Jake Cain is an entrepreneur and writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. He spends his free time driving around the country in his late 90’s conversion van, affectionately known as the “Monster Van” with his wife and 3 boys.
Portland Maine is located on the central coast which makes trips along the Atlantic coast easy and accessible. There are lots to do in the state of Maine from having a leisurely dinner at a diner or biking in Kennebunkport.
Explore the coast to see historic lighthouses and charming coastal towns. There are the beautiful islands of Casco Bay and Penobscot Bay which you can explore.
Here are a few spectacular ways to explore the city of Portland. Read on for the best day trips from Portland, Maine.
Sebago Lake, Maine
- Distance: 60 minutes
- Ideal for: Water-based activities
The second-largest lake of Maine is only an hour away from Portland. Maine’s Sebago Lake spans over 28,000 acres.
The lake is surrounded by the towns of Sebago, Casco, Naples, Raymond, Standish, and Windham. Visitors can do boating, kayaking or swimming.
In the summers a lot of visitors flock to Sebago Lake and stay in the cabins and cottages surrounding the lake. The depth of this lake is 300 feet and it is a popular lake for fishing.
Acadia National Park, Maine
- Distance: 160 minutes
- Ideal for: Outdoor activities
This park is one of the top ten visited park in the United States and is located on Mount Desert Island, off Maine’s Atlantic coast.
Acadia National Park offers 150 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads, and 27 miles of historic motor roads. Visitors can enjoy a range of outdoor activities like hikes, trails, ranger-led trails, and nature walks.
They even have hawk and falcon programs. The park is also home to Cadillac Mountain which is the highest peak on the east coast of the United States.
Bar Harbour, Maine
- Distance: 4 hours
- Ideal for: Relaxing on an island
Bar Harbour is the largest city on Maine’s Mount Desert Island. It is a popular tourist destination in the Down East area of Maine.
Bar Harbour is actually the sandbar that connects the island to the mainland at low tide. This destination makes for one of the best day trips from Portland Maine.
Here you can visit a variety of shops, restaurants, taverns, hotels, or bed and breakfasts as well.
The New England town is home to Acadia National Park and is an easily walkable city great for exploring the shops, galleries, and restaurants on foot.
Bar Harbour is famous for its coastal beauty which its visitors can soak in. You can take a walking tour with a certified Maine Guide to learn more about the town.
- Distance: 1 hour and 43 minutes
- Ideal for: Sailors and ocean lovers
Another coastal town in Central Maine is a haven for ocean lovers. This is also the famous administrative center of the London Borough of Camden.
Camden is perfect for an outdoor and coastal adventure. It is located on Penobscot Bay and the deepwater Camden Harbor is home to several tall ships that offer cruises of the bay and fishing excursions.
This city makes for one of the best day trips from Portland Maine. This picturesque port is a sailor’s dream place and visitors can also choose to charter their own ships.
There is an excellent view of the bay from the top of Mount Battie at the Camden Hills State Park.
You can enjoy shopping for antiques, browsing upscale boutiques and eat fresh seafood.
- Distance: 37 minutes
- Ideal for: Outdoor activities
Also known as the “City of Ships”, Bath is a small town located at the Kennebec River. The city is popular with tourists and Bath makes for an excellent day trip from Portland Maine.
Explore the 19th-century architecture like the Marine Maritime Museum or indulge in water-based activities like boating or fishing.
Bath Iron Works and Heritage Days Festival also happen in Bath annually on the Fourth of July weekend. There are many beaches which you can explore like Popham Beach State Park and the beaches at Reid State Park.
- Distance: 20 minutes
- Ideal for: Shoppers
Best known as a shopping destination, Freeport is located in Cumberland County, Maine. This destination is a favorite amongst New Englanders seeking deals among the hundreds of brand-name outlets.
Freeport is famous for its many outlet stores that are open 24 hours a day and true shoppers delight. The shops occupy 18th and 19th-century buildings and homes along Route 1
After shopping, you can enjoy the Freeport Historical Society and the Historic Pettengill Farm.
Also visit the famous Wolf’s Neck Wood State Park, where you can kayak, or take a bicycle for rentals.
- Distance: 14 minutes
- Ideal for: outdoor recreation activities
Just east of the Vermont border outside of the White Mountain National Forest, Bethel is a beautiful hilly location. Bethel was also named the most Beautiful Town in Maine.
Visitors can enjoy a number of amenities and activities in the town’s historic village as well as in the surrounding area.
Here you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities like kayaking, skiing and much more. The downtown area can also be explored for shopping and dining.
If you visit Bethel during winters then it is one of the best destinations in Maine for alpine or Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and après ski fun. You can also explore the Mineral and Gem museum and Maggie Ring’s Nature Park, and the Bethel Recreational Pathway for cyclists.
