Road Trip / Acadia National Park
While I often don’t believe there’s anywhere better than the Shoreline (especially during the summer), visiting Acadia National Park is a must-do. Simply envision iconic lighthouses set on rocky shores, pots filled to the brim with bright red lobsters, pine trees towering overhead. Yep - it’s just like that.
When heading to Bar Harbor from the Shoreline, be sure and make a stop in Kennebunkport. Not only does it fulfill all of my book nerd dreams after reading The Bushes, Portrait of a Dynasty, but it’s perfectly placed halfway between the Shoreline and Bar Harbor, making it a great stop during the 6 and a half hour drive.
On our way to Bar Harbor, we stopped at Arundel Wharf for lunch and enjoyed waterside seating and our first lobster meal of many. The Arundel Wharf is located on a historical landmark that once was a ships chandlery and general store where ships were repaired and fitted for voyages around the world, now offering casual waterfront dining and cocktails on their wharfs deck. Think chart covered tables, and mahogany accents adding to their yacht club atmosphere.
After lunch, take time to drive around Kennebunkport and if you have time, spend the night. You’ll instantly fall in love with the beauty, small-town charm and history of this Maine city. Follow Ocean Avenue around to take in the beautiful shoreline views, as well as, Walker’s Point, the Bush Family compound.
Back in the car, it’s a three and a half hour drive to Bar Harbor. After the long drive, arriving at The Harborside Hotel confirmed we made the right choice of accommodations. Nestled on picturesque Frenchman's Bay, the Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina has made a name for itself as one of the premier downtown Bar Harbor hotels. With 193 superb accommodations, stellar amenities and authentic "Down East" hospitality, the Harborside has everything you need to create unforgettable Bar Harbor vacations. One of the best aspects of the Harborside Hotel is it’s location in downtown Bar Harbor, allowing for easy walks into town for dinner, ice cream, or simply taking in the scenery.
What to eat in Bar Harbor, Maine:
The West Street Cafe
Offers casual seafood in a beautiful downtown Bar Harbor setting and is located directly across the street from the Harborfront Hotel.
The West Street Cafe
76 West Street
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream
Mount Dessert Island Ice Cream makes premium, homemade ice cream from the ground up, no more than 5 gallons at a time.
If they make a vanilla bean ice cream, they scrape the beans, if they make lemon sorbet, they squeeze the lemons, one at a time. They’re committed to keeping their ingredients real + their ice cream fantastic creating forward thinking flavors that don’t disappoint. They’re also located right on the town green, the perfect spot to enjoy your cone.
Mount Dessert Ice Cream
7 Firefly Lane
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Visiting Acadia National Park:
First things, first. Get a head start and head straight to Cadillac Mountain. We were there in early June and had the top of the mountain largely to ourselves to take in the amazing views. If you’re a real morning person, get there before sunrise to enjoy the first light to hit the continental United States. While walking around the top of the mountain you’ll notice striations from the glaciers, as well as, Maine blueberry bushes dotting the landscape. Once you’ve taken in Cadillac Mountain explore the rest of the park, but make sure and head back in time for sunset.
Must see stops inside Acadia National Park :
Just a quick walk downhill from the Jordan Pond House, the views are breathtaking and worth the quick trip.
Jordan Pond House
With it’s views of the pond with indoor and outdoor dining, Jordan Pond House is the perfect pause during your busy day at Acadia National Park. Make sure and save room for afternoon tea with popovers as they're a popular, not to be missed tradition on a visit to Acadia. Also, save the wait and make a reservation before your trip by calling 207-276-3316
The spectacular waves and thunderous sounds of the ocean at Thunder Hole draw many visitors to this dramatic location. The rock formation there is such that, the waves crash against rock and water is forced through a small, rock crevice into a small cave. The sound of thunder is created as rushing water crashes against air trapped in cave. The noise is most pronounced between high tide and low tide or after a storm.
Timing is everything. We visited Bar Harbor the first weekend in June before the season truly started. While we had winter jackets on in the morning, we changed to t-shirts and pants by the afternoon and enjoyed having the park largely to ourselves.
Bring your bike! While our kids were too little to get them out on the carriage roads, this alone has me dying to go back. The carriage roads of Acadia draw many visitors to explore the beauty of the park without bringing their cars. While the stone bridges of the carriage roads are absolutely beautiful in their own right, having your bike also cuts down on traffic and the need to wait for the shuttle that runs from June 23rd through Columbus Day.