The scenic Boston to Acadia National Park road trip

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  • Post last modified:February 29, 2024
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Uncover the best of the coastal New England as you drive from Boston to Acadia National Park. Along the route, idyllic harbor towns, dutiful lighthouses and the crashing Atlantic call for your attention. Beware: It’s not always easy to keep your eyes on the road.

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  • Total distance: 271 mi / 436 km
  • Total driving time: 5.5 h

1. Boston, MA

Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the oldest cities in America and offers history around every corner. With so many attractions, sightseeing in the “City on a Hill” is the perfect way to begin your Boston to Acadia National Park road trip.

Understand Boston’s story

The Freedom Trail conveniently lets you explore many of the most important historic sites in Boston. Who knew it could be so interesting to stretch your legs?

From Boston Common to Bunker Hill Monument the 2.5 miles (4 km) long trail winds through historic neighborhoods. In particular the trail connects as much as 16 nationally significant historic sites.

As you kick off the Boston to Acadia National Park road trip, the contrasts between old and new are striking. In the heart of the bustling Boston it’s remarkable how well preserved the many historic sites are.

Catch an iconic Fenway game

After touring Boston’s streets Fenway Park invites you to rest your legs. The Boston venue, home to the Red Sox, is arguably the most iconic ballpark in America.

A game at Fenway Park is fun both for those who have the baseball bug and complete baseball amateurs. After all, a Boston to Acadia National Park road trip partly is about exploring new things.

Go back to school

In Cambridge, located just across Charles River from Boston, the famous Harvard University is located. Founded in 1636, it’s one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Harvard graduates have went on to become US presidents, Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and Olympic champions. With such a legacy visiting Harvard is a unique addition to the Boston to Maine itinerary.

The popular Harvard tours include not only university history but also a glimpse of present day life on campus. If you have bad memories from school, this is an excellent time to finally let them go.

More info: Boston’s neighborhoods

Famed brick buildings at Harvard University in Massachusetts
Back to school on the Boston to Acadia road trip.

Additional stop: On the hunt for a good beach on the way from Boston to Acadia? If so don’t miss out on the remarkable Hampton Beach State Park between Boston and Portland. The New Hampshire sand beach is just perfect for swimming and relaxing.

2. Portland, ME

  • Driving distance: 112 mi / 180 km
  • Driving time: 2 h

Two hours from Boston you on the way to Acadia National Park find a city too good to miss out on. Portland is the largest city in Maine and renowned for its high-spirited Old Port district.

Wander the historic Old Port

Portland’s Old Port is defined by its cobblestone streets, brick buildings and fishing piers. Just to walk around in the cozy waterfront setting is a delightful experience.

But the many boutiques, restaurants and bars within the seaside district encourage you to scratch deeper. The best Boston to Acadia National Park road trips need seafood, and the Old Port is full of delicacies from the sea to enjoy.

Tick off Portland Head Light

A few miles southeast of the Old Port, another highlight on the drive from Boston to Acadia is Fort Williams Park. The oceanfront park encompasses a former military installation and the adjacent Portland Head Light.

Portland Head Light, commissioned in 1791, is the oldest lighthouse in Maine. It’s also an incredibly Instagram friendly structure, which even is claimed to be the most photographed lighthouse in America.

Although Portland Head Light is the main attraction, a clear day Fort Williams Park offers views of four more lighthouses. These are: Spring Point Ledge Light, Ram Island Ledge Light, Halfway Rock Light and Cape Elizabeth Light.

Cloudy day at Portland Head Light, Maine — a photogenic spot on the Boston to Acadia road trip itinerary
The dutiful Portland Head Light, ME.

Additional stop: Freeport is a liked stop for shopping as you go from Portland to Rockland. Even though the city offers a wide range of stores, its flagship L.L.Bean store stands out from the crowd. The iconic store in Freeport, guarded by a 10 feet (3 m) tall boot sculpture, is a Maine and New England institution.

3. Rockland, ME

  • Driving distance: 79 mi / 127 km
  • Driving time: 1.5 h

Yes, the inland route is slightly quicker when you go from Boston to Acadia National Park. Yet the untroubled seaside oases, such as Rockland, make the coastal detour worth every extra minute.

Tour the classic Rockland

On Penobscot Bay you find the classic Rockland. Its alluring downtown area is home to an appealing mix of restaurants, shops and even museums.

Beautifully positioned in Rockland’s heart the Farnsworth Art Museum is a true source of inspiration. At the museum art lovers enjoy an impressive collection of works from American artists.

For lighthouse fans Rockland’s Maine Lighthouse Museum is unbeatable. Overlooking the pretty Rockland Harbor the museum presents an incredible amount of lighthouse artifacts and memorabilia.

Walk to Rockland Breakwater Light

The more than 4,000 feet (1,200 m) long Rockland Breakwater shelters the Rockland Harbor. At the breakwater’s end the unique Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is located.

To access the lighthouse you need to walk on granite stones. Its isolated position makes Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse one of the most unique lighthouses along the route from Boston to Acadia National Park.

Healthy exercise, breathtaking ocean views or simply the iconic Maine lighthouse itself. It’s easy to find reasons to include Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse on your Boston to Maine itinerary.

