Coastal New England is, without a doubt, one of the most staggeringly beautiful regions in the United States. Steeped in history, the Atlantic shores of the Northeast are home to quaint seaside towns and beautiful views. The drive from Boston, Massachusetts to Portland, Maine is only about 147 miles, but there's so much to do along the way that it makes for a perfect weekend getaway.
The quickest route to most of the destinations we've included here is I-95, the interstate that runs more or less parallel to the coast. However, if you have time to take the scenic route, take 1A all the way to Portsmouth, followed by U.S. Route 1 up to Portland. It'll extend the duration of your trip, but you'll get a chance to see some truly breathtaking coastal views.
Your journey begins in the unofficial capital of New England: Boston, Massachusetts. You can easily fly in to the city's Logan International Airport and pick up a vehicle from a rental car agency. Before you hit the road, be sure to check out some of the city's key points of interest, such as the Boston Common, the Freedom Trail, and the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.
Just twenty miles north of Boston you'll come to Salem, known as the City of Witches. There are plenty of ways to explore the town's dark, fascinating history: you can check out the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, stop by Burying Point (the oldest cemetery in Salem, dating from 1637), visit the Witch House (Salem's only building with direct ties to the witch trials), or go see Cry Innocent, a live reenactment of the witchcraft examination of Bridget Bishop.
One of the nation's oldest cities, Portsmouth, New Hampshire was settled in 1623 and is teeming with history. Be sure to walk the Harbour Trail between North Church and the retired U.S.S. Albacore submarine. Downtown Portsmouth is a great shopping destination, with a wealth of antiques, clothing, art, and interesting shops. If you have some extra time, consider taking a tour of the Isles of Shoals.
Kennebunkport, Maine is a gorgeous seaside town—the Bush family has maintained a summer home here for several generations. It's a great spot for kayaking, so if you've got time to kill, stop and get a kayak tour with a licensed guide. If you'd prefer to stay on land, scour the quaint, charming shops for the perfect gifts for your friends.
Portland, Maine lies north of Kennebunkport and is the state's largest urban area. A popular cultural, dining, and shopping destination, it's a great place to end your journey. Check out the thriving nightlife while you're there, and make sure to tour the Portland Observatory, the only known remaining maritime signal tower in the country.