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Nestled along the rugged coastline of Maine, the town of Boothbay Harbor serves as the perfect gateway to a treasure trove of captivating day trips, each offering its own unique charm and scenic wonders. From the picturesque coastal villages to the lush wilderness that defines the region, the best day trips from Boothbay Harbor promise a diverse tapestry of experiences. Whether you’re drawn to the historic allure of Bath, the island-hopping adventures of Monhegan, or the tranquil beauty of Pemaquid Point, the possibilities for exploration are as endless as the breathtaking views that unfold along the way.
There are all kinds of adventures that make a great day trip from Boothbay, some only a hop, skip and jump away. With the exception of Acadia National Park, and one of my favorite towns in New Hampshire (Portsmouth), I made sure to include destinations that are no more than a 2 hour drive away, as anything more feels best as an overnight trip- at least in my opinion!
Burnt Island (15 mins boat ride)
Burnt Island is home to the Burnt Island Living Lighthouse, which is a living history museum operated by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The Burnt Island Lighthouse offers visitors an immersive experience, providing a glimpse into the life of a lighthouse keeper in the early 20th century with well-preserved buildings, including the keeper’s residence, the whistle house, and the barn. Visitors can explore the exhibits, interact with costumed interpreters, and learn about the region’s maritime history. Views of beautiful Boothbay Harbor offer another level of admiration while on the small island. You can kayak about a mile to the island from Boothbay Harbor or take a 15-minute boat ride from Pier 8. Guided tours are available during the summer months only.
Boothbay Railway Village
Located in the Boothbay area, the Boothbay Railway Village will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. This 35-acre recreated village of a historic New England town has an authentic steam locomotive with a collection of 60 antique automobiles.
During your visit, you’ll learn about the history of steam engines and automobiles and how they changed the world between 1850 and 1950. If you visit on the right day, you might even be able to ride in a Ford Model T.
Stroll this historic town and check out the one-room schoolhouse, town hall, salt and pepper house, and fire station. Don’t forget about one of the most popular attractions in this village – the resident goats!
If you’re here in the winter, you can even ride the North Pole Express train to meet the big guy himself!
Cabbage Island Clambake (1.7 miles; 6 mins + ferry)
This one is just a quick ferry ride and a short drive from town. Cabbage Island boasts gorgeous scenery, but it’s best known for its incredible food. On this small island, you can indulge in a traditional Downeast clambake. The Moore Family hosts guests for this unique experience every day during the summer, and it’s one of the best day trips from Boothbay Harbor, Maine!
This experience starts with a boat cruise of Maine’s stunning coastline; then afterward, you’ll feast on fish chowder, lobster, clams, corn on the cob, potatoes, onions, and the Moore’s famous blueberry cake. The fresh seafood dishes are prepared on the water’s edge – steamed over an open fire between layers of seaweed, then covered with tarpaulins, which seal in the delicious flavors.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Located in Boothbay, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens has been around since 2007. With beautiful gardens, peculiar giant trolls, and a mile of tidewater shoreline, this is one of Maine’s most popular attractions.
You can explore over 300 acres of green spaces and unique gardens throughout this park. One of my favorites is the Native Butterfly and Moth House, where you can see the entire lifecycle of a butterfly in real time.
The Lerner Garden of the Five Senses is another popular attraction. Here, you can walk winding paths that lead you through five different regions, each highlighting one of the five senses. You’ll smell fragrant herbs and flowers, see a panoramic view of the garden, and listen to the birds, frogs, and bubbling fountains.
Make sure to spot the Guardians of the Seed lurking throughout the property. Thomas Dambo’s mammoth sized troll sculptures are made of recycled wood, each with a unique message you’ll want to uncover for yourself.
Scenic Harbor Cruise
If you want to take a day trip from Boothbay Harbor, you don’t necessarily need to have a specific destination in mind – a scenic harbor cruise and boat tour will allow you to see a lot of this area’s natural beauty, including the many lighthouses that dot the coast.
Balmy Days Cruises has a variety of cruises and boat tours to choose from. Embark on a scenic one-hour cruise that stops at Squirrel Island, showcasing several lighthouses and rocky cliffs along the way. You can also book a longer sailing trip and even go on a two-hour Mackerel fishing tour in which you’ll cast your line and also see other marine life along the way. Miss Boothbay is their 33-foot lobster boat, offering fishing and sightseeing charters.
There are many unique harbor tours, including lighthouse tours, photography trips, lobstering and wildlife tours. I joined a photography lighthouse cruise the last time I was in Boothbay and had a great time. I found it by walking along Pier 8 and reading the boat tour signs. Some specialty cruises operate weekly, while others (like the lighthouse photography tour) are offered sporadically throughout the year.
Kennebec River Boat Ride
In the summer and fall, a riverboat ride on the Kennebec River from Boothbay Harbor is an excellent choice for a day trip from Boothbay Harbor. This is a great way to see a variety of lighthouses along the shoreline and several Navy ships and lobster boats floating on the water.
