Ultimate Guide to Bar Harbor 4th of July

Red lobsters, white sails, and the sparkling blue Atlantic. Mount Desert Island already has all the right ingredients for Independence Day celebrations. So whether you’re local or visiting, get ready for countless Bar Harbor 4th of July activities, eats, art and more. Packed with fun events for all ages and at the height of Acadia’s beauty, it’s no surprise that the 4th of July brings locals, summer residents and visitors together. In fact, the Today Show and National Geographic have both titled Bar Harbor 4th of July one of the best in the country! Let’s run through the annual Bar Harbor 4th of July events and how you can make the most of your visit to MDI on this special occasion.
Pro Tip: There’s only one way on and off Mount Desert Island—Route 3—so we recommend arriving early to ensure you don’t miss any festivities! Most of our guests stay 2-3 nights, giving them a chance to enjoy downtown celebrations, explore Acadia in July, and just relax.

Start the Day at the Pancake Breakfast

6am-10am
Photo of young woamn enjoying pancakes at the Bar Harbor Fourth of July Pancake breakfastThe Bar Harbor Rotary Club, who’s mission it is to bring together MDI’s diverse community, will host their annual pancake breakfast at the Athletic Field on Park Street. And what better way to bond than over a plate of Maine blueberry pancakes? In addition to fresh flapjacks off the griddle, they’ll be serving breakfast sandwiches, sausage, orange juice, milk, water, tea, and coffee. All proceeds from the breakfast go to Rotary projects and local nonprofits, often raising more than $20k in a single day!

Find Your Spot for the Bar Harbor Parade

10am
Don your stars and stripes and find a spot along the 1.8-mile parade route to watch Bar Harbor’s first responders, community organizations and businesses—including Witham Family Hotels!—show off their patriotism. The Bar Harbor parade starts at the corner of Wayman Ln and Lower Main St and heads towards Agamont Park before turning on Cottage and looping back on Mt Desert St. Vintage cars rumble past, trucks tow red, white and blue floats tossing candy, and residents get decked out in costumes to strut their way through downtown. We love to watch the parade from the porch of the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel or set up camp on the Village Green.

Photo of parade map for Bar Harbor Maine Fourth of July ParadePro Tip: While parking downtown is free on the 4th of July, spots can be limited and some roads are closed to traffic. We suggest leaving your car parked at your hotel and catching the free Island Explorer bus, which stops conveniently in front of the Bar Harbor Motel, Acadia Inn and various stops around downtown.

Pick Up a Souvenir at the Bar Harbor 4th of July Craft Fair

photo of Witham Family Hotel Employees in Bar Harbor Fourth of July parade8am-3pm
Head over to the YMCA parking lot on Park St to explore the tents and tables of the Island Arts Association craft fair. From jewelry inspired by the Atlantic Ocean and gorgeous photographs of Maine’s landscape to handmade pottery, traditional quilts and so much more, it’s the perfect opportunity to take something home with you to remember your Bar Harbor 4th of July. And since the craft fair runs from morning to mid-afternoon you have plenty of time to consider your choices and come back when something is calling to you.

Fill Your Belly at the Bar Harbor Seafood Festival

11am-2pm
The Rotary Club is back at it again, serving up the classics of Maine summer eats at their annual Seafood Festival. They begin cooking lobsters and crab at 11am and don’t stop until they run out! You can grab a lobster roll, crab roll, hot dog, or hamburger for lunch along with French fries, corn, watermelon, and chips. Just like the Pancake Breakfast, proceeds from the Seafood Festival go back to the Rotary Club and community funds.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a fuller menu, most restaurants are open on the 4th of July so you can still have a sit-down meal while all the Bar Harbor 4th of July events are going on. We recommend calling well in advance to make a dinner reservation.

Catch Live Music at the Town Pier

3:30pm-9pm
Our very own Bar Harbor Hospitality Group sponsors a free, family-friendly concert series down at the town pier with local bands keeping the afternoon lively. Bring a folding lawn chair or picnic blanket to enjoy the concert in repose or get up and dance! The concert also gives you a chance to stake out your spot for the fireworks a bit early. VisitBarHarbor.com updates the schedule of bands each year so be sure to check out who is playing for your visit!

Catch Live Music at the Town Pier

7:30-8:30pm

Photo of a crown listening to the Bar Harbor Band at Agamond Park in Bar Harbor MaineIf classical is more your style, don’t miss the Bar Harbor Band’s annual performance on the Village Green. A true representation of MDI’s strong community, the town band has been performing since 1898 with a rotating cast of horns, strings, drums and more. They set up under the Village Green pavilion for an hour performance, and lucky for you, they typically play twice a week throughout the summer.

Celebrate with a Bang at The Bar Harbor Fireworks

Approximately 9:15pm
Among all the festive Bar Harbor 4th of July events, the fireworks are the most anticipated and best attended. Visitors and residents alike gather in Agamont Park and along the Shore Path to watch the town put on a spectacular display over Frenchman Bay.

Photo of the Fourth of July Fireworks in Bar Harbor MainePro Tip: Those staying at the Bar Harbor Inn can get front row seats to the Bar Harbor fireworks from their rooms, the Terrace Grille, or the Reading Room. You can also catch the special Bar Harbor fireworks cruise by Acadian Boat Tours that departs from the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel at 7pm and docks by the town pier for unparalleled views. Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and look north to enjoy a unique perspective on the fireworks.

More Advice on Bar Harbor 4th of July

  • With so many Bar Harbor 4th of July events, it’s a busy day to visit our island town, so it helps to come prepared.
  • Sunscreen is a must and should be reapplied throughout the day, even if the weather is cloudy.
  • Of course, there are plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars where you can grab a drink, but it helps to bring a water bottle when you head downtown.
  • Lawn chairs are great for setting up camp at the seafood festival, live music and fireworks but can be a pain to carry around during the day. Picnic blankets and beach towels are easier to carry and still provide you a place to sit.
  • While Bar Harbor in July is often in 80’s under the sun, night can bring a chill so it’s smart to bring an extra layer for watching the fireworks.
  • We recommend leaving pets at home for the day. Crowds and fireworks can be stressful for our canine friends, so they’ll likely enjoy an evening at home much more.
  • Have fun!

Art Lovers Trip to Bar Harbor

The Ultimate Bar Harbor Itinerary for Art Lovers

In between feasting on lobster rolls and oysters, feast your eyes on some of Bar Harbor’s art on your next trip to our island. Surrounded by the Slate Blue waters of the Atlantic, capped with Amaryllis Pink granite mountains, and blanketed in Windsor Green pine trees, Mount Desert Island offers a luscious palette. So it’s no wonder that the natural beauty of the island is matched by its residents’ vibrant arts community. If you’re a lover of the arts, you’re in luck. Check out these 7 unique things to do in Bar Harbor to get your fill of creativity and maybe return home with a new artistic skill or original work.

Art Galleries in Bar Harbor & Greater MDI

Whether you’re a fan of striking photography, sweeping oil landscapes, abstract compositions, or meticulously crafted sculptures, there’s something on display for your tastes across the island. There are five art galleries in Bar Harbor and the surrounding area for you to explore:

Argosy Gallery
Located right downtown at 6 Mount Desert St, the Argosy Gallery was opened in 1996 and has assembled an outstanding collection of original works in American traditional and impressionist styles. More 36 artists who either reside in or travel to Maine to create art, show their works here.

Gallery at Somes Sound
Located on the innermost corner of the Somes Sound in the historic Village of Somesville, this gallery is a stunning showcase of contemporary fine art and sculptured furniture. The space is bright and open, with windows overlooking the water. In addition to art on display, the gallery also hosts workshops and small events.

The Cygnet Gallery
Modern and yet still so Maine, the new Cygnet Gallery sits on the corner of Main street and Village Green Way in Southwest Harbor. They have rotating exhibitions, sip & shop events, and trunk shows throughout the year.

Clark Point Gallery
Just down the street in Southwest Harbor, the Clark Point Gallery features a sweeping collection of 19th and 20th century paintings of Maine and Mount Desert Island from 36 artists. Currently open by appointment only, enthusiasts sure to call ahead for your chance to browse this gorgeous collection.

