Looking for a day-trip or weekend adventure idea off-island? Aquidneck Island Escapes is our series highlighting these destinations from Newport accessible via car or public transportation. If you missed it, our first Aquidneck Island Escapes brought us to Nantucket in May.
Now that summer is over, we took off on a “Rhode Trip” from Newport to Maine in search the nation’s best lobster and to explore Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, and so much more.
As partners on this particular trip, Buick provided us with a luxurious and state-of-the-art ride in their 2020 Buick Enclave ST, and Narragansett Beer provided some great beer to enjoy during the brisk, Fall evenings.
The Journey: Newport to Mount Desert Island, Maine
For this particular destination, you will have to invest some time… and utilize a car. There’s no quick and easy public transportation option here.
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Newport to Mount Desert Island (MDI) is just about 350 miles, a 6.5-hour drive… which also made us appreciate the adjustable lumbar support in the Enclave ST. What makes this trip unique is the plethora of great places to stop and explore on the way, including Portsmouth (NH), Portland (ME), Freeport (ME), and any of the scenic stop-offs along Route 1. And speaking of Route 1, taking this “longer” route, which will allow you to explore the vibrant, historic, and coastal Maine towns. Buick’s AppleCarPlay/Android Auto phone integration allowed us to keep our eyes on the road and on the Maine’s coastal scenery. (It even read our text messages!)
Along the way
- Rockland (ME), Rockport (ME), among other coastal Maine towns: When you think “how cute, we should stop,” we recommend doing so! You never know what you will find or experience. For us, we found Treats in Wiscasset, Maine, serving coffee, tea, and artisan treats.
- L.L. Bean: What is a trip to Maine without stopping at this epicenter located in Freeport?
- Bissell Brothers: Along those same lines, we could not travel through Portland without stopping at this behemoth of quality beer.
- Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows Bridge: Located in Prospect (ME), this 19th-century granite fort features a modern bridge with a 420-ft. observation tower. Upon arriving at the bridge, I was able to quickly address some What’sUpNewp & What’sUpRhodeIsland work, thanks to the Enclave ST‘s 4G LTE WiFi & Connectivity. Up to 7 devices can connect to the WiFi.
Looking For Lobster
- Newport Lobster Shack: They only sell what they catch, of course you go here for fresh lobsters and crabs!
- Bayside American Cafe in Portland: Serving up a mighty-fine lobster dishes for all meals, we found ourselves at this family-owned establishment during the breakfast hour. Breakfast dishes incorporating fresh lobster included the lobster omelette, lobster Benedict, and lobster scramble (among others), and they did not disappoint. We recommend you arrive early and order quickly! They briefly ran out of lobster at 11am on a Thursday.
- Side Street Cafe in Bar Harbor: They have their own lobster menu. Enough said? We went with the “Lobster Dinners,” which included New England Clam Chowder, 1.25 lb boiled lobster, ear of corn, and 1 lb clams. Traditional, delicious, and everything we hoped for.
- Taste of Maine: While we did not have the opportunity to dine here, we did stop at this Woolwich restaurant for the obligatory “I’m not from here” photo of the big ol’ lobster decorating the roof.
- Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, Maine: Lines run down the street and back at this lobster shack that sits just feet from the Sheepscot River. Check it out if you can, their specialty lobster rolls are the real deal. Just ask Andrew Zimmern.
- Feeling adventurous? Once you get close enough to Bar Harbor, you’ll see plenty of lobster shacks and eateries lining the side of the road. Consider stopping off for some fresh cooked or steamed lobster!
Mount Desert Island
Acadia National Park protects the natural beauty of the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline of the United States, an abundance of habitats, and a rich cultural heritage. At 3.5 million visitors a year, it’s one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the United States. Visitors enjoy 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads. Despite Acadia being well-visited, we experienced the beauty and nature of Acadia, by hiking or via scenic drives in the Enclave ST, with little tourist interaction.
On Day 1, we chose to hike to the top of nearby and much less-populated Dorr Mountain. At 1,270 feet, this trail and mountain offers sweeping views of the many islands off the coast of Maine, Mt. Desert Narrows, and the ocean. We branded Dorr as the 3-hour stair-master.
Note that open beverages anywhere in the national park, so we saved our celebration (and opening of the Fresh Catch) until we got back to the inn later in the morning.
On Day 2, we headed to Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 feet, it is not only the tallest mountain on MDI, but on the entire eastern seaboard of the United States. As a life long New Englander (OK, life-long Rhode Islander), I feel like I should have known more about Cadillac Mountain, which is the first place to view sunrise in the United States from October 7 through March 6. We weren’t lucky enough to be in town on or after October 7th, but we were told by a friendly bartender at Bar Harbor Cellars that the sunrises are amazing year-round from the top.
Visitors can choose to hike up Cadillac Mountain or take the 3.5 mile drive to the top of the mountain. Dealing with leg fatigue from our hike up Dorr, we took the Enclave ST up the mountain with ease. As you can imagine, this windy path is traversed by numerous cars, buses, and bikes. While driving up the mountain, and on many other occasions during this trip, the Enclave provided a tremendous added safety tool with its Side Blind Zone Alert and Surround Vision. We noticed that the system even detected when bikes were on our right, allowing us to make sure we gave them enough room on the tight turns.
As for lodging, we stayed in Northeast Harbor on MDI, just minutes from just about anywhere in Acadia and twenty minutes from downtown Bar Harbor. Generally, lodging on MDI is largely seasonal and does not include heat or air conditioning in some units. If you cannot immediately find reasonably priced accommodation online, it may be worth even winging it! We noticed many independent hotels and B&Bs, that we could not find online, with “vacancy” signs.
2020 Buick Enclave ST
The Buick Enclave Essence is a smart, social, and stylish SUV for families who need its class-leading space. With seating for seven, the 2020 Enclave updates comfort and convenience technology that offer an improved experience for everyone. The Sport Touring trim features a unique Sport grille with body-color and 20-inch bright machined aluminum wheels with contrasting Satin Graphite pockets. An additional feature not previously highlighted in this article includes QuietTuning, which utilizes triple door sealing, acoustic laminated glass, specific suspension tuning and other technologies to reduce, block, and absorb unwanted noise. We found that this made driving through Boston actually…peaceful. Another feature we haven’t yet highlighted was the Air Ionizer, which provides higher air quality inside the vehicle by eliminating odors and pollutants, creating a level of comfort that only Buick offers. Also perfect for driving through Boston, as well as around the shipyards.
Feedback Time: Where are your favorite places for lobster in Rhode Island? New England? Any favorite places to stop, eat, drink, or hike along the way? Ok…what did we miss here, that you would have added? Email Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.
Is there a nearby destination that you’ve been thinking of traveling to and would like to know more about? Let us know by emailing email@example.com.