Nothing kills romance like gridlock. Our advice? Pack a couple of sweaters and drive up the Maine coast this September, when lighthouse-mobbing crowds have dispersed but businesses haven’t yet closed for the winter. Start in Portland and aim for Acadia National Park, 160 miles north—three days will suffice, but a week is better. After a stop at Yordprom Coffee Co. (207-221-2347), move north on serpentine Route 1, which rivals its left-coast namesake for views. (Fact: Maine has 51 more miles of coastline than California.) In Wiscasset, chow down at Red’s Eats (207-882-6128), a waterfront lobster shack famous for its Falstaffian portions (each roll is jammed with the meat of a whole lobster). Then make for Rockland, a true fishing village with battered motels and ancient taverns where you can feast on chowder full of oysters that the rubber-overalled guy next to you pulled in that morning. Crash at the Glen Cove Inn (doubles, $99; glencovemotel.com) or, for more pomp, old-money Camden’s Norumbega Inn (from $275; norumbegainn.com), a 125-year-old castle where you can get your own turret. Once in Acadia, hook up with National Park Sea Kayak Tours, whose guides will show you hidden spots like Seal and Clark coves (half-day trips, $48; acadiakayak.com). Secluded? Yes. Uncivilized? Never. You can get a good bottle of local wine at nearby Bar Harbor Cellars (barharborcellars.com), crash at the simple, clean Acadia Hotel (doubles from $130; acadiahotel.com), and catch local bands at nearby Lompoc Cafe (lompoccafe.com). All that and you’re minutes from 125 miles of deserted beaches and old-growth conifers.