We absolutely love road trips. You may have noticed that they’re one of our favorite topics to write about. From coastal trips to inland trips to byways and scenic highways, Maine makes it pretty easy to get out and enjoy the scenery. Just when we thought we were out of road trips to send you on, we came across an idea in Western Maine that was new to us. Despite being a state highway, Route 26 will take you through the most lovely countryside and bits of the real Maine. Even better, it features some fun culture, history and nature stops along the way. It’s short, entertaining and can be done in a day. Although, we’ve added a spot to stay overnight to give yourself a destination.
Click here for full directions and read on for the details!
1. Maine Wildlife Park, Gray
You'll start your trip by making your way to Gray. Then, your first stop will be the Maine Wildlife Park. The Park exists as a permanent home for wildlife that can't make it in the wild. They are healed and protected in a natural habitat. The park boasts more than thirty species of native wildlife and provides nature trails to see them all. They have lots of beautiful gardens to enjoy, as well as a snack area and picnic tables. The park is open until November 11th. Visit them at: 56 Game Farm Rd,
Gray / 207-657-4977
2. Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, New Gloucester
Sabbathday in Maine is the only active Shaker Community in the world! Visit for that reason, but also to see the various museum buildings, which include twenty-seven exhibit rooms allowing guests to explore over 200 years of Shaker history. Visit them at: 707 Shaker Rd, New Gloucester / 207-926-4597
3. Poland Spring Resort, Poland Spring
The Poland Spring Resort is a historic place to visit, even if you don't choose to stay the night. They've got more than 500 acres of land, complete with the oldest golf course at a US resort! They've also got 3 inns, 11 cottages and activities such as bocce, grass tennis courts, a pool and a museum. Visit them at: 640 Maine St, Poland Spring / 207-998-4351
4. Poland Spring Preservation Society, Poland Spring
The non-profit society is housed in two buildings that are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places - the Maine State Building, which was originally located in Chicago at the 1893 World's Fair and All Souls Chapel. They provide museum tours that walking guests through the history of Poland Spring with a focus on the Victorian and Gilded ages. The Maine Golf Hall of Fame is also located here. Visitors will also find an art gallery and gift shop on the grounds. Visit them at: 37 Preservation Way, Poland / 207-998-4142
5. Cyndi’s Dockside Restaurant, Poland Spring
Cyndi's is open all year round, which is a blessing for those who live in the area and have made it their local spot. During the warmer months, enjoy outside seating and during those cozy, Maine winter months enjoy the pavilion or inside pub seating. Visit them at: 923 Maine St, Poland Spring / 207-998-5008
6. McLaughlin Garden and Homestead, South Paris
McLaughlin Gardens was started by Bernard McLaughlin in 1936. He welcomed anyone who wanted to visit whenever his doors were open. The garden and homestead have now been open for about 70 years. The garden is about two acres and is now owned by a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the historic home, barn and garden for the public. You can visit between May to October for no charge. Visit them at: 97 Main Street, South Paris / 207-743-8820
7. Melby's Market & Eatery, North Waterford
Don't forget to load up on snacks for the night before you arrive at your next stop! If you love breakfast anytime, you'll love Melby's. Actually, if you love comfort food and a legendary staff then you'll also love this place. Visit them at: 927 Valley Rd, Waterford / 207-583-4447
8. Crooked River Tiny House, Waterford
You've reached your destination! Now, after all those stops you can stop for the night and relax in this wonderful off-the-grid tiny house. Located next to the Crooked River in Waterford, it's got all the cozy nooks you'd want in a Maine cabin - including a wood burning stove, sleeping loft and lots of love! Book a night by clicking
9. Norway Brewing Company, Norway
Now it's time to head back down Route 26! But, don't forget to stop at one of our favorite places in this part of Western Maine! Norway Brewing Co. is a brewery in the heart of Norway. Their mission is to provide the area with craft beer and local, hand-made food. They've got a great outdoor seating area, which might not be great for these colder days. But, inside you'll love the cozy vibe. Visit them at: 237 Main St, Norway / 207-739-2126
Once you're done you'll be heading back the same way you came. There's so much to see along Route 26, that there's a good chance you missed a few things. So, take your time, enjoy the ride and remember why you love Maine. Oh! And don't forget to stop at our absolute favorite pit-stop along the way: Ocean State Job Lots. If there's anything you need - you'll find it there! Let us know if you love it too!