Maine Road Trip: Portland, Rockland, and Cadillac Mountain

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.)

Maine Road Trip Portland Head Light

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.

Maine Road Trip Portland Head Light
Maine Road Trip Portland Head Light

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.

Maine Road Trip Portland Head Light

Maine Road Trip Portland Head Light

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.

Maine Road Trip Portland Lobster Co

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!

Maine Road Trip Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse

Maine Road Trip Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse

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.

Maine Road Trip Main Street Markets

Maine Road Trip Main Street Markets

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.

Maine Road Trip Cadillac Mountain

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.

Maine Road Trip Cadillac Mountain
Maine Road Trip Cadillac Mountain

Maine Road Trip Cadillac Mountain

Maine Road Trip Cadillac Mountain

Maine Road Trip Cadillac Mountain

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.

Maine Road Trip Route 66 Bar Harbor

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.

Road Trip Day 5: Multnomah Falls and Portland

I left another misty morning behind in Cannon Beach and drove east towards Portland (and the sunshine!) My first stop was a minor detour to snap a picture of the Roloff Farms sign in honor of my family’s guilty pleasure love of the show Little People Big World. Don’t judge.

I wanted to make it east of Portland to Multnomah Falls with plenty of time to explore, so I dropped off my bags at my Airbnb and hopped right back in the car. As you drive east, Mt Hood looms large in the distance. It’s incredible. I can’t believe people get to see that view on their commute every day. (Sorry, didn’t take a picture, safety first!)

Multnomah Falls is just one of several waterfalls along a stretch of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It’s also the most visited, due to it’s completely spectacular status as the second highest waterfall in the United States.

PNW Road Trip Multnomah Falls Oregon

I mean, look at that sucker! Breathtaking or what?

PNW Road Trip Multnomah Falls Oregon

PNW Road Trip Multnomah Falls Oregon

PNW Road Trip Multnomah Falls Oregon

I stupidly left my hiking boots at the Airbnb when I checked in and only had my Birks on for the falls, not realizing there would be a bit of hiking involved. But I just went for it anyway, I saw some people attempting it in wedge sandals so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad. Birkenstocks are outdoorsy shoes, right? It all worked out, and I made it up to the second level to get a closer view.

PNW Road Trip Multnomah Falls Oregon

PNW Road Trip Multnomah Falls Oregon

PNW Road Trip Multnomah Falls Oregon

On my way back to my car I inexplicably heard someone calling my name. It turned out to be a friend of mine from high school, also sightseeing a the falls while in Oregon for a business trip. What are the odds?? The world is truly a small place.

After catching up for a bit she had to catch a cab back to Portland with her workmates, and I decided to investigate a bit more of the historic highway. I stopped next at Horsetail falls, where I hiked up a pretty steep trail in order to walk behind the upper level of the falls. It was pretty neat, definitely worth the blisters.

PNW Road Trip Horsetail Falls Oregon

PNW Road Trip Horsetail Falls Oregon

PNW Road Trip Horsetail Falls Oregon

PNW Road Trip Horsetail Falls Oregon

My last stop along the Columbia River Gorge was to get a view of the gorge itself. A nice man at an information desk pointed me towards the Vista House. I was promised gorgeous views, and I wasn’t disappointed.

PNW Road Trip Columbia River Gorge Vista House Oregon

PNW Road Trip Columbia River Gorge Vista House Oregon

PNW Road Trip Columbia River Gorge Oregon

PNW Road Trip Columbia River Gorge Oregon

PNW Road Trip Columbia River Gorge Vista House Oregon

At this point I was getting pretty hungry for dinner since I stupidly skipped lunch. I ended up at Pine Street Market in Portland, an upscale food hall with family-style seating. I was a little overwhelmed by choice as everything looked amazing, but I ended up with a Vietnamese inspired burger…and maybe some ice cream after. YOLO.

Photo from The OregonianPhoto from The Oregonian

After dinner it was getting close to sunset, and my Airbnb, The Society Hotel, had a swanky rooftop deck. A quick word about the Airbnb — it’s actually a hotel, run Airbnb style. The bathrooms were communal, which I was a bit nervous about, but they turned out to be modern and spotless. I definitely recommend staying here — it was great value for the location, not to mention they have a cafe in the lobby!

Which brings me back to the rooftop deck. Honestly I would recommend the hotel for this alone. I spent one of the most relaxing evenings of my life up there, soaking in the sunset and the warm summer breeze, editing photos while listening to Spotify’s Evening Chill playlist. Perfection.

PNW Road Trip The Society Hotel Portland Oregon
PNW Road Trip The Society Hotel Portland Oregon

PNW Road Trip The Society Hotel Portland Oregon

Next up: Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor and Crescent City, CA

Previously:
Day 1: Seattle and Whale Watching!
Day 2: Olympic Peninsula
Day 3: Washington to Oregon
Day 4: Cape Kiwanda and Cannon Beach