- Several scenic hiking trails lead to the top of Cadillac Mountain, which at 1,530 feet above sea level is the tallest mountain on Mount Desert Island. For information and a video about the mountain’s North Ridge Trail, click here
If looking for a flatter hike along the coast, check out Acadia’s Ocean Path, which traces the shore from the famous Sand Beach to Otter Point, stopping off at Thunder Hole, one of the park’s top attractions. If feeling ambitious, lengthen the hike by continuing up Gorham Mountain and descending down into The Bowl. For information and a video of this hike, click here.
- Interested in learning a little history during your outing? Visit the Sieur de Monts Spring, where you can visit a the Abbe Museum, the Wild Gardens of Acadia, the George B. Dorr Monument and Nature Center, all before heading up Dorr Mountain, named after “The Father of Acadia,” George Dorr. For information and a video of this hike, click here.
- If the hustle and bustle of Acadia’s tourist season is getting to you, try traveling to the quieter side of the island for a relatively easy but rewarding hike up Flying Mountain. The view at the top is said to be one of the nicest views on Mount Desert Island. For information and a video of this hike, click here.
Eat & Drink
- If you’re heading to Acadia, you probably want some lobster at some point. There are lots of places to dig into Maine’s beloved crustacean; some of the better ones include the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, right next to the bridge that connect MDI to the mainland, the Fish House Grill, on West Street right on the water in downtown Bar Harbor, or the beautiful and scenic Thurston’s Lobster Pound, on the far southern tip of the island in Bernard, just off Bass Harbor.
- Feeling like a splurge (i.e., dropping $50 or more per person for dinner)? Havana Restaurant is one of the best eateries in town, with an American Bistro-style menu with a distinct Latin flair. They make a wonderful paella with super-fresh local seafood; pair it with a Capirinha cocktail. Ask for the Presidential table. Another nice splurge is Mache Bistro, also on Main Street, which offers a French-inspired menu and a wonderful wine list. Out of town, XYZ in Southwest Harbor offers up surprisingly good high-end Mexican food, and Town Hill Bistro in the village of Town Hill offers up luscious, creative food in a beautiful, intimate atmosphere.
- Looking for something a little more casual? In town, you can’t beat the pub grub at the Thirsty Whale, a local watering hole and an institution on Cottage Street, and for brunch, it doesn’t get better than 2 Cats, also on Cottage Street; their biscuits with strawberry butter are to die for. The Side Street Cafe offers up classic comfort food in a friendly pub atmosphere.
- Bar Harbor runs on ice cream. The two big players for the ice cream crown in town are Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream Company, which offers up such unique flavors as Thai Chili Chocolate and Blackstrap Banana, and Ben & Bills, which has house-made ice cream packed with candy, fudge, swirls and other classic flavors. Need a pick me up afterwards? The coffee at Matsumoto Joe and the Trailhead Cafe are both very good.
- The nightlife in Bar Harbor can be pretty crazy. For a party, Carmen Verandah or the Mad Hatter Pub both offer dancing and drinking, while Little Anthony’s and the Thirsty Whale are your more classic pub scenes. The Lompoc Cafe is the best place for cocktails and to listen to some hip indie rock bands, and out of town, the most romantic place to get a drink has to be the Boathouse at the Claremont Inn in Southwest Harbor. Quiet, dockside, elegant.
Shop & See
- There’s lots of great shopping to be done in downtown Bar Harbor, including the beautiful housewares at Window Panes, the quirky art and gifts at Spruce & Gussy, the amazing selection of fossils, rocks, jewelry and natural history artifacts at the Rock & Art Shop, the high fashion duds and designer jeans at women’s clothing store Macey’s, the organic and natural foods at A&B Naturals, and the tourist-centric t’s and totes at Cool as a Moose. All the above are within a ten minute walk of each other.
- The George B. Dorr Museum at nearby College of the Atlantic is a small but engaging natural history museum, detailing the ecological history of Mt. Desert Island; hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. A mini-natural history museum in and of itself is the Naturalist’s Notebook, a shop located in Seal Harbor; lots of beautiful books, art items and artifacts, most for sale, and very educational.
- Of course, you can’t beat a walk along the shore path in downtown Bar Harbor, which starts near Agamont Park, near the waterfront; just stroll along the rocky cliffs of the harbor, admire the multi-million dollar homes, and wind your way back along a side street back to Main Street.
Places to stay
- The Bar Harbor Inn & Spa, located right on the ocean in downtown Bar Harbor, is a luxurious place that provides everything you need for a relaxing vacation right there — spa services, motor coach tours, as well as the Reading Room Restaurant and Terrace Grille. And like many buildings in Bar Harbor, the inn has a fascinating history. Rates change throughout the season, peaking at $215-$395 late June-August.
Bar Harbor is home to a wide variety of bed & breakfasts, which range in cost. To learn about many of these establishments, visit the Bar Harbor B&B Association website. Many of the B&B’s have historical significance, for example, the Holbrook House is a 1876 Victorian house on the historic corridor of Bar Harbor.
- Edenbrook Motel is a good option for those looking to save money while staying somewhere clean and comfortable in Bar Harbor. The friendly staff there are happy to help you plan activities while you’re on the Mount Desert Island. Room rates range from $55 to $130, depending on the season and room location.
- Mount Desert Island is home to many campgrounds. If you want to stay in Acadia National Park, try the Seawall Campground, which has 214 campsites and is open late May through September. Per night, it costs $14 for a walk-in tent site and $20 for a drive-up tent, camper or motorhome site. In this campground, you’ll be roughing it without hookups or utilities. Showers are available nearby for a fee, and you’ll want to check out the evening campfire programs. It also just happens to be an Island Explorer Shuttle Bus stop. If looking for more amenities — including kayak and canoe rentals, floats and electric and water hookups — check out Mount Desert Campground, which is outside the park but right on shore Somes Sound. Nightly rates range from $31 to $59 per site, depending on the season and location of the site.
Special times to visit
The Acadia Night Sky Festival, Sept. 25-29, 2014, a community celebration to promote the protection and enjoyment of Acadia’s night sky as a valuable natural resource through education, science and the arts. The festival features art, music, science, poetry, and stargazing events.
- Art in the Park, the 64th annual art show on the Village Green, Bar Harbor, June 21-22, 2014. The event features more than 25 fine painters and photographers, as well as craftspeople.
- Bar Harbor 4th of July, “This is Our Time,” organized by the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. Festivities include a pancake breakfast, parage, lobster races, music from the town band, seafood festival and fireworks over Frenchman Bay.