One of my favorite trips of my life was from Pittsburgh to Bar Harbor, Maine and back. I did this trip over the course of about 20 days, but I had my 1.5 year old toddler in the car, so we took our time to keep travel days short. If you had 10 days, and the ability to move longer distances without too much trouble you could manage this trip in that timeframe without missing too much. If you only have a week, you could still do this trip but it would be cutting out a lot of locations along the way.
The way I like to do road trips is without too much of a plan. However, New England in summer can be really packed with visitors and finding a hotel with vacancy can be tough if you are doing this at a peak time, so you may need to consider booking hotels in advance. However, we did not do that and still managed! I like to drive until we are tired then get a hotel and decide our next day's plans from there! It was first week of September when we went so I think that made it possible (we returned in July another time and it was tough to wing it with hotel stays).
My suggestion for this route would be something of the following route...
Day 1 - Pittsburgh to Mystic, CT - stay the night when you arrive
Day 2 (first half) - get up and start your day early, lots to pack in! Go explore first half of the day in Mystic - things to do: downtown (West Main Street) shops, seaport museum, and Olde Mystic Village, get on the road by midday to Newport
Day 2 (second half) - explore Newport RI - do the cliff walk, drive Ocean Drive and stop at the state park along that drive, or take a stroll downtown. Other things to do in this area would be to explore Jamestown and/or Beaver Tail State Park! stay the night just east of Newport.
Day 3, 4, 5 - if you have a few weeks for this trip - consider a side bar out to Cape Cod to Provincetown for 3 days, then return to continue up the coast. If you do, check out all that Provincetown has to offer especially the downtown area with shops. I suggest an Airbnb apartment within walking distance to Commercial Street (the best little downtown shopping area and pier access). Also, go out on a whale watching tour, you'll be sure to see them if you are there in peak season for whales (June-July and maybe even August, but check with locals the year you go because this can surely shift a bit!) Also be sure to visit the sand dunes, try the Dune Shack's Trail or take a tour.
Day 6 - If you have time, you can stop at some historic massachusetts locations, like Salem, but I didn't have the time for this so we skipped on north and plan to do that on a future visit.
Day 6 through 8 - Start making your way up the Maine coast and stop at as many small Maine coast towns as you can! Take 2 days if possible with your itinerary! We really loved Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Camden, and Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. I suggest the following order for a great trek up the coast...
- Portland Head Lighthouse / Portland
- Pemaquid Point (stay at the Hotel Pemaquid, you can walk to the lighthouse and its charming as heck!!)
- Bar Harbor
However there are also some other great locations we had on our list that we were not able to get to, so research these as well: all the famous lighthouses of Maine, Old Orchard Beach, Lubec, Boothbay Harbor, Bangor, Wicasset, Deer Isle.
Day 9 through 12 - stay in Bar Harbor and explore Acadia National Park, and take one day to venture over to the Schoodic Peninsula. A much less visited area of Acadia and just as beautiful!
Day 12 through 14 - work your way back home, through Vermont and New Hampshire and if you have time - explore those states along the way! More on those states in a future blog!
VIEW PHOTOS BELOW! ! !
BASS HARBOR LIGHTHOUSE:
VIEW FROM CADILLAC MOUNTAIN PEAK AT SUNSET (You can drive up, to save the legs on the hiking but go up early because the parking lot will be full near sunset!)
ACADIA ON A RAINY DAY:
NORTHEAST HARBOR, MAINE (JUST OUTSIDE ACADIA) WHICH IS A GOOD ALTERNATIVE PLACE TO STAY (Try Kimball Terrance Inn) IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING LESS EXPENSIVE THAN BAR HARBOR
JORDAN POND, ACADIA:
MARSHALL POINTE LIGHTHOUSE (Famous for being in Forest Gump!)
PEMAQUID POINT LIGHTHOUSE:
PORTLAND LIGHT HEAD:
BEAVERTAIL STATE PARK, RHOAD ISLAND
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK LOOP (many places to stop and park, explore and keep driving the loop!)
SAND BEACH (ACADIA):
SOMESVILLE BRIDGE, ACADIA NATIONAL PARK:
THUNDER HOLE AT SUNRISE, ACADIA NATIONAL PARK:
SAND DUNES IN CAPE COD: