Best Road Trips in Maine

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  • Highway 1
  • Maine’s waterfalls
  • Historic Route 26
  • Golden Road
  • Grafton Notch Byway
  • Rangeley Lakes Byway
  • Haunted roads
  • Million Dollar View Scenic Byway
  • Roadside assistance
  • Cheap insurance
  • FAQs
Maine is a road tripper’s absolute dream! The state offers incredible natural beauty in every season and its back roads boast incredible views and quaint roadside stops. So whether you’re a local or an out-of-towner looking for the best road trips in Maine, we’ve got you covered.
Below is a collection of the best road trips in Maine, from the one-hour jaunt to the multi-day excursion. On these routes, you can expect mountains, stony seaside settings, charming hills, and hidden waterfalls. Fall foliage, summer-y swims, and frigid winter adventures—you can access it all via car in Maine.
But wait! Don’t leave home without roadside assistance. Not all car insurance policies include it, and you don’t want to find yourself stranded on a greasy road on Katahdin without a spare tire. Jerry’s is only $6.99 per month.
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Highway 1 along the Atlantic Coast

Get excited for Maine’s Atlantic version of California’s Pacific Coastal Highway 1.
Five hours non-stop along 300 miles of stunning coastline, Highway 1 is the perfect way to explore the windswept Atlantic coast.
Two structures on the left of a bridge on Highway 1.
Pacific Coastal Highway 1, ME

Why you should go

The northern portion is known as the Bold Coast Scenic Byway, and it offers a slightly quieter and more rural feeling. Overall, this route offers a good diversity of landscapes including forests and seaside villages. You will pass through both quaint working towns and touristy villages, with plenty of opportunities to meet the locals.
Your route also overlaps with Maine’s Lobster Trail. Who can say no to a fresh lobster roll? You will have lots of chances to sample the local goods along the coast from Quoddy Bay Lobster in Eastport down to The Clam Shack in Kennebunk.

What you should do

Plan to drive slowly and enjoy the sights. If you’re here during the summer, look for wildflowers and blueberry barrens. Put on your hiking shoes and soak up the natural beauty in Acadia National Park or Cutler Coast.
Go to Portland for seaside shopping, creative boutiques, and locally-made food. Lobster rolls are a must. Divert over to Cape Elizabeth to see the famous Portland Head Light. Next, head north two hours to Waldoboro for a quiet walk on the beach.
Two hours further north and you’ll arrive at Acadia National Park. Animal lovers can stop in Machias to kayak out to see puffins. Conclude your trip at the Canadian border at Lubec—or drive 40 minutes over to Eastport to visit Ray’s Mustard Mill & Museum, the only stone-ground mustard mill in the country.
Key Takeaway The coastal route offers myriad recreational—and culinary—activities.

A tour of Maine’s best waterfalls

The western part of the state contains a number of stunning waterfalls. Spend four to five hours driving this beautiful loop—and plan to go early in the day or during the off-season to avoid the crowds. This route follows ME-17 and ME-120 along quiet highways for an unforgettable journey.
A small Camden, Maine waterfall on a cloudy day.
Camden, ME

Why you should go

There’s something magical about east coast waterfalls, rivulets spilling down smooth granite surrounded by copper-colored shrubs and soaring trees. You don’t need to go to Hawaii to experience incredible waterfalls—and this loop is guaranteed to be beautiful in every season.

What you should do

The essential waterfall loop stops are Snow Falls Gorge, Rumford Falls, Smalls Falls, Angel Falls, Coos Canyon, The Cataracts in North Oxford, Dunn Falls, and Screw Auger Falls. Make sure you follow the guidelines and stay on the trails—and wear shoes with a good grip to avoid slipping on the rocks. Note that these are popular swimming holes during the warmer summer months, so either be prepared to share or get there early.
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Route 26 for a quick, quaint jaunt through historic central Maine

While only 100 miles round trip, Route 26 is jam-packed with interesting stops. From a traditional Shaker Community to dockside dining, this is the perfect choice for a weekender who only has one day to spend on a road trip. The whole route takes only an hour, pending stopovers.
Hikers walk towards Lonesome Lake, White Mountains, New Hampshire.
White Mountains, NH

Why you should go

Route 26 is short and sweet, and offers an interesting inland alternative to classic Maine road trips. You’re guaranteed gorgeous vistas and historic charm—all within sixty minutes.