Isleford Artists Gallery
Ready for an art adventure? Catch the mailboat out of Northeast Harbor and plot your course for Little Cranberry Island, otherwise known as Isleford. This picturesque harbor town is home to the Isleford Artists Gallery where you can enjoy works from over 25 local artists, with styles ranging from realistic to abstract. Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at the Isleford Dock Restaurant before you head back to MDI.

Abbe Museum

Photo of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor MaineOur state’s one and only Smithsonian affiliate, the Abbe Museum is a must-see Native American history & art museum in Maine. Located in downtown Bar Harbor, the museum features evolving exhibits of art and cultural artifacts from the Wabanaki, Maine’s Native people. Their core exhibit offers perspectives going back as far 12,000 years into the history of the land and the people that steward it. Additional exhibits of contemporary art such as the Micmac Indian Craftsmen and Waponahki Student Art Show bring an even broader picture of creative skills and stories into view.
Venture to the museum’s outpost in Sieur de Monts for special showcases of the Wabanaki basketmaking tradition and how current generations are working to protect the art of basket production in the face of invasive species.

Dawnland Festival of Arts & Ideas

July 12-14, 2024
Photo from the Dawnland Festival galleryThis year, the Abbe Museum will be premiering its Dawnland Festival of Arts & Ideas at the College of the Atlantic. If you happen to be visiting or can make a special trip July 12-14, 2024, this multi-day Bar Harbor art festival promises to be a real treat for art lovers. Brimming with Native arts markets, performances and special speakers, the event will be free to public and offer visitors an opportunity to engage Wabanaki thought leaders and artists in a weekend of inquiry, creativity, and celebration.

Bar Harbor’s Art in the Park

June 15-16, 2024
Photo of the Art in the Park Festival in Bar Harbor MaineJust like the plants and trees around Mount Desert Island, June brings a burst of life and color to the Village Green. One of the most anticipated annual Bar Harbor events for locals and visitors alike, Art in the Park is the longest running art show in town, now in its 72nd year. For two days, artists in painting, print making, photography and more set up tents to display and sell their works. Not only is it a great time to find a beautiful addition to your home’s décor, it also offers an opportunity to connect in person with the art community of Mount Desert Island.

Grab a lemonade from Side Street Café or a few scoops of ice cream from Mount Desert Island Ice Cream and get about wandering the stalls on the green.

Bar Harbor Craft Fairs

Thanks to Island Arts Associations, not a month goes by that there isn’t at least one Bar Harbor craft fair. Shop from local Maine artisans & crafters peddling hand carved spoons, leather bound journals, quirky knits, sea-inspired jewelry, and much more. The craft fairs are hosted in a range of locations depending on the time of year so be sure to check their schedule of upcoming events for details and when and where to find such a wealth of Maine crafts.

Art Classes & Workshops

It’s hard not to feel inspired when visiting Mount Desert Island. So, if you’re looking to get hands on or are in need of unique things to do in Bar Harbor on a rainy day, a workshop could be the answer. ArtWaves, a community arts center and hub for artistic expression, offers lots of opportunities to participate in the arts. Located in Town Hill on the Northwest edge of the island, they host open figure drawing sessions, sewing circles, stained glass workshops, color theory classes and so much more. Plus, they have a state-of-the-art dance studio where you can participate in yoga, barre, and other fitness fusions.

Performing Arts at the Criterion

Photo of the interior of the Criterion Theater in Bar Harbor MaineThe Criterion theater has been beacon of the arts on MDI since 1932 and is the perfect way to round out a day of touring galleries and museums with a live performance. From dance and comedy performances to live music and plays, this historic theater is great way to experience local and touring artists. Find a full list of their upcoming Bar Harbor events and grab your tickets now.
In Bar Harbor, art is all around us. Gallery or no, a wander down Main Street reveals architectural interest. Dinner at the Reading Room gives you a front row seat to the lapping waves of the Atlantic. A hike in Acadia introduces you to blooming flowers, shy foxes, and other curious subjects. Even your room at the Atlantic Oceanside provides a balcony from which you can sit and sketch the lobster boats coasting through Frenchman Bay. Bring a camera to capture the beauty of your family’s smiles as they spot puffins on a nature cruise, or a pad of watercolor paper to bring along to Jordan Pond House. While this Bar Harbor itinerary for art lovers provides lots of options, there’s no bad way to experience art on Mount Desert Island. Our advice…get creative!

11 Things to Do in Bar Harbor When it Rains

So, your Bar Harbor vacation is approaching and you’ve been diligently (obsessively) checking the weather to make sure you pack appropriately, but the forecast calls for some rain. Even Vacationland can’t guarantee perfect weather, but don’t worry, there are plenty of things to do in Bar Harbor when it rains.

Our little island may be called Mount Desert but we welcome the rain to replenish the plants, animals, lakes and streams that make our island special. In fact, there’s something magical about a rainy day in Bar Harbor, when mist blankets the granite hills and makes everything appear to move in slow motion. Rain also means the only people you bump into downtown and in the park are the ones who, like you, don’t mind getting a little wet, giving the perfect opportunity to explore MDI’s nooks and crannies. From indoor activities in Bar Harbor to ways to explore Acadia in the rain while keeping (relatively) dry, we’ll help you make the most of your trip to MDI no matter the weather.

Rainy Day Activities in Bar Harbor

When it pours, play indoors! Here are six of our favorite indoor activities in Bar Harbor you might not have otherwise had on your itinerary.

Get Hands On At The Oceanarium

Photo of The Oceanarium’s huge 650-gallon touch pool features all sorts of marine inhabitants, all ready to meet you up close.The Mount Desert Oceanarium and Education Center is a favorite for all ages, creating a window into the lives of the uncountable and incredible creatures that inhabit our shores and waters, plus the people who have built communities around them. They have 9 different tanks featuring different snapshots of Maine ocean habitat, an authentic lobster boat you can explore indoors, and a touch pool brimming with sea stars, crabs, fin fish and more. You can even get a peek at rare cotton candy, blue, and orange lobsters—not for eating!

The Oceanarium is open from mid-May to late October and is located on the shore of Salt Pond just off route 3. Tickets $18 for ages 12 and up, with discounts for younger children, seniors, and veterans available.

Explore the Abbe Museum

Photo of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor MaineContinue your journey of learning with a trip to the Abbe Museum, Maine’s one and only Smithsonian affiliate right in downtown. This ever-evolving museum showcases the history and cultures of Maine’s Native people, the Wabanaki through rotating exhibitions, special events and workshops. With thousands of artifacts that tell the story of the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Micmac, and Maliseet tribes who have made Maine home for over 12,000 years, the Abbe Museum is worth a visit no matter the weather.

The Abbe’s main museum is located in downtown Bar Harbor while its second, original location is within Acadia National Park in Sieur de Monts Spring. The Abbe opens for the season at the beginning of May and has special events throughout the summer so it’s always worth checking their calendar before your visit. Tickets are $10 for adults, with discounts for younger children and seniors available.

Visit the Dorr Museum of Natural History

Butterflies from COA’s natural history collections Part of the College of the Atlantic, the Dorr Museum of Natural History is housed in the original headquarters of Acadia National Park. Its exhibits are designed and produced by students of the college, so you’re bound to discover new ways to learn about Maine’s wildlife with each visit. It features dioramas of our coastal creatures, a tide pool tank, and of course the gift shop full of goodies inspired by the natural sciences.

The Dorr is free to enter and is open year-round with seasonal changes to their hours, which you can find on their website. Plus, the Island Explorer bus stops at the museum so you can catch a ride there directly from your room at the Bar Harbor Motel.

Sample Some Beer or Wine

What better way to spend a rainy day in Bar Harbor then sipping some local brews? Take a trip to the Bar Harbor Cellars tasting room on Sweet Pea Farm where you can stay cozy and dry while overlooking 100 acres of vineyard. They offer a wide range of wines to try from delicately sweet fruit wines to bold reds. Plus, with a wood fired pizza and a whole room dedicated to chocolate, it’s truly everything you need in one place.

If beer is more your style, pay a visit to Fogtown Brewing, which uses Maine-grown malt, hops, oats, spelt and other locally foraged ingredients to create a suite of delicious beers that are rooted in the land. They have a great food menu and often have live music, trivia, and other events to keep you entertained. Next head down to Atlantic Brewing Company, where they’ve been brewing specialty batches since 1991 with a taste for simple, yet stand-out beers. You can take a tour of their small-scale brewing facilities, experience a guided tasting, or just enjoy your picks independently in one of their two tasting rooms in Bar Harbor.

