In continuation of our road trip series, we're headed across the country from California's Pacific Coast Highway to Maine's Coastal Route 1. The road winds along the Atlantic Ocean and connects dozens of picturesque villages that epitomize New England charm. Nestled among lush forests and idyllic beaches, the route has been dubbed the Lobster Trail due to the region's centuries'-old industry, which promises incredible seafood and historical landmarks at every pit stop on the way.
Lobster traps drying out on a sunny Bar Harbor dock
If you're working your way from north to south, your first stop along Maine's Coastal Route 1 will be in Bar Harbor, which bustles with yachts heading out to sea and lobster boats bringing in the day's fresh catch. Try catching a cruise or even renting a kayak to explore the surrounding crystal waters. This area is also considered the gateway to Acadia National Park, which is full of forest trails for hiking the rocky coastal terrain and cozy enclaves for an oceanview picnic. After a full day of outdoor adventures, unwind for the night in the Acadia Inn, equally classic and comfortable.
Enjoy antique shopping in the historic downtown
Your next stop along the Lobster Trail is Camden, which locals have come to call the Jewel of the Maine Coast. The nickname will come as no surprise once you lay eyes on the emerald foothills of Mount Middie and the sapphire waters as they lap along Camden Harbor. The historic downtown area is packed with antique shops, tasteful boutiques, and gourmet restaurants, where you can have a lobster dinner on the waterfront or grab dinner to-go for a picnic at Barret's Cove. To enjoy the town's colonial charm through the night, check in to the Hartstone Inn & Hideaway just a short stroll from Main Street and Camden Harbor Park.
One of Casco Bay's historic lighthouses at dusk
The midway point of your journey brings you to Portland, the most populous city in the state of Maine. To this day, the city's marine industry remains vital to the local economy. Get a first-hand glimpse into Maine's history and nautical culture with a lobstering tour, where you'll hit the open sea, learn how to haul traps, and reel in a fresh catch for dinner. The coast along Casco Bay is lined with historic lighthouses, many of which are still in use to keep sailors safe, while downtown you'll find one of New England's most thriving craft brewery scenes. Near the Arts District, The Francis is the perfect blend of Victorian charm and sleek modern design.
Explore the galleries and boutiques in Dock Square
Kennebunkport was settled in the 1600s and its rich history lives on around every corner, from the ship-building yards along the river banks to the stately captains' mansions, many of which have now been converted into incredible inns and bed & breakfasts. Spend the day sailing the surrounding waters, then dedicate your evening to the Dock Square area, which is packed with art galleries, seafood restaurants, and schooner attractions. If you still haven't gotten your aquatic fill, the Edgewater Inn has gorgeous waterfront terrace as well as kayaks for guests to use free of charge.
Fort McClary offers a glimpse into the past
Your last stop in Kittery will bring you to the edge of the state, with Portsmouth, New Hampshire right across the Piscataqua River. In spite of its misleading name, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is actually located in Kittery and offers visitors a glimpse into the area's industrial past, dating back to 1623. Continue learning about New England history with a visit to Fort McClary, a military base built in the 1800s to protect the harbor. It's now open to the public and close to Seapoint Beach, which is the perfect spot for picnics and a refreshing dip in the Atlantic. For your final night, treat yourself to a stay at the Ale House Inn, housed in a former brewery with a chic modern twist.