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Coastal Maine: Portland to Bar Harbor

Program No. 21485RJ
Discover the colonial city of Portland, visit Acadia National Park and the renowned works of the Farnsworth Museum, and take a classic schooner sail along the shores of Maine.

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At a Glance

Immerse yourself in the local culture of picturesque seaside villages hidden amidst the rugged shorelines and ocean air of Maine. Journey through Portland’s cobblestone streets that lead you to the Old Port’s thriving foodie scene. Venture “Down East” and farther into towns exuding charm representative of the romance of Maine’s unspoiled beauty. Pass lighthouses, marvel at blue harbors and relax while the sun sets, eating a traditional lobster bake with your fellow adventurers.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles, sometimes on uneven terrain, such as dirt and cobblestones. Standing and sitting during lectures and field trips. Getting on and off motor coach.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

What You'll Learn

  • Experience Acadia National Park’s sea cliffs with a naturalist and explore waterways on a nature cruise.
  • Voyage on a classic Maine schooner and learn about the region's shipbuilding and maritime prowess.
  • Explore the Farnsworth Museum, known for it’s trove of the Wyeth family’s artwork and other notable American masterpieces.

General Notes

This is a coaching program that travels to six Maine towns over seven days. We make every effort to allow time to explore each village and town we visit - however, please be aware that time on the bus is crucial in getting you from place to place.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
Profile Image
Jim Sharp
At the age of 12, Jim Sharpe — without his parent’s knowledge — pilfered the family skiff and sailed across Dredge Harbor, N.J. His love for sailing never dwindled, and over the years he made his way to Maine where he discovered the Windjammer fleet out of Camden. Upon retirement, he sailed around the world with his wife. In 2007, Jim purchased property in Rockland, Maine and began to create the Sail, Power & Steam Museum, along with a Children’s Museum and boat shop.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Jim Sharp
Jim Sharp View biography
At the age of 12, Jim Sharpe — without his parent’s knowledge — pilfered the family skiff and sailed across Dredge Harbor, N.J. His love for sailing never dwindled, and over the years he made his way to Maine where he discovered the Windjammer fleet out of Camden. Upon retirement, he sailed around the world with his wife. In 2007, Jim purchased property in Rockland, Maine and began to create the Sail, Power & Steam Museum, along with a Children’s Museum and boat shop.
Profile Image of Sam Ladley
Sam Ladley View biography
A native Mainer, Sam summered on the remote island of Matinicus and spent as much time as possible on and around boats. He has degrees in history and public speaking and has been a lecturer for many Road Scholar programs in New England, Maritime Canada and on the Erie Canal focusing on colonial settlement of the northeast and its maritime history. Over the years, Sam has worked as a lobster sternman, visiting school lecturer, kite flyer, trip leader, and house renovator.
Profile Image of Gerald Berlin
Gerald Berlin View biography
After thirty plus years in health care education, Gerry embarked on a path of a long held interest in hospitality. His adventures include an eight-year stint at a Bar Harbor inn where he held various positions in food service, concierge, and guest services. Gerry also worked in the cruise industry in Bar Harbor as a member of the pier team. That last job led to Gerry’s interest in leading groups so he can share beautiful Mount Desert Island, Maine and the spectacular Acadia National Park.
Profile Image of Linda Pomerleau
Linda Pomerleau View biography
Linda Pomerleau is a Mainer both by birth and by choice. Since retiring from a 25-year teaching career, during which she taught Maine history and language arts to 8th graders, she has been sharing her love of Maine by leading groups in Acadia National Park and all of Mount Desert Island. Linda enjoys kayaking, biking, hiking, and snowshoeing. She also enjoys spending time looking for moose and deer with her NYC grandkids when they are in Maine, as well as fostering their love of reading.
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While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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7 days
6 nights
15 meals
6 B 5 L 4 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Portland, ME
Hilton Garden Inn Portland Airport

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00-5:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to meet the Group Leader and confirm orientation time and place. Orientation: 5:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Portland History, Old Port District, Trolley, Portland Light
Portland, ME
Hilton Garden Inn Portland Airport

Activity note: Getting on/off a trolley. Walking up to 2 miles, approximately 1.5 hours and standing; some cobblestone streets, grass and packed dirt paths at lighthouse. Comfortable, sturdy walking shoes recommended.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will be joined by a local expert who will provide an overview of Portland’s history. Originally called Machigonne (Great Neck) by the Native Americans who first inhabited it, the Portland peninsula was established by the British in 1632 as a trading and fishing settlement. Industry grew and Portland’s waterfront became a hub of shipping and trading companies. At one time, Maine was at the center of global commerce as products from Maine were shipped around the world. The Phoenix, the mythical bird that rises from the ashes, aptly symbolizes Portland’s legendary rebirth after the Great Fire of 1866 leveled the city for the fourth time. Almost completely rebuilt during the Victorian era, Portland has maintained much of its 19th century architecture and flavor. Next, we’ll continue our exploration aboard a classically-styled trolley with expert commentary. We’ll learn more about Portland’s diverse history and see some of its hidden gems. Towards the end of our trolley ride, we’ll stop on Cape Elizabeth at Portland Head Light, Maine’s oldest lighthouse. There, we’ll see spectacular views of Fort Williams Park while learning about this famous lighthouse.

Lunch: At a restaurant in the Old Port district along Portland Harbor.

