Portland Head Lighthouse with rocks and ocean below, end of Boston to Portland Maine road trip

Boston to Portland, Maine: The Ultimate Guide to Road Trip Routes and Scenic Stops (2024)

The route from Boston, Massachusetts to Portland, Maine is not a long one- but there are a lot of great places to stop along the way, so it makes a great East Coast road trip. Of course, you can also drive this scenic route in reverse!

Boston is a vibrant city that offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and family-friendly attractions. Families can explore the Freedom Trail, where they’ll encounter iconic sites like the Paul Revere House and the Old North Church as well as world-class museums.

In Portland, Maine, families can immerse themselves in the charming coastal atmosphere. They can visit the Portland Head Light, one of the oldest lighthouses in the country, and explore the Old Port district with its quaint shops and delicious seafood restaurants.

We love road trips- we’ve done a long cross-country route, explored the American Northwest by car, and even driven down into Baja. Although we lived in Boston for many years, we haven’t driven this stretch in a while, so reached out to Laura Mendenhall, a passionate traveler from O Family, Where Art Thou?, to share her experience on this road trip from Boston to Portland, Maine.

Laura spent an incredible three months exploring charming cities along the east coast with her family of 5 in an RV. In this post, they’ll share a bit about their journey from Boston to Portland, Maine including the best routes from Boston to Portland by car, bus, and train, as well as some family-friendly places to stop along the way, and fun things to do while you are there.

This article may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. All our recommendations are our own and are in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative.

At the bottom of this post, download a free License Plate Road Trip Game to play on your next drive!

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How far is Boston from Portland, Maine?

Did you know that Boston, Massachusetts is just a short 2-hour drive away from the beautiful city of Portland, Maine? The distance separating these two cities is approximately 109 miles. Whether you opt for a car, bus, or train, embarking on this road trip is truly worthwhile!

Picture yourself cruising along the scenic Interstate 95 North, soaking in the stunning New England landscapes and passing through charming towns. Trust me, the journey is as enjoyable as the destination. So hop in your car, roll down the windows, and let’s embark on this adventure together.

Boston to Portland, Maine: Best Road Trip Routes

You can get from Boston to Portland via car, bus, or even train! Here are the best routes between Boston and Portland, what you’ll see, and even how much they cost.

Are you ready for a road trip? Make sure you have all the road trip supplies, healthy road trip snacks, and car-friendly activities for the kids. Newbie? Not to worry! We’ve got road trip tips for beginners.

Boston to Portland Maine By Car

Direct Route: I-95

The I-95 route from Boston to Portland, Maine is the most direct and popular choice, covering around 110 miles of scenic landscapes. As you travel north, you’ll pass through charming towns, picturesque countryside, and eventually cross the border into Maine.

Make sure to take a break in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, known for its historic appeal. Once in Portland, you’ll discover a lively food scene and a captivating waterfront, making the I-95 route an efficient and enjoyable way to reach your destination.

Family sitting on a tree exploring the woods in Maine
Exploring Mackworth Island State Park in Portland, Maine


The Scenic Drive: US-1

If you’re looking for a leisurely and scenic drive from Boston to Portland, Maine, the US-1 route is your perfect choice!

This picturesque coastal road stretches for about 111 miles, taking you through charming seaside towns, breathtaking ocean views, and iconic New England landscapes. Prepare to be captivated by the quaint coastal villages, lighthouses dotting the shoreline, and delicious seafood restaurants along the way.

As you wind your way through this scenic route, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make memorable stops and explore the beauty of the New England coast. So buckle up, roll down the windows, and get ready for a delightful adventure along the enchanting US-1 from Boston to Portland!

Top Pick: Rent a Car from Discover Cars

Discover Cars is our go-to resource for renting cars for road trips. Their pricing is easy to understand, and there are no last-minute surprises.

Book Now


Boston to Portland Maine by Bus

Don’t feel like driving? Taking a bus is another great option and way cheaper than I had expected! To take a bus from Boston to Portland, Maine, you have several options available. Here are some details to help you plan your trip.

Buses traveling from Boston to Portland, Maine typically follow a direct route without scheduled pit stops for town tours. However, there may be brief rest stops along the way for passengers to stretch their legs and use restroom facilities. If you want to explore specific towns, it’s advisable to consider alternative transportation or plan separate trips to those destinations.

