Visiting Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor, Maine
What To See And Do In Bar Harbor Maine
Let me start off by saying that there is a reason Acadia National Park is called the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast” . Last summer we camped in Bar Harbor, Maine for around two weeks and we could have easily stayed longer. Our kids have said they definitely want to head back soon. Bar Harbor has so much to offer. A beautiful downtown area with fun shopping and delicious restaurants next door to one of the most gorgeous parks we’ve ever seen. There are trails for every level and so many different activities available. We visited in the summer when it does get a tad crowded, but we did a lot of exploring early in the morning and in the evening when the crowds were very light.
Bar Island Trail In Downtown Bar Harbor
The Bar Island Trail appears at low tide allowing people to cross over to Bar Island from Bar Harbor. You need to plan ahead to know when the tides are so you can easily access the trail and not get stuck on Bar Island once high tide rolls in. The trail accessible 1.5 hours before and after low tide.
Sand Beach Acadia National Park
Sand Beach is located inside of Acadia National Park. It can get quite crowded during the day, but in the evening when the sun is setting the parking lot is empty and you really have the beach to yourselves as you enjoy the sunset.
The photos don’t do it justice ya’ll. It is breathtaking. The vibrant evergreens and rocks right next to the water. It’s perfect.
Park Loop Road Acadia National Park
Park loop road runs around Acadia National Park. It’s about a 27 mile loop with some sections being one way so check your route before venturing out especially if you have dinner plans 😉 We loved driving around and hopping out at the different points to hike a short trail or climb on the rocks.
There is a public transportation option called the Island Explorer bus that connects many of the popular spots in Acadia National park to different hotels and downtown Bar Harbor areas. It wasn’t available when we visited due to covid and I believe it still doesn’t have a full schedule in 2021, but it will be a great option soon to use and leave the parking worries behind.
Cadillac Mountain Summit Acadia National Park
You are able to hike or drive to the summit on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Parking can get full quickly so plan accordingly. There are a few trails that lead up to the summit the Cadillac North Ridge Trail and the Cadillac South Ridge Trail both lead to and from the summit but vary in length and difficulty. The kids and I hiked some of the north ridge trail from the summit.
One of the most popular attractions is to watch the sunrise from the summit. Our not-so-early risers didn’t make it up in time so the sunrise is still on our bucket list.
Hiking With Kids in Acadia National Park
There are so many great trails available throughout Acadia National Park. We suggest doing some research on different options before heading out since the terrain can vary greatly. We were hiking with kids ages 8, 12 and 14 so we tried to find ones that the 8 year old would enjoy as much as the teens. Also keep in mind that parking lots can fill up as well so it’s helpful to have a plan B or C up your sleeve.
The ladder trail was one of our favorites. It was a little challenging but definitely one that all the kids enjoyed.
Jordan Pond Trail is a scenic loop around Jordan Pond. It runs along the water and has a fun boardwalk like trail that the kids loved.
Try to time your hike so you can grab a bite to eat at the Jordan Pond House. The lines can get a bit long during peak meal times so go a bit on the early or late end.
One of the other trails we loved was the Bubbles Nubble Loop. You get to see North Bubble, South Bubble and Conner’s Nubble hahah all in this 2.6 mile loop.
We never got our timing right to see Thunder Hole. You need to try to aim for about two hours before high tide. It was still interesting to see when it wasn’t “thundering” but we definitely need to see it in action next visit.
Another spot on our bucket list for next time is to ride bikes on Carriage Road. In the early 1900s the Rockefellers built forty-five miles of trails running through the mountains and valleys of Acadia as a motor-free highway for horse drawn carriages around Bar Harbor. Today you can hike, bike or ride on horseback along the trails. There are multiple bike shops in Bar Harbor who rent bikes for use on the Carriage Road Trails.
Kayaking Long Pond
It still gets warm and toasty during the day on Mt Desert Island. To beat the heat we spent one afternoon renting kayaks from National Park Canoe and Kayak Rentals on Long Pond in Acadia National Park. The kids had a great time seeing the park from the water.
Bass Harbor Lighthouse
In the southeast corner of Bar Harbor Island you’ll find one of the most photographed lighthouses in New England, the Bass Harbor Head Light. It gets quite crowded around sunset and parking can be tricky, but the view is breathtaking.
Eating Our Way Around Bar Harbor
Ya’ll one of the main reasons my kids want to go back to Bar Harbor again is to EAT! The fresh seafood is amazing. We tested lobster rolls, blueberry pie and ice cream all over town. We highly suggest trying to make reservations. You can always cancel, but trying to find a table for a family of five during the summer was tough. We had no problem if we did a super early dinner, which also worked well with exploring more trails in the evening when the crowds were lighter.
We ate at Cafe This Way for breakfast one morning and it was out of this world.
Jordan’s Restaurant is on our list for next visit. It serves breakfast from 5am to 2pm and is supposed to have the best blueberry muffins and pancakes in the area.
Stewman’s Lobster Pound was delicious and located right on the water. We loved sitting out of the deck.
Our favorite lobster rolls and we tried a ton were at Side Street Cafe. So delicious. You can join the waitlist for a table online or get take out. We highly, highly recommend it.
As you can see from the photo above, Thurston’s Lobster Pound is a popular place for a fresh seafood dinner. We had three hungry kids in the car when we found the line like this so it’s on our list for next time.
For Pizza try Rosalie’s Pizza. Their pizza was delicious. We actually got it a couple times during our two weeks in the area haha.
For Ice cream try Mt Desert Island Ice Cream. The lines get long in the evening but it’s quite tasty.
Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium has it all including ice cream it’s a fun stop to see all the candy and grab a scoop of their ice cream. Udder Heaven is a little down the road and was actually within walking distance from our campsite. They have really delicious ice cream. I wasn’t kidding when I said we ate our way around the island ya’ll.
Now for blueberry pie… there is the most adorable little bakery called Island Bound Treats outside of town in Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island where you can find the most delicious pies. They bake them fresh every day and sell out every day. You need to get there early, but it is worth it ya’ll. SOO delicious.
Can I tell you how much my stomach is growling thinking about the delicious food in MDI. OHHH MY WORD.
Sunset Sights around Mt Desert Island
Make sure to take an evening or two to drive around the island at sunset to take in all of the gorgeous views. So many of our favorite spots were found just wandering about and we’d pass by these sceneries that just took your breath away.
Where are your favorite spots on Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. We really, really enjoyed our time there and I hope that this information helps with your planning!!