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
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!
Sand Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen with its unique crushed shell sand and surrounding mountains. The beach is the only place recommended for ocean swimming on the island, however, the ocean temperature is said to rarely exceed 55 degrees in the summer.
If you aren't up for dipping into the 50-degree water, Echo Lake is a freshwater swimming site that is much warmer than the ocean.
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:
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
Colonel's Restaurant & Bakery (Northeast Harbor) - Baked Maine Seafood Casserole with Lobster, Scallop, Haddock and Shrimp baked with a touch of butter and seasoned crumb topping.
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!
- The Maine Chick