Travel to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

Sailboats at dock in Bar Harbor, MaineSailboats docked in Bar Harbor, Maine

A favorite travel destination of ours is Bar Harbor, highly ranked as one of the best places to visit in Maine and all of New England.

Located on Mount Desert Island and close to the popular Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is the island’s largest town. Other villages on the island include Southwest Harbor, Tremont and Northwest Harbor.

Bar Harbor has a year-round population of about 5,200 residents. The summer season has warm days and cool evenings, with an average daily high temperature above 66°F. The colder winters don't stop the activity in Bar Harbor, and many cold weather activities abound in the area.

The entrance to Acadia National Park is less than one mile from downtown Bar Harbor; part of the park is actually in Bar Harbor proper.

Scene along the rugged Maine coast near Bar Harbor
Scene along the rugged Maine coast near Bar Harbor

Things to See and Do

Maine Lobsters ... a great reason to travel to Bar Harbor! Maine Lobsters ... a great reason to travel to Bar Harbor! More than 5.3 million lobsters are eaten annually in Bar Harbor.

The area is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who bike, hike, rock climb, paddle, sail, paddle board and golf.

For those who enjoy getting water activities, plan a trip on a historic schooner, taking a lobster boat cruise to see how Maine’s iconic crustaceans are harvested, search for whales off the coast, or look for seals, puffins, birds and other wildlife along the coastline.

The village features spectacular gardens, serene coves, rustic lobster eateries with waterfront picnic tables, unique museums, festivals and a variety of restaurants and other attractions.

Downtown Bar Harbor contains an assortment of streets, alleys, squares and piers. In addition to unique boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, there is a shore path that begins downtown and continues along the front yards of many of the town’s well-known summer cottages.

And then there is the world-famous Acadia National Park!

Boats at rest on a quiet day in Bar Harbor
Boats at rest on a quiet day in Bar Harbor

 

Acadia National Park

Autumn is a great time to explore the roads of Acadia National ParkAutumn is a great time to explore the roads of Acadia National Park

One of the area's main attractions is Acadia National Park, featuring 50 square miles of mountains, lakes, hiking, biking, views and dramatic coastline vistas.

The park is open for activity year-round. In the winter the carriage roads are converted into trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and the Park Loop Road turns into a paradise for snowmobile use and fat-tire biking.

Our most recent trip to the national park was in October, when the fall colors are magical, and the weather is perfect!

Some of the many highlights to be seen in the Park:

  • The Carriage Roads - 51 miles of gravel pathways and granite bridges for horse-drawn carriages, closed to motorized vehicles. The trails are popular with walkers, hikers, bicyclers, cross country skiers and snowshoeing enthusiasts.
  • Jordan Pond in Acadia National ParkJordan Pond in Acadia National Park
    Park Loop Road - 27 mile scenic road along the eastern part of Mt. Desert Island. The road begins at Hulls Cove Visitor Center and offers access to Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, Jordan Pond, and Cadillac Mountain. Most of the road is closed in the winter.
  • Thunder Hole - located just past Sand Beach when traveling south on the Park Loop Road. Visit just before high tide when the surf races into the naturally carved inlet and explodes as high as 40 feet with a thunderous roar.
  • Jordan Pond - formed by a glacier, the pond’s pristine clear water creates a beautiful backdrop for area mountains and vistas.

Cadillac Mountain

View from the top of Cadillac MountainView from the top of Cadillac Mountain

Mount Desert is also home to Cadillac Mountain, the highest mountain on the east coast of the Atlantic Ocean north of Rio de Janeiro.

From atop Cadillac Mountain’s 1,532 feet peak, visitors are the first to watch the sun rise each day in the United States.

Drive or bike the 3.5 miles to the Cadillac summit to enjoy spectacular 360-degree views of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and the Cranberry Islands. Or hike up one of four trails: North Ridge, Gorge, West Face, or South Ridge.

Entrance to Acadia National Park in Maine
near the Hulls Cove Visitors Center, just off Highway 3

Entrance to Acadia National Park in Maine

Islands Galore! Signage explaining the view in Acadia National Park from atop Cadillac Mountain
Islands Galore! In Acadia National Park in Maine

Experience Acadia!
Experience Acadia!

 

 

Places to Dine in Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor has some of the finest restaurants in Maine and New England, spanning a vast array of cuisines. Over 40 restaurants, lobster shacks, cafes and grilles cater to locals and visitors alike.

Succulent Maine lobster is the reason many travel to Bar Harbor, and many visitors eat it every day. We did on our recent Bar Harbor trip! It's great boiled, but be sure try the popular lobster roll as well. And don't forget clam chowder and blueberry pie.

We are looking forward to our next dining excursion to Bar Harbor soon!

