Boston is the perfect city to begin this scenic New England seacoast trip. The booming Seaport District, luxury shopping in the Prudential Center, or places to explore Boston’s historic past are all just minutes from Logan International Airport. The busy airport offers a convenient spot to begin your Boston to Bangor road trip. Finish up your adventure in Bangor, a friendly and walkable city. It is home to author Stephen King and local nature-focused experiences that are a nod to Maine’s great forests.
With a fun rental, maybe a Jeep with a fold-back soft-top or a classic Mustang convertible, you will be off in search of amazing coastal cuisine, unique shopping experiences, perfectly curated craft brews, and coastal fun-in-the-sun adventures.
Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Shopping at the airy Prudential Center, home to high-end brands, is a feast for the fashionista’s eyes. You can find L’occitane, Swarovski, Oakley, and more that will satisfy your desire to own pretty things. When you need to stop for a bite, try Earls Kitchen & Bar or Eataly, both globally well-known establishments.
History buffs will need to experience Boston’s Freedom Trail. Another great option for exploring the city is the Boston Duck Boat Tour, a unique land and water tour.
Boston is home to many classic, well-known craft breweries. Check out our list of 5 Fantastic Breweries To Visit In Boston to help you decide which one or two you want to visit while you are in town.
Start your trip with a Boston luxury stay. There are a wide selection of great options. The Marriott Vacation Club Pulse is in the renovated historic Custom House. They offer well-appointed suites with panoramic views of the city.
2. Newburyport, Massachusetts
As you begin your trek north, stop for lunch at Bob Lobster in Newburyport. There is always a line filled with hungry locals and visitors, but it moves quickly. Their selection of lobster rolls are fresh and tasty.
Take a walk around the beach at Plum Island or the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge to experience a coastal habitat for over 300 species of birds and wildlife.
For more information about visiting beautiful Newburyport, check out How To Spend A Perfect Day In Quaint Newburyport.
3. Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s coastline is relatively short when compared to their northern and southern neighbors. However, they jam a tremendous amount of beachy fun in a little package. Hampton Beach is a classic East Coast beach, where aromas of fried food, suntan lotion, and salty air morph together in the quintessential “day at the beach” memory.
The water is chilly, but the beach is wide with a walkway and parking along its length. Hampton Beach is the spot for your road trip beach day.
Get the most out of your Hampton Beach visit with links to all the around town happenings in How To Spend A Perfect Day In Quaint Hampton Beach.
4. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth is a lovely stop along the way to wander through quaint shops, small bistros, and artist galleries.
Portsmouth Brewery is an anchor in Portsmouth’s bar and restaurant scene. Order a flight to sample a variety of their craft brews at this fun lunch or dinner spot.
Another great stop is the Salt Cellar, where you can find a wide variety of finishing salts. Try the Black Lava Sea Salt, Lime Citrus Sea Salt, Merlot Wine Sea Salt, and others. They will add the perfect four-star touch to your home-cooked delicacies.
5. York, Maine
More beachy fun awaits you in York, Maine. Short Sands, York’s main sandy beach, is located in the heart of the action. The beach area offers parking and a busy downtown district with shops and restaurants. Long Sands Beach is another popular York beach. It has sections of rocks to scramble over and a sandy beach area along with on-street parking.
A must-see shop is the Stonewall Kitchen Company Store. Every Stonewall product you love, but can never find at home, is here just for you. Additionally, they offer cooking classes in their onsite kitchen.
6. Portland, Maine
Portland is a seaport city full of history, foodies, and fun. You can spend lots of time wandering the Old Port district exploring wonderful restaurants and quaint shops.
Red Soxs fans will want to take in a game and watch the Portland Sea Dogs. You never know what up-and-coming baseball phenom or rehabbing all-star may take the field.
One must-stop is The Holy Donut. Their mashed potato donuts are making baked goods history. Dine on pomegranate, maple bacon, and sea salt donuts made with fresh Maine potatoes. Sweet treats with healthier ingredients and their daily rotation of flavors will amaze and delight you.
