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Bar Harbor is a coastal town in Maine wedged against a popular lobstering spot—Frenchman’s Bay. Rich with culture and historic buildings, this town also backs right up to Acadia National Park. It’s location, and bustling culinary and shopping scene make it an awesome place to visit. Keep in mind, many attractions along the coast are seasonal.
Along Acadia’s National Park ‘s scenic Loop Road, which circles the park, is Thunder Hole, a cavernous inlet in the rocks that sits at the coast’s edge. When waves come in just right, they crash into this “hole” with a thunderous boom. Plenty of standing points have safety railing and stairs, while some choose to venture out onto the rocks, which is pretty dangerous.
Roads that once served the traditional horse and buggy are now open to hikers and cyclist—vehicles are not allowed. These scenic roads in Acadia National Park are accented with views of crystal water, historic bridges and mountains. The route can be a little strenuous, but bike rental shops in downtown Bar Harbor not only offer regular cycles but ones with tiny motors.
Along the Carriage Roads is an old 1800s farmhouse that has been serving up famous popovers for over a century. Popovers are soft, hollow pastries paired with sweet jam and creamy butter—the perfect reward for tackling all that biking. Jordan’s Pondhouse overlooks one of the most pristine ponds you’ll ever see; in fact, it’s so pure the water is served at the restaurant. You can also access this delicious nook via vehicle along the regular roads.
Gorham Mountain may not be the tallest peak in Acadia National Park, but it has some of the best views. Round trip, the hike is just under two miles but does have some moderately difficult areas and rocky paths. If you veer onto the secondary trail on the way down, obstacles become a little more intense—rocks get steeper, and sometimes you may have to use metal rung ladders that are anchored into the stone. None the less, the views are so worth it.
Boats, boats everywhere; Frenchman’s Bay off Bar Harbor’s Coast is full of lobstermen. Lulu, an operating lobster boat, offers tours around the bay, while the knowledgeable guides talk about history, trap guidelines and everything in between. They’ll haul up a trap while letting everyone get a chance to interact with the day’s catch, before tossing the fella back in, to live out the rest of his, or her, days.
The Bar Harbor Inn has an intensely rich history dating back to the 1800s, make it one of the best places to stay in Maine. First serving as a culture club, the inn was utilized by the US Navy at one point, and even as a Red Cross unit after a devastating 1947 fire in Bar Harbor. Now, it has been extended to occupy the bustling visitor population of the area, but still holds true to its century-old coastal elegance.
The Pink Pastry Shop makes two of Maine’s most classic desserts—blueberry and Whoopie pies. Of course, they have the classic Whoopie with a soft cake exterior and light cream center, but their other unique variations are so fun to try too. Maple Cream, Cranberry Orange Nut and Strawberry Creme could give the classic a run for its money.
After biking, hiking and walking through downtown, just hop in the car and drive to the highest mountain on the east coast—Cadillac Mountain. It’s stunning always, but sunset or sunrise are the times to be there.
You can’t go to Bar Harbor without eating lumps of buttered lobster on a soft roll. Sure it’s simple, but it’s a traditional combo that will blow you away. Certain places are best for certain lobster dishes, and The Travelin’ Lobster has nailed the roll. Eat outside at the picnic tables or get it to go to enjoy on Cadillac Mountain at Sunset.