Difficult question. It's certainly nicer than 95 but it's real slow. I guess if depends how valuable your time is.
I'd say if you have time and desire to make a few stops to look around, maybe loop slightly off route, and make a day of it then it's worth it. If you plan to drive straight though and see what you can see at speed out the widow I wouldn't bother and just take 95. No mind blowing scenery right on route but you pass though some really nice towns but taking the coastal route from Ellsworth.
This is a question about Maine not Canada if I understand correctly so you might get more opinions asking on the Maine forum.
Thank you for your info.
I've gone both ways many times (though starting near Eastport ME not Saint John) and I always play it by ear as to which way I go. Sometimes I just want to get there other times I'm in the mood for seeing things other than the side of a highway.
If you do decide on the more coastal route off 95 then Camden and Rockland are a couple towns to flag for stops for lunch or just to stroll. They are both very nice and about half way between Ellsworth and Portland.
I look at it differently. Route 9 from Calais to Bangor is a highly rustic way with fine rural scenery, like blueberry fields, streams, and hills. It's fast, too, with a posted speed limit of 55 mph (which most drivers exceed). We prefer it to US-1 between Calais and Ellsworth. (If you're traveling between Calais and Bar Harbor, and don't want to follow the 1, take Route 9 to Aurora and then Route 179 to Ellsworth, a quicker and more scenic way.)
Remember, too, that US-1 the Ocean Highway doesn't follow the water. The Maine coast is too deeply indented. Route 1 cuts off the necks of the several peninsulas, whithout running down to the charming coastal towns like Boothbay Harbor, Castine, and Popham Beach.
If you'll be in Ellsworth anyway, the section of Route 1 west to Belfast offers an excellent sampling of Maine coastal scenery with less traffic. Between Belfast and Ellsworth, you have Castine, Bucksport (my favorite white clapboard New England town), the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge with its observatory open to the public on the 40th storey, innumerable flea markets, yard sales, and antique shops, and, at Belfast, a decommissioned highway bridge now open as a splendid pedestrian walkway over part of the bay. After that, you could head inland on Route 3 to the Interstate in Augusta, if you get Route 1-ed out.
If you do follow the 1 west of Belfast, here's our three favorite towns that are worth a stop and stroll and are actually on Route 1:
- Damariscotta, a highly quaint old town with a church on a hill, little shops in its tiny downtown, and a bridge you can walk across
- Wiscasset, with more tiny cute downtown shops and antique houses
- Bath. Not tiny or cute, but historic and worth a stroll along the Kennebec River front.
Thank you for all the great info!! Cheers.