Acadia National Park is the country's easternmost national park that occupies half of Mount Desert Island in Maine. There is plenty to see and do in the park including driving along the 27-mile long scenic Park Loop Road, hiking, sailing, biking, and camping. If you choose to visit Acadia in the winter, you can take part in activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and snowshoeing. Acadia is within easy reach of Bar Harbor, a coastal town that serves as the area's main tourist hub. Founded as a fishing village, Bar Harbor evolved into a getaway town for  the affluent seeking to reconnect with nature. Unless you are camping inside the park, Bar Harbor is a great place to base your group while in the area. The itinerary below is intended for a visit during the summer.

WEEKEND GETAWAY ITINERARY

FRIDAY

  • Drive to Acadia National Park, stopping in Portland if it's on the drive over. Assuming you are getting to the Acadia region in the afternoon or evening, spend some time exploring Bar Harbor and grab dinner in town. There are several places you can try lobster rolls such as Beals Lobster Pier and Side Street Cafe. You should also stop by Mount Desert Ice Cream, known for their gourmet ice cream and sorbet flavors.
  • If you are planning on camping during your visit, head to your Blackwoods Campground campsite after dinner to pitch a tent, build a campfire, and roast some s’mores. It might be a good idea to do groceries during your drive up to Acadia to avoid the hassle during the weekend.

SATURDAY

  • If camping, wake up early and cook a campfire breakfast to start the day. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch, water, and snacks for the day. The first activity will be to hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain via the Cadillac North Ridge Trail. For the average hiker, the climb to the summit will take roughly an hour. You can either hike back down or take the shuttle back to your car. More information is included below.
  • After your hike and around lunchtime, head to Sand Beach where you can go swimming and lounge on the beach. Pack sunscreen, a towel, sunglasses, and things like a frisbee, book, and speakers to give you things to do. You can also walk along the coast to the nearby Thunder Hole - a small inlet where waves crash into the rocks creating a thunderous sound (hence the name) and the water can splash up to 40 feet high. It is probably a 15-20 minute walk from Sand Beach that offers scenic view of the Atlantic Ocean. If you are in the mood for another hike, about a 7-8 minute walk past Thunder Hole is the trailhead for Gorham Mountain.
  • In the evening, drive over to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse to watch the sunset. If this is too far for you, another great spot is the Eagle Lake Overlook which is much closer.
  • Head back to your campsite to cook and enjoy another dinner over the campfire. Otherwise, if you are staying in Bar Harbor, you can head back into town to grab a bite to eat.

SUNDAY

  • Similar to the day before, if you are camping, wake up early to cook breakfast and pack up the campsite. Otherwise if you are staying in Bar Harbor, grab breakfast and check out of your hotel.
  • Head over to the Beehive Loop Trail for a short hike. The trail involves a climb up rocks and iron steps/bars in a narrow space for about 10-15 minutes in the beginning which can be scary for people that are afraid of heights, but then gets easier.
  • Head to the Jordan Pond House for lunch. The restaurant is famous for its popovers, so be sure to order a few for the table! More information about the restaurant is included below. After lunch, you can walk around the Jordan Pond Trail before heading back to Bar Harbor.
  • If you wish, spend a few more hours in Bar Harbor exploring the shops and purchasing souvenirs before beginning the drive back home.

LOGISTICS

BEST TIME TO VISIT

In terms of weather, the best time to visit Acadia National Park is in the summer, however, keep in mind that the park is fairly crowded as many people have the same idea. If you plan on visiting during the peak season, try to make your hotel or campground reservation as early as possible. If you wish to visit during the warmer months but with fewer crowds, consider planning a trip just after Labor Day. Fall is also a great time to visit if you want to enjoy the fall colors.

GETTING AROUND

The easiest way to get around Acadia National Park is to drive. If you are not driving distance from the park, fly into either Boston, Portland, Bangor or Bar Harbor and rent a car. The park also has a free shuttle service which can save you the hassle of finding parking during the crowded summer season.

WHERE TO STAY

There are several accommodation options for all group sizes and budgets. Some ideas are listed below.

  • Hotels: West Street Hotel, The Inn on Mount Desert, Bar Harbor Grand Hotel, Harborside Hotel, Bar Harbor Inn & Spa
  • Camping: Blackwoods Campground is Acadia’s most popular campground and fairly centrally located. I would recommend trying to get a campsite there. Located just five miles south of Bar Harbor, its prime location allows for easy access to Park Loop Road and the park's best hiking trails. Sites cost $30-$60 per night and reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance at recreation.gov.
  • Rental Homes: There are also plenty of homes available for rent in Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island available on sites such as Airbnb. This would be a good option for large families or groups that want to cook meals.

HIGHLIGHTS

HIKING

Acadia has several trails ranging in difficulty and length making hiking accessible for for all visitors. The best moderate and hard hikes in Acadia National Park are the Beehive Loop, Cadillac North Ridge, Cadillac South Ridge Loop, Precipice Trail, Gorham Mountain. Easy hikes include the Ocean Path and Jordan Pond Loop.

At 1,530 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. If you can, try to hike to the top of the mountain before dawn to watch the first sunrise in the US (you can also drive close to the top and walk to the summit from there). The views from the top are spectacular, especially on a sunny day. The hike takes roughly an hour via the Cadillac North Ridge Trail which is two miles in length. The trail has fairly steady elevation gain throughout, but a few sections are a bit steeper. If you decide to drive up to the top, try to go as early as possible as parking can be hard to find later in the day.

JORDAN POND HOUSE

Jordan Pond House’s famous popovers live up to their name: the eggy batter gives them the fluff that makes them literally pop over lopsided as they bake. Open from late April through October, the restaurant offers lunch and afternoon tea in addition to the amazing view of Jordan Pond from the lawn. Try to make a reservation in advance if you are visiting during the peak season as the line can be long, especially if you wish to sit outside. After your meal, you can walk along the Jordan Pond Trail, a very easy walk that goes all the way around the pond.

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