Basic Guide to the New England Roadtrip + Acadia National Park

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The New England road trip is found among many basic bucket lists and for good reason. Fresh seafood, the Atlantic coastline, hiking trails of all experience, and breathtaking views from atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park are just some of the top experiences along this route. Given that one can easily spend a month exploring the New England Region, planning is key to seeing all of the top New England sights. Use this Basic Guide to the New England Roadtrip + Acadia National Park to plan the best trip around the east coast! 

What is included in the New England Region 

The New England Region is comprised of six states located in the eastern United States. New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhoad Island, and Massachusetts make up the New England States. There are 71,991 square miles of land throughout the New England states which is about the size of the state of Washington. Technically, it’s possible to drive the New England route in a day without seeing any sights. 

Which is the largest and the smallest state in the New England region

This question comes up a lot when planning a New England Roadtrip itinerary and deciding how to divvy up the time. Maine is the largest state by far – accounting for half of the whole New England Region. On the other end of the size spectrum is Rhode Island, which is the smallest state in the United States. 

Where is Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is located in Southeastern Maine next to the small seaport town of Bar Harbour. It’s important to highlight that Acadia is the ONLY officially designated National Park found on the east coast of the United States. The next closest national park is Shenandoah National Park which is located in Virginia, only 800 miles west of Acadia! 

Lisa posing with the Acadia National Park Sign

Planning a New England Roadtrip 

There are basically two different routes that you can choose from for a New England Roadtrip itinerary. Clockwise or counterclockwise. It’s completely up to the traveler to choose the order the states go in and where the trip departs from. Most people prefer to drive up the coast first towards Acadia and then wrap back north and around to where they started. I suggest looking at the top things to do state-by-state and adding them to a google map. Then plan your route based on what you want to see.

When is the best time to visit the New England Region

There is no bad time to travel to the New England states. All four seasons provide a completely different experience. For folks who love winter activities, they will find some great ski resorts in Vermont. The spring and summer months are a fantastic time to drive along the southeast coastline through the port towns. During autumn, the fall foliage in New Hampshire is on a whole other level! 

Top things to do on a New England Roadtrip (State by state) 


  • Stay at the Hyatt Place New Haven for 5,000 Hyatt Points Per/Night
  • Visit Yale University
  • Lobster Landing for Lunch
  • Griswold Inn (America’s oldest inn – Opened in 1776)
  • Lavender Pond Farm
  • Dinosaur State Park
  • Drake Hill Flower Bridge
  • Mystic 
    • Grab a slice of Pizza at Mystic Pizza!


Boston – There are so many things to see and do in Boston! Here are some of my favorites for your road trip. 

  • Stay at Hyatt Place Marlborough for 8,000 Hyatt Points Per/Night
  • Quincy Market (Explore & Eat) 
  • Bell in Hand Tavern (America’s Oldest Bar) 
  • Union Oyster House (America’s Oldest Restaurant)
  • Go on a Duck Tour
  • Walk the Freedom Trail
  • Fenway Park Tour (Take a photo with the Green Monster)
  • Sam Adams Brewery Tour
  • Boston Public Garden (Sit on Good Will Hunting Bench! R.I.P. Robin Williams) 
  • Giacomo’s for Italian Dinner 
  • Cannoli from Mike’s Pastry

Salem – Famous for the Salem Witch Trials. Try and visit in October during Halloween for a unique experience. 

  • Salem Witch Museum 
  • The House of the Seven Gables 
  • Peabody Essex Museum 
  • Salem Witch Trials Memorial 
Top things to do in Salem Massachusetts – Salem Witch Trials Memorial

Charlton – Famous for being home to one of the top breweries in the world!

Rhode Island 

Newport – Experience the New England vibes from this city on Aquidneck Island! 

Providence – Capital of Rhode Island 

  • Stay at Hyatt Place Warwick for 8,000 Hyatt Points Per/Night
  • Brown University 
  • Water Place Park 
  • Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art 



  • Stay at Hyatt Place Portland for 15,000 Hyatt Points Per/Night
  • Holy Donut
  • Back cove trail 
  • Mailboat Tour around the neighboring islands
  • Peaks Island (Rent bicycles and ride around the perimeter) 
  • Casco Bay 
  • Lobster Taco at the HighRoller Lobster Co.
  • Portland Observatory 
  • J’s Oyster (Where Anthony Bourdain ate Oysters) 
  • Allagash Brewery 
  • Becky’s Diner 

Bar Harbor 

  • Stay at Acadia Pines Motel for 10,100 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Per/Night via Travel Portal
  • Jordan’s Restaurant (For Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes) 
  • Explore the town! 
  • Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium (For Lobster Ice Cream)
  • Pink Pastry Shop (For Whoopie Pies – I loved the Blueberry Lemon) 

Acadia National Park (More Below!)