Catch a Movie

When hunting for things to do in bar harbor in the rain, us locals often turn to the theater. Built in 1932, the Criterion Theater is an art deco gem that shows movies seven nights a week. A beacon for all arts in Bar Harbor, the Criterion also hosts live dance, comedy, music, plays and more. If you want to combine dinner and a movie, Reel Pizza Cinerama is the place to go. This funky 2-screen dinner theater serves specialty pizzas inspired by film favorites like Godzilla, The Godfather, Casino Royale, and more. Sip a local beer and cozy up on one of their mismatched couches for a truly unique movie experience. Reservations are required so explore current showings online to snag your tickets.

Acadia Rainy Day Activities

Ask the locals and you’ll discover that Acadia in the rain is no deterrent for outdoor exploration. While steep trails like Precipice and Beehive should be avoided when slippery, there are still plenty of opportunities to experience the majesty of our National Park when the sky opens up. Grab your wellies and a rain jacket because we’ve got 3 awesome Acadia rainy day activities for you.

Cozy Tea Time at Jordan Pond House

Acadia’s only on-site restaurant, Jordan Pond House has been serving tea and their famous popovers to park guests since 1893. The historic building is perched on a gardened hill overlooking peaceful Jordan Pond. It’s floor to ceiling windows are the perfect way to enjoy stunning views of the water, the Bubbles, and Acadia’s surrounding pine forests while staying warm and dry. Enjoy the crackling fireplace and slather plenty of butter and strawberry jam on your popover, we promise you’ll spend the rest of the day smiling. Reservations can be made in advance on their website and they are open for lunch, teatime, and dinner.

Drive Up Cadillac Mountain

As the tallest peak in the park, Cadillac Mountain boasts 360-degree views of Mount Desert Island and the surrounding ocean. While most popular at sunrise and sunset, Acadia in the rain makes any time a spectacle for driving to Cadillac’s summit. There’s nothing quite like watching the rain sweep across the water and forests, making patterns on the surface and demonstrating the true magnitude of nature’s power. Even in the rain, you can still spot Bar Harbor’s fishing boats charting their course across Frenchman Bay. Driving Cadillac Mountain requires advance vehicle reservations as summit parking is limited. Reservations cost $6 in addition to your park entrance fee.

Stop at Thunder Hole

Photo of Thunder Hole in Acadia National ParkAfter you descend Cadillac, continue along the Park Loop Road to reach Thunder Hole. There is a convenient parking lot or nearby street parking, so you don’t have to go far from your car to see this popular destination. Carved by years of tides, this narrow channel is named for the thunderous reverberation created by waves rushing into it. Storms can increase the wave size and strength so visitors should be cautious of their potential to wash over surrounding ledges, outcrops, and walkways. While best viewed 1-2 hours before high tide, visiting Thunder Hole in the rain is a testament to the ocean’s majesty at any time of day. Careful not to get mesmerized by the bursting waters or you might soon find the rain has soaked you through.

Our advice: don’t let a little rain stop you from enjoying Acadia. If it isn’t raining heavily, many of Acadia trails and sights can still be enjoyed and the Park Loop Road makes it easy to catch a break from the wet as you travel between areas of the park. The carriage roads, for example, are a great walk on a rainy day, with relatively flat gravel paths, plenty of tree coverage, and unparalleled views of Acadia’s lakes and mountains. Stop at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center or Sieur de Monts Nature Center to get additional advice on Acadia rainy day activities from a park ranger.

Beyond Bar Harbor

If you want to travel farther afield in search of pastimes on a rainy day in Bar Harbor, Ellsworth makes a great outing. Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Bar Harbor, is a lovely historic town where you can get your shop on!

Shop the L.L. Bean Outlet

Forget your rain gear or hiking boots? No problem! There’s no better place to get outfitted for adventure than L.L. Bean, a staple of Maine since 1912. The Ellsworth outlet store offers some of the best discounts on outdoor gear and classic L.L. Bean items like boots, flannels, fleeces and more. If you plan on having a cozy night in, shop their super soft pajamas and shearling slippers. You can also find plenty of gadgets to enhance your visit to Acadia like binoculars, water bottles, daypacks and more.

Hunt for Antiques

In our opinion, Maine has some of the best antiques in the country, with heritage furniture built by hand with local maple and pine, rustic farm equipment, gorgeous glassware and so much more. Spend your rainy day weaving through 130 booths of antiques and collectibles at 1A Relics where you’re guaranteed to find something interesting. Then make your way over to the Old Creamery Antique Mall for round two. Oil paintings of Maine’s coast, Hudson Bay blankets, and hundreds of other antiques finds await your discerning eye.

Relax!

When in doubt, take a load off! You’re on vacation after all, and a rainy day in Bar Harbor is a great excuse to kick off your shoes and stay in. Pick up a new book from Maine’s oldest bookstore, put on your comfiest clothes, settle in and just be. It might just provide the rejuvenation you didn’t know you needed.

Biking Bar Harbor & Acadia

Your Guide to Biking Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor

In our humble opinion, biking offers one of the best ways to enjoy the pink granite mountains, tall spruces, stunning ocean views, and quaint shops of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Named the second-best national park for cyclists, Acadia has long been a destination for cyclists of all skill levels and ages. And if you’re looking for a way to avoid traffic and crowded parking lots, biking Acadia National Park can allow you to see and do more during your trip.

Whether you’re already an avid biker, ready to take on a 50 to 100 mile day (and not a small amount of elevation) or you’re visiting our island with your family and want a fun and easygoing way to explore the park there are amazing Acadia bike trails waiting for you. Before your hop on two wheels, let’s talk logistics!

Step 1: You Need a Bike!

Bike owners: consider what type of riding you’re interested in before you load your bike rack and hit the road to Mount Desert Island. While there are certainly places for a road bike to feel at home in Bar Harbor, many of our favorite Acadia National Park bike trails are packed dirt or gravel where a mountain bike, gravel bike, or cyclocross bike will serve you best. You can use a cycling app like Komoot to explore routes and different surface types before selecting from your quiver of bikes.

With a little under a 5-hour drive from Boston, you’ll also want to ensure your bikes are secure for the journey. Many bikes have a quick release on the front wheel so you can remove them to stash more easily inside your vehicle. Or you can use a bike rack, ensuring they’re locked in place and even taking a neighborhood drive to test stability before jumping on the highway.

For those of you who are bike-less or would rather not travel with your bikes, you’re in luck! It’s easy to acquire trail friendly bikes from one of five Bar Harbor bike rentals.

Bar Harbor Bike Rentals

Acadia Bike Rentals

Acadia Bike rents out mostly hybrid bikes with flat top handlebars and a relaxed, upright riding position for the most versatility on paved and gravel roads. They also have a fleet of E-bikes to make riding more accessible, as well as various sizes of children’s bikes and child trailers. Every bike includes a bottle cage, helmet, and map of Acadia’s carriage roads. As one of the most popular Bar Harbor bike rental options, they recommend reserving your bikes ahead of your trip.
Acadia Bike Rentals Website
Rates: Starting at $36 for adults

Acadia Ebike Adventure

Rents exclusively E-bikes limited to ages 16 and older with the option to add a trailer for children at an additional fee. These Acadia bike rentals must be reserved in advance and are picked up at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center within the park between 8:30 and 10 am where you’ll receive a quick orientation from staff. Bikes must be returned between 2 and 3pm of the same day.

Acadia Ebike Adventure website

Rates: $110

Acadia Outfitters

Acadia Outfitters has a large selection of 21-speed mountain and hybrid bikes in all sizes, plus a wide variety of accessories, including child seats, trailers, tagalongs, and bike racks. Each bike rental comes with a helmet and bottle cage. They also have E-bikes and even 49cc scooters for biking Acadia National Park with a little more zip. You can reserve bikes ahead of time by calling their store.

Acadia Outfitters website
Rates: Starting at $36 for adults

Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop

Since 1978, the Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop has served the recreational and sport bikers of Mount Desert Island and continues to offer Acadia bike rentals for hybrid, kids, and E-bikes. They include free helmets and bike locks with all rentals. They also sell snacks and sports drinks to take with you and can meet you in the park to change a flat tire if needed. Call or use their online form to make bike reservations at least 48 hours in advance.

Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop website

Rates: Starting at $30 for adults

Pedego Bar Harbor

Pedego is an E-bike brand with a retail location in Bar Harbor that also offers rentals for their standard and premium models. All rentals are 8 hours and include helmets and locks. Trailers can be purchased for an additional fee. Designed to be accessible, Pedego bikes are a great way for older or less physically able adventurers to enjoy biking Acadia carriage roads.

Pedego Bar Harbor website

Rates: Starting at $125

Other Gear for Biking Bar Harbor

Two wheels aren’t the only thing you’ll need for biking in Acadia National Park. First and foremost, you’ll want to bring water. Like cup holders in your car, bottle cages won’t fit your wide Nalgene or Stanley water bottle. Use a water bottle that is under 3 inches in diameter or bring a backpack that can fit your water. Snacks or picnic food is also great as the only food for purchase inside the park is at the Jordon Pond House. Most bike shops offer maps of trails, but those can also be picked up at visitors’ centers around Acadia.Photo of cyclists on a Carriage Trail at Eagle Lake with a marsh in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine

Want to go a step further in preparing to bike Mount Desert Island? Here are some other items to bring along:

  • Sunglasses
  • Rain jacket or wind breaker
  • Bike lock
  • Basic bicycle repair kit
  • Wallet or cash

Step 2: Choosing Your Bar Harbor & Acadia Bike Trails

From the Park Loop Road to climbing Cadillac Mountain, enjoying Acadia carriage roads, or finding peace along the less trafficked Western Mountain Roads, there are too many amazing trails to discuss in one blog. And that’s not even to mention biking Bar Harbor itself! Below you’ll find some of our favorites to make your Mount Desert Island bike adventure special.

Biking Acadia Carriage Roads

Image of map of the Acadia National Park Carriage TrailsOf course, Acadia is known for its 45 miles of carriage roads, commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, and built between 1913 and 1940. These motor free gravel roads follow the contours of the land, emphasize scenic views, and are shared by pedestrians, cyclists, and horse-drawn carriages to this day. They are perfect for bikers of all skill levels and allow you to check off some of the best sights in the park atop two wheels. Most Acadia carriage roads do have some variable elevation, but you can always hop off and walk while enjoying the views.

We love the tri-lakes loop, an 11-mile route that takes you along the edge of Eagle Lake, Bubble Pond, and Jordan pond. This route can also be broken into two smaller loops for those looking for a shorter ride with equally rewarding views.

Note that you will need a park pass to access Acadia carriage roads. It’s $20 per day to enter the park via bicycle or $35 if you have a vehicle. Passes can be reserved online or purchased same day at the front desk of any Bar Harbor Hospitality Group property or Acadia Visitors’ Center.

 Bar Harbor Bike Trails

You don’t need to be limited to biking Acadia National Park during your trip to Mount Desert Island. Bikes are also a great way to get to downtown Bar Harbor and avoid the stress of vehicle parking. It’s easy to bike from your Witham property to convenient bike racks along Cottage St. or Main St. before taking on the town by foot. Bikers should be aware of traffic in downtown and ride with caution, always wearing a helmet. Practice your turn signals to ensure you’re communicating with other road users and enjoy wandering the busiest sections of town on foot once you arrive.

Cycling Routes for Expert Riders

Road cyclists will also enjoy biking the park loop road, a 27-mile paved scenic route around the Northeast section of Mount Desert Island. A large portion of the road is one-way traffic only and bikers must obey the direction of traffic. There is no bike lane and many narrow sections and steep turns, so this Acadia bike trail is recommended only for experienced cyclists. The best times to bike the Park Loop Road are mornings before vehicle traffic picks up or on weekdays. For an extra challenge, cyclists can also bike up the Cadillac Summit Road, gaining almost 1,000 feet of elevation in just over 3 miles.

Image of Cycling Hand SignalsFor a good workout and fewer cars to share the road with, sport cyclists can head to Southwest Harbor where you’ll find well-paved surfaces and views of the Cranberry Islands, Bass Harbor Head Light, and more. Depending on your starting point, these routes can be anywhere from 16 to 86 miles long.

Step 3: Start Your Ride

Are your feet antsy to pedal yet? Before you launch, let’s talk about transporting your bikes and starting your ride. If you’re staying at one of the downtown Bar Harbor accommodations like the Bar Harbor Grand or Villager Motel, it’s a quick 1.5 mile road bike to the Cadillac park entrance. Guests of the Acadia Inn or Bar Harbor Motel can head into the park by walking their bikes along the connecting Duck Brook Path, putting you and your family on some of the best carriage roads to bike in Acadia in less than a mile.

The free Island Explorer shuttle bus also stops directly in front of many of the Witham properties and other convenient downtown locations. Equipped with bike racks, the bus can easily transport you into the park and bring you home at the end of an adventurous day biking Acadia National Park.

If you do choose to drive into Acadia with your bikes, we recommend getting to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center early to secure parking and then taking the bus to other destinations throughout the park.

Step 4: Storing Your Bikes

Photo of bike storage for the Bar Harbor Motel, Bar Harbor Maine.It’s nearly impossible to see all Acadia has to offer in one day and there are many amazing hikes and activities that can’t be done on a bike. The Bar Harbor Motel offers fully enclosed and locked bike storage on site, so you can keep your bikes safe while you explore our Island on foot or by car. Bikes are also generally safe on a locked vehicle bike rack overnight.

Step 5: Recouping From Your Ride

When you’ve had your fill of biking in Acadia National Park and exploring Bar Harbor bike trails, it’s time to wind down. Make sure to rehydrate after your ride, stretch to avoid sore muscles to following day, and return your bikes at the appropriate time if renting from a local shop. And for the kids who just can’t get enough, they’ll find companions lapping the ¼ road that runs the length of the Bar Harbor Motel property into the evening.

Cheers to traveling on two wheels!Female mountain bike cyclist riding downhill along Cadillac Mountain road in Acadia National Park, a clear summer day with panoramic view of Acadia National Park (Maine, USA) landscape with lakes.

Off Season Splendor

The Best Time to Go to Acadia National Park

Picture this: Acadia’s iconic Park Loop Road padded with a few inches of bright snow and patterned with cross country ski tracks and snowshoe prints. Freshly formed icicles glisten on the pink granite cliffs. A white-tailed deer steps carefully through the quiet forest among pine boughs weighed down under their white blankets. And the best part? You have it almost entirely to yourself.

There’s something truly magical about winter in Acadia National Park and we invite you to join us and experience its quiet splendor. Read our suggestions for how to spend the off season on Mount Desert Island and you too might be convinced that winter is the best season to visit Acadia National Park. Just grab your puffy, mittens and Bean boots.

Winter in Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor

By the end of October, Bar Harbor’s riot of colorful fall foliage has faded, and Mount Desert Island returns to its true form: a small, waterfront town of only about 5,000 year-round residents who fiercely love their little slice of Maine’s coast. Winter in Bar Harbor gives visitors of glimpse of our town’s quirky traditions, access to Acadia’s sweeping views and winding carriage roads, and a chance to rest, relax and absorb the quiet beauty and slow pace of the season. Whether you’re looking for a winter workout, some holiday shopping, or a relaxing dip in a hot tub, we’ve got plenty of great suggestions for how to spend winter in Bar Harbor.

Book Your Winter Lodging

One of the few year-round lodgings in Bar Harbor, you couldn’t pick a better place to spend your winter nights than the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel. Each room boasts uninterrupted views of Frenchman Bay so every morning can be spent sipping hot coffee in front of your French doors, with a slow sunrise over the snow dotted beach.

Our indoor pool and hot tub stay open throughout the year, where you might bump into locals using their pool passes to get in a few laps under the greenhouse style roof.

The Bistro is a popular winter meeting spot for residents and visitors alike, where seasonal cocktails, craft beers and a locally inspired menu can be enjoyed beside floor to ceiling windows overlooking the water. On special winter nights, The Bistro also hosts local music, open mics, and the occasional comedy set. You can always give us a ring to see what’s on deck.

The Atlantic Oceanside is also home to an event center, Bar Harbor’s go-to spot for meetings, conferences, private celebrations and more. With options for full-service catering, presentation technology and anything else you might need to make your event perfect, we’re prepared to welcome your group to Bar Harbor any time of year. You can also follow the Atlantic Oceanside on Facebook or Instagram to see announcements about public events like lobster bakes and film screenings.

