When we visited the state of Maine in the fall we were there fascinated. It was a superlative experience not only from a landscape point of view; we were surrounded by a mix of natural charm, wildlife (moose, caribou, black bears, bald eagles, hawks) and a warm welcome. And after a couple of years we are back in this beautiful land, in the southeastern coastal region called Downeast Acadia dotted with rocky coasts, scenic harbors, natural glimpses and a few pretty towns with European-influenced architecture.
It is very easy to describe Bar Harbor because we could use all the positive adjectives we know but we limit ourselves to saying that in this town kissed by Mother Nature, hospitable and on a human scale, the merits are immediately noticed and it is nice to discover them in front of the splendid views, doing outdoor activities, enjoying the local cuisine or simply strolling along the streets of the town.
- Where is it and how to get there
- Climate: when is it better to go?
- Bar Harbor what to see
- South Shore Path
- Acadia national park
- The lighthouses of Bar Harbor
- Museums and attractions
- Excursions and tours available
- Bar Harbor events
- Where to eat
- Where sleeping in Bar Harbor
Where is it and how to get there
We are Mount Desert Island (MDI), the largest island off the coast of Maine that extends for 208 square kilometers, more precisely in Frenchman Bay, a bay that develops for 24 km with a width of 11.
Bar Harbor can be reached from Europe with flights direct to the airport Logan di Boston in Massachusetts (1 Harborside Dr.) and then by car (4 hours and 45 minutes), or with a subsequent stopover in the States at Portland (1001 Westbrook St.) in Maine. Another way to get there can be a good one cruise, from May to October, for example with Princess, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian airlines.
Climate: when is it better to go?
In summer, the climate is hot but temperatures are hardly very high. Snow can fall here and along the coast in winter but it is rare to drop heavily below freezing. In a truly pleasant city context you can breathe an atmosphere of total satisfaction for what Mother Nature has created around.
Bar Harbor is a popular tourist spot from late spring through mid-fall and for this reason some businesses are open seasonally. Of course, the foliage period in New England, from late September to early October, would be the ideal time.
Bar Harbor what to see
Cash Harbor it is the largest urban agglomeration of the island. The town is delightful and we are pleased to note the absence of ultra-modern buildings and skyscrapers.
We want to enjoy Bar Harbor without haste and discover all its corners. We start our visit from downtown (Main St., West St., Mount Desert St. and Kebo St.), the pleasant city center where mainly wooden buildings stand out with brightly colored facades or decorations and there is no shortage of green areas.
Many of the signs that protrude from the walls are fun and some of them remind us that here thelobster is at home and for this reason to try. It is a place where you want to say: how nice to be here! During our walk, which aims to familiarize you with the heart of the city, we meet restaurants, candy stores, art galleries, accommodation facilities and shops.
Shopping ranges from the inevitable and exquisite maple syrup to local crafts (green tourmaline crystal jewelry and works by local artists) and from souvenirs to imported items. The choice is varied and we enter where the shop windows encourage us to do so. Then from the profane to the sacred the step is short, and here we are outside the St. Saviour’s Church (41 Mount Desert St.) a Romanesque, Victorian and Shingle (use of wooden planks) episcopal church with a distinctive bell tower. The most interesting feature is represented by the 30 stained glass windows in the Tiffany studio style.
Then at the intersection of Main Street and West Street your gaze falls onAgamont Park, a green area where events are held, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the port, the islets, the Atlantic coast or where, more simply, you can have a pleasant picnic on the lawn, relax, or "play" by counting and commenting on the numerous boats.
South Shore Path
Nature and outdoor activities are the protagonists here, which is why we set out along the South Shore Path, a journey from the port to the southern part of Mount Desert Island. If you do not stop, the path would take about an hour but it is impossible not to stop to admire the view or to take photos. Along the walkway we take advantage of strategic benches on which to relax and observe port and coastal activity.
And from here, which is no small feat, you can enjoy the spectacle of dawn when the colors accentuate the charm of the coastal landscape. Today the sun is shining and the temperature is pleasant so we are even more encouraged to walk along the Waterfront, an area of nearly two hectares that flanks the coast near Agamont Park.
In front of us there is a public pier and three private ones. Among the activities that take place outdoors in and out of the water we point out fishing, both from the dock and by boat and tours to admire the coast or meet whales, one of the most extraordinary things you can do here, a incredible emotion! We also notice private yachts moored but we do not feel envious because we too are here now in this splendid context.
Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor is synonymous with Acadia National Park, a beautiful green area of almost 20.000 hectares, southwest of the town. It covers much of Mount Desert Island and is the number one attraction, also a habitat for wild mammals, and should be enjoyed as leisurely as possible. Various trails lead to the top of Mount Cadillac, the highest in the county.
From here you can admire the wonder of nature when the gaze goes as far as the Atlantic coast and in autumn the spectacle of the foliage leaves you speechless. What to say? The view speaks for itself! And near the sea, one cannot remain indifferent to the rocky coast, the port, the bay and the lighthouse. Everything is beautiful here.
The lighthouses of Bar Harbor
We follow our program but with great pleasure we accept the suggestion to visit the sites where there are two other lighthouses not far from Bar Harbor. For the first, the Mount Desert Rock Light, we must reach by boat the homonymous small island of only 3 kilometers south of Mount Desert Island. The lighthouse, with a classic cylindrical shape, was made with granite blocks. In this setting we fully feel its function as a "sentinel" which it carries out in the company of puffins and arctic terns, present on the island together with other birds to nest.
For the other lighthouse, Egg Rock Light, we must also reach the homonymous island in Frenchman Bay halfway between Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula. The peculiarity of this lighthouse is its square-shaped structure that rises from the roof of the house that supports it. Other lighthouses can be visited on organized boat tours.
If you want to organize a New England itinerary to discover the most picturesque lighthouses you can click on the link below.
Itinerary along the lighthouses of Maine and New England
Museums and attractions
Then guaranteed fun for the whole family at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf (368 ME-3) which belongs to a mini-golf chain where you enter the world of 18th century pirates. The course of the green is fully in theme since there is a full-size privateer ship. The property is open from mid-April through the end of October and admission costs $ 8.95 for adults and $ 7.95 for children.
In the village we point out three museums, cultural and environmental realities of general interest. L'Abbe Museum (26 Mount Desert St.-downtown) tells visitors the history and culture of the Wabanaki Indian people living in the Mid-Maine region, parts of Quebec and Newfoundland.
Il George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History (105 Eden St.) is an interactive natural history museum where exhibits are designed and crafted by students from Bar Harbor's College Of The Atlantic. The Mount Desert Oceanarium & Lobster Harchery (135 ME-3) was instead set up to appreciate marine life. In addition to the aquarium there is a lobster incubator and the surrounding natural scenery is splendid.
Excursions and tours available
It is absolutely true that when distances make it possible, feet are the best "means of transport" to enjoy and discover a place, but sometimes it can be a pleasure to opt for something different. There Wild Iris Farm (2 Lakewood Farm Rd.) Offers carriage tours not only of his farm estate but also around town. More information can be found by consulting their website.
Then, for an adrenaline-filled "face to face" with whales and excursions to discover the wonders of the coast, we recommend Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. (1 West St.) and its site. Bar Harbor and its surroundings are also visible from the sky thanks to the scenic flights of Acadia Air Tours (1 West St.). More information can be found by consulting the official website. And there's more, thrill-seekers will find the ghost tours carried out in the evenings from May to October from the interesting Bar Harbor Ghost Tours departing from the courtyard of the Abbe Museum (26 Mount Desert St.).
Have you ever thought about the bicycle? Sports enthusiasts can take advantage of the initiatives proposed by theAdventure Cycling Association a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and stimulate the passion for two wheels. This is North America's leading bicycle travel organization and its headquarters are in Missoula, Montana.
In this regard, we point out two itineraries that include Bar Harbor at the end or the beginning of the route: the North Tier Bicycle Route, lasting 11 days, which runs along the North American belt near Canada starting from Anacortes in the state of Washington, or theAtlantic Coast Bicycle Route, lasting 7 days, which runs through the Atlantic area and touches locations near the coast and inland areas ending in Key West in Florida.
Bar Harbor events
We like to try to combine the living room with Events locals. Participating and living them allows you to go deeper into the local culture. We report some.
During the Independence Day of July 4th, the July 4th Celebration, an event that consists of various activities, mainly at Bar Harbor Athletic Field (corner of Park St. and Main St.), and which is very special. It starts in the morning with a good pancake breakfast followed by an annual themed city parade, then a 100km relay race around the island and followed by a funny run in which lobsters are the protagonists. During the day, enjoy good live music and shop with handicrafts for sale at the YMCA community center (21 Park St.). The evening ends at the waterfront with a grand finale of fireworks. Not a bad program!
