Bar Harbor is such a tiny little seaside town, way up in the state of Maine.
Is there anything else to do besides bask in the beauty of the forest and coastline?
Oh my goodness, YES there is tons to do here.
This is a poppin city, so get ready.
BAR HARBOR: what to do
DOWNTOWN BAR HARBOR: It is a cute downtown that is located directly on the harbor of Frenchman Bay. Across from the Bay is a quaint little park called Agamont Park. It’s a perfect picnic area, with a fountain and plenty of park benches. (I also hear its a good “Poke Stop”. Whatever.) There are 4 small parks in downtown, well shaded and grassy. You can picnic, nap, watch the ships come in & out, or just stare at the rising and falling tide. We did all of those!
The town was well established in the 1800s, there is a lot of history in these streets. The local post office, bookstore, and bank are all over 100 years old! Many presidents and influential people frequented the town of Bar Harbor. (Martha Stewart, John Travolta, President Taft, John D. Rockefeller) Today the streets are lined with the cutest shops, restaurants, Bed & Breakfasts, & parks. It’s all so picturesque. You can spend a whole day browsing and exploring the stores. I encourage you to wander a little bit and get lost in the city. If we hadn’t put down the map and wandered we probably wouldn’t have discovered a pretty little shore path that wraps around the east point. Look to the east side of Agamont park, it looks like a short path that ends at the Harbor Inn – but its doesn’t! It wraps around for about a mile and leads into a shaded walking path of wild roses and old fences. The path is lined with lush hydrangeas and the rocky shoreline. You can’t help but pull out your camera.
While you are shopping for some souvenirs, note that a lot of the shops will ship the merchandise home for you. There is even a store that will ship a live lobster overnight to anyone door step! How hilarious of a gift would that be? There are a lot of restaurants, I’ll give you my favorites in another post. But when choosing a place to eat, remember you can’t leave without tasting Lobster & wild blueberries. (It’s what Maine does best.)
The Harbor is adorable, its like you stepped into a storybook or a well maintained Disney ride. (Norway ride, Maelstrom? I miss that one.) There are dozens of little fisherman boats, all different colors with chipped paint and character. Sometimes there are cruise ships docked in the Bay. There is usually an abundance of dainty sailboats anchored around and we got the chance to take a ride on a famous 151ft schooner named the “Margaret Todd”.
BAR ISLAND: This unique island is located directly north of the pier in Bar Harbor. At low tide, the island becomes accessible by foot. Otherwise the Island is inaccessible. Super exclusive! When low tide hits, there is a natural gravel land bridge that begins to appear. It reveals these deep blue & purple clam shells scattered throughout the “land bridge”. You’ll want to collect a few to take home – they are just darling! If you make it over you will see a few hiking trails. The main trail leads up to a spectacular view of Mount Desert Island with Bar Harbor in the foreground. Before going, check for the local times of low tide and allow yourself enough time so you don’t get stranded. (which happened often.)
NIGHT LIFE: After dark, downtown Bar Harbor changes its tune. A lot of restaurants offer live music. From Irish folk tunes, to chill dave matthews covers, to the DJ spinning the latest & greatest. Main Street comes alive after hours! The one and only place that has a dance floor in downtown Bar Harbor is the restaurant Carmen Verandah. There are plenty of bars if you are thirsty. But the COOLEST thing to do in the evenings in Bar Harbor is to check out the Improv Acadia Theater! It’s located within walking distance from just about any hotel, in the heart of downtown. They have 2 shows almost every night. An 8pm family friendly show and a 10pm show. If you enjoy comedy you will love Improv. The cast is so witty and talented. We had the privilege of watching a show with the improviser, TJ Jagodowski. He is considered the greatest Improv actor. He is that funny guy from the Sonic Commercials, but excels in his brilliant ability to create spontaneous comedy through audience suggestions. Improv requires a special level of genius – and this show had it! If you go anywhere in Maine – please please check out Improv Acadia. Who doesn’t love to laugh so hard that they fall out of their chair? (I do! And yes, I did.)
SUNSET SAIL: One activity that I highly recommend is a romantic Sunset Sail on the 4-mast sailboat the Margaret Todd! It’s a 2 hour trip around the Bay and surrounding small islands. This is great for all ages. You can help hoist the sails, keep an eye out for bald eagles – seals- porpoises, or just relax and enjoy the fresh salty air. You can bring your own snacks & drinks – and I recommend you do. Everything tastes better on a sailboat. It’s a bit windy once you leave the dock, so bring a jacket and a cuddle buddy. Make sure to reserve your spot if you plan to go, because the sunset sail is VERY popular. Look at these pics and you will see why. Book a sail.
CADILLAC SUNRISE: The sunset cruise over the bay is lovely, but the sunrises are exquisite! Voted as one of the top 25 places to watch the sunrise in the world, Cadillac Mountain inside Acadia National Park is a sight to behold! It’s worth the painfully early morning alarm. (Trust me, the “not a morning person” t-shirt poster child) Cadillac Mountain is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and it is the first place to watch the sun rise in the United States. How neat is that, seriously? If you wake up early enough, and hike up high enough, you can be the first one in the US to see the sunrise! I’ll take that home as a souvenir!
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK: Acadia National Park has everything you want in a national park. There are so many hidden gems in this park. Waterfalls at certain time of the year, lighthouses, trails & hikes, seals, beaches, historic buildings once occupied by famous people, a giant blowhole, tiny harbors, I could go on and on. Most of the park is paved and you can drive to all the cool sites. But the hidden gems – the sites that will knock your socks off (and hiking boots) – requires you to get out of your car and explore a little. We had the privilege of visiting during the National Parks 100th birthday. They offered free admission all week. What a treat! It’s usually $25 per vehicle to get in. So we bounced back and fourth, in and out, each day. I cannot overstate the natural beauty and the amazing upkeep of this national park.
With plenty to do, you’ll never find yourself bored on a trip to Bar Harbor.
Get out there!