With a cozy bed squared away, you’re ready for some winter adventures.

First Sunrise in the US at Cadillac Mountain

A sunrise hike up Cadillac Mountain is always a good idea, but it takes on a special quality between October and March of each year. Starting on October 7th, Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the United States that the sun touches so a hike to the summit during these months means you’ll be welcoming the day before anyone else in the country. You can take one of three routes up Acadia’s tallest peak or walk the curving summit road. In winter, it’s not uncommon to arrive at the trailhead and find the path ahead untouched by people, ready for you to make the first tracks through the snow.

If you’re looking for a truly exceptional winter hiking experience, we suggest a full moon hike of Cadillac. The snowy path practically glows in the light of a winter moon, and patches of exposed granite sparkle along the way. You’ll be rewarded at the summit with a serene landscape of frozen lakes, islands like cupcakes frosted with snow, and the sense that you could reach up and touch the moon. There are a few opportunities throughout winter in Acadia National Park to experience this wonder but our favorite is the Wolf Moon on January 25th of 2024 which reaches peak brightness just past midnight.

Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing & More

Winter in Acadia national park makes road access by car limited, but that doesn’t mean trails are closed! Just as the carriage roads are perfect for biking in the summer months, they make ideal cross country ski and snowshoe trails when snow coats the ground. Volunteers set tracks and groom sections of the carriage roads to make these 45 miles of scenic trails even more perfect for winter recreation. Spend early mornings gliding around Eagle Lake alongside residents or bring the whole family for afternoons passing under stone bridges or pausing for a snowball fight in the amphitheater. You can bring your own equipment or rent from a local shop like Cadillac Mountain Sports or Alpenglow Adventure Sports.

Some of Acadia’s lakes and ponds also freeze during the winter and, for savvy skaters, can make beautiful spots to ice skate. Just make sure to check the depth of the ice and be prepared for the uneven surfaces that come with ungroomed, natural skating.

Ice climbers also flock to Acadia in winter, eager to try their skills on frozen waterfalls and columns of clear blue ice that form on our granite cliffs. There are a number of guide services that welcome beginners to this winter sport, like Equinox and Acadia Mountain Guides.

Pajama Sale? Bed Races? Say What?

For more than 25 years, the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce has organized an event wholly unique to our Mount Desert Island community: the Early Bird Pajama Sale. In mid-November, the town rolls out of bed and hits the streets of Bar Harbor in their pajamas to score deals on holiday gifts and more from 30+ participating local businesses. When else will you find people shopping in slippers and long johns than winter in Bar Harbor?

By mid-morning, the second Mount Desert Island winter tradition kicks off. Local businesses and organizations form teams to build and decorate souped up bed frames, some elaborate enough to rival Macy’s parade floats. They race through downtown, pajama-clad crowds cheering them on to win first place and bragging rights for the year. The fun isn’t over yet!

In early December, Santa Claus makes his appearance in Bar Harbor for the Village Holidays celebration. Neighbors pass around free hot cocoa, the YMCA hosts kid friendly activities like ornament making and cookie decorating, and the town tree is lit for the first time as the sun sets. The holiday season truly shifts into high gear with the start of the Midnight Madness sale where local shops keep their doors open late into the night for shoppers to find their perfect presents and grab a few discounts along the way.

When the streets are cleared of tourists, Bar Harbor’s shenanigans come out, celebrating the success of another busy summer concluded and adding a sparkle to everyone’s eye before we settle in to rest and recuperate for the coming spring. Exhilarating and silly, these unique winter traditions keep the community connected and help support local businesses in the dark months.

A Magical Winter Sabbatical

The truth is you don’t need an activity to bring you to Bar Harbor in winter. We might be biased but we think Mount Desert Island is the perfect place for a sabbatical. From your room at the AO, you can enjoy the quiet winter landscape while you work on a novel, research paper, or just get away for a bit. Visit the public library to pick up new reading material or attend an author talk. Bundle up and stroll the shore path, watching the lobstermen still hard at work pulling traps from the deep waters where crustaceans hang out in this season. Or enjoy views of Somes Sound and the Bass Harbor lighthouse along Sargent Drive, from the safety of a heated car. Hungry? In the winter, local restaurants often rotate which days they open so there’s always somewhere to grab a hot bowl of chowder and a beer.

Winter Wonder Awaits

As snow dusts the rugged landscape of Mount Desert Island, there lies a secret waiting to be discovered by those who dare to venture to Downeast Maine in winter: Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park at their most serene. Days spent tracing the cross-country ski trails, winter hiking to watch the first rays of the sun grace America atop Cadillac or sharing in the cheer of Bar Harbor’s quirky winter traditions; this off-season haven is full of memories waiting to be made.

Full time residents cherish this quiet time of year on Mount Desert Island. By letting you in on the best time to visit Bar Harbor, Maine, we’re trusting you to maintain the beautiful, peaceful nature of our little island. We welcome you to join us for winter in Acadia—just don’t tell too many friends!

Sunrise Seekers: Bar Harbor Motel to Cadillac Summit

Pillow to Peak: Bar Harbor Motel to Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Hike

If you’re planning a trip to Acadia, you’ve probably considered catching a sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, and for good reason! Not only is Cadillac the highest peak in the park, it’s also the highest point on the eastern seaboard and provides visitors with magnificent, sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, glacial coastline, and island landscape.

Homeland of the Wabanaki and key viewpoint for 17th century European cartographers, Cadillac has been summited by people for thousands of years. Its pink granite surface is speckled with foamy green lichen and punctuated with alpine blueberries and wind-swept pine trees. But perhaps the most stunning sight is the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain. From October to March, the 1530 ft peak is the first place in the United States for the sun to touch, but sunrise views are spectacular no matter the time of year.

Hiking Cadillac Mountain

There are three routes for hiking Cadillac Mountain, ranging from 2.5 miles to 7.1 miles roundtrip:

  • North Ridge Trail: Beginning at the Park Loop Road, this 4.4 mile trail begins up stone stairs through the woods but quickly opens up, providing hikers with frequent vistas and granite slopes. It takes an average of 2-4 hours to complete out and back and is the most popular route for hiking Cadillac Mountain.
  • South Ridge Trail: This 7.1 mile route begins at the Backwoods Campground in the southern end of the island and takes a gradual ascent up Cadillac. The first half of the climb is in forest, passing the Featherbed Pond while the second portion follows an exposed granite ridge. It takes a total of 3-6 hours to complete.
  • Gorge Path to Summit Loop: The shortest path up Cadillac, this 2.5 mile trail begins off the Park Loop Road—note limited parking. The trail heads into a forested area with a boardwalk and small streams before reaching the junction with the Dorr Mountain summit trail. It is a rocky and steeper ascent to Cadillac summit and takes an average of 1-2 hours to complete.

Planning Your Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Hike

Photo of a map marking the trail from Bar Harbor Motel to Cadillac Mountain SummitWhile every trail is wonderful in its own right, our plan for an Acadia sunrise hike takes the convenient North Ridge Trail, perfect for hikers of all skill levels. The journey begins not at the trailhead, but in your warm and cozy bed at the Bar Harbor Motel. The motel property offers direct access to Acadia’s trails via the Duck Brook path. Departing for your Cadillac Mountain sunrise hike from your room at the motel eliminates the struggle of trailhead parking and summit road fees. You can prepare for hiking Cadillac Mountain in the comfort of your room, eat or pack a quick breakfast, and even borrow hiking gear from the front desk.

