Bar Harbor is only one of 4 towns on Mount Desert Island. Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert and Tremont each offer a slightly different look at life on a Maine island. You can just relax and enjoy a quiet day or you can fill your day with things so numerous it takes a few paragraphs to share them with you so….read on!
You may view our beautiful island by sea, land or air. After checking all your options displayed on our wall of fun in the office, your first stop should be the Visitors Center for an overview of the island and to secure your visitor’s pass. Acadia National Park
You can choose to drive your car or take advantage of the Island Explorer Shuttle. The shuttle is free (donations welcome) and is funded by Friends of Acadia and LL Bean. You may leave the car at Acadia Pines and utilize this wonderful service. For your convenience, there is a scheduled stop just 200 feet away at the Bar Harbor Campground which is right next door. add link to Island Explorer shuttle here.
If you enjoy cycling or walking, our island offers 55 miles of carriage roads, a leisurely way to see the interior of the park. A novice or experienced rider can wind their way through Acadia from the Visitors Center in Hulls Cove to Seal Harbor on this incredible system of roads with no motorized vehicles to intrude on the quiet. Pack a lunch as you may wish to stop along the way to enjoy a picnic on the shore of a crystal clear lake or pond, beside a flowing stream or on a ledge at the top of a long run where, on a clear day, you can almost see forever. You may even see a eagle soar above you as you pick wild blueberries growing along the trails.
By car or shuttle, the Park Loop Road is the most traveled way. Visit Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs and a place my children, now grown, still call Round Rock Beach.
Explore the rocky coast line along Ocean Drive
Bar Harbor, one of four island towns on Mount Desert Island is characterized by colorful shops offering a variety of wares, numerous restaurants, lovely seaside parks for enjoying a picnic lunch or watching the cruise ships arrive in port and sightseeing opportunities on land or sea. Whale watching is very popular as are the nature cruises. Big boats or small craft offer a more intimate view of the area are here waiting for you. Tucked into the rocky coast is a beautiful sand beach where the hardy can swim in the refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Our island is one of incredible natural beauty and diversity. We have it all. Fresh water lakes, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, over 50 miles of carriage roads, sheltered coves, rock bound coast with crashing waves, thousands of acres of forest and numerous mountains crisscrossed by hiking trails including the very popular Cadillac Mountain.
Enjoy tea and popovers at the popular Jordan Pond House while taking in the view of the pond and The Bubbles at the far end. After leaving the Pond House continue on the Loop Road. Remember to look to the left up as you near the end of the pond. You will see Balance Rock AKA Bubble Rock, deposited on the side of the hill by the long ago glacier. Park the car and hike to the top for a close up view.
Don’t miss a drive or hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain. From the top you can see the entire island and the sunsets from the west side parking area are simply breathtaking. If you are an early riser, you may wish to arrive at the summit before sunrise and be one of the first people in the US to see the sun peek over the eastern horizon.
The town roads wind in and out of Park land and provide easy access to portions of the park located in the other 3 towns on the island. Sargent Drive, Somes Sound, Seawall, Wonderland, Ship Harbor, Bass Harbor Head Light and many more points of interest.
Bar Harbor Gallery
The Island Explorer
The Island Explorer is a fun way to see the island and a convenient way to access the miles and miles of hiking trails which crisscross the landscape. Ride one to the beginning of a trail. Go at your own pace then catch another Island Explorer at the other end and ride back to Bar Harbor or to one of the other island destinations.
If you wish, take one of the tour buses and let a local expert entertain you with stories about the islands colorful past and present.
There are walking tours of the downtown Bar Harbor area and the guides offer a wealth of information about our famous summer residents from a by gone era and their influence on the area.
Feeling adventurous? Check out one of our rock climbing companies. Learn to climb or get the inside scoop on the best places to scale the challenging rock faces on our island.
Do you wish to fly like a bird? Soar above the island in a glider based at the airport in Trenton.
Is kayaking or canoeing on your list? Explore Mount Desert Island’s diverse coastline. Paddle the ocean, a pond, lake or stream. There is beauty around every bend and serenity in each dip of the paddle.
For a glimpse of the island from the water a variety of tour boats are ready to cast off. Each town dock offers something to delight both young and old. There are lighthouse tours, whale watch tours or maybe a sunset cruise is more to your liking. Touch a sea creature brought to the surface by Diver Ed or visit the Oceanarium to get a close up look at the abundance of life hidden under the sea. Other boat tours regale you with stories of the cottage era and the “Gilded Age” and the sailing schooners let you sit back and feel the rush you experience when they are under full sail.
A horse drawn carriage ride is yet another way to travel the Carriage Roads of Acadia National Park or tour downtown Bar Harbor. Wild Iris Horse Farm
You can see the island from above in a variety of aircraft based at the Hancock County Airport just a mile from the head of the island in Trenton.
Golfing is the best and we have three courses on the island with Kebo Valley in Bar Harbor having the distinction of being the 8th oldest course in the US. Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor each feature their own unique courses. Trenton has a lovely course which runs along the Jordan River with views of the mountains of Acadia. If you are visiting the Schoodic Peninsula section of Acadia National Park there is also a wonderful golf course on Grindstone Neck.
Our island also offers two music festivals showcasing string orchestras, chamber music, jazz and soloists of national renown. The Abbe Museum invites you to explore the lives of our “first residents” and the Historical Societies of our towns provides a window into the “Gilded Age” and the way of life on the island before and after it became the summer playground of the rich and famous.
The Asticou Gardens and Thyula Gardens in Northeast Harbor and the Wild Gardens of Acadia are well worth a visit. The children will love the Butterfly Garden in Southwest Harbor.
Movies? Enjoy sitting on the couch, eating a pizza while watching a movie with the children or that special someone. Our art-deco theater hosts live shows and a nice mix of movies.
Love to laugh? Don’t miss a fun filled evening at ImprovAcadia on Cottage Street in Bar Harbor. ImprovAcadia Live theater can be found at Acadia Repertory on Main Street in Somesville.
Looking for nightlife? Numerous bars and clubs in Bar Harbor and Southwest Harbor feature a variety of bands and solo artists.
For one of the most important pastimes of all, eating, we have hundreds of restaurants all across this island. From simple fare to elegant cuisine your palate is in for an unforgettable treat. Our main fare is lobster cooked over a wood fire in boiling sea water. You cannot leave without tasting this Maine tradition. It is simply the best.
Almost forgot the other passion of our visitors. Shopping! You will not be disappointed as the shops lining our island streets have wares to entice even the most reluctant shopper. Art galleries and shops featuring the creations of island artists are found island wide. Don’t overlook the little side streets. Some of the most remarkable things can be found where you least expect.
So,why wait? Book your room now.
Come experience Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park and the adventures that await you. Start making your own memories . Memories of your Maine vacation you will be sharing for years to come.