The most Amazing 19 Day trips from Portland, Maine in 2024

Are you planning a Maine trip and want to explore beyond Portland? Great news- you’ve come to the right place! I’m excited to share the best day trips from Portland, Maine. 

Portland, Maine’s largest city, is a gateway to the breathtaking Atlantic coast. I recommend using this city as your base to explore the serene beauty of Maine’s coast and discover some hidden gems that are just as enchanting. 

My family and I have a deep love for Maine, and we’ve had the privilege of exploring this beautiful state extensively. Just recently, my husband and I had a week-long getaway, using Portland as our base to revisit our favorite towns and discover new areas. I’m eager to share our personal experiences and why you should definitely plan a trip to Maine!

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Portland, Maine, is a terrific location to explore the state.

Portland Day Trips

Portland is the perfect place for a vacation, especially in the summer or fall. Portland’s charming brick roads, delicious fresh seafood, and quaint small shops make for a relaxing trip. Check out the bustling Commercial Street to experience the city, or take a walking tour or sunset cruise

The Portland area also offers a rich history, a beautiful lighthouse, food tours, kayaking, and minor league athletics. As a popular tourist destination, it is the best launching pad to see more of Maine. I love the charm of this city, especially the access to some of the best lobster rolls in the state! It is also a great place to visit with kids!

Follow along as I share the best day trips from Portland, Maine!

1. Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport is one of the best day trips from Portland, Maine

Distance: 29 miles 

Kennebunkport is one of my all-time favorite Maine communities and is a short drive from the city. The town is a popular summer vacation spot, so make sure you arrive early in the morning if you visit during the summer months. There are several public parking lots. If you visit in December, Kennebunkport has a fantastic Christmas festival. 

Walk through the small shops in town, grab a fresh lobster roll at Mabel’s (make a reservation), or order a casual pick-up at the Clam Shack. Outdoor enthusiasts can kayak the Kennebec River or frolic in the cold Atlantic waters.

If traveling with kids, check out the Seashore Trolley Museum, a favorite of my boys and husband.

Book your KAYAKING trip now by clicking HERE!

2. Ogunquit

Ogunquit, Maine is a beautiful town to explore

Distance: 38 miles 

Ogunquit is another favorite of mine. It is the perfect time for a day trip combined with a stop in Kennebunkport. Once here, find parking near the Marginal Way, a walking path along the coast. Hands down, this is my top recommendation for Ogunquit. Marginal Way offers guests breathtaking views of the coastline, and this path made me fall in love with Maine many years ago. 

If you have time, walk around Perkins Cove, a charming part of Ogunquit. I suggest parking here in the public so you can eat & shop here, before a leisurely walk on Marginal Way. If you start your day here, they have amazing breakfast options.

Ogunquit is another excellent option for the holidays if traveling in December.  

3. Old Orchard Beach

Old Orchard Beach is a fun getaway especially in the summer

Boardwalk at Old Orchard Beach

Distance: 16 miles 

If you’re looking for a fun summer getaway, Old Orchard Beach is the best place in Southern Maine for dashing in the sun and sand. Old Orchard Beach boasts stunning white sandy beaches and direct access to the Atlantic. There’s public parking, but beware—it can be jam-packed in the summer.

Old Orchard is also known for its iconic Beach Boardwalk, old-fashioned arcade, and amusement park, Palace Playyard. New Englanders gravitate here for fun rides and games, as well as tasty carnival food. 

Old Orchard is a fantastic getaway, especially if traveling with kids!

4. Saco

Downtown Saco

downtown Saco

Distance: 17 miles 

Right next to Old Orchard is the charming community of Saco, with a quaint downtown area to shop and dine in. For families visiting in the summer, the best option is to see one of the water parks in the area. 

Funtown Splashtown and Aquaboggan Water Park are fantastic activities for families. Please note the parks are only open for a limited time in the summer months, and check the hours of operation before you drive there from Portland! It is the perfect day trip for kids.

5. Bridgton

Pondicherry Park in Bridgton

Pondicherry Park in Bridgton

Distance: 39 miles 

Just a short scenic drive out of town, you’ll discover the small and charming community of Bridgton. On our last trip to Maine, my husband needed to do some work, so I hopped into our rental car for an excursion to a new area. 

First of all, I loved the drive to Bridgton. Green, lush farms dotted the two-lane road, as well as sparkling clear lakes. Bridgton was a pleasant surprise to explore. I parked the car and hit the ground, checking out their community garden, parks, and small shops. 