Your Route From the Bar Harbor Motel Up Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail

Out & Back Length: 7.5 miles

Approximate Time: 3-6 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

  1. Follow the road through the motel property until you reach the back where you’ll see signs for the path into Acadia National Park on your right. It can be helpful to scope out the trail entrance the day before as you’ll be approaching it in the dark for your Cadillac Mountain sunrise hike. You can ask a staff member to point it out if you’re having trouble finding it.
  2. The motel connects with Duck Brook Path, an easy-going packed dirt and wood chip path entering the park. Follow for .3 miles where the path intersects with Paradise Hill Road.
  3. Rather than passing under the bridge, climb the bank onto Paradise Hill Road and turn left to continue.
  4. Follow the paved road for a little under 1 mile, staying aware of passing vehicles. After eight tenths of a mile, you will pass the intersection with Cadillac Entrance Road. Keep right and follow signs for Cadillac Mountain. You’ll pass another bridge going over Eagle Lake Road shortly before coming upon the North Ridge trailhead. There is limited vehicle parking on both sides of the road.
  5. The trail begins on the left with a gravel path through the woods bridging Paradise Hill Road and Park Loop Road. Cross Park Loop Road and continue up the trail, beginning with a set of stone steps. Watch your footing on the first 1.5 miles as the wooded section of the trail is rocky. After that, the path becomes steeper but enjoy Cadillac’s flat granite slabs like sidewalks on your journey.
  6. ­­Continue to follow blue blazes and cairns and enjoy swaths of night sky as the trail becomes more exposed. At the fork shortly before the summit, keep right. The Cadillac North Ridge trail ends on the north side of the summit parking lot. You can take in additional vistas by walking the paved summit loop, grab a hot coffee in the gift store, or just head toward the south side to claim your spot and watch the sunrise.

Ensuring You Make it for Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Time

Sunrise in Acadia National Park is different depending on the time of year and hikers of differing experience levels will take different lengths of time to complete their Cadillac Mountain sunrise hike, so you will need to plan your departure time accordingly.

The sunrise itself typically lasts an hour and half with the most brilliant colors often revealing themselves in the middle. It’s up to you how long you would like to watch the sunrise, but the following table can be helpful in planning your estimated arrival time.

Time of YearStart of SunriseEnd of Sunrise
May 24 – July4 am5:30 am
August4:30 am6 am
September5 am6:30 am
October 1-155:30 am7 am
October 15-226 am7:30 am

The full hike up this route from the Bar Harbor Motel to the summit takes anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours so budget according to your typical hiking speed. Keep in mind that hiking in the dark can require you to slow down and pay more attention to the placement of your feet to avoid injury. You can use your preferred weather app, like AccuWeather, to check the Cadillac Mountain sunrise time on the specific day of your hike.

What to Bring on Your Acadia Sunrise Hike

At more than 7 miles, this route for hiking Cadillac Mountain is no walk in the park—pun intended. You should be prepared for your Acadia sunrise hike so that you can fully enjoy the beauty and walk away ready for another day of Acadia adventures.

What you wear is incredibly important! The Cadillac Mountain North Ridge trail is exposed and windy, and can often be 20+ degrees cooler at night than your daytime experience of Acadia National Park. Yet hiking is hard work that can quickly get you sweaty! It’s best to wear layers, including a wind breaker that you can add or remove as you climb. A small daypack can be useful for holding extra clothes.

You should also plan on wearing durable hiking boots with a decent tread to help you stay on your feet across the rocky terrain. Ensuring your boots are properly fitted and laced tightly to keep your ankles secure is key to avoiding injury.

Headlamps or flashlights are a must and other helpful items like trekking poles can make going in the dark easier. Talk to the front desk staff of the Bar Harbor Motel to see what hiking equipment we have available for guests to borrow.

Plan on bringing water and easy trail snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, jerky and trail mix. You may not be hungry at 3am when you get started but we bet you will be when you reach the summit! The Cadillac Mountain Eco Store gift shop also offers some grab and go food, cold beverages, and coffee. There’s nothing quite like munching on a pop tart and sipping hot coffee while you watch the sun raise its head above the Atlantic horizon.Photo of sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine

The Return From Cadillac Mountain Summit

When you’ve had your fill of blazing sunrise or the chill atop Cadillac has gotten to you, it’s time to head back down. This is secretly our favorite part. On your way up, darkness hid most of the landscape and your motivation to arrive in time for sunrise kept your focus away from all the interesting details. But on the way down, you can take it slow and marvel at Maine’s coastal ecosystem spread out before you. And if you’re already antsy to explore more of Acadia National Park, consider heading down one of the other two trails to continue your adventures.

You’ll be back at your room by 9 am and hey, we won’t judge if you want to crawl back into bed and recover some of those lost hours of sleep. Or you can head to continental breakfast for fresh muffins, bagels, fruit and more to fuel your expeditions back into Acadia.

Driving to the Top of Cadillac

A road was constructed to the summit in 1931 and since then, sunrise at Cadillac Mountain has become an ever more popular attraction for visitors to Mount Desert Island. To help minimize the impact of vehicles on the Summit Road, a vehicle reservation is required to drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.Photo of Vehicles Parked on Cadillac Mountain

Getting a Taste of Acadia’s Waters on Your Trip to Bar Harbor

Located more than 150 miles up the state’s jagged coast, Maine’s largest island juts into the cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Only one road connects Mount Desert Island to the mainland, leaving every edge surrounded with views of Frenchman Bay and the Mount Desert Narrows.
Life in and around Mount Desert Island has been bound to the sea for millennia. For more than 12,000 years, the Wabanaki relied on the saltwater bays and freshwater lakes to provide fish, mollusks and more. Today, Bar Harbor remains a working waterfront, home to lobsterman, oyster farms and more.
So, it comes as no surprise that visitors to Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor have ample options for exploring the waters and marine life. The toughest part is just in choosing one! There are Bar Harbor boat tours where you learn a bit of history, see Maine’s fisherman at work, bask in the sunset or perhaps even spot an elusive Puffin. In this blog, we’ll talk about four Bar Harbor boat tours you can take on your trip to MDI and a bonus way to explore Frenchman Bay.

4 Types of Bar Harbor Boat Tours

From dawn to dusk, Frenchman Bay is full of boats going about their business. From small fishing vessels to large cruise ships traveling to Nova Scotia. Excluding passenger ferries that take visitors to and from surrounding islands, harbors and towns, you can group Bar Harbor boat tours into four categories. 

Acadia Nature Cruise

The cold waters surrounding Acadia are home to a host of marine and wildlife that will thrill nature lovers. Acadia nature cruises are the perfect way to explore the Gulf of Maine and make a great activity for kids, older folks and marine enthusiasts alike. Of course, your interest may already be piqued by a Bar Harbor whale watching tour or you may be wondering where to see puffins in Maine, but there’s so much more to take notice of! Here are a few species to look out for on your Acadia nature cruise:

  • Harbor seals & gray seals
  • Bottlenose & short-beaked dolphins
  • Sunfish
  • Basking sharks
  • Petrels
  • Arctic terns
  • Razorbills
  • Eagles

Experienced nature guides will point out these species and many more as your travel around the islands of Frenchman Bay and Bar Harbor. What you see will also depend on the time of year you visit MDI. Acadia puffin cruises run from May to August with the best viewing in June and July. Likewise, whale activity peaks in June through August but spring and fall can still be fruitful for spotters.

Acadian Boat Tours offer a few different nature cruises, departing conveniently from the dock at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel. They range in price from $15-60 depending on the type and length of the tour. You’re encouraged to bring along binoculars for the best spotting or can rent a pair for just $5 aboard the boat. Acadia nature cruises are typically offered twice daily, with a 9:30 am and 1:30 pm departure option. Tickets can be purchased right at the front desk of any Witham Family Hotel and vehicle parking is included in the Atlantic Oceanside lot.

 
Bar Harbor Sunset Cruise

To us, nothing says vacation more than a Bar Harbor sunset cruise around Frenchman Bay on the gorgeous deck of Margaret Todd, four masts towering above and the sunset painting Acadia in red, orange and pink. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it’s very real and one of the best Bar Harbor experiences out there!

The Margaret Todd is a stunning four mast schooner replicated after late 1800’s cargo vessels that has been sailing around Acadia since 1998. It’s rust red sails are an iconic image against the grey blue waters of the Atlantic. Captained by Steven Pagels from mid May through October, it sails around Mount Desert Island, offering views of coastal cottages, pink granite mountains and the surrounding islands.

While the Margaret Todd does offer scenic sails in the morning and daytime, we think their Bar Harbor sunset cruise is the absolute winner. Passengers are encouraged to bring along picnic items and beer, wine and soft beverages are sold on board during the cruise. Sunset cruises also often feature live folk music like banjo, fiddle or guitar. Bar Harbor sunset cruise length changes with the season as daylight hours wax and wane, but they are typically one to two hours.

The schooner docks at the Bar Harbor Inn pier and guests should plan extra time to find downtown Bar Harbor parking before arriving for their boarding time. Tickets for any Windjammer cruise can also be purchased at the front desk of any Witham Family Hotel. Romantic, picturesque and truly memorable, you won’t want to miss this Bar Harbor sunset cruise.

