Coastal Maine: Route 1 Family Road Trip
Updated: Jun 28, 2019
Kittery to Portland- Part One
Maine is by far one of my favorite destinations to visit in the summertime. This northernmost state in New England has temperate weather, fresh seafood, harbor views, and the most picturesque rocky cliffs. I've been visiting Maine since I was a young girl and it truly is Vacationland. Of course you could take a direct flight into Bangor to reach the ever popular Bar Harbor, ME but I suggest, flying into Boston, MA and experiencing what Mainers say "The Way Life Should Be", day by day, coastal city by coastal city. I've got the Route 1 Coastal Maine itinerary perfect for your summer family road trip! The road trip is broken into two parts, this blog post is part one, all the stops along Route 1 in southern Maine. Subscribe and be on the look out for part two next!
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1. Kittery, Maine
Welcome to Maine! Kittery is the entry point to Maine from I-95. Take exit 1 and hop onto Route 1, Maine's state coastal road. Stop for breakfast and fuel up on coffee and pastries at Beach Pea Baking or Lil's Cafe, each equally delicious. You guys remember, I'm in love with local coffee shops, so I couldn't choose just one! I'd suggest the famous cruller at Lil's paired with a vanilla latte. Head outdoors to walk off the carbs at Fort McClary State Historic Site. Let your kids run free and explore the ruins. Tag along behind them and learn a bit about the inner workings of a colonial-era fortress. If you'd rather walk off breakfast window shopping, you're in luck! The Kittery Premium Outlets are home to designer, clothing and home stores galore, perfect for stocking up on the latest trends and deals .
After all that shopping, there are two restaurants located right off Route 1 I'd recommend for that "welcome to Maine" meal. There's Bob's Clam Hut , a casual easy-to-order no-fuss long-standing seafood joint. You can't go wrong here. Lobster rolls, fried shrimp, fish sandwiches, whole belly fried clams. They've got it all. And, yes during the summer there will be a line! The other option is a modern twist on the seafood specialties at Robert's Maine Grill. To dine here, you may want to go back to the hotel and freshen up.
If you've stayed the night in Kittery, head to Badger's Island for a gorgeous sunset on the Piscataqua River overlooking Portsmouth, NH. Just find a place to park off Badger's Island West, walk to the water and enjoy the view.
2. York, Maine
We lived here in this little charming Maine town and there is just so much to do. Whether you stop for a few hours or a few days, this little place won't disappoint. I may be biased but Long Sands Beach is one of the best beaches in Maine. It has hard sand perfect for long walks or bike rides and it has a picturesque view of the Nubble Lighthouse. The sunrises and sunsets are just so so perfect! Of course, you can't visit York without a stop at one of the most popular lighthouses in the country, Nubble! Don't forget the camera, this is the quintessential Maine backdrop! Did you know: Maine has over 60 lighthouses! While, you're at the Nubble Light, you've got to get seafood from Fox's Lobster House take-out menu. I hope you're not allergic to seafood, because I have to recommend the freshest juiciest biggest scallops! SO GOOD!
Now, I'm going to give two recommendations for your fam. one for the parents and one for the kids. For the parents, I suggest a stop at Stonewall Kitchen Company Store. It has specialty Maine foodie gifts, home goods, and kitchenware. It's not a great place for toddlers but luckily they have a cafe where daddy and baby can hang out and wait for you! For the kiddos, I'd suggest a stop at Hartley Mason Reserve. It is a grassy hill that overlooks the harbor. My son loved rolling down the hill again and again and again. The view is so spectacular it's really a parent/kid win win!
If you're here for lunch or dinner, there are so many recommendations! But, I'll share our personal favorite (it's NOT seafood!) Stop by the local pizza joint York54 Pizza. Seriously, just go! They have seasonal pizzas made with fresh ingredients paired with local craft brews! Our favorite place! One of our favorite summer pizzas was the Summer Garden, pesto corn tomatoes and ricotta. YUM! Want to know more about York, Maine. I've got a lot more to share. SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG so you don't miss a post!
Pictured, left to right: (1) Buoys are a big part of Maine culture, they are on display at The Lobster Pound restaurant in Cape Neddick, Maine (2) Long Sands Beach is a popular surfer's beach but also great for walking, biking, and sunbathing (3) The view from Hartley Mason Reserve is stellar
3. Ogunquit, Maine
Ogunquit Maine is by far the most idyllic town I've ever seen. Less popular than York to the south and Portland to the north, it doesn't get overrun with tourists. But, it's still very popular in the summer. And, rightly so...it's so gorgeous! A family walk along the mile long Marginal Way is a must do! It's partly paved and partly dirt path but easy to maneuver with a jogging stroller. The picturesque views are not to be missed! If you start at the Perkins Cove entrance to The Marginal Way, make sure to meander and stop in the local artisan stores for a vacation keepsake. There's also a tourist shop or two to get that cheesy Maine zip up jacket! Our favorite restaurant in Perkins Cove is Barnacle Billy's a family-friendly seafood place with patio dining.
Pack your beach gear or pull the wagon and end the walk along The Marginal Way at the family-friendly Ogunquit Beach. It has numerous rocky outcrops perfect for kids to climb to their heart's content. This little town is worth a stop on your Maine summer adventure!
Pictured, from left to right: (1) The view of Perkins Cove in Ogunquit Maine (2) A lighthouse along The Marginal Way walk (3) A pebbled entrance to The Marginal Way
4. Portland, Maine
I love this city....the "other" Portland! And yet, it's got major Portland, Oregon vibes! Hipsters, a strong local foodie scene, art-centered community, coffee shops galore and many nature-inspired day excursions. We love this place. It's like Boston but cut in half (or maybe less than half). It's a little city but that's part of the charm. Super walkable, it's easy to stop here for a 1/2 day excursion or a few days of fun.
We'd suggest a morning stop at The Holy Donut. These donuts are Maine famous and have a secret ingredient: mashed potatoes! Yes, you read that right. These donuts are moist and full of so much flavor. Our absolute favorite is the chocolate sea salt...mouth is watering right now! After eating one, two, or three Maine potato donuts, you'll need to get to walking. Walk along Commercial Street in Old Port and revel in the working harbor, bringing in fresh seafood for your enjoyment. Along the harbor you can try to find the Portland Maine love locks and a piece of the Berlin Wall. You can make it a fun scavenger hunt for you and the fam. Your little one can also work on their counting skills, counting how many lobster traps they see. Another beautiful walk is the Eastern Promenade along the water in the East End neighborhood. Or, get a real city vibe with a walk down Congress Street. Pop into art galleries and historical sites, take a pit stop in Monument Square, and end your walk at The Portland Museum of Art. Insider Tip: It's FREE every Friday night!
If you have time, also make a road trip stop at the Portland Head Light located just outside of the city. There's a playground, lots of green space to run around, and miles of rocky coast to enjoy! Pack the camera! And, head back in town to our favorite favorite favorite Flatbread Pizza Company.
Pictured, from left to right: (1) A harbor port view of Portland, Maine from Commercial Street (2) Old Port neighborhood in Portland, Maine has lots of brick and cobblestone streets (3) Portland Head Light has Maine's famous rocky coast
The Long Drive (With Kids): Kittery to Portland Maine
57 miles, 1 hr 20 minutes
Have any questions about this route? Comment below and I'll get back to you... Want more road trip itineraries? Subscribe to get my monthly newsletter with new travel guides, road trip itineraries, and journal entries from the road.