Afternoon: We’ll set out on a walking field trip to the historic waterfront known as the Old Port. Our local expert will discuss architecture and historic businesses related to the various maritime endeavors of historic Portland, the British raid during the American Revolution, and the 1855 Portland Rum Riot. We’ll end at the Maine State Pier and see port infrastructure. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are free.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions from fresh seafood, farm to table, classic New England, and more.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to go out and explore more of this charming small city at your own pace, stroll down to the water and watch the boats venture in and out of the harbor, or simply relax. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Maine Maritime Museum, Farnsworth Museum & Wyeth Center
Camden, ME
Lord Camden Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking and standing, approximately 1.5 hours in museum;

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel, board a motorcoach, and drive from Portland up Maine’s scenic coastline to Bath, renowned for shipbuilding since 1743. More than 5,000 vessels have been launched in this area that at one time had more than 200 shipbuilding firms. Then, in the company of an expert at the Maine Maritime Museum, we’ll learn how Bath became the nation’s fifth-largest seaport by the mid-19th century, producing clipper ships that sailed to ports around the world. We’ll also have some independent time in the museum to see what interests each of us most.

Lunch: At the Maine Maritime Museum, we’ll have box lunches.

Afternoon: Back aboard the motorcoach, our next field trip will take us to the Farnsworth Museum and Wyeth Center in Rockland. With more than 20,000 square feet of gallery space and more than 15,000 works in the collection the Farnsworth holds a nationally recognized collection of works from some of America’s greatest artists. The museum has one of the nation’s largest collections of works by sculptor Louise Nevelson. Its Wyeth Center features works by Andrew, N.C., and Jamie Wyeth. A docent will lead our exploration, consisting of several discrete components dedicated to collecting, research, exhibitions, and interpretive programs related to three generations of Wyeths in Maine: N.C., Andrew, and James. After the museum, we’ll continue north along the coast and arrive in the picturesque coastal community of Camden. We will go to the inn and check in with some time to freshen up and relax or explore independently before dinner.

Dinner: In a local restaurant.

Evening: Back at the hotel, we’ll gather for a presentation by a local expert to further our knowledge of mid-coast Maine.

Lobster Boat Study Cruise, Sail Power & Steam Museum
Camden, ME
Lord Camden Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles and standing. unpaved terrain, walking up a marine ramp with hand rails to wooden dock, steps up/down over gap to board boat. Boat has wooden benches; half of deck shaded. Warm attire recommended

Breakfast: At the Inn.

Morning: We’ll board a lobster boat for a maritime field trip out of Camden Harbor to learn everything about lobster and more from a staff member. As we cruise through the harbor, we’ll see how traps are pulled in everyday by professionals and amateurs alike. Afterwards, we will board the motorcoach and continue onto lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Reboarding our motorcoach, we’ll ride to the Sail Power and Steam Museum in Rockland and hear sea stories, shanties, and heroics on the high seas with the curator, Captain Jim Sharp. Captain Jim will lead our exploration through the museum to learn about historically significant sail power and steam-driven vessels as well as their origins, construction, and more. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Schooner Sail Penobscot Bay, Transfer to Mount Desert Island
Bar Harbor, ME
Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking on pavement to dock, up marine ramp with handrails to wooden dock, up/down steps and over gap to board schooner. Sail is weather-dependent, approximately 2.5 hours. Schooner has sails, wooden benches with cushions; single bathroom down steep flight of wooden steps. Soft-soled, non-marking shoes recommended.

Breakfast: At the Inn.

Morning: With our bags packed, we’ll check out and ride up the coast. Arriving in picturesque Rockport harbor, we’ll board a family-built, owned, and operated schooner for a sail. The captain will regale us with stories while pointing out the varied wildlife, lobster pots and lighthouses. We’ll also learn why the lobster fishing industry is so important to Maine’s economy and “sense of place.”

Lunch: Aboard the schooner.

Afternoon: Leaving Mid-Coast Maine, we’ll head “Down East” to Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park. En route, we’ll visit the Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observatory. The observatory affords 360-degree views of the Penobscot River and Bay, the countryside, and distant mountains from the tallest bridge observatory in the world! We’ll then proceed to Bar Harbor and check in to our hotel before heading to dinner.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Bar Harbor.

Evening: At leisure.

Acadia National Park By Land & Sea
Bar Harbor, ME
Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting on/off a vessel using ramps and/or stairs. Walking on uneven terrain. Nature study cruise, approximately 2 hours, weather dependent. Boat has two levels; one is covered. Participants encouraged to bring National Park Passes.

Breakfast: At the Inn.

Morning: Please bring your National Park Pass if you have one. We will begin our exploration of Acadia National Park with a scenic drive up Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Eastern seaboard, with commentary by our Group Leader as well as photo opportunities. When the serpentine summit road was built in the 1930s, it was considered the best-engineered mountain road in the world.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will explore the park by sea on an Acadia nature study cruise. On the 2-hour, fully-narrated field trip of Frenchman Bay, take in the breathtaking scenery of coastal Maine, Acadia National Park, the islands of Frenchman Bay, and the shoreline of Bar Harbor. We’ll see parts of the island only visible by water including summer mansions, Egg Rock Lighthouse, and wildlife that may be present.

Dinner: At the hotel, share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell lobster dinner.

Evening: We’ll have a wrap-up and review of our program. Prepare for check-out and transfer back to Portland in the morning.

Transfer to Portland, Program Concludes
Bar Harbor, ME

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; departure at 8:30 a.m.; hotel check-out 11:00 a.m. Trip to Portland International Jetport is 170 miles, approximately 4 hours depending on traffic; expected arrival approximately 12:30 p.m., followed by drop-offs at Portland Transportation Center (train station) and the first hotel. Recommend scheduling flights that depart after 2:30 p.m.

Breakfast: At the Inn.

Morning: Travelling in and out of Bar Harbor without your own vehicle is difficult and time consuming, so we have scheduled a group transfer back to Portland. Departure from Bar Harbor is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. The trip to Portland International Jetport is approximately 4 hours, with expected arrival by 12:30 p.m. Recommend scheduling flights that depart after 2:30pm. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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