Bar Harbor Lighthouse Tour

Did you know there are 65 lighthouses in Maine and 7 of them are located in and around Mount Desert Island?! These beacons are icons of coastal Maine and hold so much history about the land and the people who have worked and explored these waters for hundreds of years. Built in the mid to late 1800’s many of these are still operational, using bright flashing lights and deep fog blasts to keep boaters safe in foul weather. Below is a list of the 7 lighthouses in the area.

Bass Harbor Head Light: The only lighthouse on MDI, it is located at the southwestern reach of Acadia National Park where it guards the southern entrance of Blue Hill Bay and warns against Bass Harbor Bar.
Bear Island Light: Constructed in 1839, the tower is only 31 feet high and is located just south of the entrance to Northeast Harbor. It is now privately maintained and accessible only by boat.
Burnt Coat Harbor Light: Off Swans Island and marking the entrance of Burnt Coat Harbor, this lighthouse originally sported two towers. The site is now owned by the town of Swans Island and sports a park and museum.
Egg Rock Light: Due to growing seasonal ferry traffic to Bar Harbor, Egg Rock Lighthouse was constructed in 1875. It stands 40 feet tall and marks the entrance to Frenchman Bay, near Winter Harbor. 
Baker Island Light: Owned by Acadia National Park, this 43-foot tower was originally built out of wood in 1828 but was remade in 1855 in stone.
Mount Desert Rock Light: This 48-foot granite tower was built in 1847 and is truly ‘deserted’ as there is no vegetation on this windswept rock. It is now used by College of the Atlantic’s Allied Whale as a marine mammal research station. 
Great Duck Island Light: Built in 1890, the 42-foot brick tower light was home to a keeper and his family in the early 1900s. Several shipwrecked sailors have washed up on the island over the years.

Often inaccessible by car, a Bar Harbor lighthouse tour will not only give you unparalleled views of these buildings but also teach you a little about Maine’s history. Acadian Boat Tours offer three different lighthouse tours that combine views of Acadia National Park, the Somes Sound fjard, and wildlife for a truly photo-worthy experience.

With both morning and afternoon departure options, these Bar Harbor lighthouse tours are a longer expedition, typically lasting 3-3.5 hours. Like the Acadia nature cruises, they depart from the Atlantic Oceanside where you can park and purchase your tickets.

Lobster Boat Tours & Fishing Trips

If there were such a thing as a state shellfish, there’s no doubt lobster would be Maine’s. If you want a true taste of lobstering, you can head out on a lobster boat tour to watch experienced fisherman haul traps from the ocean floor. Guides explain the process and teach passengers about catching and tagging lobsters, the gear they use and even provide the chance to get up close and personal with our favorite ocean critters.

Likewise, ocean lovers can jump on a public or private fishing trip run by Acadian Boat Tours to catch cod, harbor pollock, mackerel, Acadian red fish and more. These 3–4-hour trips are great for both families and fishing enthusiasts alike. Fishing gear is supplied, and the experienced crew will help you clean and bag anything you wish to keep.

Bonus: Kayaking in Bar Harbor

While the many Bar Harbor boat tours provide ample ways to explore Acadia’s waters, you can get even more up close and personal with life at sea. For those looking to stay active during their time on Mount Desert Island, kayaking is a great way explore Frenchman Bay and even some of the lakes and ponds within Acadia National Park. If you already own kayaks, you can launch your boat directly into Frenchman Bay from the private pebble beach of the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel.

There are also a number of rental shops throughout town that can outfit you for kayaking in Bar Harbor. Some businesses offer guided sea kayaking tours for wildlife spotting or exploring the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay.

Your experience of MDI’s waters isn’t limited to the ocean! Some of Acadia’s most scenic lakes allow kayaking or canoeing like Long Pond, Eagle Lake, Echo Lake, Jordan Pond and more. Paddling offers a unique and serene way to take in the beauty of our national park.

Tips for Being Seaworthy

Like all outdoor activities, you should be prepared for any Bar Harbor boat tour or kayaking adventure. You’ll be fully exposed while out in the bay so remember to wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Hydration is also important so bring a water bottle with you! Sunglasses, hats and even rain gear to protect against the ocean spray are helpful. If you are prone to nausea you can purchase Dramamine directly from the Atlantic Oceanside gift shop before embarking or you can try wearing an anti-nausea bracelet during your tour.

There are so many ways to enjoy Frenchman Bay but sometimes nothing beats sitting on the patio with a drink in hand while the sun sparkles on the water. Without fail, a room by the ocean is a wonderful way to soak up the beauty of Mount Desert Island. From comfort and privacy of your room at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel you can enjoy views of Frenchman Bay any time of day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can all be savored with an ocean backdrop at the Cadillac Café or the Bistro. And if you just can’t get enough, leave your curtains open when you head to bed for a stunning sunrise surprise.

Mount Desert Island Scavenger Hunt: Exploring Acadia & Bar Harbor with Kids

Mount Desert Island may be small, but between the charming town of Bar Harbor and the beautiful landscape of Acadia National Park, it can be tough deciding where to go and what to see, especially if you’ve got youngsters in tow. How do you hit all the best spots around the island, ensure there’s plenty of places for bathroom breaks along the way, and keep the kids engaged?

Each year the Acadia Inn welcomes hundreds of families to our slice of Downeast Maine and we’ve learned a few tricks for exploring Bar Harbor with kids. If your kids are having fun, you’re more likely to have fun too—and spend less time curbing tantrums. We’ve put together a nature scavenger hunt for kids that will take you to all the best spots around MDI, from Acadia’s iconic carriage roads to the lakes, peaks and beaches that make our island special. Kids will have objectives to keep them interested and excited to explore and along the way, they’ll learn a bit about the environment and the history of our island.

Preparing for Your Adventure

The best explorers are always well prepared! Before you head out on your outdoor scavenger hunt, check a few things off your list.

  • Everyone should be wearing comfortable clothes and shoes that are appropriate for physical activity. It can be helpful to plan your outfit in layers in case you get hot or cold while out and about in Acadia.
  • No matter the weather, sunblock is always a good idea. Apply before you go and bring it along so you can reapply every 2-3 hours, especially on your face and the back of your neck.
  • Scavenger hunts can be hungry work, so pack some snacks and water for the journey. You can grab some fruit from the Acadia Inn’s continental breakfast or visit the concierge to buy granola bars, trail mix and more.
  • Make sure you’ve got a map, which are available at the front desk or any visitor center in the park. It’s fun to bring along a few colored pens so you can mark the places you visit.
  • Review what it means to leave no trace. While the purpose of our scavenger hunt is to get out in nature, we must always remember to respect and protect our environment. This means properly disposing of any waste, being respectful of the wildlife, and doing our best to not disturb or alter their habitats.
  • Don’t forget your scavenger hunt checklist! You can download them and print at home or ask the front desk for a printed copy on your way out the door.

Mount Desert Island Nature Scavenger Hunt for Kids

There’s so much to explore in Acadia! As you head out on your outdoor scavenger hunt prepare to use all your senses. Listen closely for birds, take a deep breath to smell the forest air, feel the soft moss under your feet and perhaps even taste the salty mist off the ocean. For each item in our scavenger hunt, we provide a tip for how to spot it!

Animals You Can Spot in Acadia

Sometimes the best place to spot the wildlife of Acadia is from the window of your room at the Acadia Inn! In the mornings and evenings, we often get visiting squirrels, rabbits, deer and birds so keep your eyes peeled while enjoying your breakfast or settling in at the end of the night.