  • Stay at Country Inn at the Mall for 5,174 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Per/Night via Travel Portal
  • Stephen Kings House
  • Paul Bunyan Statue 
  • Penobscot River Walkway
  • Mason’s Brewing Co. 
  • Bangor Police “Duck of Justice” 
  • Eagles Nest (For a Lobstah Roll) 

New Hampshire 

  • Stay at Econo Lodge Motel for 6,540 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Per/Night via Travel Portal
    • This is not a Bougie hotel! That’s our Basic Disclaimer.
  • Castle in the Clouds 
  • Kancamagus Drive (Look for Moose and Great for Fall Foliage) 
  • White Mountain National Forest 
  • Mount Washington (Drive or Hike)
  • The Cog Railway (Take a Train to the Summit of Mt. Washington)
  • Hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail on Mount Washington
  • Puritan Backroom (Get the Chicken Fingers and Frozen Mudslide)
  • One Love Brewery 
  • “Budweiser Experience” at Factory 


  • Stay at The Stowe Inn for 7,470 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Per/Night via Travel Portal
  • Take a stroll through Stowe 
  • Breakfast at Butler’s Pantry 
  • Sunset Rock Hike (Short walk from Butler’s Pantry) 
  • Maple Creemee Ice Cream in Stowe
  • Alchemist Brewery 
  • Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour
  • Visit a cheese farm
    • Vermont Creamery
    • Maplebrook Farm
    • Jasper Hill Farm 
  • Gaku Ramen in Burlington VT 

Acadia National Park

Given Acadia is the only National Park on the East Coast, it certainly deserves its own section on any New England Roadtrip Itinerary. Below is everything you might need to know for a successful trip to Acadia National Park! 

Acadia National Park Map

Location & Admission 

Acadia National Park is located in the Northeastern United States outside of the picturesque port town – Bar Harbour, Maine. The cost to enter Acadia National Park is $30 per vehicle which is good for seven days. Don’t forget if you’re visiting more than two National Parks in a year, consider purchasing an Annual National Parks Pass – which is one of the top money-saving tips for National Park travel. 

Where to stay 

Directly outside of Acadia National Park, there are a variety of hotel accommodations that range from budget to luxury. Many travelers choose to stay in either Bangor or Bar Harbour. I found a great value hotel directly outside of Acadia National Park (3 Minute Drive) called the Acadia Pines Motel. Using Chase Ultimate Rewards points, this only costs 10,100 points per night via the travel portal and receiving the 50% Sapphire Reserve Bonus. This equates to $151.50 saved per night which is huge. If you want to learn more about using points to cut travel costs – check our Essentials to Traveling with Points

Top things to do at Acadia National Park 

There is so much to see and do but here our my favorites! 

Best Sunrise viewing point at Acadia National Park

Watch the Sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain. You can either drive or hike to the top. I recommend driving up and leaving an hour prior to sunrise as this is a very popular activity. It’s truly beautiful and in fact, is one of the places in the United States that is first “touched” by the rising sun during a portion of the year. 

Sunrise at the summit of Cadillac Mountain

Best Hiking at Acadia National Park

There are tons of top hikes at Acadia National Park – here are my two favorites. The Beehive loop trail is about a mile and a half roundtrip but is quite strenuous. There are portions of the hike that require using upper body strength to pull yourself up and some narrow ledges that are high up. If you are physically limited or nervous about heights, I would not recommend going up. The views are quite beautiful from the top for those who trek all the way up. 

My second favorite Acadia National Park hike is Bubble Rock which is a mile up and back. It does require going up a steep incline but is worth the effort for the unique views of Bubble Rock. From the top, the beautiful Jordan Pond stands out like a hidden gem. If you’re feeling up to it, you can hike down the South Bubble Trail to the Jordan Pond Loop Path! 

Best Lunch at Acadia National Park

The best meal can be found at the Jordan Pond House which comes with some fantastic views of the pond. Folks rave about the lobster stew, pop-overs, and strawberry jam! 

Best Scenic Drive at Acadia National Park

Drive around the Full Park Loop road which runs 27 miles throughout the park. This is a very popular way to see the fall foliage from the road. 

Morning Flag Ceremony + Welcome Center

Watch the United States daily flag raise every morning outside the Acadia National Park Hulls Cove Visitor Center. A park ranger brings the flag out and raises it every morning at 8:30 a.m. when the park center opens.

Morning flag raising ceremony at Acadia National Park

Best Sunset experience at Acadia National Park

Take in the sunset from a Kayak on the water! The organized kayak tours do sell out quickly so be sure to reserve well in advance. The National Park Sea Kayak Tour company is a very reputable option that employees registered Maine Kayak guides.

Let us know!

What’s your favorite thing to do on a New England Roadtrip? 

I’d love to hear in the comments below or over in our 8,400+ Member Basic Travel Facebook Group!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Disclosure: Basic Travel Couple, LLC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Basic Travel Couple, LLC and CardRatings and MileValue may receive a commission from card issuers. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The comments section below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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