Bar Harbor restaurant & cafes,
traveler reviews, and locations at Trip Advisor

 

 

Sunset over Silver Lake in Ocracoke, with the ferry docked (right side of the photo)

 

Lodging Options in the Bar Harbor Area

A large variety of accommodations are available to Bar Harbor visitors. Options range from campsites to luxury resorts, and from motels to elegant inns and B&Bs. Vacation rental properties are also available on the island.

Bar Harbor hotels,
traveler reviews, room availability and reservations at Trip Advisor

Bar Harbor Vacation Rentals

 

Shopping in Bar Harbor

Downtown Bar Harbor is home to many unique boutiques filled with gifts, Maine specialty food products, personalized holiday ornaments, one of a kind art work, home decor, pet treats, handmade jewelry from local artisans and crafters, and clothing. And much more to explore!

Seen below is a view down busy Main Street in Bar Harbor. The downtown area is compact, and easily walkable.

View down Main Street in Bar Harbor, Maine

 

Cruising to Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor is a popular cruise ship destination during the warmer months ... seen here is the NCL ship Norwegian Jewel in the harbor. In a typical year, over 125 cruise ships make a call at Bar Harbor. A variety of shore excursions in Bar Harbor and the national park await cruise ship passengers.

NCL cruise ship in Bar Harbor


Cruise ships in Bar Harbor seen from high above in Acadia National Park
View of Bar Harbor from high above in Acadia National Park

Day Trips Around the Bar Harbor Area

We love our stays and time in the village of Bar Harbor! But sometimes we enjoy a road trip to more open spaces, and venture outside of town.

Within easy driving distance are a number of attractions not to be missed. Several small, quaint fishing villages dot the bays and estuaries in the area. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the Charlotte Rhoades Park Butterfly Garden in Southwest Harbor. We've enjoyed leisurely road trips to Prospect Harbor, Blue Hill, Deer Isle, Seal Cove and other area communities.

And everyone seems to enjoy lighthouses! Don't miss the historic Bass Harbor Light Station near Tremont.

Rugged Atlantic coastline near Bar Harbor
Rugged Atlantic coastline near Bar Harbor

Maine coastline near Bar Harbor in the fall
Maine coastline near Bar Harbor in the fall

Low tide at a small fishing village near Bar Harbor in Maine
Low tide at a small fishing village near Bar Harbor in Maine


 

Bass Harbor Light Station

Bass Harbor Light Station sign and mapBass Harbor Light Station kiosk and map

The Bass Harbor Light Station was completed in 1876. The lighthouse is located off Route 102A in the Town of Tremont and accessible by private vehicle. Parking is free. There is a short walk which takes one to a series of wooden steps that lead down onto the many granite boulders that provide a great view of the harbor side of the lighthouse.

Today, the station is a private residence for a local Coast Guard member and his family. Most of the grounds remain private.

Bass Harbor Light Station in Maine
Bass Harbor Light Station in Maine

View of the Bass Harbor Light Station from sea level
Bass Harbor Light Station in Maine


 

Charlotte Rhoades Park Butterfly Garden

During our trip to Bar Harbor in September of 2015, we had the pleasure of visiting the Charlotte Rhoades Park Butterfly Garden in Southwest Harbor, Maine.

The garden is masterfully done, and maintained by a group of local volunteers. It is also a registered Monarch Waystation.

We had the opportunity to speak with one of the volunteers during our visit, and were impressed with his knowledge, dedication and friendliness!

We highly recommend a visit to this fine garden for nature enthusiasts when in the Desert Island area in Maine.

Charlotte Rhoades Park Butterfly Garden, Southwest Harbor, Maine on Desert Island
Charlotte Rhoades Park Butterfly Garden, Southwest Harbor, Maine on Desert Island

Monarch butterfly at the Charlotte Rhoades Park Butterfly Garden
Monarch butterfly at the Charlotte Rhoades Park Butterfly Garden

 

Traveling to Bar Harbor

Traveling to Bar Harbor is a great part of the experience!Traveling to Bar Harbor is a great part of the experience!

We have driven to Bar Harbor, and it is easily accessible by automobile. It is about 268 miles from Boston - follow Interstate I-95 to Bangor (Exit 182A - 395), then follow Route 1A to Ellsworth and Route 3 to Bar Harbor.

An optional route is I-95 to Augusta - then take Route 3 to Belfast over to Route 1 to Ellsworth, then back to Route 3 into Bar Harbor. Local taxi service is available from all airports, ferries, bus stations and cruise ships.

Bar Harbor is serviced by a local airport, the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport, located just 12 miles from the village, and by Bangor International Airport 50 miles away.


Interactive Map of the Bar Harbor Area in Maine

For More Information about Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce - 1201 Bar Harbor Road, Trenton, Maine 04605  - Phone 800.345.4617

 

Acadia Welcome Center

 

Acadia National Park - Official Website at NPS