The coast of Maine shows off New England’s rugged side, and Acadia National Park is the place where mountains spectacularly tower over the Atlantic Coast. The entry point is the town of Bar Harbor, which has been a resort destination for almost 200 years. Here, painters and writers came as far back as the 1850s to soak up the ambiance of sea and sky surrounded by craggy coastline. “Rusticators” was the term to describe summer visitors and residents who built quaint cottages that grew into elegant mansions.
A Crown Jewel
Acadia National Park is the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast.” With more than 48,000 acres and close to 3 million visitors each year, this is one of the top 10 most visited parks in the country. Cadillac Mountain at 1,527 feet above sea level, is one of the highest points on the East Coast, with spectacular views of the sunset over Bar Harbor and Frenchman’s Bay. Anglers can cast for 30 types of fish including lake trout, land-locked salmon and white perch in nearly 30 lakes. Set out on 120 miles of trails in the park, including the walkway through Jordan Pond.
Explore the barren beauty of Mount Desert Island, where much of Acadia is located, along Ocean Trail with massive spruce trees perched upon two granite cliffs and Sand Beach wedged between. The craggy pink face of Otter Cliff belies beautiful views of the coastline, and the heart-jolting roar of Thunder Hole are just a few of the natural gems tucked along Park Loop Road.
Marine Mammals Await
Cast anchor on a nature tour with views of coastal Maine and Frenchman’s Bay. Take binoculars for eagle, seal, puffin and porpoise sightings. Set sail for a sunset cruise showcasing the rocky shoreline of Bar Harbor, misty views of the outer islands and the light of Egg Rock Lighthouse guarding the Bay. Head out into the Gulf of Maine in search of humpback, pilot and sperm whales – the largest mammals on earth. Prefer to go it alone? Frenchman’s Bay has several marinas that rent fishing boats, sailboats, pontoons, even houseboats, cruisers and yachts. Don’t miss Jordon Pond, the deepest lake, and second-largest, in Acadia National Park.
This Down East shoreline’s rugged beauty consists of verdant mountain forests and giant granite cliffs scattered along the rocky Maine coastline. Lace up your sneaks for an easy stroll along Ocean Path winding along the coastline between Sand Beach and Otter Point. Meander down memory lane on the Bar Harbor Shore Path past historic cottages, graceful inns and picturesque summer homes. Be a daredevil and head across the sandy “land bridge” to Bar Island in search of dainty shells and water-worn stones. But keep your eye on the rising water; high tide washes the route away.
Like No Other
Swing on in to the Great Maine Lumberjack Show every summer and watch as Jacks and jills compete in “The Olympics of the Forest.” The agility and skill required for 12 events, including log rolling, speed climbing and Hot Sawing is amazing. Prefer ocean-related thrills? Learn the history of whaling and view a whale skeleton at the Bar Harbor Whale Museum. All exhibits are from the coastal Maine waters and are collected by students and staff of the College of the Atlantic.
La Rochelle Mansion, now a 13,000 square foot museum with iconic Greek Revival architecture, reflects the architecture of manors of the past. Stroll through time and admire a repository of furniture, photos, artwork, documents and books relating to the city’s past.
Maine’s Premier Musical Event
At the Bar Harbor Music Festival, you’ll experience an abundance of sounds; everything from classical to jazz from aspiring singers, instrumentalists and composers to jam sessions and offbeat compositions. This local event takes place several nights a week over one month and includes pop, brass, jazz, string orchestras along with opera, solo pianists, flutists and a New Composers series. The outdoor concerts are free and held in Acadia National Park.
Bar Harbor’s history is tied to the sea and its lighthouses guard its rugged coast. Egg Rock Lighthouse, with its 40-foot tower, still aids in navigation at the entrance of Frenchman’s Bay. Great Duck Island sports a 42-foot brick tower that can only be viewed from the water.
Bass Harbor Head Light Station perches 56 feet high on the rugged granite coastline at the entrance to Bass Harbor and is possibly the most photographed lighthouse in New England.
Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse sits on barren rock and boasts a 48-foot granite tower. Though not open to the public, it is used as a research station by College of the Atlantic’s Allied Whale program. Baker Island Lighthouse was first built in 1828 and replaced in 1855 and viewing is best from the water. Bear Island Head Light Station is under the care of Acadia National Park. Constructed in 1853, the lighthouse stands 31 feet tall and protected the south entrance to Northeast Harbor.
Good Sam Parks in the Region:
Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort, Bar Harbor
Narrows Too Camping Resort, Bar Harbor
Meadowbrook Camping Area, Bath
Lake Pemaquid Campground, Damariscotta
Old Orchard Beach Campground, Old Orchard Beach