Growing up on the East Coast, I had always dreamed of visiting Maine. I imagined wide open, lush spaces sprinkled with fresh seafood, beautiful coastlines, and Acadia National Park: the first National Park east of the Mississippi River. Even though I grew up only 5 hours from Maine, I never made it there until I lived in California. Crazy, I know.
When we set out for our cross-country road trip, we dreamed of visiting Maine but thought, will we be able to get there? Is it simply too far? After all, it is the exact opposite part of the United States than what we called home. The most important questions of all – will we be allowed into the state with the COVID pandemic? Luckily, prior to our arrival, Maine implemented strict entry rules that required:
- Exemptions from the following states: NH, NJ, NY, CT, VT, RI
- A negative COVID test if you’re not entering from one of those states (within 72 hours of entering)
- A 14-day quarantine
Get ready for some “LOBSTA”
We received our negative COVID test results and drove the long way to Maine. Let us tell you – it was well worth the trip and it quickly became one of our favorite places in the entire United States.
What is it like to visit Maine?
The rest of the United States could learn a thing or two about adapting to the COVID situation from the state of Maine. Besides the strict travel restrictions which will weed out potential COVID cases coming in from travelers, the state as a whole have implemented modifications at restaurants, parks, retail centers, and breweries that made us feel very comfortable. Everyone is required to wear a mask in public, there are plenty of outdoor restaurants and breweries, everyone adheres to social distancing, and guess what – everyone listens. Because of that, Maine’s tourism sector has not taken as much of a hit as many would think during these times. Furthermore, the visitors and locals feel comfortable knowing that everyone’s health is being taken seriously.
Our Road Trip Route
Because we were driving from a long distance, we started in Kennebunkport to lessen the drive. We then moved onto Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park before dropping back down to Portland at the end of our trip.
Where we Stayed: Sandy Pines Campground
This was one of our favorite campgrounds that we’ve ever stayed at. The campsites are nestled in the woods and offered plenty of privacy from neighboring campers.
Where to Eat:
- Ramp Bar & Grill: The Ramp Bar & Grill is a no-frills, no-fuss restaurant in Kennebunkport. Located right on the water, it’s the perfect spot for dinner and a sunset. We recommend ordering the lobster roll, clam chowder, and a local beer.
- The Clam Shack: The Clam Shack is a local staple in the town of Kennebunkport. Located right on the water, we highly recommend ordering the lobster roll, fried clams, and an Allagash White to wash it down.
- Stripers Waterside Restaurant: Located at the Breakwater Inn & Spa, Stripers is the perfect place to settle down in an Adirondack Chair along the waterfront, sip a cocktail, and enjoy fresh local seafood while enjoying a stunning New England sunset.
- Rococo Ice Cream: We absolutely love our ice cream and Rococo was some of the best ice cream we’ve had in the entire United States. With hand crafted, unique, artisanal flavors, Rococo is a must stop on your vacation to Kennebunkport.
Sunsets at the Ramp Bar & Grill
A mouth full of lobster roll = happy Coco
Acadia / Bar Harbor
Where we Stayed: KOA / Bar Harbor Campground
This was a beautiful waterfront site that offers oceanfront camping. Unfortunately, the “ocean view” sites (like the one we booked) don’t have privacy and are barely ocean view. If you’re going to stay here, we would only recommend booking an ACTUAL oceanfront site. Call ahead to make sure that you’re oceanfront and not an ocean view as their website can be confusing and misleading. At the time of our visit, the campgrounds within Acadia National Park were not open, but we would recommend looking inside of the park if possible.
Where to Eat:
- Havana: Cuban food and Spanish tapas in Maine? We get it…you came here for the lobster but TRUST us on this one. When we heard this was one of Obama’s favorite stops on his vacation to Bar Harbor, we knew it had to be good. We highly recommend the mojitos and mussels with sausage.
- Abel’s Lobster Pound: We read about Abel’s in the NYTimes as one of the best places to eat lobster in Bar Harbor. Unfortunately, it was closed while we visited, but we took a little tour of the waterfront restaurant and it was absolutely darling. We look forward to eating there one day!
- Lobster Delivery at KOA / Bar Harbor Campground: Sure, it’s a little overpriced, but if you’re looking for a unique lobster experience and you’re staying at the KOA / Bar Harbor campground, you can have freshly cooked lobsters delivered right to your campsite.
Waterfront campground at Bar Harbor / Acadia KOA
Delicious mussels at Havana in Bar Harbor. Thank you to OBAMA for the recommendation!
- Mount Desert Ice Cream: We’d like to think of ourselves as ice cream aficionados and Mount Desert Ice Cream was one of the best ice cream shops we’ve ever visited. They have unique flavors that add a distinctive twist on top of a traditionally delicious base of creamy goodness.
- Geddy’s: This downtown Bar Harbor…make sure to order the blueberry beer! And don’t worry – those are not moose droppings in your beer – they’re blueberries!
- Jordan Pond House: It wouldn’t be a visit to Maine without a trip to the Jordan Pond House for some popovers and tea.
What to Do:
- Hike Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail: Cadillac Mountain is an absolute must visit when you’re traveling to Acadia National Park. This trail is 4-miles in length and has an elevation gain of ~1100 ft. If you don’t want to hike to the top, you can drive to the top and enjoy a sunrise or sunset without the hustle. If you can, we highly recommend hiking this for sunrise as it’s one of the first places on the eastern seaboard that sees the sunrise.
- Hike Beehive Trail: This trail is not for the faint of heart. While Cadillac Mountain is more of a traditional hike, Beehive Trail is more of a climb / scramble up to the top. While this is a short hike on paper (1.4 miles), the elevation gain is 488 ft and it is known as a difficult trail.
At the summit of Beehive Trail
- Rent a boat: Acadia National Park is located on Mount Desert Island and it is surrounded by dozens of other islands. If you have the opportunity, rent a boat or kayak, enjoy a day out on the water, and explore the adjacent islands.
- Thunder Hole: If you want to experience the true power of the Atlantic Ocean, head to Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park. At times, you may see water jet up as high as 40 feet in this tiny inlet.
- Otter Cliff: Just down the Park Loops Road from Thunder Hole is Otter Cliff. This 110-foot cliff is one of the most photogenic spots in all of Acadia National Park.
Where to Stay: There are no campgrounds within the city of Portland, thus we rented an AirBnb and parked the Airstream for a few days. Our AirBnb was on the Western Promenade and it was absolutely perfect – walking & biking distance to downtown! With the plethora of breweries and distilleries in Portland, you won’t want to drive around Portland.
Where to Eat:
- Eventide: If there is one restaurant that you should eat at in Portland, it should most definitely be Eventide. They’re known for their oysters, fresh fish, and lobster rolls. We recommend ordering the local oysters, tuna crudo, and the lobster roll with a side of bubbles!
- Fore Street: This James Beard award-winning restaurant has delicious fine dining that you won’t want to miss. We highly recommend the mussels, oysters, and foie grois.
- Honey Paw: If you need a break from your multitude of lobster rolls, head to Honey Paw. This Asian Fusion restaurant is known for its noodles. We loved the Mie Goreng, an Indonesian staple.
- The Holy Donut: The name says it all. If you are a donut lover, head to The Holy Donut nice and early before they sell out of all of their popular flavors. These donuts are absolutely delicious!
Delicious local oysters at Eventide
What to Do:
Go on a Brewery tour: This is a must! We have a full article on the
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