The Kennebunks, Maine
- Distance: 31 minutes
- Ideal for: Fishing enthusiasts
Located in York County, Maine, United States, Kennebunk is home to several beaches. People who love fishing will love this destination and it can be a fun day trip from Portland Maine.
The Brick Store Museum and Nature Conservancy’s Kennebunk Plains are popular nature trails that you can explore.
Boothbay Harbour, Maine
- Distance: 1 hour and 11 minutes
- Ideal for: Art enthusiasts
This popular yachting and tourist destination is located along the rocky Atlantic coast about one hour’s drive north of Portland.
Surrounded by evergreen forests, Boothbay Harbour makes for an excellent day trip from Portland Maine.
This destination is also home to over 200 artists whose work you can see in galleries, local shops, and even museums. Visit the Boothbay Region Art Foundation or visit during a Boothbay Art and Crafts Show, which takes place on summer weekends
Explore the downtown area to end your day where you can enjoy the shops and restaurants. The Main State Aquarium is also a great place to go with kids.
- Distance: 1 hour
- Ideal for: Oyster lovers
Also referred to as the Capital of Oysters, Damariscotta has been known for this for more than two thousand years.
Visit the Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site where you can see the history of this place. People who enjoy costume design can have a good time at this place. Damariscotta holds many costume design contests.
Annual festivals which you can visit are summer’s Damariscotta Oyster Celebration and autumn’s Pemaquid Oyster Festival.
Peaks Island, Maine
- Distance: 38 minutes
- Ideal for: Beachside fun
This is a popular summer destination that can be reached with a short ferry trip from Portland. It is the most populated island in Casco Bay, Maine and attracts lots of tourists.
A great place to be explored by bicycle this island is just a 4-mile long circumference. Charming cottages, theatres, and amusement parks line the beaches.
Visitors can go swimming, kayaking and explore the rocky Cairn beach as well. Island Avenue is also a great place to explore which is the home of the Peak’s Island shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Deer Isle, Maine
- Distance: 3 hours 15 minutes
- Ideal for: Idyllic day trip
Deer Isle is a popular day trip destination from Portland, Maine. Comprising of the main Deer Isle Island and adjacent Little Deer Isle, these are Atlantic Islands.
Visitors can get the charming feel of a 1950’s rural neighborhood at these islands. It is a small community of around 3000 residents which include many artists who are drawn to the island’s world-famous Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.
Visitors can also enjoy photography, kayaking, bird-watching and much more at the Deer Isle. The small island is home to 12 nature conservancies that protect the land and wildlife habitat.
- Distance: 46 minutes
- Ideal for: Idyllic day trip
Located in the Maine Lakes Region, Lewiston was founded by French-speaking Canadians who immigrated to work textile mills.
The French influence in this town is still alive and can be seen in Lewiston’s Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, built-in 1870.
- Distance: 3 hours and 8 minutes
- Ideal for: Historical day out
A three-hour drive from Portland, Maine, Stonington is located in New London County. Today this area is famous for its tree-lined village streets and historic houses.
Visit the Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer House and Old Lighthouse Museum where you can learn about the history of this place. Stonington is one of the most charming towns in Maine and makes for an excellent day trip from Portland Maine.
- Distance: 43 minutes
- Ideal for: Family day out
Located on Maine’s Atlantic coast, the name, Ogunquit means “beautiful place by the sea”. It used to be a fishing village that has now turned into an artist’s haven and tourist destination is known for its rugged beauty and rocky coastline.
Visitors can pay a visit to the Ogunquit Museum of American Art which was founded in the 1950s. Visit the many galleries that are located all around town.
Travelers can also visit the Ogunquit Performing Arts and the Ogunquit Playhouse which offer year-round theatre and live music performances.
The Ogunquit Beach is quite a hit with the families and this 3.5 mile-long stretch of soft sand offers a great place for swimming. Footbridge Beach, offers public restrooms, gift shops, changing rooms, and snack bars.
Portland Head Light, Maine
- Distance: 17 minutes
- Ideal for: Family day out
This historic 1791 lighthouse sits within the Fort Williams State Park in Cape Elizabeth, on Portland Head. The Lighthouse does not operate now and it only operated till 1989 when it was decommissioned by the US Coast Guard.
The US Coast Guard continues to maintain the light and fog signal and the keeper’s quarters have been renovated into a museum. Visitors can watch Interpretative displays and lighthouse lenses that are on exhibit.
There is a small gift shop as well that operates seasonally.
There is lots to see and cover from the city of Portland, Maine. Explore the second-largest lake and indulge in fishing or visit the coastal town of Camden. Maine has lots to offer to its visitors and residents of Portland can take advantage of that.
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