How Much Does a Bus from Boston to Portland, Maine Cost?

Approximate ticket prices range from $15 to $35 for a one-way route. The cost of taking a bus from Boston to Portland, Maine varies depending on the bus company, time of travel, and whether you book in advance. It’s recommended to check the respective bus company websites for the most accurate and up-to-date fares, and booking in advance can often secure better prices and availability.

Greyhound

Greyhound offers multiple daily departures from Boston to Portland. Buses typically depart from Boston’s South Station and arrive at Portland’s Transportation Center. The journey takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on traffic and specific route variations. Check the Greyhound website for the most up-to-date schedules and ticket prices.

Concord Coach Lines

Concord Coach Lines also operates regular bus services between Boston and Portland. Buses usually depart from Boston’s South Station and arrive at Portland’s Transportation Center. The travel time is similar to Greyhound, around 2.5 to 3 hours. It’s advisable to Visit the Concord Coach Lines website for the latest schedules and ticket information. 

Megabus

Megabus is another option for traveling from Boston to Portland. They provide daily departures from Boston’s South Station, and the buses arrive at Portland’s Transportation Center. The duration of the trip is comparable to Greyhound and Concord Coach Lines, around 2.5 to 3 hours. Check the Megabus website for the most accurate and up-to-date schedules and fares.

When planning your trip, consider factors such as departure times, ticket prices, and seat availability. It’s generally advisable to book your tickets in advance to secure your preferred departure time and to ensure availability, especially during peak travel periods.

Boston to Portland Maine by Train

Experience the convenience and charm of traveling by train from Boston to Portland, Maine! You will be taking the Amtrak Downeaster and the route would cover approximately 115 miles and offers a comfortable and hassle-free way to explore the beauty of New England.

Amtrak Downeaster Train

The Amtrak Downeaster train provides service between Boston’s North Station and Portland Transportation Center. The ticket prices for this route typically range from $20 to $60, depending on factors such as the type of ticket and advance booking.

The travel time is approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, offering a comfortable and scenic journey through New England.

It’s advisable to check the Amtrak website for the most accurate and up-to-date schedules and fares and to book your ticket in advance to secure your preferred departure time and ticket type.


Best Road Trip Stop Between Boston and Portland

Whichever route you choose to drive from Boston to Portland, Maine, here are some great scenic stops and coastal towns to see along the way.

Don’t miss our top tips for enjoying a road trip with kids, as well as our best travel tips for kids no matter where you are headed!

The Scenic Route: Boston to Portland via US-1

If you are taking the scenic drive along I-10 from Boston to Portland, here are the must-see scenic stops. These unique and beautiful pit stops along the US-1 route offer a mix of history, natural beauty, and coastal charm, adding a touch of magic to your road trip from Boston to Portland, Maine.

Salem, Massachusetts

Begin your journey with a stop in the historic town of Salem, known for its witch trials. Explore the Salem Witch Museum, stroll through the picturesque streets lined with charming colonial architecture, and immerse yourself in the town’s fascinating history.

Salem is a great place to spend some time- there’s fascinating history here that you won’t find elsewhere in the US. Consider adding a history of Salem walking tour to your road trip itinerary:

Hauntings of Salem Walking Tour

Large house in Salem, MA with the sunsetting behind on a walking tour of Salem

This historical walking tour gets over 5,000 five-star reviews! That’s incredible. Start at the old Town Hall in Salem and learn about 400 years of Salem history from a local historian.

You’ll learn about the Witch Trials Hysteria of 1692, how Salem became a prominent seaport, and stories of some of the families that rose to wealth along the way. You’ll visit the controversial Bewitched Statue of Elizabeth Montgomery, and then end at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.

“Jeremiah was an amazing guide! He did a wonderful job drawing everyone, of every age, not only into the wicked history of the witch trials, but also shared many other fascinating facts about Salem.”

-Katherine p (read more reviews)

This tour is great for all ages, even dogs are welcome! During peak season (October, of course) there may be up to 40 people on this tour. You can choose a daytime tour, or go for a spookier, lantern-led evening tour! Tours run rain or shine. The evening tours book up fast- tours depart as early as 9 am, and as late as 9 pm.