Purple sunset at Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, Maine
Sunset at Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.

4. Camden, ME

  • Driving distance: 8 mi / 13 km
  • Driving time: 0.5 h

Less than 30 minutes from Rockland the quintessential New England town Camden is situated. With both a vibrant downtown scene and great outdoor activities it’s truly a jewel on the Maine coast.

Appreciate Downtown Camden

As you arrive in Camden, what you see is a picture-perfect US town. The seaside town is characterized by 19th century architecture and its picturesque harbor.

Camden’s waterfront Harbor Park is a peaceful place. From the park you comfortably can appreciate the town’s harbor and watch boats come and go.

A stone’s throw away, an abundance of shops and eateries crave for your attention. In particular, this is another great opportunity to satisfy your hunger for seafood.

Docked boats in a still Camden Harbor, Maine
The peaceful Camden Harbor.

Take in Camden Hills State Park

Camden rests at the foot of the rolling Camden Hills. With more than 30 miles (48 km) of trails Camden Hills State Park is the perfect spot for hiking on your way from Boston to Acadia.

In particular the Mount Battie Trail is unbeatable for coastal views. After half a mile (0.8 km) the trail rewards hikers with stunning panoramic views of Maine’s coastline.

But don’t despair if you’re not up for a hike. You can also drive all the way up to the summit area of Mount Battie.

Admire Curtis Island Light

Another stop on the Boston to Acadia National Park road trip means another lighthouse. Curtis Island Light is a hidden attraction just roughly a mile (1.6 km) from the downtown area of Camden.

Situated on Curtis Island, at the Camden Harbor entrance, it’s arguably one of the prettiest lighthouses in Maine.

From a mainland overlook you can admire the pretty Curtis Island Lighthouse across the water. However, by kayak or boat you get much closer views.

The tiny Curtis Island and white colored Curtis Island Light, Maine
Curtis Island Light as seen from the mainland.

5. Acadia National Park

  • Driving distance: 72 mi / 116 km
  • Driving time: 1.5 h

After hugging the coastline for almost 6 hours you arrive in Acadia National Park. The spectacular Maine park, where the mountains meet the sea, is the icing on the Boston to Maine itinerary.

Drive the loop road

Acadia’s loop road is nothing less than a breathtaking construction. The scenic 27 miles (43 km) long drive connects many of the best attractions on the eastern half of Mount Desert island.

In spectacular fashion the park’s main road shows off beaches, lakes and mountains. Highlights as you road trip through Acadia National Park are Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Point, Jordan Point and Cadillac Mountain.

Among them the 1,530 feet (466 m) tall Cadillac Mountain in particular stands out. Its summit is the highest point both in Acadia National Park and along the entire Atlantic coastline of the United States.

Golden view from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park showing surrounding waters and islands
Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain.

Park your car in Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor is the main gateway town to Acadia National Park. At the base of Cadillac Mountain and overlooking Frenchman’s Bay, it’s hard to imagine a more scenic location.

Side by side with nature, Bar Harbor offers cute shops and tasty seafood restaurants. Even though the park and the nature is the primary show, Bar Harbor is a destination on its own.

Unwind on the quiet side

The western side of Acadia provides a welcome contrast to its eastern part. Away from the stunning but busy loop road you find a quieter and more secluded Mount Desert Island.

Most days of the year Echo Lake features sough-after silence. As a bonus the lake is also a nice freshwater swimming spot.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse is the park’s most visited western attraction. It’s the only lighthouse on Mount Desert Island and a gem that stunningly completes your Boston to Acadia National Park itinerary.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park, Maine
Bass Harbor Lighthouse.

Where to stay near Acadia

Bar Harbor is the best place to stay for Acadia National Park if you want the whole package. The enchanting seaside town offers the ultimate access to both the loop road and Cadillac Mountain.

Vivid restaurant signs in Bar Harbor on the Boston to Acadia National Park drive
Bar Harbor at Acadia National Park.

Boston to Acadia National Park road trip hotel search

Use the booking tool below to find the perfect places to stay for your Boston to Acadia National Park road trip. Browse the map for options in various areas, or click on the search button to start with hotels in Boston.

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Boston to Acadia National Park road trip FAQ

How long does it take to drive the Boston to Acadia National Park road trip?

The one-way road trip from Boston to Acadia National Park is 271 miles (436 km) long. Driving it takes roughly 5.5 hours, not including any stops along the way to the Maine park.

Where should I stop between Boston and Maine?

The main stops included on the scenic Boston to Acadia road trip are Boston, Portland, Rockland, Camden and Acadia National Park. Additional destinations along the route include Hampton Beach State Park and Freeport.

Is the drive from Boston to Acadia National Park pretty?

New England is known as one of the prettiest regions in America. With both impressive nature and picturesque seaside towns, a drive from Boston to Acadia wows even the most hard-flirted travelers out there.

How many days do I need to take the Boston to Acadia National Park road trip?

For the ultimate experience, it’s recommended to have a week or more for the drive. Just to take in the breathtaking nature in Acadia National Park demands a couple of days.

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