Few regions of the United States are more breathtakingly beautiful year-round than New England, and a road trip from Boston to Portland, Maine is the perfect way to discover the best that the area has to offer. As you wind your way up the picturesque coastline between the two cities, you have a wealth of options for stops and detours, from national and state parks such as Acadia National Park, Halibut Point State Park, and Bear Brook State Park, to attractions such as Strawbery Banke Historic District and Plum Island Lighthouse. Not only that, but New England is known for its quaint small towns, so this will be the perfect opportunity to make a pitstop in a historical village.
Acadia National Park
The closest national park to your Boston to Portland RV road trip route is Acadia National Park, near Bar Harbor on the Maine coastline. It'd be a couple more hours' drive to the north, but if you can swing it, the incredible views and hiking trails the park has to offer will be worth it. Acadia National Park is located primarily on an island called Mount Desert Island. Don't be fooled by the name, however. The park is covered in lush woods, as well as gorgeous rocky beaches and seven granite peaks, including the mammoth Cadillac Mountain. You can expect to spy indigenous wildlife such as bears, moose, whales, and seabirds during your time in the park. You can also take advantage of the 158 miles of hiking trails found within the park. There are also 16 stone bridges and 45 miles of carriage roads to discover.
Halibut Point State Park
This parcel of oceanside land outside of Rockport, Massachusetts, on Cape Ann is a short way from the main route from Boston to Portland. Halibut Point State Park offers beautiful vistas of rocky ledges speckled with trees jutting out into the deep blue abyss of the ocean. With clear skies and a bit of luck, visitors can see across 81 miles to Mount Agamenticus in Maine. A bit closer at hand are the Isles of Shoals, located off the coast of New Hampshire. Popular activities include exploring the tide pools, picnicking on the rock outcroppings, and discovering the region's history with granite quarrying.
Bradley Palmer State Park
Named after a 20th-century attorney who once owned an estate on the land that the park now occupies, Bradley Palmer State Park encompasses over 700 acres of woodland and meadows where the public is invited to pick blueberries. The Palmer's restored mansion, called Willowdale Estate, is a lovely stone building tucked amongst the trees that now serves as an event venue. There is also an old textile mill called Willowdale Mill. The Ipswitch River and the towns of Hamilton and Topsfield are also included in the park's territory. Before willing his lands to the people of Massachusetts, Bradley Palmer built an expansive steeplechase, and visitors can still enjoy equestrian runs in the park.
Bear Brook State Park
Bear Brook State Park is the largest state park in New Hampshire. This means that there are over 40 miles of trails to explore, and many lead to secluded peaks and bodies of water, including bogs, ponds, and marshes. In addition to classic activities like hiking, swimming, mountain biking, and horseback riding, you can try your hand at archery during your visit to the park; there are two separate archery ranges in Bear Brook State Park, one with 15 targets and the other with four. If you have any interest in learning about the history of the area, be sure to check out the Bear Brook State Park museum complex, which houses numerous museums such as the New Hampshire Snowmobile Museum and the Richard Diehl Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.
Pawtuckaway State Park
This amusingly named New Hampshire state park features a lake, which stretches the length of the park. The crystal-clear water of Pawtuckaway Lake provides ample opportunities for boating and swimming. There's a large family beach, and you can rent everything from tandem kayaks to canoes and paddleboards on site. Pawtuckaway State Park offers more than just water-related activities, however. You can also check out a fire tower atop a mountain, a marsh full of wildlife including beavers, deer, and great blue herons, and fields where there are incongruous boulders left there during the Ice Age.
Strawbery Banke Historic District
This outdoor history museum is housed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The South End neighborhood was the first constructed by European settlers in what is now the state of New Hampshire. Many original buildings in classic architectural styles remain. There is a large open space in the middle, which was, until the 1900s, a waterway called Puddle Dock. You can look inside seventeen of the 37 historic houses. Staff interpreters will share information about the history and lifestyles associated with each dwelling, and in some, you can see reenactors wearing period costumes and portraying historical figures. What's more, you can check out five formal exhibits on architecture, archaeology, construction, woodworking, amusements, and entertainment and even watch demonstrations on hearth cooking, basket weaving, and coopering.
St. Ann’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church
There's more to Kennebunkport than its humorous name. One of this picture-perfect beach town's most unique features is St. Ann's By-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Located a beautiful beachside walk away from the quaint seaside town, the church is one of 18 historic summer chapels in Maine. It was built in the late 1800s by the then Bishop of Maine, Right Reverend Henry Adams Neely. St. Ann's is just down the road from the Bush family's Walker's Point compound, and the family attends St. Ann's when they are in town.
Plum Island Beach and Plum Island Lighthouse
Plum Island is a great beach that will meet all your needs for fresh ocean air. The locals are known for being friendly, and there's an iconic seafood restaurant called Bob's Lobster. Plum Island Lighthouse has the distinction of being the 13th lighthouse built in the United States. It was constructed at the behest of businesspeople in the area in the 1780s and originally used whale oil to keep the fire going. Incredibly, President George Washington himself appointed the first lighthouse keeper, a man by the name of Abner Lowell, whose descendants followed in his footsteps for three generations!
Perhaps best known for the Salem Witch Trials, Salem is now a thriving community just outside Boston. Besides checking out the Salem Witch Museum and the Witch House, you can visit the Peabody Essex Museum, which has an extensive collection of art hailing from around the world. In terms of campgrounds, both Forest River Park and River Island Park are great options. Winter Island Park has both an RV campsite and dump station facilities.
Little known Saco is nestled in York County, Maine. Its people are "friendly by nature," so you'll be welcomed with open arms. There's a pier, a wildlife refuge, and a waterpark. There are also several campgrounds near Saco such as Old Orchard Beach campground, whose dump site is free for guests.
Located at the halfway point between the two cities, Portsmouth makes for a natural stopping point on your road trip itinerary from Boston to Portland, Maine. This lovely New England town is notable for its historic architecture, riverside gardens, boat docks, and the USS Albacore, a former research submarine. Nearby Hampton, New Hampshire, has several dump sites, including at the Hampton Highway Department and Hampton Beach State Park. Campgrounds in the area include Sea Coast Camping and RV Resort.
We're happy that you've decided to take a road trip from Boston to Portland. If you’re looking for a great way to avoid the hassle that comes with squeezing the family into a regular vehicle and don't have your own RV, consider renting one from RVshare in Boston or Portland. We guarantee that you'll reach your destination in style and comfort.