On the main drag into town, you’ll discover a fun drive-in movie theater and a food truck park.

6. Sebago Lake

take a seaplane at Sebago Lake

Distance: 19 miles 

Sebago Lake and state park are popular destinations for Maine residents and guests. Known for its clear waters, visitors can swim, boat, fish, kayak, or paddle boat. Numerous rental options are available. 

Within the Sebago Lake state park, you can camp or have a picnic. Guests can also golf at Point Sebago Golf Course or Frye Island Golf Club. The adventure lover can also take a guided seaplane tour of the region.

Book your Sebago Lake kayaking tour NOW by clicking HERE!

7. Lewiston

Lewiston is an easy 1/2 day trip from Portland

Distance: 36 miles 

Lewiston is one of Maine’s largest cities and a short drive north. Historically, Lewiston served a major industrial role in the state, so guests can’t miss the old factories throughout downtown. Today, the old Bates Mill is being revitalized into a live, work, and play area.

The new Bates Mill Complex offers guests excellent restaurants and a fun time at Baxter Brewing. We spent an afternoon exploring the complex and enjoyed a delicious meal on the patio of Da Vinci’s Eatery. As a US history teacher, I love to see cities reinvest in themselves to help the local economy. 

Visit Lewiston, Maine

If you enjoy history, as I do, consider checking out the Lewiston Library, which is part of the Carnegie library system. These libraries were built in the Gilded Age with the assistance of Andrew Carnegie. You can also learn more about the region’s role in industry at the Maine Mill, a local history museum. 

Guests will also enjoy the neighboring town of Auburn. You can walk the Auburn Riverwalk or spend some time on the Androscoggin River.

8. Brunswick

downtown Brunswick

downtown Brunswick

Distance: 26 miles

Brunswick is another great stop for a little excursion out of town. My husband and I have driven through Brunswick numerous times but have just recently taken the time to explore, and I’m glad we carved time out for this charming community. 

We spent a beautiful summer afternoon walking the quaint downtown and driving through the tree-lined streets with beautiful historic homes. 

History lovers can learn about Civil War General Chamberlain, visit the Pejepscot History Center, or learn about Harriet Beecher Stowe’s role in helping to end slavery in the US. In addition, you can tour some of the historical homes on Federal Street. 

The Androscoggin River is the place to be for those who love the outdoors. You can fish, kayak, picnic, or visit Androscoggin Woods. 

9. Freeport

going to see the famous L.L. Bean is one of the fun day trips from Portland, Maine

Distance: 17 miles 

Just a short drive from Brunswick, is the home of L.L. Bean. Freeport is known for the iconic L.L. Bean boot and massive store. If you love to shop, then spend some time in this town. Other popular American stores have developed Freeport into a shopper’s delight. After shipping, stop by a New England favorite, Ben & Jerry’s, for a sweet treat. 

I suggest combining Brunswick and Freeport into a trip together! Make sure to take a picture with the boot!

10. Bath

Maine's stunning coast

Distance: 34 miles 

Bath is a beautiful community on the midcoast of Maine, a perfect drive for a day trip. We visited here several years ago and combined it with a trip to Georgetown’s best lobster joint (see below).

In Bath, guests can fish and boat on the Kennebec River, go to the beach, take a walking tour, or go biking. Our favorite activity in Bath is visiting the Maine Maritime Museum, which celebrates the state’s rich shipping industry. The exhibits were delightful, and we learned a lot about the shipbuilding industry in Maine and lobstering. 

Our kids enjoyed the exhibits as well, and there were activities specifically designed for the kids the day we visited. Make sure to check their calendar!

11. Georgetown

Five Islands Lobster

Distance: 44 miles 

After visiting Bath, I suggest driving to the coast to the little community of Georgetown, where you will find one of my all-time favorite lobster rolls at Five Islands Lobster. My aunt brought us here on our first trip to Camden, and my entire family adored it.

First, the lobster joint is very casual, with outdoor seating. At the time, my boys were 2 and 5 and intrigued by the art of lobstering. We watched boats come with the morning haul, and the staff showed the kids large lobsters to check out.

The delicious food and beautiful scenery make for the perfect Maine outing! I can’t recommend stopping here enough!

Tip: It is off the beaten path, so keep going! It’s worth the detour! I would stop here for lunch after a morning in Bath.

12. Camden

Camden, Maine

Camden, Maine

Distance: 81 miles 

Camden is one of the most charming communities on Maine’s Midcoast. We stayed here a few years ago for a summer vacation and loved the area. Downtown Camden has quaint shops and delicious food. Make sure to check out Camden Hills State Park while visiting this coastal town. 

