Interested in doing a Boston to Portland Maine road trip? You’re in for a real treat. The total trip is only 110 miles and it can be completed in just under two hours, making it the perfect weekend getaway or day trip. Along the way, you’ll pass through picturesque towns, beautiful beaches, and stunning natural landscapes.
One of the best things about this road trip is the flexibility it offers. You can take different routes depending on your interests and time constraints. For example, if you’re short on time, you can take the quickest route via the highway. However, if you’re in the mood for a more scenic drive, you can take the coastal route, which offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
New England has always been at the top of my list of places I love visiting. Boston is a city rich in history and culture, with plenty of museums, landmarks, and restaurants to explore. Portland, on the other hand, is known for its picturesque harbor and copious amounts of lobster.
In order to find out what lies between these two cities, you need to go on a road trip and stop wherever the road takes you. It’s an exciting adventure that can be as busy or as relaxed as you want it to be.
Our team recently did a road trip in New England and we researched all the top spots to stop along the way, so we could lay it all out for you here. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as we did.
Planning Your Boston to Portland Maine Road Trip
There are several routes you can take, including the Interstate 95, Route 95, and US-1. Each route has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider factors such as driving time, scenic views, and road conditions when choosing your route.
Interstate 95 is the most direct route from Boston to Portland, and it’s a popular choice for travelers. The route passes through several towns and cities, including Portsmouth, NH, and Kennebunk, ME, and it offers scenic views of the New England countryside.
US-1 is another alternative route to Interstate 95, and it’s a good option if you want to explore some of the coastal towns along the way. The route passes through several towns, including Ipswich, MA, and Wells, ME, and it offers scenic views of the rocky Maine coastline.
Boston to Portland Itinerary
There are many things to see and do in Boston, but one of our favorites is exploring the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path that takes you to 16 historical sites in Boston, including the Massachusetts State House, Paul Revere’s House, and the Old North Church.
In a city defined by a rich history and vibrant sports culture, classic sports bars meet a thriving theatre scene around every corner. While there’s no way to see the best of Boston in one day, you can include these highlights on your first day:
- Walk the Freedom Trail past some of the most important sites that shaped the American Revolution
- Explore the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museums
- Head to the Italian cuisine-filled North End of Boston for either lunch or dinner
- Grab a few snapshots of America’s most photographed street, Acorn Street
- Visit the Boston Library and marvel at its exquisite architecture
Where to Stay in Boston
There are so many great hotels in Boston that you’ll be spoilt for choice, but this is the place we like to stay: The Newbury Boston. It’s a 5-star affordable luxury hotel in Back Bay that has an on-site restaurant and electric car charging stations.
Another of our favorites is The Godfrey Hotel, a 4-star hotel in Downtown Boston. It’s close to Boston Common and Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
Where to Eat in Boston
Other standouts you must try in Boston include Union Oyster House, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the entire country, and Nautilus Pier 4 in the Seaport District for its great view.
Boston has a Timeout Market food hall, which is one of our favorite ways to try a lot of different things under one roof. Another market to hit up is Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
The route from Boston to Portland, Maine is not long, but there are a lot of great places to stop along the way, so it makes a great East Coast road trip. The distance between Boston and Portland is about 110 miles, and it takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive.
I recommend taking the more scenic coastal route. You will be treated to stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and charming coastal towns along the way.
This is the first stretch of road to tackle. Heading north on I-93/I-95. It’ll take about 35 minutes to reach Salem.
Infamously known for being the site of the Salem witch trials of 1962, the town is a global epicenter for everything occult. Here are some spots you shouldn’t skip:
- The Salem Witch Museum
- Salem Witch Trials Memorial
- The House of the Seven Gables
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a charming and historic city located on the coast of New England. With its picturesque downtown, beautiful waterfront, and rich cultural heritage, it’s quite a popular destination.
The Memorial Bridge spans the Piscataqua River between New Hampshire and Maine. It is a World War I memorial dedicated to the sailors and soldiers of New Hampshire.
