The Best of Bar Harbor
If you drive five hours north of Boston, you will arrive in one of the most picturesque parts of New England. Fondly referred to as “Real Maine,” it is one of the places that many New Englanders do not make it to. As the second largest island on the eastern seaboard, it is larger than another New England hotspot, Martha’s Vineyard, but gets about half the love. The beautiful town of Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island is surrounded by the only National Park in the Northeast United States, Acadia National Park. As a bucket list destination for years, it was finally time to make the five hour drive from Boston to Bar Harbor for my June’s #Take12Trips. I could not let another summer pass without seeing this natural beauty with my own eyes. Anyone who is within driving distance of this beautiful part of the country should make time to explore Bar Harbor and the astonishing Acadia National Park.
Here is the best that Bar Harbor has to offer:
When to Go: You will want to visit when you can take advantage of Acadia National Park. The Park Loop Road is open from mid-April until the end of November, but unpaved roads will close earlier in November and not open until mid-May. Our decision to go in the end of June before the full force of the summer crowds hit was a smart one. The fall brings peak foliage season in Acadia.
Where to Stay: Located in the center of Bar Harbor, The Harborside Hotel, is the ideal spot for both the amenities and the location. Beautifully appointed rooms overlook Frenchman’s Bay and the two pools provide the perfect place to relax after a day filled with activities.
What to Do: You will not have enough time to do all that Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park have to offer. There are activities-galore and you will find something for everyone in your group. There are hiking trails of varying difficulties throughout the park, as well as countless bike routes, Sand Beach and Thunder Hole. Outside the park, you can rent kayaks and go whale watching. The 27 mile loop of Park Loop Road lends itself to beautiful views as you circle the park if you choose to do nothing but look at the beauty surrounding you. Lastly, Cadillac Mountain in Acadia boasts the earliest sunrise in the United States and those moments when those deep orange and reds peek above the skyline is worth the 4am wake up call.
Where to Eat: There is a rule in Maine. You cannot visit without eating lobster in some way, shape or form. One of the best lobster rolls in town is at Side Street Café, which is a popular local hangout with friendly staff and great beer on tap. Havana is a great option for fresh seafood and meat with a Latin American twist, and for breakfast the eclectic Café this Way, is the place to go. Within Acadia National Park, there is only one option for restaurants (you can bring your own lunch and picnic otherwise), and the popovers at the Jordan Pond House are famous for a reason. Make sure to eat outside, to take in its namesake, Jordan Pond. Lastly, vacation calls for ice cream and there is nowhere better then Ben and Bill’s.
Four days was not long enough to explore this New England gem, but it is the kind of place that you can see yourself going back to over and over again. The signs when you enter Maine declare, “Maine: The Way Life Should Be.” And after four days in Bar Harbor, I understand why. This peaceful and idyllic way of life is nothing short of perfect.