Boston to Portland

I had been patiently waiting for one of my kids to be ready for a bicycle tour. Finally, the six-year-old really wanted to spend the weekend on such a trip. Boston to Portland is a great introduction to bicycle touring: The route is generally flat with long stretches of bicycle trails away from cars, there are many beaches to stop and play at -- and, of course, it doesn't hurt that there are plenty of ice-cream shops along the way.

Our ride was one-way from Boston to Portland on the bicycle, returning to Boston via the Amtrak Downeaster. This is one of the very few Amtrak services that allows unpackaged bicycles on the train, although that may be changing.

Saturday: Boston, Mass. to Wells, Maine

We got up early and found our way via bicycle to Boston North Station in time to catch the Commuter Rail at 9:30, arriving Newburyport at 10:31.

We actually arrived at Boston North with not enough time to purchase tickets, so we did that while on the train using the MBTA mTicket app.

Newburyport is a great town to stroll around in, have a snack at Best of British, and pick up some extra food for the upcoming ride at the Black Duck Market & Deli.

We now had enough sugar and energy food to start our tour. After the first section on the trail to Salisbury, we made our way to the coast on a road that was busy but had wide shoulders. From that point on, we stayed within view of the Atlantic Ocean for almost the entire the rest of the day.

This gave us plenty of chances to stop, rest, play in the sand, throw rocks, and watch the beach activity. It was a cloudy day, but hot enough that the beaches were packed throughout.

There was a variety of sandy Seabrook Dunes, rocky beaches, and the green Rye Harbor State Park.

And then there was the spectacular stretch on Ocean Boulevard leading to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, topped off with Kilwins Ice Cream.

We were starving by the time we arrived in Wells, where we quickly checked into America's Best Value Inn. At this time of the year, hotels in the area require two nights minimum; however, after calling every facility in town, this motel accepted a reservation for one night only.

Then we wanted pasta. The first choice was Varano’s Italian Restaurant, which had a 30- to 45-minute wait. So instead we opted for the quick service at Seacoast Pizza & Pasta. The pasta with meatballs really hit the spot, as we ate it on picnic tables outside.

Sunday: Wells to Portland, Maine

Breakfast was at Borealis Breads in Wells, for bagels, cinnamon buns, honey sticks, and some other goodies to carry for snacks along the way.

This section of the tour was very different from the day before -- almost entirely on East Coast Greenway trails, with no views of the ocean until crossing the bridge into Portland.

We had a very leisurely day on the flat route, enjoying the shade on quiet trails away from car traffic. Along the way we sang, listened to music, and dreamed of another ice-cream cone in Portland. We arrived with plenty of time to eat at the Public Market House. Including ice cream!

We then made our way to the nearby Amtrak station to catch the train at 3:45 p.m. It arrived back at Boston North Station at 6:15.

Get more information about bike overnights.

Tip for this adventure: Click here to see a map of the route.

Favorite local bike shop: Ride Studio Café in Lexington, Mass. 

9 responses so far ↓

Jim Sayer - Oct 6, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Bravo Rami -- what a great trip, with a train ride return. Hope you are enjoying a wonderful fall.

Rami Haddad - Oct 6, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Thank you Jim. Indeed, combination of bicycle & train make for great trip destinations.

Scott - Aug 15, 2015 at 9:34 AM

My wife and I just did this ride as part of a week long bike ride in the area. I wanted to thank you for posting this as it was very helpful in planning. We started in Salem and stayed in Portsmouth the first night. Great ride and a wonderful trip.

One thing we did not know, and others should is that in high tourist season the Downeaster will not allow bikes. We ended up shipping our bikes from Portland using A local bike shop in Portland gave us bike boxes and allowed us to leave the bikes there for fedex to pick up. Not ideal but in the end cheaper than putting the on a plane.

Thanks again.

Pete Lane - Oct 29, 2015 at 2:48 PM

I have organized and led a similar ride with the Worcester Chapter of Appalachian Mountain Club for the past several years. But, we try to take Amtrak first from North Station in Boston to Portland ME. Then, we bike back along the coast to Newburyport where we catch the commuter rail back to North Station.

The first year we did this ride, we followed the East Coast Greenway on the Eastern Trail ( as Rami did. In following years, we followed roads closer to the coast. This took us by several light houses and more beaches. Adventure Cycling's East Coast Route takes you closer to the seashore than the Eastern Trail.

Pete Lane - Oct 29, 2015 at 2:53 PM

And one final comment: In August 2015, we had reservations on Amtrak for our bikes. But, while we were on our way to North Station in the morning, Amtrak called us and told us that they were not allowing bikes. To put it mildly, we were ripped.

Susie Foster - Aug 2, 2017 at 2:36 PM

I just checked and the Downeaster now does accept a certain number of bikes (it seems there are 8 spaces per train) - loading at the main stations only e.g. Portland, Boston etc. You reserve a place when you make your train reservation, for $5. Such a deal!!! I think I am going to do this trip!

Esteban - Aug 31, 2017 at 9:43 AM

Hi I live in Ecuador and we are interested in bikepack from Boston to Portland for vacation, is the there any source where I can get maps in order to design the route? hotels/restaurant recommendations?



Brink - Aug 31, 2017 at 11:39 AM

Hello Esteban,
You're in luck! Adventure Cycling has over 46,000 miles of mapped bicycle routes in North America with several that cross the U.S. Take a look at our interactive route map and start planning:

You can purchase our maps here in paper version, digital data versions, and we keep adding to our collection of map apps for your device:

Thanks and good luck,

Rami Haddad - Aug 31, 2017 at 12:13 PM

Good day Esteban, since this trip, I repeated it with a coastal route:

In the trip report, I suggest several services along the way.

For even more, search Google Maps.

For paper maps, look for DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer:

I do not recommend you divert too much from the routes I described in the two posts. That area in Maine gets very busy with traffic to enjoy a bicycle ride.

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