What you should do

Start in Gray, just north of Portland. Head to New Gloucester and visit the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, the last surviving Shaker community. Once you’ve filled up on coffee and bought your heirloom seeds, go north toward Poland.
As you pass through the White Mountains, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. You may see bears, bobcats, and moose if you’re lucky. At the very least, you’ll get spectacular views (especially in autumn). Once you reach Poland, make sure to visit the historic Poland Historical School House before finishing in South Paris at the lovely McLaughlin Garden.

Golden Road for rugged and rustic views

Warning: Please only attempt this route if your vehicle can handle unpaved roads. This road is nicknamed the Golden Road because it unlocked trade for a logging company—and thus helped to fill their coffers. This is a 96-mile drive through the rural Maine woods to the St. Zacharie border crossing.
Autumn covers over a Maine body of water with Mt. Katahdin in the background.
Mount Katahdin, ME

Why you should go

If you’re ready to completely embrace Maine’s woodsy vibe—and go all the way to the Quebec border—then this is the perfect choice for you. You’ll enjoy rural views of Katahdin, lakes, moose, and whitewater rivers with minimal company.

What you should do

First, get your GPS ready and be sure to have a well-marked paper map, too. This is a rural adventure on an old logging road and you should expect slow going. Start in Millinocket and then head north on the Golden Road. Be prepared to car camp or wild camp.
Key Takeaway The backwoods of Maine are no joke. Make sure you can handle the adventure!

The Grafton Notch Byway

Enjoy this quick 20-mile stretch of road near the New Hampshire border. It takes you through a state park, passing through granite walls that are hundreds of feet high. Plan on plenty of time to explore on foot, or take pictures.
A stream flows through Grafton Notch Byway in the fall.
Grafton Notch Byway, ME

Why you should go

With views of the Bear River, you’ll get a real sense of how early settlers lived in this area. Admire the view, catch a glimpse of crumbled stone foundations, and wave at the Appalachian Trail hikers—then be back in town in time for a hot meal.

What you should do

Start in Newry and head north toward Upton. It’s a bite-sized trip but no less beautiful. Consider a side trip to a waterfall or visit the Sunday River Resort for a splash of luxury.

See the autumn colors in Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway etc

This is hands-down the best place to see changing autumn colors in Maine. It’s a short semi-circle route via State Highways 4, 17, and 16. You can also follow the route here.
A dark-tinted view of an island in Rangeley Lake, Maine, at sundown.
Rangeley Lake, ME

Why you should go

Fresh air, beautiful views, lake and mountain scenery—is there anything more lovely on a crisp autumn day? Get a classic New England fall experience on this route.

What you should do

Start near Small Falls and head north to Rangeley. Then head west to Oquossoc and take the 17 south to Houghton. The whole loop takes one hour non-stop, but you’ll definitely want to pull over and savor the moment.
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Embrace the creep factor and explore the haunted roads of Maine

If you’re a fan of the morbid, then we have to mention these scary roads. In Maine, go to Haynesville and drive Route 2A for a creepy meander through the backwoods. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Million Dollar View Scenic Byway

In southeast Maine, there is an eight-mile stretch of road that will blow your socks off. It has a lot to offer visitors, including lakes, scenic turnouts, wildlife sightings, and indigenous history.
Three hikers watch the sun come up at Acadia National Park.
Acadia National Park, ME

Why you should go

Honestly, they could have been a bit more creative in the naming. But we think you’ll agree that the view here is definitely worth a million dollars when you arrive at the summit. On the way up, enjoy views into Canadian land in New Brunswick while cruising along Peekaboo Mountain.

What you should do

Start in Danforth for a bit of small-town, rural charm and then hop on the Scenic Byway. Pull over at an overlook and see if you can catch a glimpse of eagles or moose.
Key Takeaway Scenic Byways are short and sweet routes that offer maximum enjoyment for minimal driving time.

Why you need roadside assistance

Don’t let your road trip fall victim to Maine weather, scary roads, or getting stranded with no gas. There’s a cheap way to ensure that your road trip goes to plan: roadside assistance. Jerry’s is only $6.99 and it covers winching, fuel delivery, flat tire assistance, and more.

Finding cheap car insurance

If you want cheap car insurance quotes fast, go to Jerry. A licensed broker that offers end-to-end support, the Jerry app gathers affordable quotes, helps you switch plans, and even will help you cancel your old policy.
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Can I do a winter road trip in Maine?

Yes! In winter, you’ll avoid the crowds and be treated to gorgeous snowy landscapes. Just be sure to get snow tires and restock your emergency kit before you head out.

What is the food like in Maine?

Maine is primarily famous for lobster and blueberries but overall it’s cuisine is a melange of dishes inspired by ingredients from the local landscape.
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