On the Road Again
After a week of city wandering and filling our stomachs with delightful treats in Montreal, we picked up our rental car and head to Maine. From Skyscanner, I was able to find a reasonably priced car rental (National) that allows for cross-border drop-off. The border control officers in Maine requested to see paperwork from the rental car company, and our passports, of course. But otherwise, the process was painless.
The drive across Quebec to Maine was beautiful, with luscious rolling green hills, with fall foliage peaking through. In some ways, the region reminded us of France, and it makes sense why the French chose to settle here all those years ago. We had hoped to reach Lincolnville by nightfall, but rain and dimly lit windy roads slowed us a down a tad.
We had found a beautiful cottage on AirBnB as our base in Lincolnville. Lodging around Acadia National Park was way too expensive to make sense for the week. We absolutely adored this AirBnB. It’s situated on the country road, with Linconville General Store, a cute organic café and shop, nearby. The only downside is the need to drive everywhere, but that’s America-at-large…
The rain didn’t let up for most of our first day in the cottage. It was a perfect excuse to have a lazy day in the woods, recover from a long day of driving. When travel is your lifestyle, rainy days are a perfect excuse to stay in, take a pause from exploring mode.
We ventured out to Camden in the afternoon, a quick 10 minute drive from Lincolnville. It’s first of many charming harbour towns that we would visit throughout the week. While the rain had let up the mist did not. The town was enshrouded in fog when we arrived. We passed time by visiting the old town that is lined with marine-themed trinket shops, mostly geared toward the elder population. We were not their target market. Since we live rather minimally, souvenir shops no longer allure us.
A scoop of ice cream, however, never loses its appeal. We stopped by River Ducks for ice cream, with its cheerful bright pink and lime green stand, to satisfy a little sugar craving. Since it was a rainy day, we were the only customers. Despite requesting just one scoop, the girl piled the cone with two massive scoops of Moose Track ice cream, “we are getting rid of stock, so you are doing us a favour”. Well, who am I to argue with that?
When we looped back around to Megunticook Falls, I was delighted to see the fog has lifted, and we were rewarded with a glimmer of sunset. The fleet of sail boats could now be seen clearly, showing its reflection on the glistening water. I can imagine visiting Camden on a sunny day, sipping cocktails at a restaurant along the harbour could be a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
- A Local’s Travel Guide to Camden Maine | Morgan Ellis
- Two Perfect Days in Camden, Maine | Saveur
Acadia National Park
For the next two days, we had sunny weather on our hour-long drive to Acadia National Park. I confess the drive did feel a little long, despite entertaining podcasts to keep us company. For 1/3 of the price, I am still glad to have a spacious cottage as a base. Upon arrival, we paid our dues. Since we would be visiting other national parks within the year, we bought an annual pass for $80. You can buy these at any National Park visitor centres. The pass comes with a hangtag, so for future visits, we could simply enter the park at ease without stopping for fees.
On the first day, we followed the crowd, drove up to Cadillac Mountain, and took in the gorgeous view. Weather can be quite fickle on the bay. Dark clouds rolled in soon after we snapped a few sunny photos. When rain began to fall, we took refuge and had our first lobster roll of the trip at Side Street café.
In the afternoon, we hiked around Jordan Pond path, which was only 5km and fairly flat. An easy hike to start off the week. There were quite a few hikers on this popular trail. It’s very well maintained, and can easily managed by all ages.
On day two, we packed a lunch and went for a more difficult hike up Mount Acadia and Mount St. Sauveur. The loop begins at Acadia Mountain Trailhead, and was 6.5km (4 miles) long. The hike was quite steep and rocky, but the solitude you earn along the way and the view at the top was worthwhile.
We headed to Echo Lake Beach after the hike to relax, but the beach itself wasn’t very impressive. Our stomachs growled, and instead of laying on the beach, we treated ourselves to a lobster BLT at Thurston’s Lobster Pound, and an incredible view. This joint is popular, and we made the right choice to arrive around 4:30pm, before the dinner crowd.
- 10 Places to Visit in Acadia National Park With Kids | Hike It Baby
- Longer Hikes and Fewer Crowds: The Best of Acadia National Park | The Trek
Camden Hill State Park
After two days of long day trips to Acadia, we stayed put on our last day in Lincolnville. I love the small town charm that seems to come straight from old time movies. Drake Corner Store, a local gas station nearby, has the old-school pump that we needed a local’s help to figure out how to use. When I went inside to pay, a group of elderlies were having their morning coffee and donut. They chatted me up. So friendly! Even though the gas cost a tad more, we made a point to fill up our tank here just to support this local establishment.
