual campground and set it up on the actual campsite. We bought our NEMO Dagger 3P tent last year from REI, and by now, we have almost finished our Camping Kit.
We camped one night at Blackwoods Campground, and the reservation was done online at recreation.gov. It’s clean, secured, and our campsite is next to the bathroom with running water and flushed toilets. There are also HOT SHOWERS, coin-operated and locally owned, right outside the campground’s entrance.
I have a few blog posts dedicated to all gears and things I’d like to bring along, specifically dedicated to road trips, so check them out below.
3. Hike Jordan Pond Path and Have Popovers at Jordan Pond House restaurant
Jordan Pond Path is a 3.1 mile loop trail. It’s a tradition that you’d hike here and stop by the Jordan Pond House restaurant for popovers. I did exactly that, including timing our hike so it ended when the restaurant was open, and everything was perfect!
The trail itself was very easy and fun. I’d love to bring my family here one day!
4. Go swimming at Sand Beach
Sand Beach is a small, crowded, sandy, and very popular beach in Acadia National Park. Atlantic waves are alway so cold, but it’s swimmable in the summer. There were a lot of seaweeds floating in the water, but that didn’t stop many people including me. Bring a towel and relax by the beach because I think it’s nice!
5. Hike the Beehive Loop Trail
The Beehive Loop Trail is a 1.5 mile loop that is very popular in Acadia Nationall Park. It’s commonly considered as a hard or challenging. If you’re afraid of height, please be aware. Personally, I think it’s more of a fun than a scary hike. Very short and sweet!
Parking is at the same parking lot as Sand Beach, and the trailhead is located across the street from the parking lot’s entrance. Start counter-clockwise, and stop by the Bowl on the way down if you have time.
6. Drive Park Loop Road, Thunder Hole, & Otter Point
The Park Loop Road is a motor road, one of the 3 types of major road systems on the island. The other two are local roads and carriage roads.
It’s a scenic 27 miles long road that wraps around the east side of Mount Desert Island. Most of Acadia’s popular locations are located on the Park Loop Road. Start from Hulls Cove Visitor Center and plug in your GPS the closest destination that you want to go first.
Thunder Hole – If you’re interested, arrive 1 – 2 hours before high tide for the best chance to hear the high roar. At low tide, you can walk down the stairs and check out the ‘Thunder Hole’.
Otter Point – You can walk to the ocean front from the parking lot and go birding or go for a hike along the coastall path and turn back whenever you want.
Sieur de Monts
views from Otter Point
6. Stroll the Streets of Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island, Maine. It is home to a large portion of Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the US’ eastern seaboard.
There are so many great food spots, lodging options, and opportunities to take things slow and submerge in the nature when you’re here.
7. Watch sunset at Bass Harbor Lighthouse
If you’re in Acadia, I highly recommend going for a drive to Bass Harbor Head Light Station on a nice sunny day. Sunset would be extra pretty with some clouds in the sky, so be on the look out for that. Arrive early as parking is limited. Make sure to walk down the rocky area for a better view of the lighthouse, and don’t forget your camera!
MAINE LOBSTER GUIDE
We’re going down my list from south to north of the coast of Maine. I love and recommend all of them!
1. Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, ME
Eventide Oyster Co. is one of those super popular ‘trendy’ lobster spots that I think it’s so worth it to include in your Maine trip. Note that you can get much cheaper prices for seafood, especially lobsters, at casual spots all along the coast of Maine. Places like these get super hyped because Portland is a huge town that attracts many tourists from all over the world.
Luckily, I got in after about a 30-minute wait. The restaurant is bright I ordered a cocktail, some east coast oysters (of course because it’s more of an oyster bar restaurant), New England clam chowder (it’s a fancy version, but so delicious!), and the brown butter lobster roll (it’s small, but I love the soft chewy roll that they use!). Well worth the hype and the wait, and I highly recommend it!
2. Five Islands Lobster Co, Georgetown, ME
Five Islands Lobster Co‘s location reminds me so much of the western-most point in Washington, Cape Flattery. It’s situated on a working wharf, and you can get pick out your lobsters and watch them cook from the outside. The waterfront dock has tables for you to sit and enjoy, such a cool dining experience. I ordered a hard shell lobster, a soft shell lobster, and a pound of steamers, and the soft shell lobster really took my breath away. It was so tender, juicy, and sweet!
