New York to Bar Harbor/Arcadia National Park Road Trip Itinerary –
You will find a whole lot of quaint Americana as you venture to New England on a drive to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor in Maine!
From the bright lights of New York City and central park to the vast natural beauty that is Acadia National Park.
How Long is the drive from New York to Acadia National Park?
If driving the fastest route (via I-95 S) you will cover 495 miles and this will take you approximately 8 hours without stops!
Of course the amazing number of places to stop enroute are the best part of any road trip!
Interactive Road Trip Map (New York to Acadia National Park):
Dive into our Interactive map below!
I have highlighted all the notable spots from the four different driving routes (Full details in the next section!)
User guide: Use the +/- buttons to zoom in and out of the attractions.
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Best driving route between New York & Acadia National Park?
There is a variety of driving routes you can take on this route trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.
From the fastest routes, to city stop routes, Atlantic coast routes and even Mountain detours!
1. Fastest Driving Route
For the fastest driving route to Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park head towards the White Plains north out of New York city along the Hutchinson River parkway.
Then take the Merritt Parkway through Connecticut.
During the fall you will see some stunning foliage as the seasons change & a you drive across the quaint bridges.
Merge with Interstate 91 at Meriden and hop on the Interstate 84 east which passes through the lush Nipmuch State Forest which heads into Massachusetts.
Afterwards take the drive towards Worcester and onto Interstate 495, here you will arc around Boston and AVOID ITS TRAFFIC! Before merging on Interstate 95 close to New Hampshire.
Drive through Maine and pass through Portland (a great place to stop) before driving down to Bar Harbor at Bangor on U.S. Route 1A.
This is not the most scenic driving route, but it will get you there the fastest! Read more to see more scenic routes.
2. Scenic Coastal/Beach Route
If you don’t mind adding a few extra hours onto to drive, then stick to the coast throughout the drive to Acadia National Park and you won’t be disappointed!
Hop on U.S Highway 1 past some scenic Connecticut destinations from Greenwich Point Park to the
17th-century Henry Whitfield State Museum in Guilford, (the oldest stone house in New England!).
Other notable destinations include, Mystic Connecticut, where you will pass through filming locations for the “Mystic Pizza” movie a 1988 classic.
Afterwards, hop on to Rhode Island Route 138 and drive over the Bridge to the island retreat of Jamestown and then into Newport.
Drive the scenic detour along U.S. Route 6 which will take you past Cape Cod Bay to the tip of Provincetown .
Loop around before merging back onto Highway 1 via Boston.
There you will find plenty of beaches to stop at from Hampton Beach in New Hampshire, Nubble Point in Maine or the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.
Hug the coastline as you drive through Brunswick, Camden and Belfast before driving to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.
3. City Stop off drive
A variation of route one will take you past a few tourist hot spots which you can break up over a couple of days.
Drive out of the Bronx on I-95 and through the scenic Greenwich to Connecticut’s coastal cities such as Stamford, Bridgeport and New Haven.
Take a stop off at Rhode Island and try a walking tour of the historic 17th century area.
Fun Fact: The Hollywood icon Mel Gibson was Born in Greenwich. It is also home to many opulent Mansions including a former residence of president trump
As you drive towards Boston, you can loop around it to avoid traffic or drive straight in and explore.
Highlights include; the USS Constitution Museum, the New England Aquarium and Paul Revere’s house. (Full Itinerary further below).
Afterwards drive towards Portsmouth and into Maine. Then onto Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.
How Long is this driving route?
This will take you around 9.5 hours without stops.
4. Scenic Mountain Loop
This road trip route to Acadia National Park is definitely one of the longest but offers the most breath taking mountain vistas!
Drive north on I-95 and take I-91 at New Haven toward Hartford, Conn. Drive through Springfield, Mass and through the rural outback of Vermont.
Here you will be parallel the Connecticut River as you head through Brattlebro.
Turn onto Interstate 93 & past the charming art town of St. Johnsbury, as you cross the border into New Hampshire.
Take U.S. Route 302 as you drive through the wilderness of White Mountain National Forest.
Tip: This is a great place to stop off for some hiking, fishing and even cross country skiing!
Drive past the Androscoggin River along U.S. Highway 2 into Maine. Keep heading east via Augusta and then take the coastal Highway 1 route at Rockport toward Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park.
New York to Acadia National Park Road Trip Itinerary:
- New York City
- New Haven
- Boston, MA
- Portsmouth, NH – Offers great restaurants, easy parking and not expensive!
- Portland – Visit the Portland Head Lighthouse
- Lobster Shack at the Two lights – Food Stop off!
- Cape Elizabeth – Visit Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse
- Bar Harbor
- Acadia National Park, Maine
Road Trip Highlights:
A. New York City!
I won’t go into detail about NYC as its so immense, for more info check out: Boston to New York City: New England Road Trip!
B. New Haven, CT:
New Haven, CT is definitely one of the most underrated cities in the USA and definitely in New England. The town has a great culture, history and even a thriving culinary scene!
Yale University Tour:
I’m not asking you to enroll! But it’s definitely worth taking a tour of this iconic institute.
The third oldest university in the U.S.A. It was established in 1701 and is a hub of great history, art and architecture.
Yale offers two free tours of the university grounds. Either a self guided walking tour where you can follow an audio guide, which can be downloaded here.
Or take an 80-minute, student-led tour, which is offered twice daily on weekdays and once each afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays.
Rope Adventure Park
Adventurers should try out the LARGEST rope adventure park in the world! This is a great place for families and adrenaline junkies it includes a pleathora of zip lines, rope birdges, and climbing walls.
East Rock Park
Check out the epic views of New Haven from East Rock Park. You can drive right up to the summit and take in the breath taking scenery. This is especially beautiful during the fall.
Museums of New Haven
Yale University operates three major Museums:
Peabody Museum of Natural History Which includes, the Great Hall of Dinosaurs, Egyptian antiquities and a hands-on Discovery Room. This place is great for families.
Thursday afternoons when admission is by pay-as-you-wish donation
For Art buffs, check out Yale University Art Gallery, this museum has a series of collections from small works of art to over 200,000 objects! Just opposite check out the largest collection of British art work outside the U.K and the Yale Center for British Art.
Where to eat? Pizza wars!
In 1925, an Italian immigrant named Frank Pepe created New Haven’s signature style of pizza, with the thin-crust, coal oven–baked tomato pie topped sprinkled with grated cheese. Since then his pizzeria is still going strong Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Havens, Wooster Square Italian neighborhood.
You should also try their rival Sally’s Apizza, founded in 1938, this pizzeria was owned by the same family for nearly 80 years!
C. Boston, MA:
Boston is the vibrant capital of Massachusetts and although small it packs a big punch! If your here for just one day I suggest starting early and making the most of it!
1. Tour of the City!
Starting early, the best way to way to explore the city is by taking a door! The most popular has to be the “Freedom Trail” walking tour.
The Freedom Trail connects 15 sites of great significance in the Colonial history of the United States. The route marked with a series of painted bricks on a series of sidewalks between Boston Common to Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown.
There are a variety of interesting stops along the way from churches and notable landmarks to signage explained interesting information and even naval warships and graveyards!
How to book a Freedom Trail Tour?
The National Park service has a visitors center located on the first floor of Faneuil Hall. From here you can sign up for tours, and also get your hands on some free maps of the freedom trail.
Cost of the Freedom Trail:
In general most of the sites along the Freedom trail are free, with some having a place for donations.
Due to the Freedom Trail been ran by the City of Boston’s Freedom Trail Commission which is supported in part by grants from various nonprofits and foundations including the Boston National Historical Park.
2. Copley Square
Copley Square is a cultural hub, here you can find a mixture of breath taking architecture, nature and landmarks. Take a walk past the Infamous Boston Marathon Finish line and check out Boston public library a place with astonishing decor inside.
Round the square you will also find a variety of shops & eateries.
3. Newbury Street
Getting hungry? Head down the famous Newbury Street, where you will discover a pleathora of trendy restaurants, cafes and shops. For a sweet treat, check out
Georgetown Cupcakes or for a “pick me up” coffee try out Trident Café. Afterwards take a stroll around Newbury Streets many quirky boutique shops. This is the perfect place to find a souvenir or gift for loved ones.
4. Quincy Market Food Hall
Head to one of Bostons most famous food halls such as Quincy Market, which houses nearly 40 gourmet food vendors. Just 10 mins walk from there is Faneuil Hall, in Bostons little Italy district.
This was included in our: Ultimate Foodie Road Trip: East Coast Maps!
For our Full Boston 1 Day Itinerary, check out: Boston to New York City: New England Road Trip!
D. Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is an historic harbor city known for its waterfront scenery, great food, atmosphere and even tax free shopping!
Here are my three favourite things about Portsmouth:
Portsmouth is perched in a ideal location overlooking the mouth of the stunning Piscataqua River, which divides New Hampshire & Maine.
Take a stroll along the Portsmouth Harbor Trail, which covers over 70 historic sites and gives you a real insight into the local culture.
You can also take guided tours of this trail or even hop on board one of the daily Portsmouth Harbor Cruises, which offer narrated tours about the local wildlife, folklore, and history of the waterways.
Tax FREE Shopping!
Head to Downtown Portsmouth where you will find a plethora of charming boutiques & local shops. Take a stroll down Congress Street and the little side street where you will find everything from art & clothing to antiques and jewellery.
Market Square in central downtown offers many local walking tours. Explore the 17th century buildings and check out Tugboat Alley which offers many traditional nautical gifts and collectables.
The Book and Bar is the Old Custom House, which now offers a relaxed, no-tech atmosphere with a wide selection of used books and a cafe. Oh and did i mention…No sales tax!
Incredible Local foods!
From Casual treats to fine dining Portsmouth has alot to offer. For the laid back foodie head to Lexie’s Joint which offers a make-your-own burger option!
If you just want something quick for the road check out, Friendly Toast. It is located on Congress Street & is a family-friendly restaurant which serves breakfast all day and a selection of mouth watering dishes and sandwiches to go.
For something a even more eastern, head to Shio a classic Japanese restaurant with great sushi.
E. Portland, ME
While in Portland you have to visit, Portland Head Lighthouse . It is the oldest lighthouse in Maine & was constructed in 1791. It stands at a height of 24m (78feet).
Insider Tip: You can find the light house station at the entrance of the primary shipping channel which flows into Portland Harbor.
Two people died in a 1787 shipwreck which led to the introduction of the lighthouse which cost just $700 to build at the time.
Things to do:
Apart from seeing the fantastic Portland head lighthouse, there are some fantastic landmarks to see nearby:
– Museum & Gift Shop
The museum is located in the former keepers’ house which was constructed in 1891. At the museum you can find the history of Portland Head light explored through artifacts, models and exhibits.
– Goddard Mansion
Goddard Mansion was build before the fort by the world renowned New York Architect Charles A. Alexander for a businessman John Goddard.
– Battery Keyes
Battery Keyes was one of the last two batteries built at the fort in 1906. It was designed to defend against small, fast attack boats in a point and shoot method.
– Beach Area
Located on the north side of the entrance road is a small rocky beach, Ship Cove, with a stunning view of Ram Island Ledge Light located in Casco Bay.
– Children’s Garden:
The Children’s Garden at Fort Williams Park is a landscape 1.5 acre garden designed to let children explore their relationship with nature.
Head down for sunset and you will get to see one of the most popular lighthouses to see in Maine, in all its glory! This is a great photo opportunity.
Fun Fact: Many say this is the most photographed lighthouse in america!
F. Cape Elizabeth, ME
After spending some time in Portland take the drive up to Cape Elizabeth Light (or two lights).
This lighthouse was built in 1828 and is located on Cape Elizabeth, at the southwestern entrance to Casco Bay in Maine. The eastern tower is active while the western tower is deactivated.
Here you will find great coastline and a beautiful lighthouse. However, you can’t access the lighthouse.
Grab some mouth watering lobster from The Lobster Shack just next door, here you will find tables overlooking the sea and some great seafood!
G. Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor offers breath taking coastal beauty in abundance! From lobster boats to Yachts, island views to ocean shimmers there are plenty of views to enjoy.
Take the shore path which winds all the way from town pier past the bay to the Atlantic Ocean and onto the Porcupine Islands. As the gateway to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is a popular weekend retreat.
Other Highlights at Bar Harbor:
- Sailing on the Margaret Todd
- Taking a ride on a authentic Lobster Boat.
- Have a Coffee at Choco Latte
- Devour some Blueberry Pancakes at Cafe this way
- Book a Foodie Tour of the best spots!
H. Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor offers the perfect gateway to Acadia National Park a 47,000-acre coastal national park on Maines Desert island. From vast woodland to jagged beaches and glacier peaks such as Cadillac Mountain, the HIGHEST POINT on USA’s east coast.
Cadillac Mountain also offers trails and picturesque views of Bar Harbor town. At Acadia National Park you will find an spectrum of wildlife from moose to bears, birds and whales! Head to Sand Beach which offers a great place to relax.
Be sure to visit Jordan Pond, a scenic mountain lake with a great restaurant!
Where to stay in Bar Harbor?
For a full list of our recommended places to stay in Bar Harbor, follow the link HERE.
Essential Road Trip Tips:
- Make sure you have all your Travel Essentials
- Make sure you have all your Travel Accessories
- Bring a Great Travel Camera to capture some scenic shots.
- Bring some High Quality Hiking boots: See Recommended Hiking Gear
- Avoid gigantic $15,000 Medical Bills see: Why you NEED Travel Insurance in 2020?
- Make sure your Car is serviced, with a spare tire or alternatively rent a fully reliable car.
How do you get the best car rental Deals?
Check out: Ultimate Car Rental Travel Hacks!
For RV Rentals we always use: RV Share
Ultimate Maine Lighthouse Road Trip
Boston to New York City: New England Road Trip!