Book Now: Hauntings of Salem Walking Tour



Rockport, Massachusetts

Discover the picturesque coastal village of Rockport, famous for its iconic Motif No. 1 fishing shack and scenic harbor views. Enjoy browsing the art galleries, exploring the quaint shops, and indulging in delicious seafood at one of the waterfront restaurants.

Camden, Maine

Experience the beauty of coastal Maine in the charming town of Camden. Admire the stunning views from the top of Mount Battie, stroll along the scenic harbor, and visit the historic Camden Opera House for a dose of culture.

Windjammer Classic Sunset Sail

Need some time on the water? Pause in this Camden, and take a sunset sail on a classic windjammer. This two-hour boat trip takes you along the Maine coastline, with wonderful sunset views. You’ll sail past Curtis Island Light and into Penobscot Bay. You can help hoist sails, and even take a turn at the wheel of this traditional wooden ship. Departure times vary with sunset.

“The Captain and crew made this the best sail we’ve ever taken! Perfect 2 hour family sail and the Captain told the entire history of the ship and why these are so important to our history.”

-Amy_V (read more reviews)

Book Now: Windjammer Classic Sunset Sail


Pemaquid Point, Maine

Make a stop at Pemaquid Point to see its iconic lighthouse perched on rugged cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Explore the surrounding rocky shores, visit the Fisherman’s Museum, and capture breathtaking photos of the dramatic coastal scenery.

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Immerse yourself in the quintessential coastal charm of Boothbay Harbor. Take a scenic boat tour to explore the nearby islands, visit the beautiful Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and savor fresh seafood at one of the waterfront restaurants.

The Direct Route: Boston to Portland via I-10

If you are taking the direct route (I-10), from Boston to Portland, here are the must-see pit stops. These pit stops offer a mix of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and coastal charm, making your road trip from Boston to Portland, Maine, even more memorable.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire:

Explore the charming waterfront city with its historic architecture, bustling marketplaces, and picturesque coastal views. Don’t miss a visit to Strawbery Banke Museum, where you can step back in time and experience life in early America.

This is a great place to stop and do an Islands and Harbor Portsmouth Bike Tour!

People with bikes on a bike tour with the ocean behind them, Boston to Portland road trip.

Kids 10 and up can participate in this tour. During this 2-hour bike tour, you’ll ride across the Piscataqua River and head to the outer islands of Portsmouth, learning stories about the area as you go, including about “Live Free or Die” Captain John Stark.

“A fun adventure filled with history, moderate exercise, and lovely views. We had time to enjoy a break at each stop while we learned about each location.”

-victoria (read more reviews)

Book Now: Bike Tour of Portsmouth Harbor and Islands


Kennebunkport, Maine

Discover the coastal beauty of this quaint town known for its stunning beaches, charming shops, and delightful seafood. Visit the iconic Cape Porpoise Pier, take a scenic boat tour, or indulge in a delicious lobster roll.

Family Detour: You can do a fun scavenger hunt in Kennebunkport- this hunt takes about two hours, and will have you exploring the town both inside and outside. You’ll have challenges, solve clues, and interact with a live (but remote) host. Players give it five stars!

Book Now: Family Scavenger Hunt in Kennebunkport

Ogunquit, Maine

Experience the natural beauty of Ogunquit with its pristine sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and scenic coastal walks. Take a stroll along the Marginal Way, a picturesque footpath that offers breathtaking views of the ocean.

Cooked lobster on a blue and white striped tablecloth on Maine
Dinner at Foot Bridge Lobster in Ogunquit, Maine


Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth

Make a stop at this historic lighthouse, one of the most photographed in the United States. Enjoy panoramic views of the rugged coastline and capture memorable photos of the iconic red-and-white striped tower.

Freeport, Maine

Shopaholics will love a visit to Freeport, home to the famous L.L.Bean flagship store and numerous outlet shops. Explore the charming downtown area, dine at delicious seafood restaurants, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.


