Here is our list of the top 10 activities for visitors of Maine’s Acadia National Park:
Hiking at Acadia National Park
The rocky coast of Maine has long drawn New Englanders and other visitors to its rugged terrain, pebble-stone beaches, and salty ocean air, but none more faithfully than the hikers of the 120 miles of beautiful trails at Acadia National Park. With exquisite oceans views and blueberry bushes underfoot, Acadia National Park features some of the most exciting hiking along the Atlantic coast, as well as approximately 55 miles of gravel roads for walking, biking, and horse-back riding. The hikes are short, but well-marked and intersect in a complex network of trails which cover large areas of the island, best travelled using a map. Maps are published by several individuals and organizations, and are available for sale at many locations around Mount Desert Island. READ MORE
Family Nature Camp, College of the Atlantic
Family Nature Camp will engage your entire family in a week of fun and adventure, as professional naturalists take both parents and kids on guided field trips that include bird-watching, hiking in Acadia National Park, exploring ponds and tide pools, and combing the cobblestone beaches of beautiful Mount Desert Island. Ranked amongst the five top family camps in the U.S. by Good Morning America and Disney’s Family Fun Magazine, the camp’s experienced naturalists have created a top-notch environmental vacation for the entire family.
Whether your family is watching humpback whales and seals by boat, helping put together the bones of a Minke Whale, or listening to tales of the camp’s Bug Man, you’ll return home with a lifetime’s worth of memories. Activities include whale watch and nature cruises, visits to the camp’s Starfish Enterprise to learn about and hold sea creatures; hiking trail and beach explorations including tide pools, and more. Diver Ed teaches kids about sea urchins, sea cucumbers, hermit crabs, and other sea animals, allowing children to touch and hold animals brought up from the ocean floor. READ MORE
Bar Harbour Whale Watching Tour
Visitors to the Acadia Park region have a great opportunity to enjoy a 3-4 hour Bar Harbour Whale Watching Tours to see and learn about the world’s largest animals in their natural ocean habitat. Finback, minke, and right whales are common in the Gulf of Maine. The whales are migratory animals who travel to Maine’s waters to feed for the summer and then return to warmer climates to mate and give birth. Guests are treated to a fully-narrated cruise by professional naturalists who point out our majestic humpback and finback whales, as well as Atlantic porpoise, sharks, and tuna. Also included is a visit to a puffin seabird-nesting wildlife refuge island where a number of offshore seabirds can be sighted. READ MORE
Lulu Lobster Boat Ride
Here’s your chance to take at the only lobster boat tour in Bar Harbor, hosted on a traditional Maine lobster boat with master lobsterman Captain John Nicolai. Sailing from the Harborside Hotel & Marina in downtown Bar Harbor, Captain John will take you on a two and a half-hour tour to experience the life and work of the Maine lobsterman. Lulu is a traditional, Downeast-style lobster boat with great character that has protected more than 80,000 passengers from sea sickness over the last 16 years. Aboard the trusted Lulu, Captain John describes all the parts of a lobster trap and how lobsters find their way to the bait inside. He also demonstrates how lobster traps are hauled and will teach guests about the anatomy and life cycle of the Maine lobster.
Lulu’s Sightseeing Tours takes guests through Frenchman Bay’s privately-owned islands. You’ll see bald-headed eagles and other marine wildlife in their natural environment, and tour past the beautiful summer cottages along the shores of Mount Desert Island. When sea conditions permit, many tours feature a cruise to Egg Rock Lighthouse. You can also join Captain John for his seal watching tour in which Lulu’s small size allows guests to get approach the rock ledges where they seals rest during low tides. READ MORE
Downeast Windjammer Cruises
If you are looking for a wonderful day at sea, be sure to take the 2 hour windjammer cruise aboard the majestic 151 foot 4-masted schooner, The Margaret Todd as she takes you among the islands of Frenchman Bay. As the only 4-masted schooner to work New England waters in over half a century, the Margaret Todd sails 3 times daily from the Bar Harbor Inn Pier. Sit back and watch the amazing Maine wildlife like bald eagles, seals, and harbor porpoise, or you can help the crew hoist sails and take care of other sailing activities on deck. You’ll pass by lighthouses, mountains, fishing villages, mansions, and lobstermen hauling their traps.
