So, yes, slight delay on the Maine road trip recap. Better late than never! This was a somewhat last-minute trip, stemming from nostalgic feelings for the annual autumn trips my family would take to Acadia National Park when I was a kid. (Incidentally, I have no actual memory of these trips, outside of the home videos we have documenting each year’s visit.) I picked a week in mid-October, hoping that I had timed it right for peak foliage (spoiler alert: I had.)
I drove up from New Jersey and spent the night in a nice little airbnb in Portland. Having been to both Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine in the same year, I have to say there are definitely similarities between the two. They’re both pretty low-key, newly-trendy cities — and I don’t mean that in a bad way — with great restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. But Portland, Maine has one thing Oregon doesn’t…lighthouses.
After dropping off my bags, I drove to Portland Head Light for sunset. Have you ever seen a more picturesque lighthouse? The sunset ended up being disappointing. Of course, this being the east coast means the sun was behind the lighthouse, but I was hoping for some interesting ambient light. Luckily the lighthouse is so good looking, it didn’t really matter.
After the lighthouse I had only one thing on my mind: a lobster roll. This may as well have been a lobster roll tour of Maine, that’s how many I had over the course of the trip. But MAN there is nothing better than a fresh lobster roll.
I ate at Portland Lobster Co.: decent roll, the filling was light and delicious, but it could’ve been a bit more substantial. I ate outside overlooking the water. 7/10.
I had planned to wake up for sunrise the next morning, but was feeling pretty drained (this will be a running theme for the rest of the trip…) Instead I got a “late” start at around 8am, at Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. This one was pretty cool, situated at the end of a very long jetty. Definitely had to pay attention while walking out, as there were deep crevices between the rocks. I saw a couple of runners while I was out there — seriously impressive!
From here it was time to start driving to my next destination, Acadia National Park, but not without a stop at Portland’s famous Holy Donut. It was a good thing I got an early start, as they often sell out! Their donuts are made with fresh Maine potatoes — I didn’t even know you could make donuts with potatoes. They definitely have a different texture than your typical cake donut, but were absolutely delicious. So delicious that I didn’t even get a picture of mine before finishing it. Oops! You’ll just have to take my word for it.
On the way up to Acadia I stopped in Rockland for lunch and ate at Main Street Markets, which was actually just a small organic grocer with a fresh juice and small plates bar. I had the simplest meal, and yet I’m still thinking about it — wheat bread with spicy mayo, hard boiled egg, and bacon. SO. GOOD.
Once again, I made it to my evening’s destination just in time for sunset. Just a note: if you plan to visit Acadia National Park, you’ll need a car tag to drive around the park. I arrived after the park offices were closed, but luckily I have an America the Beautiful National Park Pass, which is good for a year at all National Parks, so I didn’t need to purchase a park-specific one.
Cadillac Mountain is one of the gems of Acadia, and you can drive right to the summit. But I’ll let you in on a secret — you can’t see the sunset from the summit. Stop just before the top, at the pull off labeled “Blue Hill Overlook.” There’s not a ton of parking there, so try to get there with enough time. This one faces west, and it’s a truly stunning view. This spot holds a special place in my heart — my mom did a watercolor painting of me as a small child up here, and some of my grandmother’s ashes were spread here. I was unable to make the trip when my parents spread her ashes, so it was an emotional moment for me to be there alone, years after the fact.
Well and truly starving by the time the sun finally set, I called my parents for a dinner recommendation in Bar Harbor. Dad recommended Route 66, which was a combination of Johnny Rockets and the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant in Disney World. So in a word: perfect. Unabashedly cliché, I ordered the clam chowder and lobster roll combo (and, if I’m remembering correctly, a root beer float) and life was GOOD. 10/10.
Bar Harbor pretty much clears out for the season at the end of October, and I was there for the last week or two that the shops would still be open. I stayed the next two nights at the Cromwell Harbor Motel, which is where I ended up after doing some gift shopping.