We hiked up Mount Battie in the afternoon. It’s a relatively steep hike with rocky surfaces. A good little exercise. What a blessing for locals who live nearby to have so many hiking options. When living in Shanghai, we were constantly craving outdoor exposure and fresh air. It’s these little things that make a difference in life quality.
En Route to Portland
We bid farewell to our cozy cottage and hit the road towards Portland. But before we said goodbye to Lincolnville, we stopped by Dots for breakfast. This local bakery has a wide selection of baked goods, breakfast items, and lunch bites. I wish I was hungrier to fit more in my tummy!
Along the way, we stopped by Rockport. Weather was sunny, and the bay glistened, and reflected beautiful shades of blue. Yet, by the time we followed Highway 1 and turned off to Owl’s Head State Park, the fog had set in with chilly wind. Pro tip: Dress in layers! We made a visit to the lighthouse anyway, and had a lovely convo with a retired couple who lives in the Midwest, but had spent years in Maine. They were curious to learn about our travels from China. These encounters are so lovely, and I never get tired of sharing our stories.
A friend had urged me to stop by Red’s Eats in Wicasset for its lobster roll, so we obliged and stopped in for lunch. The line was So. Long. I am usually the kind that will go across the street to a competitor, but this time, I was curious to find out what the hype was about. The service was s…l…o…w…, which added to the wait time.
The lobster roll was really delicious; they did were not shy to pile that roll with freshly cooked lobster. Was it worth the wait? It depends on your tolerance for standing in line. I wouldn’t do it again. Wicasset was a charming little town though, and we enjoyed a lovely dessert and coffee at Treats. If you are an antiques fan, this town is for you. So many beautiful boutiques to browse.
Weekend in Portland
We spent two short days in Portland, staying at an AirBnB room in the suburbs that is a short 10 min drive from the city. The downtown area has plenty of great restaurants, but we were only able to try a few. I recommend getting breakfast at Standard Baking Company, and a nice scoop of unique ice cream flavours at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream. If you are up for a bit of old time eatery and don’t mind the somewhat touristy vibe, chowder at Gilbert’s was pretty good.
On our walk, I noticed a Japanese mailbox straight from a Miyazaki film. A local who was nearby explained that Portland is a sister city with Shinagawa in Japan! The city has an industrial turned hip vibe that is common to many US cities. Great for street photography. My favourite activity was a sunset run along East End Beach. The pink sunset with seagulls, coupled with locals hanging out with their dogs on the beach was rather picture perfect.
- 17 Weirdly Awesome Things to Do in Portland | Two Wandering Soles
- Where to Eat in Portland, Maine | Drive on the Left
En Route to Boston
On our final day, we needed to return our rental car in Boston by noon. We got an early start to hit up a few more towns. The morning fog hasn’t lifted at Cape Elizabeth when we arrived; the plus side was were were all lone. To maximise the view and captured that “small town” feel, we took Highway 1 for the majority of the journey. Stopped by Congdon’s Doughnuts so Frenchie could have a quintessential American experience. The sugar spike hurt his stomach for rest of the morning!
Our final stop before reaching Boston was Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The town seems lively and a place I would like to explore further. Alas, we only had an hour for a quick walk-through. We stopped in Profile Coffee Bar for a delicious latte before hitting the road.
The busy traffic in Boston was a sharp contrast from our week in the woods. Maine coast was so quaint, filled with beautiful nature, and endless hiking routes. I can see why people choose this state to retreat. The world is a big place to explore, but often, beautiful scenery is right here within our own country.
Other Tips from the Blogosphere
- The Essential New England Road Trip Itinerary | Two Drifters
- How to Plan the Perfect Coastal Maine Road Trip | Our Wandering Mind
- The 18 Essential Maine Restaurants, Spring 2019 | Eater
4 thoughts on “Road Trip from Montréal to the Maine Coast”
Next time you are in Boston, let us know!
We camped in Acadia last summer and had a great time. I’d definitely recommend it for people who like to camp!
Camping is a great solution to the expensive lodging! Will definitely let you know when we pass through Boston again. 🙂