We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Last minute, first time road trip from Chicago to Maine

chicago
Level Contributor
37 posts
Save Topic
Last minute, first time road trip from Chicago to Maine

Good Evening! My husband, 11 year old daughter and I just decided to take a road trip to Maine leaving this Saturday (July 20) and returning July 31. I have been researching possibilities all day and now I am overwhelmed. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! We are most interested in hiking, bike riding, mountains, the coastline and seeing wildlife...in other words we just want to enjoy Maine's beauty. We don't need to stay in one town the entire time. Do we start in Portland and make our way to Camden? Also as an aside, any recommendations on the best route from Chicago to Maine? Thank you in advance!

Mentioned in this post
Maine
Maine
United States
Camden
Camden
Mid Coast Maine, ME
Chicago
Chicago
Illinois
chicago
Level Contributor
37 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: Last minute, first time road trip from Chicago to Maine

We especially are looking for places we can ride our bikes, easy to moderate trails. Thank you!

Maine
Level Contributor
899 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Last minute, first time road trip from Chicago to Maine

Given your interests, I would head straight to Acadia National Park. It has everything you're looking for in one location.

Mentioned in this post
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
Mount Desert Island, ME
Central Maine
Destination Expert
for Maine
Level Contributor
6,922 posts
156 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Last minute, first time road trip from Chicago to Maine

From the interests you've expressed, I'd agree with Soxfan - - head for Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor and use that as your accommodations base while you're here -- it has virtually everything you listed on your "wish list", except maybe the wildlife and I have another idea for that.

As far as routes go, your easiest one will probably be to pick up I-90 and follow it East across Indiana, Ohio and a corner of Pennsylvania into New York state -- across New York State into Massachusetts and across Massachusetts almost into Boston. Just east of Worcester, MA (and west of Boston), you'll pick up I-495 North into northern Massachusetts, where it ends at I-95 North toward Maine and New Hampshire. Follow I-95 North until you get to Bangor, ME -- then I-395 East to Brewer Maine, where you'll pick up US 1A South to Ellsworth, ME, where you'll pick up ME Rt 3 to Bar Harbor. Other routes may suggest you take I-80 or I-84 across Pennsylvania, but both of those routes will get you closer to the heavier traffic around New York City and through some heavy traffic around Waterbury, Danbury and Hartford, Connecticut. The I-90 route avoids that southern New England traffic and offers fairly easy driving across New York and Massachusetts and on north into Maine.

As far as wildlife goes -- either as you come north, or on your way back south -- watch for I-95 Exit # 63 in Gray, ME. Get off the exit and follow ME Rt 26 north for two or three miles to the Maine Wildlife Park (just off Rt 26 -- well signed). It's operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife and offers virtually every species of animal native to Maine in re-creations of their native habitat.... think moose, bear, deer, raccoons, bobcats, etc etc, Stroll the hard-surface paths among the trees and see lots of Maine wildlife in a relatively short period of time. You can Google "Maine Wildlife Park" for more info.

As far as Portland or Camden are concerned, either or both could make a good en-route stopover depending on how your timing turns out.... or maybe a place for a one-or-two night stop-over on your way home, but for best opportunities for the activities you listed, I'd get to Bar Harbor and Acadia as quickly as possible -- then make my first stop the Acadia National Park Visitors' Center -- it's on your right as you climb the hill on Rt 3 leaving the village of Hull's Cove and before you get to Bar Harbor proper. The staff and ranger's there can help you plan your visit in a way that lets you focus on the things you really want to do in a way that makes best use of the time you have available.

Edited: 15 July 2013, 04:43
Mentioned in this post
Acadia National Park Tours
Acadia National Park...
333 Reviews
Mount Desert Island, ME
Ohio
Ohio
United States
Hotel Pennsylvania
Hotel Pennsylvania
6,174 Reviews
New York City, NY
Massachusetts
Massachusetts
United States
Boston
Boston
Massachusetts
Worcester
Worcester
Massachusetts
Maine
Maine
United States
New Hampshire
New Hampshire
United States
Bangor
Bangor
Maine
Brewer
Brewer
Maine
Ellsworth
Ellsworth
DownEast and Acadia Maine, ME
Danbury
Danbury
Connecticut
Hartford
Hartford
Connecticut
New England
New England
United States
Maine Wildlife Park
Maine Wildlife Park
286 Reviews
Gray, ME
Camden
Camden
Mid Coast Maine, ME
Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor
Mount Desert Island, ME
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
Mount Desert Island, ME
chicago
Level Contributor
37 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Last minute, first time road trip from Chicago to Maine

Soxfan, thank you for suggesting Acadia. It is a perfect fit for us.

Mainer, thank you for the very detailed route suggestion. I was hoping there was a way to avoid some of the heavy traffic. My daughter will love the Maine Wildlife Park, me too! Thanks for all your help.

Mentioned in this post
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
Mount Desert Island, ME
Maine Wildlife Park
Maine Wildlife Park
286 Reviews
Gray, ME
Maine
Level Contributor
225 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Last minute, first time road trip from Chicago to Maine

I would agree with Mainer's routing of taking I90 east to Massachusetts vs. dipping down into Pennsylvania. I am always (pleasantly) surprised with how little traffic there is on the New York Thruway.

It's a long haul from Chicago. Google maps says 19+ hours and that is without any stops. I don't know if you plan a marathon drive but if you are planning a night on the road you might want to see if you can make a big push on day 1 and get to the Lenox/the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. That would give you a shorter drive on day 2, plus you have the feeling of "We're in New England!" and the end is in sight. The area around Lenox is pretty with the mountains. Lots of lodging options ranging from chain motels to cute little B&Bs. Just a thought.

Mentioned in this post
Massachusetts
Massachusetts
United States
Hotel Pennsylvania
Hotel Pennsylvania
6,174 Reviews
New York City, NY
Chicago
Chicago
Illinois
Lenox
Lenox
Berkshires, MA
Berkshires
Berkshires
Massachusetts
New England
New England
United States
chicago
Level Contributor
37 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Last minute, first time road trip from Chicago to Maine

Leslie, thank you for your suggestions. The Lenox area sounds like somewhere I'd really like!

Mentioned in this post
Lenox
Lenox
Berkshires, MA
7. Re: Last minute, first time road trip from Chicago to Maine

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 20 July 2014, 05:18