You could combine a trip to Camden with the following towns- Bath, Rockland, or Wiscasset. I suggest spending ½ day in each to maximize your Maine vacation.

13. Cape Elizabeth

Cape Elizabeth is one of the easiest day trips from Portland, Maine

Distance: 8 miles 

Cape Elizabeth is the percent day trip in the Portland area. You can sneak out of town quickly and arrive in a cute area with one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the entire state. You should make time to see the Portland Head Light. 

The lighthouse is located in Fort Williams State Park, and there is ample parking. Food trucks sometimes serve guests, or you could pack a picnic. Our kids loved exploring this area, and the lighthouse is magnificent.

Other activities in the area include biking, walking the trails at Fort Williams, and visiting Crescent Beach State Park. 

14. Wiscasset

Red's Lobster

lobster roll from Red’s

Distance: 45 miles 

If driving the coast of Maine north of Portland, I’d make time for a stop in the small town of Wiscasset. The town is home to one of the most iconic lobster stands in the state, Red’s, a little stand on the side of the road.

Beware: the crowds are intense in the summer months, so plan accordingly. I made my husband stop on one of our last trips, and it was a delicious roll. I highly recommend stopping here.

15. Boothbay Harbor

Distance: 81 miles 

Boothbay Harbor is a great excursion from Portland as it highlights the natural beauty of Maine’s coast. While here, experience delicious fresh seafood. Also, check out the Boothbay Railway Museum and the Burnt Island Light, or go sailing or kayaking.

You aren’t too far from Pemaquid Point Lighthouse either.

16. Bangor

Distance: 129 miles 

Bangor is a bit further, but it is a great place to visit. First of all, Bangor has great restaurants to enjoy. Other highlights include the Maine Discovery Museum, Orono Bog Boardwalk, Bangor City Forest, and the Cole Land Transportation Museum. 

17. Bar Harbor

Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park

Distance: 154 miles 

Bar Harbor is a scenic town in the heart of Acadia National Park. Guests love to travel to Bar Harbor for fresh seafood, shopping, kayaking, whale-watching cruises, homemade ice cream and access to one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. Guests can also explore the charming communities tucked on Mount Desert Island.

The park offers miles of carriage roads to explore on foot, bike, or on an organized tour. You can also drive the scenic route along the coast and see Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast.

Acadia

photo credit: K. Wiggins

2 Important Tips from a seasoned Acadia visitor-

  • You need reservations to enter Cadillac. Book in advance, especially during the high summer and fall foliage seasons
  • Secondly- Acadia is breathtaking and worth its own trip. You will not be satisfied with a day there, especially since the drive from Portland is longer. I suggest a week-long trip to Maine and spend ½ of in Acadia and the other half in Portland. This plan gives you plenty of time to explore the park, Portland for 1-2 days and then some time for day trips out of Portland. 

If you decide to plan a trip, check out my recommendations for the best luxury hotels or the top pet-friendly hotels in Acadia.

Out of State Road Trips

18. Portsmouth

Portsmouth is one of the best day trips from Portland, Maine

Distance: 52 miles 

Portsmouth is located in neighboring New Hampshire and is a great road trip to the South. Ideally, you could build a week-long vacation in Boston/Portland with a stop in Portsmouth on your way out of Boston. 

While in Portsmouth, admire the historic downtown with small shops, art galleries, and delicious food. You can take a walking tour out of Market Square or visit the Strawbery Banke Museum, Prescott Park or the USS Albacore Museum.

Book your walking tour NOW by clicking HERE!

19. Lake Winnipesaukee

Distance: 65 miles 

Outdoor enthusiasts should consider visiting Lake Winnipesaukee. Visitors can rent a boat for the day, kayak, or take a custom tour around the lake. Driving the 81-mile loop around the lake is another scenic way to see the area’s natural beauty.

FAQ: Visiting Portland, Maine

How many days do you need in Portland, Maine?

I suggest at least 3-4 days. You’ll want at least two days to explore the city, giving you a few more days for your road trips. 

What’s the best time to visit Maine?

I am a huge fan of the summer months. I dislike extreme cold, and the spring is too unpredictable. Fall is also gorgeous. 

How far is Bar Harbor from Portland?

It takes about three hours, depending on the traffic.

In Conclusion: The most Amazing 19 Day trips from Portland, Maine

I hope my guide to the best day trips from Portland, Maine, helps you plan your next great adventure. Maine is one of my favorite travel spots and I love sharing my insight with you!

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