One of the many events at Agamont Park (intersection of West St. and Main St.) is the Seaside Cinema with screenings that take place at sunset in a beautiful setting from mid-July to mid-August every Wednesday, more or less around 20.15 pm. Astronomy lovers shouldn't miss the September event called Acadia Night Sky Festival at Acadia National Park. The event is being organized to promote the Starry Night in the Downeast Acadia region. On the occasion there are international experts in the sector and events called star parties are held for those who love to study or simply admire the night skies.
In December the Christmas atmosphere is enhanced with the event Village Holidays & Midnight Madness Sale. Santa Claus and a group of carolers are at the Village Green Park (Main St.) to the delight of young and old and in the evening you can go shopping at discounted prices.
Where to eat
You shouldn't leave Maine and Bar Harbor without sampling some of the area's signature cuisine so we recommend a few restaurants in town. And if in our part of Italy you can pass out to eat lobster, here it is not so and you can taste the crustacean in many ways at very low prices. In this regard, it is centrally located Stewan’s Downtown Lobster Pound (35 West St.) open late May (Memorial Day weekend) to late October. Our advice is to try the lobster in not too elaborate versions; the simpler they are, the more you appreciate it. The restaurant, overlooking the ocean, can accommodate customers indoors or outdoors.
Remaining in the downtown we point out Havana (318 Main St.) known for its salads, fish and meat dishes inspired by Central and South American recipes combined with the flavors of New England. All the ingredients are natural and as far as possible local. The elegant Reading Room Restaurant (7 Newport Dr.) is located at the luxurious and historic Bar Harbor Inn hotel. Here you can enjoy food with the accompaniment of piano melodies and in the presence of a scenic waterfront, a truly beautiful setting. The menu features fish, meat and good desserts. The restaurant's highlight, based on lobster, is the lobster pie. Important personalities of American history and dignitaries have frequented this place. Reservations are recommended and business casual attire is recommended. The restaurant is open from the end of March to mid-November.
Il Black Friar Inn & Pub (10 Summer St.-downtown) is not only a refreshment point but also an accommodation facility in a nineteenth-century house with refined wooden architecture and the charm of old Europe. The restaurant, open seasonally, is multifunctional; in fact, breakfast (included in the rate for those staying) and dinner are served, then from 5 in the afternoon it becomes a pub with a typical English atmosphere with live entertainment.
If lobsters are your thing take a look at our article devoted entirely to the best lobster restaurants on the Maine coast.
Where sleeping in Bar Harbor
If the choice to visit and stay in Bar Harbor is primarily dictated by the need to visit the Acadia National Park you can discover all the recommended solutions by clicking on the link below.
Where to sleep near the Acadia park
If you want to stay and sleep in Bar Harbor in the country they are nice and welcoming structures receptive. We suggest a few. In the central area the Primrose Inn (73 Mount Desert St.) is an 1878 Victorian-style B&B with beautiful spacious rooms, all embellished with a porch. The breakfast is good and tea and cakes are served in the afternoon.
Il Bar Harbor Motel it can be a recommended choice for those who do not want to give up the comfort and convenience of a typical American motel with large rooms and easy parking. A swimming pool is also available and guests are offered a shuttle service to discover the main attractions nearby. L'Holiday Inn Bar Harbor Regency Hotel it is recommended for those who prefer to rely on the quality of the services of a renowned hotel chain. In this case we must also consider the fortunate position on the coast which will guarantee you beautiful views.
Modern features blend with classic style at theAtlantean Cottage B&B (11 Atlantic Ave.), a nice structure (which can accommodate up to eight people in total) with a porch, spacious garden, good breakfast, rooms and suites. The Bass Cottage Inn (14 The Field, near the harbor and Frenchman Bay), built in 1885, presents itself with a refined atmosphere accompanied by a casual touch. The ten rooms have been given names of herbs; each room has its own characteristic with different decorations and always with an eye for detail.
The romantic atmosphere of the past combined with attention to detail characterize the Balance Rock Inn (21 Albert Meadow), a beautiful 1903 building with a veranda overlooking the sea and Frenchman Bay. The twenty-three luxurious rooms and suites, each decorated in a different way, have harmonious colors and handcrafted furniture. The property is not far from downtown.
Search all the hotels in Bar Harbor