Acadia  provides a kind of mental barrier for those driving up the coast—southwest of Mount Desert Island  is the Maine of picture postcards and windjammer cruises. To the northeast—or “downeast” if you follow the wind—is the real Maine , without all of those pretentious art galleries and hoity-toity restaurants. This is a land of honest, working folk and family-style restaurants that haven’t changed their menus in decades.
The little-visited region of the state rewards with hidden beauty, both in its rocky, lighthouse-studded coastline, and its interior, honeycombed with blueberry barrens that light up the ground bright red in the fall. The best time to visit is August, when towns are bustling with workers to pick the year’s crop, and Downeast towns hold fairs and carnivals to celebrate the harvest.
To drive to Bangor  from Portland , take I-95 north to exit 182A (130 mi., 2 hrs. 10 min.). From Bangor to the Sunrise Coast , take U.S. Route 1A south to Ellsworth  (20 mi., 40 min.). From there head north up U.S. Route 1 to Machias (65 mi., 1 hr. 40 min.). To continue along to Lubec, head north from Machias along U.S. 1, then east on Route 189 (30 mi., 45 min.). For Eastport, head north from Machias on Route 191, then east on Route 86 to rejoin U.S. Route 1 at Dennysville; then south on Route 190 at Perry (45 mi., 1 hr. 30 min.). For Calais, head north from Machias along Route 191 to join U.S. 1 south (45 mi., 1 hr. 15 min.). Alternately to drive to Calais straight from Bangor, take Route 9 east to U.S. 1 south (95 mi., 2 hrs. 30 min.).
Flights arrive at Bangor International Airport (287 Godfrey Blvd., Bangor, 207/992-4623, www.flybangor.com ) from several domestic carriers, including Delta (Atlanta , Boston , Cincinnati, New York -JFK), US Airways (Philadelphia ), and Allegiant Air (Orlando  and Tampa ).
West Bus Service (800/596-2823, ww.westbusservice.com) runs a daily bus between Bangor and Calais by way of Ellsworth  and Machias. Stops are made by request in other towns along Route 1.