One of the highlights of a visit to Portsmouth is the city’s historic district. You can stroll along the brick sidewalks and admire the well-preserved colonial architecture. The district is home to several museums, including the Strawbery Banke Museum, which offers a glimpse into life in Portsmouth in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Another must-see attraction in Portsmouth is the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse. This iconic lighthouse has been guiding ships into the harbor since 1771 and is open for tours during the summer months.
The city is also home to several parks, including Prescott Park, which features beautiful gardens, a waterfront walkway, and outdoor performances during the summer months.
If you want to stay overnight here, reserve a room at The Hotel Portsmouth. This boutique hotel is located in the heart of downtown Portsmouth and offers comfortable rooms and excellent amenities.
Between Portsmouth and Ogunquit you will find the Nubble Lighthouse. It was constructed in 1879 and sits on a large rock island offshore. While the island is not accessible to the public there are excellent views from shore and Sohier Park.
Next, head back up to I-95 or Route 1 to Ogunquit. We loved this little town, however bad the traffic was to get through it. You can park in a side-street lot and walk to the center of town (it’s very small).
Stop in a few shops, like Revelations Gift Shop, Cricket’s Corner, and Sea Bags. Grab a coffee at OGT Beanery or an ice cream at Sweet Pea’s Ice Cream. Then take a walk down Wharf Lane to where you can see the popular Main Beach across the water. If you have time, you should definitely plan to spend a little time on the beach. There’s a great shallow bar and inlet that you can swim in.
Another popular attraction in Ogunquit is the Marginal Way. This scenic walkway stretches for about a mile along the rocky coastline and offers breathtaking views of the ocean. The Marginal Way is a great place to take a leisurely stroll or go for a morning jog.
Of course, no visit to Ogunquit would be complete without sampling some of the town’s famous seafood. There’s the Ogunquit Lobster Pound on Main Street and Perkins Cove Lobster Shack that’s been open since 1980. We also really enjoyed The Front Porch and it’s in a great location for popping in your way along this route.
We really enjoyed Kennebunkport. It’s one of the most quintessential New England towns with its historic architecture, scenic coastline, and vibrant arts scene.
The town is well-known for its maritime heritage, which you can explore through boat tours and the bustling Dock Square. Beyond the obvious, the town surprises you with hidden coves and tranquil beaches, making it more than just another tourist spot on the map.
However, there are a lot of tourist shops to pop into like the Lobstore, Beach Grass, and Copper Candle, and Good Earth. All very cute. If you’re getting hungry, grab a lobster roll at the Clam Shack (which is closed during the off season).
Another popular attraction in Kennebunkport is the historic district, home to several museums, including the Seashore Trolley Museum, which offers a glimpse into the history of public transportation in Maine.
Stop in to Batson River Brewing & Distilling and enjoy the view from their outdoor patios. They have a wide range of cocktails made from their small-batched spirits or enjoy a craft beer brewed on site.
Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach, Maine is a popular coastal destination that offers a mix of natural beauty and seaside charm.
One of the main attractions in Old Orchard Beach is its beautiful beach. The beach is over seven miles long and offers plenty of space for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. Visitors can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas, as well as bicycles, to explore the beach and surrounding area.
Another popular attraction in Old Orchard Beach is the classic boardwalk. The boardwalk is lined with shops, restaurants, and amusement park rides, making it a great place to spend an afternoon or evening. Speaking of amusement park rides, Old Orchard Beach has the last surviving beachfront amusement park in New England. Try your luck at the arcade games, ride the Ferris wheel, or enjoy a classic Maine lobster roll.
For outdoor activities, take take a scenic walk or bike ride along the Eastern Trail, which runs through the town and offers beautiful views of the ocean and surrounding countryside. The town is also home to several parks, including the Ferry Beach State Park, which offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and beach access.
If you’re looking for even more scenic views, head to Camden, ME, where you can hike to the top of Bald Mountain for panoramic views of Penobscot Bay and the surrounding area.
