In addition to the must-do activities of visiting Acadia National Park and going on an Acadia Sightseeing Nature Cruise, there is so much to do in Bar Harbor, Maine. This post is my recap of all of the highlights of, and my favorite things about, Bar Harbor.
First things first, it could not be easier to get around in Bar Harbor. If you have a car, awesome, but it’s really not needed! Bar Harbor is extremely walkable – this map is a great resource. There’s also the Island Explorer to help you get around too! The Island Explorer features 8 bus routes all over Bar Harbor and the surrounding areas that link to downtown, Acadia National Park, campgrounds, hotels, the waterfront, etc. It’s free (thanks to a $3M grant from LL Bean) and environmentally friendly (the buses run on clean propane).
During our time in Bar Harbor we stayed at an adorable B&B – the Primrose Inn.
Our room was very cozy, the breakfasts every morning were delicious, the grounds were beautiful, and the staff was warm and welcoming. Sitting on the porch and enjoying the summer air was a major highlight.
Oh, and the DVD library was exceptional.
To me, Maine is all about rustic charm, maritime culture, wildflowers and lots of green, brick sidewalks, and awesome seafood restaurants (like Seafood Ketch in Bass Harbor).
Also, picture perfect sunsets. There’s something really magical about a sunset in the summer in Maine.
Speaking of sunsets! One thing I highly recommend doing is watching the sunset from the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse is about a 30 minute drive from downtown Bar Harbor, at the southernmost tip of Mount Desert Island.
There are two viewing areas: one at the base of the lighthouse and another that can be found down a short trail off the main parking lot, at the bottom of a bunch of stairs, and out onto a rock jetty (instructions here too).
I randomly read about Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse online and we went on a whim. I’m so glad we did; the views at sunset did not disappoint!
Bar Harbor was named for the sandbar visible at low tide. This area is now called Bar Island Path and is really cool to walk out on. Check low tide times before going though, you do not want to get stuck out on Bar Island!
Here is a good map of Bar Island Path and a description of how to get there.
There’s lots to see when the tide goes out: tide pools full of barnacles, pretty rocks, and sometimes starfish.
Twenty minutes from downtown Bar Harbor you can drive west across the island to Atlantic Brewing Company.
Atlantic Brewing Company features an operational brewery (which you can take a tour of), a tasting/tap room, restaurant/outside dining, and a huge gift shop.
The tour was short and sweet, and was followed by a tasting of all of Atlantic’s beers on tap.
In addition to the beers, we also got to try Atlantic’s Blueberry Soda and Root Beer! So tasty!
Just down the block from our B&B was St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church, built in 1877. This English Gothic parish church features 12 beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows, dating from 1886 to 1992. Next door, Bar Harbor’s cemetery includes a memorial to the town’s Civil War soldiers.
At the center of downtown Bar Harbor is the Village Green.
Village Green is the heart of Bar Harbor and is a beautiful public park with live music, gorgeous gardens, and a historic clock.
From Village Green you can walk around downtown Bar Harbor to eat at any of the wonderful restaurants, visit the cute shops, people watch, and stroll along the waterfront.
I definitely recommend Cafe This Way for dinner followed by ice cream at Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream. Don’t worry if you can’t pick just one ice cream to try – they offer flights of four flavors! (my favorite was the Spicy Chai)
There are many shops downtown, all worth a visit. My favorite was the Bar Harbor Tea Company though. Their Maine Blueberry loose black tea is incredible.
Not in Bar Harbor but worth mentioning – on the way home we stopped at Mac’s Downeast Seafood in Auburn, Maine (about 3 hours south of Bar Harbor en route to Boston). The seafood was some of the best we’ve ever had. I highly recommend the fried clams; John spoke very highly of his massive lobster roll.
I don’t know why it took us so long to get up to Bar Harbor, but I can’t wait to come back. We’re thinking October for my birthday. Fall is supposed to be just as beautiful as summer up in Bar Harbor. I think we’re definitely going to have to come back then to make sure!