7. Freeport, Maine
Freeport is home to the L.L. Bean Flagship Store, which is really more like a compound with separate buildings including the Hunting and Fishing Store; Bike, Boat, and Ski Store; Home Store; and the Outlet Store. For the L.L. Bean enthusiast, it is possible to spend an entire day exploring.
When you are finished shopping, stop at Stars & Stripes Brewing Company and enjoy a fresh craft beer while you ogle over your shopping purchases.
You can easily spend an entire day in Freeport. How To Spend A Fantastic Day In Freeport, Maine: Shopping, Eating, And Relaxing is full of tips for getting the most out of your visit.
8. Bath, Maine
Bath’s Main Street is an artisan haven. Beautiful historic buildings filled with shops carrying items from Maine’s artists and crafters contribute to the bohemian vibe.
Stop at Bath Sweet Shoppe for a mid-day, sweet treat. A bag of milk chocolate gold coins or Jelly Belly Red Raspberry Hearts evokes fond childhood memories.
9. Wiscasset, Maine
Enjoy a leisurely afternoon in historic Wiscasset. Visit the Nickels-Sortwell House, the 1812 Jail, and the Castle Tucker home for a peek into the lives and times of the people of coastal Maine.
Enjoy an al fresco lunch from the legendary Red’s Eats. The line gets particularly long during traditional dining hours, but queueing up for a mid-afternoon meal means less waiting time.
10. Camden, Maine
Camden’s charming waterfront downtown area is blessed with picture-perfect views. Sailboats grace the snug harbor, which is lined with local restaurants offering on-the-water dining views.
Maine is known for its lobster, and you won’t find a better lobster roll than at McLoon’s Lobster Shack located on Spruce Head Island. Tucked away in a classic Maine cove is a small red shack that serves up amazing seafood. It is worth the drive; your reward is a beautiful view and a perfectly prepared lobster.
If you have extra time to stay over in Camden, you will find great ideas in How To Spend A Beautiful Weekend In Quaint Camden, Maine.
11. Belfast, Maine
Belfast is a charming town that rises from the waterfront to a thriving shopping area. The waterfront is busy with fishing and leisure boats making their way out to Penobscot Bay.
Visit Eat More Cheese to kit out your picnic basket, then grab a bench and enjoy the waterfront views.
12. Bangor, Maine
Bangor has a cozy, hometown feel wrapped in a sophisticated city that only Mainers can seem to accomplish. A hub for big-name concerts and great food, the hometown of Stephen King, and close to forested wonderment, Bangor is unique.
Waterfront Concerts presents concerts from nine of Bangor’s concert venues. With guests like Thomas Rhett, Jay Leno, Brothers Osborne, Kiss, and others, you can plan your visit around a fun waterfront venue or cozy auditorium.
For Stephen King fans, SK Tours will treat you to a fascinating 3-hour tour of locations that inspired King’s “Derry, Maine,” filming locations, and a view of his private residence. Your guide will enchant you with local tales, and the history of the King family and their many philanthropic contributions to the Bangor area.
Spend some time hiking and canoeing at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge just outside of Bangor. With 7 miles of hiking trails and peaceful streams, you will find the perfect spot to satisfy your need for nature and a Zen-like moment.
Fine dining couldn’t be finer than at Novio’s. The bistro is tucked away on a side street where those in the know go to dine on sumptuously prepared and gorgeously plated cuisine. The menu changes seasonally and is focused on the restaurant’s own garden-grown produce and locally-sourced proteins. The ramp fritters are a light and flavorful starter. Follow up with the crab pistou with house-made linguini and delicately dressed with a white wine creme fraiche. Save room for dessert, you’ll want to savor the s’mores cheesecake.
Pro Tip: The drive up Routes 1 and 1A offer beautiful coastal scenery and bucolic farmland views. If you are not flying out of Bangor you can head back to Boston on Interstate 95 for a faster, albeit less scenic drive.