Best Stops from Boston to Portland via the Train

These fun and interesting pit stops along the train route from Boston to Portland offer a diverse range of experiences, from beachside fun to cultural attractions and scenic beauty, ensuring an exciting and memorable journey.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Get off at the Old Orchard Beach station and spend some time exploring this vibrant beach town. Enjoy the sandy shoreline, take a stroll on the iconic pier, and indulge in classic seaside treats like ice cream and fried dough.

Freeport, Maine

Hop off at the Freeport station and discover the famous L.L.Bean flagship store, where you can shop for outdoor gear and clothing. Explore the charming downtown area, browse through unique shops and boutiques, and sample local cuisine at one of the cozy restaurants.

Brunswick, Maine

Take a break at Brunswick and visit Bowdoin College, a prestigious liberal arts college known for its beautiful campus and cultural offerings. Explore the college grounds, visit the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, and take a leisurely walk through the quaint downtown area.

Portland Head Light, Maine

Arrive in Portland and make your way to the iconic Portland Head Light, one of the oldest lighthouses in the United States. Enjoy stunning views of the rugged coastline, learn about the history of the lighthouse, and capture memorable photos of the picturesque surroundings.

Old Port, Portland, Maine

Step off the train and venture into the charming Old Port district of Portland. Explore the cobblestone streets lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and waterfront restaurants. Take a scenic harbor cruise, sample fresh seafood, and soak in the lively atmosphere of this historic old port area.

Visiting Boston: Top Things to Do with Kids

There are so many things to do in Boston for all ages, here are just a few of the things that we enjoyed in our time there, that we highly recommend for families. These unique attractions in Boston offer memorable experiences that are sure to captivate the imaginations of children.

Old North Church in Boston with skyscrapers behind it

Whether it’s participating in a historical reenactment, learning about the American Revolution, exploring the city by land and water, or encountering fascinating wildlife, there’s something for every young adventurer in Boston.

Boston CityPASS

If you’ll be spending a few days in Boston, consider getting a CityPass– it’s good for 9 consecutive days from when you first use it. It includes admission to the New England Aquarium (one of our favorite places in Boston!) and the Museum of Science, Boston (also amazing), plus two other attractions of your choice, including a Boston Harbor Cruise.

Book Now: Boston CityPASS


Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Step back in time and relive the iconic Boston Tea Party at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Kids can participate in a reenactment, throw “tea” into the harbor, and explore interactive exhibits to learn about this pivotal event in American history.

Freedom Trail

Discover the thrill of exploring the renowned Freedom Trail with your family. This 2.5-mile historic route showcases 16 significant sites which immerse your children in American history. The trail starts at Boston Commons, the oldest public park in the country, and includes Paul Revere’s House, and the USS Constitution Museum among others.

You’ll get the most out of the Freedom Trail with this five-star small group tour. No more dragging your kids over to read placards! This tour starts at Boston Commons, lasts 2 1/2 hours, and ends at Copps Hill.

“Ted was an amazing tour guide and historian. He brought the story to life and told it how it really happened not what we want to believe happened.”

William_S (read more reviews)

Book Now: Small Group Freedom Trail Walking Tour


Boston Duck Tours

Hop aboard a colorful renovated World War II amphibious vehicle and embark on a Boston Duck Tour, a unique way to see the city. Kids will love the exciting ride that takes them through the streets of Boston and then into the water for a scenic cruise along the Charles River. The big “splash” into the water is always a favorite moment!

Duck tours last 1 1/2 hours, and cover most of the major sites in downtown Boston from Boston Commons to Newbury Street, to the Prudential Center. This is a great way to get an overview of the city if it’s your first time visiting Boston.

“t was really cool hearing the back story to a lot of historic buildings, and it’s a great way to start your trip to Boston off. It gave a lot of places and ideas for what to visit in person next! “

Tia_E (read more reviews)

Book Now: Boston Duck Tours


Other things we highly recommend doing in Boston: a tour of Fenway Park, and a walking food tour of the North End (Italian quarter).

Visiting Portland Maine: Top Things to Do with Kids

Portland Maine has a ton of family-friendly activities, here are some of our favorites that we highly recommend to other traveling families. These fun and easy activities in Portland, Maine, provide opportunities for family bonding and exploration.

Exterior of Harbor Fish Market in Portland Maine

Whether it’s marveling at a historic lighthouse, engaging in hands-on learning at a children’s museum, or enjoying a scenic ferry ride, Portland and the old port area offers plenty of family-friendly attractions for all to enjoy.