Congratulations, you’ve made it to Portland, Maine! This charming coastal city is known for its historic Old Port district, delicious seafood, and stunning views of Casco Bay. There’s plenty to see and do in Portland, so let’s dive in.
One of the most popular attractions in Portland is the Portland Head Light, a historic lighthouse that offers breathtaking views of the ocean. You can take a tour of the lighthouse and learn about its history, or simply enjoy the view from the surrounding park. In the distance, you can catch of glimpse of Ram Island Ledge Light Station.
East Port is known for it’s great food and drinks, and is the perfect place to stop for refreshments. There are several distilleries and breweries to choose from. We took a walk from one to the other on a nice evening and enjoyed quite a few of them.
Hardshore Distilling Company was a our favorite find. We all love gin and enjoyed a tasting. We happily grabbed a cocktail and some duck fat frites from the Friteshack next door and sat out on the patio. The perfect way to spend a summer evening in Maine.
If you’re looking to explore the city, head to the Old Port district. This historic neighborhood is filled with charming cobblestone streets, boutique shops, and delicious restaurants. You can spend hours wandering through the streets, taking in the sights and sounds of this vibrant area.
We took a guided walking food tour of Old Port to get a feel for it’s food and history. It was fantastic.
Another thing we really enjoyed was this Harbor Lights & Sights Cruise. It was a 2-hour cruise to see civil war era forts and 4 lighthouses.
Where to Stay in Portland
One popular choice is the Portland Harbor Hotel, a luxurious hotel located in the heart of the Old Port district. The hotel offers elegant rooms and suites, as well as a restaurant and bar.
During our recent visit, we opted for the Hyatt Place Portland-Old Port as our accommodation. The rooms are quite comfortable, featuring various layouts that include pull-out sofa beds to suit various needs. Plus, their valet service ensures convenient parking.
Restaurants in Portland
If you’re a foodie, then you’re in for a treat on this road trip. Boston and Portland are known for their vibrant food scenes, and you’ll find plenty of options to satisfy your taste buds. Some of the best restaurants to try on your road trip include:
- Luke’s Lobster: This place was so busy when we arrived that we almost didn’t stay, but we were able to find seats in the bar upstairs without waiting for a table. It’s a pretty casual spot with great lobster rolls and blueberry salads.
- Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland: This restaurant is famous for its lobster rolls and oysters. It’s a must-visit spot for seafood lovers.
- Duck Fat in Portland: This is a small spot in Portland that offers delicious rustic cuisine. They have a restaurant, but they also have a pop up that specifically sells their duck fat fries called Duck Fat Frites. Both spots are worth a visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the distance between Boston and Portland, Maine?
The distance between Boston and Portland, Maine is approximately 110 miles.
How long does it take to drive from Boston to Portland, Maine?
It takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive from Boston to Portland, Maine. However, the driving time may vary depending on traffic and the route you take.
What are some scenic routes to take on a road trip from Boston to Portland, Maine?
There are several scenic routes you can take on a road trip from Boston to Portland, Maine. One route is to take I-95 and then take exit 19 for Route 109 towards Wells. This route takes you through charming coastal towns like Kennebunkport and Ogunquit. Another scenic route is to take Route 1A which runs parallel to the coast and offers stunning ocean views.
Is it better to drive or take the train from Boston to Portland, Maine?
It depends on your preference. If you enjoy driving and want to explore the coastal towns along the way, then driving is a great option. However, if you prefer a more relaxing and scenic journey, then taking the train is a good choice. The Amtrak Downeaster train runs between Boston and Portland and offers beautiful views of the New England countryside.
How many days should I plan for a road trip from Boston to Portland, Maine?
You can plan a road trip from Boston to Portland, Maine for a day trip or for a longer vacation. If you want to explore the coastal towns and enjoy the scenic views, then you should plan for at least 2-3 days. However, if you are short on time, you can do a day trip and still see some of the highlights of the route.
Be Prepared For Travel
Planning is the most important part of any successful trip. Do it the easy way:
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited over 75 countries. Her work has been published in numerous guidebooks, websites, and magazines.