3. McLoons Lobster Shack, South Thomaston, ME
If there’s a place on all of the Maine coast that you absolutely must go to, then McLoons Lobster Shack is the place! When I was there, the weather was gloomy and foggy and that added so much to the whole mood. Very PNW, very nostagic for me!
Note that they sell lobster in a meal with other side dishes, but do ask if you just want steamed lobsters. I also ordered lobster stew (it was too creamy!), a lobster roll (I got it with butter and mayo, but butter alone would suffice!), and 2 steamed lobsters.
4. Beal’s Lobster Pier, Southwest Harbor, ME
We went to Beal’s Lobster Pier after visiting Bass Harbor Lighthouse right after sunset. It’s a great location, and the manager does come and check on customers as the reviews say. It’s a bit pricy compared to many other lobster shacks in Maine, but it’s a great spot with music and nice views if you’re in the area.
1. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, New Harbor, ME
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was built back in 1827 with a museum attached to it. I’ve heard it’s the lighthouse on the Maine quarter coin. Its location (with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and rocky rugged coastline that you can actually go down to) and the time that I visited (right at sunset on a slightly cloudy day) really made it one of the best lighthouses I’ve visited.
2. Bass Harbor Head Light Station, Bass Harbor, ME
Bass Harbor 1858 Lighthouse is a must-visit location on the west side of Mount Desert Island where the majority of the Acadia National Park is. The 37-foot light tower is built atop rocky cliffs, and it gets very crowded around sunset time. Parking is limited, so arrive early if you want to capture some good photos.
3. Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, ME
Built-in 1791, Portland Head Light is one of those lighthouses that you’d often see in postcards. Its location is easily accessible, and I can guarantee that you’ll get a great picture of this historic lighthouse everywhere you stand.
MUST-VISIT CITIES FROM NEW YORK TO MAINE
1. New Haven, CT
For most of my New England road trips, New Haven, Connecticut, is always my first stop. From Brooklyn, it takes about 2.5 hours.
Louis’ Lunch – This 1895 spot has claims of having invented the hamburger, and they still do things in traditional ways! Hamburgers are served on toasted white sandwich bread with very simple toppings, but delicious!
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana – must try their white clam pizza!
Olmo – nice little grab-and-go bagel spot!
Midpoint Coffee Brewers
Blue State Coffee – many locations
Next on my list to try: Crepes Choupette, Modern Apizza, Zeneli Pizzeria & Cucina Napoletana
2. Boston, MA
Boston is a great foodie spot in my eyes! They have a Chinatown and many Asian good spots that New York doesn’t have. Back in fall of 2021, we did a day trip with my cousin, and since then we’ve stopped by Boston for a total of 3 times.
Walk the Freedom Trail
Wander through Beacon Hill & check out the iconic and historic Acorn Street
3. Kennebunkport, ME
Kennebunkport is a coastal town located in the south of Maine. It’s a historic shipbuilding and fishing village but now a popular summer tourist attraction.
We got to stop by for ice cream and picked up some saltwater taffies at the very end of our Maine trip. The town is so cute and charming, and I wish we coulld stay longer!
4. Portland, ME
Portland is hands down my most favorite city in Maine that I’ve been because of the diversity. It feels like a great city for a day trip, weekend trip, week-long trip, and more. There’s more to do than eat, but of ocourse, you have to try a few seafood spots when you’re here.
Old Port – coastal vibe, cobblestone streets, wharves, and lots of cute local gift shops and restraurants.
Portland Head Light
Eventide Oyster Co. – pre-tour Old POrt while you’re waiting for a table here. Must be here first to put your name down!
On my list: Peaks Island
5. Freeport, ME
Freeport is most known for its retail outlets and shops.
L.L.Bean flagship store – it’s massive!
Patagonia Outlet – There are onlly 6 of these in the world, so it’s natural that we’d make a stop here in Freeport. They have past season stuff on sale, definitely worth it to check out!
On my list: The Desert of Maine
6. Camden, ME
Camden is located in Maine’s midcoast region and known as the ‘Jewel of the Maine Coast’ for its picture-perfect harbor and vibrant downtown.
On my list: Fresh and Co
3. Bar Harbor, ME
Bar Harbor is considered a gateway to Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. I stopped by before and after Acadia to grab some coffee and quick bites, and I loved it there. There are so many shops and restaurants, and I cannot wait to come back and explore more soon.
Coffee Hound at The Stadium – a local roastery with fun creative coffee drinks! Come around 10 am for their popovers.
Choco-Latte – delicious coffee and chocolate drinks!
MORE ROAD TRIP IDEAS: