Our Lighthouses and Lobsters Self Drive explores the coastal towns and maritime communities of New England. On this trip you’ll take in the unique white clapboard lighthouses that dot the coast, visit pretty harbours filled with fishing boats and eat local seafood fresh from the ocean.
The 10 day self drive enables you to experience the unique charm of this region, one of the oldest parts of the United States. Boston, state capital of Massachusetts, will serve as your gateway to New England. This hardy, working class city has a proud Irish heritage and boasts some spectacular colonial architecture. As you head further north, you’ll see more of the distinctive timber and slate roofed houses that give the area its unique old world feel.
Along the way you’ll explore quaint towns, many of which boast vibrant creative communities. You can't talk about New England without lobsters and other delicate freshly caught seafood, eaten while overlooking the harbour - a quintessentially east coast experience. There are some beautiful landscapes here too, like the extraordinary Acadia National Park where you can clamber up Cadillac Mountain for breathtaking views across the Gulf of Maine. At Cape Cod you can spend a day on the wild and beautiful beaches. Where once whaling vessels plied their bloody trade, now whale watching cruises safeguard these majestic creatures.
- Visit the charming coastal towns and lighthouses of New England
- Eat lobster rolls and clam chowder on the harbour, watching the fishing boats come in
- Revel in the transcendent natural beauty of Acadia National Park
- Relax on the dune fringed beaches overlooking Cape Cod Bay
Start your Journey
Arrive in Boston
Arrive into Boston Logan International Airport, collect your hire car and make your way to the hotel. Once you’ve unpacked, head down to the historic Boston Seaport, which was once the city’s centre of industry and is now a hip neighbourhood of art galleries, restaurants and bars. From here you can charter a boat to explore the harbour and the iconic Boston Lighthouse. In the evening take a stroll along the shore.
Boston – Gloucester – York/ Kennebunkport
Today you’ll take a drive from Boston to Gloucester, a small city at the head of Cape Ann. This is one of the oldest communities in the US, and was founded in 1642 – just 20 years after the pilgrims landed in nearby Plymouth.
A colony of artists has been established here for generations. Wander along the Rocky Neck Art Trail to see the homes and studios of figures like Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer. In the afternoon you’ll drive on to York, stopping to see the lighthouses at Cape Neddick and Boon Island before continuing on to the quaint town of Kennebunkport, Maine, where you’ll spend the night.
York/ Kennebunkport – Portland – Rockland
Spend the morning exploring the little shops and picturesque harbour of Kennebunkport, where many US presidents spent their summers, before driving on to Portland.
Old Orchard Beach is well worth a detour for its vintage amusement park, vernacular architecture and fine sandy beaches. Pick up a box of locally made saltwater taffy to take home with you.
Next, you’ll head to Portland - the largest city in Maine and still home to the colonial architecture and cobblestone streets of a bygone era. Stop in at a local restaurant for a hearty bowl of seafood chowder.
Your journey for the day ends in Rockland – “the lobster capital of the world”, where a lobster roll on the harbour is mandatory.
Rockland – Bar Harbor
Today you’ll be driving north to Bar Harbor. Stop at the pretty towns of Rockport and Camden for fabulous views over the North Shore. If you wish, you can kayak or take a day cruise from Camden Harbor to Curtis Island Lighthouse.
Bar Harbor is located on the peninsula of Mount Desert Island and serves as the gateway to Acadia National Park. Across town you’ll see the traditional lobster pounds with their simmering cauldrons of lobsters, which you can eat right there and then. You may be sitting on white plastic furniture next to the harbour wall, but it’s sure to be one of the most memorable meals of your life.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is one of the oldest national parks in America and boasts the tallest mountain on the continent’s eastern seaboard. Cadillac Mountain is a relatively gentle climb and provides spectacular views over the peninsula. Head down to Sand Beach, which is a gorgeous sweep of sand fringed by pine trees, where you could happily spend all day gazing out to sea.
Next on the list is the Proximal Thunder Hole, which is a curious natural phenomenon where the rush of the sea into an inlet gives off the sound of thunder. As the sun slips below the horizon, visit the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse before heading back to Bar Harbor for some more seafood and perhaps a bottle or two of local beer.
Bar Harbor – Bay of Fundy – St Andrews, Canada
Leaving Bar Harbor, drive out to West Quoddy Head, where a striking red and white striped lighthouse stands. This area, known as the Sunrise Coast, marks the easternmost point of the US.
Soon after, you’ll cross the border into Canada and visit Campobello Island, the summer home of 32nd president Franklin D Roosevelt. Wander round Campobello National Park, the site of his estate, you can then head back over the border via the enchanting sea stacks that stand in the Bay of Fundy before returning to Canada and the lovely town of St Andrews by the Sea.
St Andrews, Canada – Bangor
Spend the morning exploring St Andrews, where the Kingsbrae Horticultural Garden and Pendlebury Lighthouse are well worth seeing.
Setting off, take the “Airline”, a former coach road through the woodlands of Maine to the old timber town of Bangor, where you’ll be greeted with a vast statue of legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan. Author Stephen King has been a Bangor resident for decades and his home, its fence decorated with wrought iron bats, is a popular tourist spot. Fans of vintage Americana will love the Cole Land Transportation Museum, which exhibits the vehicles of a bygone Maine.
Bangor – Kittery – Portsmouth
From Bangor you’ll drive through Augusta, the state capital of Maine, on to the town of Kittery. This small community boasts a charming seaport and some great outlets from outdoorsy brands like LL Bean – maker of the iconic Bean Boot.
After you’ve had your fill of shopping you can drive on to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, another classic New England town with some fine 17th and 18th century architecture. Here you can enjoy great seafood in one of the downtown restaurants overlooking the harbour.
Portsmouth – Cape Cod
Today’s route will take you to Cape Cod, a hook of sand that extends from Massachusetts and offers sandy beaches, clapboard houses and whale watching. You can also take a trip to Martha’s Vineyard, a beautiful island that has been a playground for the rich and famous since the 19th century.
The cape is home to some of the finest lighthouses in New England, including two distinctive examples at Sandy Neck and Bass River. There are also several charming towns to explore, including Provincetown, Orleans and Chatham.
Cape Cod – Boston Departure
Today you’ll drive the 128 km from Cape Cod to Boston International Airport for your flight home. Depending on the time of your flight you may have time to visit Sandwich on the way, a town famous for its glassblowing studios and galleries, or the Plymouth Plantation, which recreates everyday life in the pilgrim colony.
- International flights and airfare taxes
- Cost of accommodation (double room based on two people sharing) for a total of 9 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
- Board basis: Room Only
- Car hire and insurance
- Visa arrangements and fees
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses, such as beverages, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, spa and business facilities in the hotel
- Attractions and excursions
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