With Cap’n Fish’s Cruises, you can enjoy a 44-mile Kennebec River boat ride showcasing seven lighthouses and historic sites like Fort Popham along the way. Bird lovers will also appreciate the blue herons, black guillemots, and loons along the water. You’ll also pass by Bath Iron Works, and your guide will fill you in on its modern-day shipbuilding projects. In the fall, this cruise is fantastic for leaf peeping as well!
Maine State Aquarium (2.6 miles; 7 mins)
Located on the shore of West Boothbay Harbor, the Maine State Aquarium is the perfect excursion for families or marine life lovers. You can learn more about the Gulf of Maine ecosystem in a variety of different displays, exhibits, and hands-on activities. The lobster display, home to a 14-pound lobster, and the touch tank with sea urchins, crabs, sea cucumbers, starfish, scallops, and more are two of the most popular activities at this aquarium.
Hendrick’s Head Beach (4.6 miles; 11 mins)
Nestled in Southport, Maine, Hendricks Head Beach is ideal for a beach day trip in the summer. Before you dip your toes in the water, hike the short trail adjacent to this shore – Hendricks Head Hiking Trail is an easy half-mile loop in a lush wooded landscape.
Relax on the sand at the beach, swim in the cool water, or explore Kitten Island, a climbable outcrop. You’ll also be able to enjoy views of the nearby Hendricks Head Lighthouse, so bring your camera!
Bath (25 miles; 35 mins)
Known as the “City of Ships,” Bath is renowned for its shipbuilding legacy, and visitors can explore the Maine Maritime Museum to delve into the rich maritime history of the region. This 20-acre waterfront campus has indoor galleries with both rotating and permanent exhibits. This museum also houses a historic boat collection, with over 140 Maine-built or Maine-related boats, including an antique birch bark canoe.
The city’s downtown area, with its well-preserved 19th-century architecture, boutique shops, and tasty cafes, invites leisurely strolls, while the Kennebec River flowing through town adds a scenic backdrop to the experience.
Damariscotta (16 miles; 30 mins)
The small town of Damariscotta showcases a big personality through its natural beauty, cultural activities, and friendly community. It is known for delicious local river oysters, fresh seafood, and vibrant arts scene. It is home to the River Arts organization, which is responsible for nurturing its growing artist community. It hosts art exhibitions, workshops, and events showcasing the talent of local and regional artists. It makes a fantastic day trip from Boothbay Harbor for seafood enthusiasts and outdoor lovers.
Georgetown (31 miles; 45 mins)
A day trip to Georgetown provides a perfect blend of coastal beauty, historical exploration, and culinary delights. Georgetown is home to Reid State Park, one of Maine’s most beautiful coastal parks. The park features sandy beaches, rocky shores, and scenic overlooks. Georgetown is home to charming villages and harbors, such as Five Islands and Georgetown Center. Stroll through these quaint areas, explore local shops, devour a fresh lobster roll, and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere that characterizes coastal Maine communities.
Monhegan Island (1.5 hour ferry one way)
Monhegan Island is a rocky square mile of land that juts out into the Gulf of Maine, but there’s plenty to do on a Monhegan day trip. One of the main reasons to visit this island is for its famous artist colony – some of this island’s alumni include Rockwell Kent and Edward Hopper.
Ferries to this island depart from Boothbay Harbor, often on Balmy Days ii, a 65-foot vessel, making it an easy day trip destination. Visit the Monhegan Lighthouse, built in 1824, overlooking the Gulf of Maine and the Atlantic Ocean. The Monhegan Museum of Art and History is another intriguing attraction, housing some of the most beautiful works from the early 19th century, in addition to some modern pieces of art.
This island has 12 miles of trails, including Lobster Trail, Burnt Head Road Trail, and Whitehead Trail. Most of these paths have steep climbs and dense forest scenery, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning Atlantic Ocean views – nature lovers won’t be disappointed!
Bristol (27 miles; 44 mins)
Nestled along the scenic Pemaquid Peninsula, Bristol is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, dotted with rocky shorelines, sandy beaches, and lush forests. The crown jewel of Bristol is the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, perched dramatically on rugged cliffs, providing breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Bristol Harbor area invites exploration with its quaint fishing village atmosphere, featuring local shops, art galleries, and seafood restaurants.
Agusta (37 miles; 52 mins)
As the capital city of Maine, Augusta is steeped in history, and visitors can explore the State House, a majestic building that reflects the state’s political heritage. The Maine State Museum and the Blaine House further contribute to the city’s rich historical tapestry. Augusta’s downtown, overlooking the river, features charming shops, cafes, and galleries, providing a pleasant atmosphere for a leisurely stroll. The Kennebec River Rail Trail offers outdoor enthusiasts a scenic path for walking or biking along the waterfront, while history buffs will love Old Fort Western, the oldest surviving wooden fort in the United States. If you can pull yourself away from Maine’s coastline, this inland town makes a convenient day trip from Boothbay Harbor.