The Bar Harbor/Winter Harbor Ferry provides daily passenger service from Bar Harbor to the Schoodic Peninsula, and the Cranberry Cove Ferry provides service from Southwest Harbor and Manset to the Cranberry Islands. You can also take the schooner on 4-hour fishing trips to fish for cod, cusk, pollock, mackerel, cunner, sculpin, black sea bass, red fish, and the occasional wolf fish. All bait and tackle is provided. READ MORE
Maine Maritime Museum
If you are visiting Acadia National Park for your vacation, consider taking an afternoon to travel three hours south to Bath’s Maine Maritime Museum to better understand the region’s seafaring history. Bath is renowned for shipbuilding, which began in 1743 when Jonathan Philbrook and his sons built 2 vessels. Since then, roughly 5,000 vessels have been launched in the area, which at one time had more than 200 shipbuilding firms. By the mid-19th century, Bath became the nation’s fifth largest seaport producing clipper ships that sailed to ports around the world. The last commercial enterprise to build wooden ships in the city was the Percy & Small Shipyard, which was acquired for preservation in 1971 by the Maine Maritime Museum.
Today, that shipyard has been transformed into a comprehensive collection of historic materials, and engaging educational programs where you can learn how Maine evolved as one of the world’s most important maritime ports. Locate on the banks of the Kennebec River, the museum’s campus features a shipyard with five original 19th century buildings including a Victorian-era shipyard owner’s home, an active waterfront, and a full-size representation of the largest wooden sailing vessel ever built. READ MORE
Baker Island Tour
This Acadia National Park Ranger-led boat tour will take you nine miles out to the uninhabited Baker Island where you’ll see the historic Gilley family farmstead dating back to 1806 and the famous Baker Island Lighthouse built in 1828. Make sure to pack warm clothes, bug repellent, your camera and binoculars, and lunch because you’re in for a great Maine environmental adventure.
Throughout the tour, you’ll see incredible coastal scenery, and Maine wildlife like birds, porpoise, pilot whales, humpbacks, and seals. The Park Rangers that lead the tour are very informative, and have a vast amount of knowledge about the history and landscape of Acadia and Maine including everything you’ve ever wanted to know about lobsters and the lobster industry. READ MORE
Atlantic Climbing School
Rated the #1 activity in Bar Harbor by Tripadvisor, Atlantic Climbing School offers world-class rock climbing courses in Acadia National Park for first-time climbers and experienced climbers alike. Whether you are alone or with your family or corporate group, the Atlantic Climbing School offers half day and full day courses in climbing instruction with certified American Mountain Guides Association instructors and guides.
For two decades Atlantic Climbing School has been Maine’s premier climbing guide service, specializing in small, custom rock and ice climbing courses in Acadia National Park, Camden, Maine and beyond. Atlantic Climbing School has courses that are designed for both first-time climbers who want to give rock climbing a try without the time commitment of a more in-depth course, and for experienced climbers with a limited schedule. READ MORE
Atlantic Brewing Company
The Atlantic Brewing Company began as Acadia Brewing Company in 1990 the Lompoc Cafe in downtown Bar Harbor and had a maximum capacity of just one barrel at a time. Within a few years, the demand for Acadia beers had grown, eventually moving to their current location on the Knox Road, a 19th century Maine farmstead. Built on a ten acre Maine farm, the property was designed to create an experience where visitors could learn about small-scale beer production in a country setting. The grounds house our production facilities, gift shop and the Mainely Meat BBQ – where the full line of Atlantic Brewing beers is available on tap.
Each summer, the brewery offers tours at 2, 3, and 4pm each day. The tour is very interesting and you’ll learn everything you need to know about hop, the different types of hops, and how various beers and ales are made. The tour lays the groundwork for the tasting by discussing the issues relating to hops and other ingredients that vary the taste of the beers. READ MORE
Lighthouse and National Park Tour
Take the fast-sailing 90 foot jet-powered catamaran, The Bay King III, for a tour of five beautiful island lighthouses and a historic life station with plenty of time for exploration and photos. You’ll cruise among Acadia’s coastal islands including Otter Cliffs, Sand Beach, Champlain Mountain, and Thunder Hole while the tour guide tells fascinating stories of French explorers, Acadia founder George Dorr, and all about Maine’s legendary lighthouses, light keepers, ghosts and more. The tour will take you along the old Bar Harbour mansions of the Ford, Rockefeller, and Pulitzer families; as well as the estates of newer residents like Martha Stewart.
The ride along the coast is fantastic and the boat sails up close by the estates making for a terrific photo ops. You’ll see five different lighthouses while listening to the friendly, informative narration of the tour guides. You may even be surprised by seeing one of the islands swarming with seals. Many of the area lighthouses are unreachable by car, except for the island lighthouse that can be driven to, but is further away. READ MORE