Your Guide to Acadia National Park

Updated: Sep 1


Acadia National Park is a one-of-a-kind Maine treasure that spreads across nearly half of Mount Desert Island on the Atlantic coast. The park features rocky beaches, pine forests, mountains, and expansive views of the ocean.

Acadia is a perfect weekend destination, it's only a 3-hour trip from Portland and offers plenty to do. With a wide range of activities such as biking, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and swimming, it's no surprise that the park draws millions of visitors each year.


Check out some of my recommendations below!

 

Hit the Carriage Trails

The carriage trails were funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. from 1914-1940. With 45 miles of crushed-stone trails, you can hike, bike, or horseback ride to your heart's content. Biking the carriage trails is always a must-do whenever we visit!

I'll be honest, the trails aren't easy, so be prepared to get a workout! Bring a water bottle and if you don't mind packing your camera, bring that too. You will find plenty of scenic places for photos along the way, such as Jordan Pond and the Bubble Mountains.


 

Stop for Lunch at Jordan Pond House

After you work off some of those calories at the carriage trails, head over to the Jordan Pond House for lunch or an afternoon snack. The restaurant has been serving tea and popovers since the 1800s and is the only full-service restaurant within the park.

It wasn't until my third trip to Acadia that we finally ate here since we came at a time when the wait wasn't ridiculously long. You might want to call ahead and reserve a table to avoid the wait. If the weather allows for it, make sure you sit outside so you can look out over Jordan Pond and enjoy the park's beautiful surroundings.

Eat an Acadia Favorite, a Popover with Jam

The popovers are really worth the hype. They are warm, airy, and flaky and if our waitress brought over another basket of them I would have happily eaten another. We were happy to see some healthy options on the menu as well, especially since you may want something light after a bike ride. Pictured below are my vegetable hummus wrap and whole-grain salad.


 

Hike a Trail

Beehive Trail

One of Acadia's famous iron rung trails is the Beehive Trail. The summit overlooks Sand Beach, Great Head, and Frenchman Bay. This trail isn't recommended for those with a fear of heights and is also a challenging hike where you climb up steep cliff faces. Good footwear is recommended!


Distance:1.4 miles round trip

Duration: 1-2 hours depending on your pace!


 

View the Sunset/Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

Drive the 3-mile scenic drive to Cadillac Mountain's summit, located in the park to watch a breathtaking sunset! Or if you are up for it, try to get there early in the morning to see the sunrise.


Fun fact: From October 7 to March 6, Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the country you can see the sunrise!


 

View Bass Harbor Lighthouse

The Bass Harbor Lighthouse is situated on the rocky cliff-side of the southwest coast. Unfortunately, you can't get very close to the lighthouse since most of the grounds are private. After you park, you have to walk down a short path and wooden staircase down to the granite boulders below the lighthouse. The viewpoint isn't the best, so if you have to travel too far I wouldn't suggest making the trip. Nevertheless, I'm glad I finally saw the lighthouse for myself and have the pictures to show for it!


 

Shop in Downtown Bar Harbor

The town of Bar Harbor is located next to Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. Visitors can find plenty of restaurants and shops to explore in this quaint seaside village. Go shopping, get dinner, and then finish it off with an ice cream cone!

Some of my favorite shops:

  • In the Woods - a two-storied shop of all wooden products.

  • Seaside Art Gallery - a gallery with unique canvas paintings.

  • The Rock and Art Shop - a place for rocks, fossils, jewelry, and home goods.


 

Eat at one of Mount Desert Island's Restaurants

Of course, while you are on vacation you have to indulge in a good meal or a treat from one of Mount Desert Island's local eateries.


Some of my favorite restaurants/meals:

  • Mainely Meat Barbecue on Dreamwood Hill (Bar Harbor) - Pulled Pork Sandwich with fries

  • Udder Heaven Icecream Retreat (Bar Harbor) - Homemade ice cream located right next to Mainely Meats. I got a double scoop combo of coconut and dark chocolate!

  • Side Street Cafe (Downtown Bar Harbor) - Lobster quesadillas

Jeannie's Great Maine Breakfast

Visit Jeannie's Great Maine Breakfast, a small diner in downtown Bar Harbor. When I went in the fall, I was beyond excited to see their autumn special: 2 large pumpkin pancakes stuffed with cream cheese, topped with homemade apple sauce, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yum!


If you're looking for a Bar Harbor souvenir, get a jar of Jeannie's Strawberry Rhubarb Jam!


 

Thanks for reading!