Camden (44 miles; 1 hour)
Situated on Maine’s midcoast, Camden has a little something for everyone, from shopping and restaurants to swimming in the ocean and other outdoor activities. You can start your day trip in downtown Camden and browse through one of the many local shops, like the Cashmere Goat, or Owl and Turtle Bookshop. Pick up some picnic items at French & Brawn Marketplace and go down the water to enjoy your lunch!
Spend the afternoon at Camden Hills State Park, which boasts over 30 miles of walking trails. Luckily, most of these trails aren’t too strenuous, making them perfect for the entire family. One of the most popular hiking trails is Maiden’s Cliff, an 800-foot cliff with incredible views of the Maine countryside and Lake Megunticook.
Freeport, ME (41 miles; 1 hour)
Freeport is a fantastic day trip from Boothbay Harbor and the birthplace of L.L. Bean, an iconic and nationally known outdoor apparel and equipment store. Freeport’s L.L. Bean store is the anchor for several other store locations, it’s definitely a must-visit. You can visit several other local shops while you’re out shopping, including Georgetown Pottery and Cotton Weeds Quilt Shop.
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is another excellent place to visit in Freeport, encompassing 230 acres of pine tree forests, hiking trails, rocky shores of Casco Bay, and several water activities.
Portland (58 miles; 1 hour)
Set on a peninsula extending into Casco Bay, Portland has so much to offer during a day trip from Boothbay Harbor. Start at the Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine.
Be sure to explore the Old Port, which features cobblestone streets, 19th-century buildings, fishing piers, charming boutiques, several breweries, and great restaurants. There’s so much to do and see here; be sure to check out my Portland day itinerary!
Across the harbor from Portland, you’ll find South Portland, with just as many things to do!
Southern Maine Beach towns
Southern Maine has several adorable beach towns that make excellent day trips from Boothbay Harbor. There are plenty more coastal towns to visit, but these are some of my favorites, all within a 2-hour drive of Boothbay Harbor.
Cape Elizabeth (66 miles, 1 hour 20 mins)
This coastal town is home to Portland Head Light, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. As well as, Crescent Beach State Park and Two Lights State Park, showcasing pristine sandy shores and picturesque landscapes.
Biddeford (74 miles; 1.5 hours)
Biddeford offers access to beautiful beaches like Hills Beach and Fortune’s Rocks Beach and has several scenic trails and parks, as well as a bustling artist and emerging culinary scene.
Wells (87 miles; 2 hours)
Wells is just under two hours from Boothbay and is made up of four different beaches – Wells Beach, Crescent Beach, Drakes Island Beach, and Moody Beach.
Ogunquit (93 miles; 2 hours)
Ogunquit is also a beautiful beach town with fantastic dining options. Ogunquit Beach has a massive expanse of soft sand, and it’s been rated one of the best beaches in the United States.
Kennebunkport (84 miles; 1 hour 50 mins)
The beautiful town of Kennebunkport is popular for Goose Rocks Beach or the quieter Arundel Beach. This is also an excellent destination for those who love maritime history – visit the Goat Island Lighthouse or St. Ann’s Episcopal Church after a stroll through town.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire (109 miles; 2.5 hours)
With tons of shopping, dining, lighthouses, craft beer, and live music, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is one of the best day trips from Boothbay Harbor, Maine, just two hours away. Several walking tours begin from Market Square, where you’ll find bookstores, art galleries, boutiques, and antique stores.
History buffs can tour the Strawbery Banke Museum – check out this English settlement with costumed interpretive guides and historic gardens. In the winter, this museum also has ice skating and candlelight walks.
Acadia National Park (113 miles 2.5 hours)
Situated primarily on Mount Desert Island in Maine, near the town of Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park attracts over 2 million visitors annually, so it’s a must-do day trip from Boothbay Harbor.
Encompassing 47,000 acres along the Atlantic coast, this recreational area showcases diverse landscapes such as woodlands, rocky beaches, and glacier-formed granite peaks, including Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast of the United States. Originally established as Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1919, it was later renamed Acadia in 1929, becoming the first national park in the eastern part of the country.
During your visit, consider exploring Park Loop Road, a picturesque 27-mile drive that allows access to notable attractions like Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach, and the Jordan Pond House. Scenic overlooks along the road offer perfect photo opportunities, while designated picnic areas allow for a scenic lunch experience.
Acadia is a hiker’s paradise – there are over 120 miles of hiking trails here. One of the best hiking options is Ocean Path. This easy trail is one of the most scenic areas in this national park, with jagged pink granite formations and sparkling ocean views. You can also hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain on the Cadillac Mountain Summit Loop – it’s a fun and easy loop trail. Acadia’s Precipice trai is a challenging hike with vertical climbs but offers stunning coastal views, if you are up for the challenge.
With so much to see and do in and from Boothbay, you’ll have no problem finding some great activities and fun day trips. Make sure to spend a few nights to give yourself enough time to explore outside of town but also soak in Maine’s local coastal charm.
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