Explore the Portland Head Light

Visit the iconic Portland Head Light, a historic lighthouse perched on the stunning shores of Cape Elizabeth. Take a leisurely stroll along the scenic trails, enjoy a picnic with a view, and let the kids explore the rocky beach for seashells and tide pools.

Portland City and 3 Lighthouse Historical Tour

If you really want to see iconic lighthouses, take this 1.75-hour lighthouse tour that includes the city of Portland, as well as visits to three lighthouses: Portland Head Light, Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, and Portland Breakwater Lighthouse. You’ll be led by a librarian who knows the city well and will share local lore along the way.

Book Now: Portland City and 3 Lighthouse Historical Tour


Take a Casco Bay Ferry Cruise

Embark on a family-friendly cruise around Casco Bay, where you can enjoy picturesque views of the coast, islands, and lighthouses. Choose from various cruise options, including narrated tours or island-hopping adventures, and make lasting memories as you sail together on the sparkling waters.

Casco Bay Tall Ship Cruise

This windjammer cruise is two hours of cruising on the ocean. Help hoist the sails on this traditional wooden boat, then sit back and watch for wildlife along the shores.

“What an experience and what a gorgeous boat! The cruise led us around the harbor that’s steeped in history. The captain and his crew invited us to participate in raising the sails, how fun, and we saw two seals while cruising, so cute!”

-Heather_B (read more reviews)

Book Now: Casco Bay Tall Ship Cruise


The Casco Bay Narrow Gauge

The Main Narrow Gauge is a charming, historic railway that offers scenic rides along the waterfront of Portland, Maine. With its vintage steam and diesel locomotives, the railroad provides a unique experience for families to step back in time and enjoy the picturesque beauty of Casco Bay.

Other things we recommend doing in Portland: Take a one-hour open-air trolley tour of the city, or take a donut-tasting walking tour!

FAQs: Boston to Portland, Maine Road Trip

How far apart are Boston and Portland, Maine?

Boston and Portland, Maine are approximately 109 miles apart, making it a convenient and relatively short distance for a road trip or other modes of transportation between the two cities. The short distance means you have a lot of time to stop and explore the area in between these cities.

Keep in mind, once you are in Portland, you are only three hours from the epic Acadia National Park.

What is the best time of year to take a road trip from Portland, Maine to Boston?

The best time for a road trip from Portland, Maine to Boston is during the summer months of June to August, with favorable weather and abundant activities and events to enjoy along the way.

Can you take a ferry from Boston to Portland, Maine?

Unfortunately, no, there is not a direct ferry that goes from Boston to Portland, Maine. However, there is The Casco Bay Lines which operates a ferry service between Portland, Maine, and the Casco Bay Islands. 

Can you take a bus from Boston to Portland, Maine?

Yes, you can take a bus from Boston to Portland, Maine. Several bus companies, such as Concord Coach Lines and Greyhound, offer regular bus services between the two cities, providing a convenient and affordable transportation option for travelers.

What is Halfway Boston and Portland Maine?

The halfway point between Boston, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine is typically around the Wells area. It’s approximately 55-60 miles from both cities and serves as a convenient rest stop for travelers on the route. Wells is known for its beautiful beaches, charming downtown area, and various dining options, making it a great place to take a break during your journey.

There You Have It: Boston to Portland, Maine Road Trip Routes

A road trip from Boston to Portland, Maine is an ideal family vacation, offering a blend of natural beauty, historical sites, and family-friendly attractions. There are countless benefits of traveling as a family. My family and I made lasting memories and look forward to taking this road trip again!

With this road trip itinerary, you can explore picturesque coastal towns, visit charming lighthouses, and indulge in fresh seafood. Kids will love the sandy beaches, scenic hiking trails, and the chance to learn about American history at museums and landmarks.

This travel guide allows for flexibility and discovery, allowing families to create memorable experiences together. From stunning landscapes to engaging activities, a road trip from Boston to Portland offers something for everyone, making it a perfect choice for a summer family getaway.

Traveling along the East Coast? We’ve got lots of family road trip stops, including guides to visiting Washington DC, and a beginner’s guide to New York City.

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