5 Fall Foliage Day Trips to Take From Portland, Maine

Rangeley Lake in Autumn
Franz-Marc Frei/Getty Images

Nothing compares to the beauty of Maine in the fall. In the Fall, visitors enjoy the vibrant hues of the changing leaves, shopping for bargains at antique and outlet stores and happening upon harvest events around the state.

Since leaves turn when the temperatures and timing are right, the Maine Department of Conservation offers weekly reports on foliage conditions throughout the state during the autumn months. 

Portland, Maine is an ideal place to serve as a home base for your leaf peeping, shopping, and sight-seeing excursions. Considered northern New England's cultural hub, Portland is a great place to visit for good restaurants, art, music, and theater. It's a coastal city with a lighthouse you'll want to visit.

Exploring the countryside during autumn is easy when you stay in Portland. There are several scenic routes to take and memorable things to do and see.

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    Rangeley Lake Maine
    Maine's Rangeley Lake is a spectacular destination for a drive in the fall.

    Danita Delimont/Getty Images

    Drive one of Maine's most spectacular scenic routes for an unforgettable view of the state's legendary fall foliage. Take a driving tour from Portland to Maine's Rangeley Lake Region.

    Enjoy sparkling lakes framed in fall splendor, mountain vistas, rivers edged with the reds and golds of autumn, covered bridges, and more.

    You can even take a cruise on Rangeley Lake. The 1.5 hour Fall Foliage Cruise highlights the fall colors of Bald, Saddleback and Spotted mountains and South Bog Preserve.

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    L.L. Bean Freeport Flagship Store
    L.L. Bean's flagship store in Freeport, Maine, is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

    Kim Knox Beckius

    Freeport is a quick, 20-minute drive up Interstate 95 from Portland, but to get the best look at the foliage, try the scenic back roads instead.

    With dozens of big-name factory outlets, boutiques, bed and breakfast inns, and restaurants, Freeport is a shopper's paradise. Best known for L.L. Bean, the leader in outdoor clothing and equipment, this quaint coastal Maine town also boasts outlets for many of the name-brand stores where America loves to shop, as well as wonderful places to enjoy the crisp fall weather and changing fall foliage.

    Other nearby attractions worth visiting include Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, with easy wooded hiking trails along Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River; Bradbury Mountain State Park, where a short, 1/4-mile hike to the summit will reward you with spectacular views of the surrounding fall foliage and of Casco Bay and the White Mountains; and the Desert of Maine, a natural phenomenon of giant sand dunes, open through mid-October.

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    Day Trip to Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
    A glimpse of a simpler life awaits on a day trip to Maine's Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village.

    Kim Knox Beckius

    Step back in time at the last surviving active Shaker community in the world, where six historic buildings are open to the public through mid-October.

    Located at the edge of beautiful Sabbathday Lake, only 25 miles from Portland, this oasis of simple living feels like a world away. The village is situated on 1,800 acres of farm and forest land and houses seventeen historic structures from the 1780s through the 1950s.

    You can take a guided tour, visit the museum, browse in the library, or stop by the Shaker store. Return to Portland via the back roads and enjoy the fall foliage.

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    Georgetown Maine - Reid State Park
    Reid State Park is a must-visit spot on the island of Georgetown, Maine.

    Kim Knox Beckius

    Just 10 minutes off Route 1 near Bath, the island of Georgetown has some of Maine's most spectacular scenery and most authentic fishing villages, plus little restaurants that serve seafood with a view.

    You can visit the lighthouse, go for a hike or shop for pottery on the island.  Go lobstering with Lucky Catch Cruises departing from Long Wharf several times daily from the first weekend in May through the last weekend in October. 

    Enjoy the island in its autumn finery, set against the blue waters of the ocean and rivers. It's one of the best places to see fall foliage in Midcoast Maine.

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    USA, Maine, Wells, Antique gas station
    Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

    Maine is one of the best places in the country for antique shopping. Nearly every back road has one or more antique shops tucked away in old barns and farmhouses, so you're likely to find a number of them on any fall foliage drive. There are 23 antique shops to visit along the Maine Antique Trail in the southern part of the state.

    A particularly noteworthy antiquing destination in southern Maine is Wells, a town filled with antique shops, flea markets, and rare book dealers. Cattail Farm Antiques in Wells is a multi-dealer shop in a 10,000-square-foot barn.

    You'll find dozens of others as you travel down Route 1 from Portland to Kittery, including Centervale Farm Antiques in Scarborough—one of Maine's largest single-owner antique shops—and Antiques USA on Route 1 in Arundel.

    For scenic views of quaint coastal towns, take Route 1A at Cape Neddick through the towns of York Beach, York Village, and York Harbor. In Kittery, you can look for antique shops or visit some of the...MORE many outlet stores.