  • Snowshoe Hare: These are bigger than your backyard bunnies but can be shy! Find them early in the morning nibbling grass or ferns near the Great Meadow Wetlands.
  • Whitetail Deer: Deer are plentiful in Acadia but their perfectly camouflaged brown coat can make them hard to spot. Look for their signature white tail through the trees.
  • Eastern Painted Turtle: Stroll around Jordan Pond where these colorful little turtles love to warm up in the afternoon sun on rocks and logs.
  • Red Fox: These elusive omnivores are most active in early morning and evening so keep your eyes peeled as you’re leaving the park at the end of the day or on your drive up Cadillac for sunrise.
  • Grey Squirrels: It’s tough not to spot a grey squirrel while visiting Acadia but you can listen for their chatter to help identify where they’re hanging out.
  • Red Squirrels: The smaller counterpart to the Grey Squirrel, these critters are characterized by their ginger coat and fuzzy ears. They love to eat seeds from conifers so look for them among pine trees.
  • Spotted Salamander: Acadia’s largest salamander species, these guys can be up to 10 inches long and like to hang out by rocky streams like the ones found along the Witch Hole Pond section of the park’s carriage roads.
  • American Toad: Did you know this is the only toad that lives in Acadia? You’ll have the best chance of spotting them on rainy days or after a storm has ended. And even if you don’t see them, you might hear their chorus.
  • North American Beaver: Freshly chewed stumps are a good sign in you’re in beaver territory. These hardworking fellows can be seen around Jordan Pond, the Tern and Witch Hole Pond.
  • Common Loon: Time to use those ears again! While walking around Eagle Lake listen for their long, expressive calls.
  • Harbor Seal: Driving along Otter Cove, Somes Sound, or Southwest Harbor you’re likely to spot these marine mammals. Look for dog-like heads bobbing in the water or on rocks and other resting spots.
  • Harbor Porpoise: These members of the whale family are shy but like to travel in small groups around the island and can sometimes be spotted in the Somes Sound fjard.
  • Bald Eagle: While hiking Acadia’s granite mountains don’t forget to glance up. The majestic Bald Eagle can be spotted cruising the thermal currents and swooping for fish in Acadia’s lakes and ponds.
  • Great Blue Heron: These long-legged birds stalk their pray slowly in shallow waters. Watch how quietly they move through the Great Meadow Wetland or Bass Harbor Marsh.
  • Downy Woodpecker: Look among deciduous trees for these small woodpeckers and listen for their shrill call and rapid drumming on trees.
  • Pileated Woodpecker: This woodpecker is one of the biggest and most striking forest birds. Can you spot the distinctly rectangular holes they drill on trees?
  • Blue Jay: Bright blue and characteristically loud, you’ll know when a blue jay is nearby!
  • Chickadee: This adorable songbird is Maine’s state bird and can be quickly identified by its call which sounds just like its name: chicka-dee-dee-dee.
  • Cardinal: Their red feathers announce these birds quickly, but they prefer to hang out in dense brush so make sure you’re on the lookout.
  • Wild Turkey: Turkeys are early risers who forage in groups along roadsides and in meadows so if you spot one, there’s probably more where that came from!
  • Monarch: While common throughout the park, you can visit the Wild Gardens of Acadia for a good opportunity to spot these orange pollinators fluttering about.
  • Luna Moths: These gorgeous, pale green moths only make their appearance for a short time in spring. Their caterpillars feed on birches so take a stroll around Hemlock Loop for a good chance to stop these pretty moths.

The Plants of Acadia National Park

Mount Desert Island is home to more than 1000 species of plants thanks to its variety of different habitats. Wetlands to coastline to mountains, forests, and freshwater environments such as streams, lakes and ponds bring together unique factors and foster the growth of diverse plants. See if you can identify the plants in this outdoor scavenger hunt.

  • Cattail: They look a little like hot dogs on sticks! They grow in swamps and marshes like the Great Meadow Wetland or Bass Harbor Marsh.
  • Lady Slipper: In June, these little gems decorate the forest floor with their pink blossoms. They also happen to be a favorite snack of deer.
  • Lowbush Blueberry: Maine’s blueberries prefer acidic soil and make their homes atop rocky mountains. They ripen throughout August and can be found along most hiking trails like North Bubble or atop Gorham Mountain.
  • Lupine: These bouncy purple, pink and white blossoms make for a colorful landscape in May and June and can be seen along roadsides or woodland clearings. They are also planted in the Hulls Cove Visitor Center garden.
  • Mountain Holly: Also called catberry, this plant prefers wet soil and is most often found growing near streams, ponds or lakes.
  • Red Clover: Clover is essential for pollinators and puts on white and purple flowers all the way from June through September. You can probably spot it at any picnic area or campsite in Acadia, and if you’re lucky, you might find a four-leaf clover too!
  • Rugosa Rose: Beach roses dot the coastline so keep your eyes peeled when walking the shore path or visiting Thunder Hole. They bloom in late June but you may also spot their orange and red ‘hips’ later in the summer and fall.
  • Wild Blue Iris: The bluish, purple flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators hanging out in brackish waters like those around the interior of Otter Cove.

Mount Desert Island’s Deciduous Trees

A deciduous tree is one with leaves that drop in autumn, carpeting the forest floor and insulating it over winter. Most of Acadia’s deciduous trees can be found at lower elevations. How many can you find?

  • Sugar Maple: That’s right, this tree is where most maple syrup comes from! Identify their leaves by looking for 3-5 lobes with slightly toothed edges.
  • Silver Maple: As the name suggests, these maples can be identified by looking at both sides of the leaves. On top, they appear pale green but underneath they are a silvery white.
  • Striped Maple: This tree prefers to stay under the cover of larger trees and only grows to about 25 feet. They have large, 3-lobed leaves that look like a goose’s foot.
  • Red Maple: Who knew there were so many types of maple?! Red maples have leaves with 3-5 lobes and plenty of teeth.
  • Paper Birch: These birches grow in straight lines with distinct white bark that peels in thin papery sheets. You can feel the bark, but don’t peel it off the trees!
  • Grey Birch: The trunks of these trees look a little like cookies and cream with flecks of dark brown or black marking the white.
  • Red Oak: These giants can grow up to 80 feet tall and have long leaves with 5-9 lobes that end in points. If you’re visiting in fall, you might find acorns scattered around their bases.
  • White Oak: The leaves of the white oak are similar in shape to red oaks but can be distinguished by the rounded ends of each lobe.
  • American Beech: Large, oval leaves with small teeth lining the edges mark this try. In fall they turn a vibrant golden color.
  • American Elm: While the leaves are similar in shape to a beech, you can tell an Elm leaf by its sandpaper texture.

Conifers of Acadia National Park

Maine is also known as the pine tree state—home to many conifers. Conifers are trees that produce cones to distribute their seeds. They often have needles for leaves and are evergreen, meaning they don’t drop their leaves in fall like deciduous trees. Most of Acadia’s forests are made up of conifers so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to check these off your outdoor scavenger hunt checklist.

  • White Spruce: Spruce needles are shaped like rectangular cylinders with four distinct sides. Try rolling them between your fingers to feel the shape. While hiking, look for them on the north side of mountains and slopes.
  • Red Spruce: With needles shaped like the white spruce, you can tell the two apart by the slight reddish hue of their twigs and their smaller, shorter cones.
  • Red Pine: Characterized by their tall, straight growth, these pine trees have long, flexible needles that grow in groups of two. These needles blanket the forest floor and make for soft walking and great nest building material.
  • Eastern White Pine: Our state tree stands tall and proud, even more picturesque the older it gets. The needles are bluish green and they produce long, slender pinecones. Did you know there are white pines that have been dated as more than 500 years old?
  • Balsam Fir: Christmas trees in the wild! These pines have flattened needles in a dark green color and a wonderful fresh scent.
  • Northern White Cedar: Smaller than their spruce and pine counterparts, the white cedar grows lovely fan-like leaves that look a bit like ferns. They prefer to grow in wet areas and are most common around Acadia’s lakes and ponds.
  • Eastern Hemlock: Hemlock’s produce petite, round cones about the size of an acorn. They have droopy branches of flattened needles and prefer growing in cool areas like the north side of a slope.

Making Memories on Your Trip with Acadia National Park with Kids

With nearly fifty different plants and animals to keep your eye out for, this nature scavenger hunt for kids provides plenty of opportunities for young adventurers to interact with their environment. Along the way, snap some photos of your finds or get the whole family in the shot to document what spot in Acadia you discovered an item from the checklist. For quiet evenings or rainy days, kids can draw their favorite finds or locations throughout the park.

Planning a family trip can often feel like navigating through a maze, especially with the added challenge of keeping young minds engaged and entertained. The Mount Desert Island Scavenger Hunt guides families through the stunning landscapes of Acadia National Park, occupying and engaging little ones. As children learn to interact with nature, parents can relish the moments of discovery and joy that unfold with each step of the hunt. Next time you visit Bar Harbor with kids, use this scavenger hunt to transform every corner of Acadia into a classroom alive with wonders and opportunities to create lasting family memories.

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