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Top 9 Things to Do in Acadia National Park

The Atlantic Coast at its finest, Acadia National Park is guaranteed to take your breath away. Its beauty is raw and sublime, with its waves crashing onto rocky beaches, miles of hiking paths in untouched forests, lighthouses dotting the capes and islands, scenic beaches with the bluest of waters, and diverse wildlife.

It’s a gift that keeps on giving to those who love nature. One of Maine’s most iconic places, this national park is among the most popular outdoor escapes and vacation spots on the entire East Coast, and there are numerous fantastic things to do in Acadia National Park. It is a stunning natural playground with impressive vistas and fresh air. So why not come here and make the most of being outside?

See the park essentials on a bus tour Tour the park essentials in a bus
Credit: Tour the park essentials in a bus by acadiatours.com

See the park essentials on a bus tour

What Is It? The tour takes just 2.5 hours, but you have a chance to see such musts of Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor as Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, and Sieur de Monts Spring on a comfortable bus. The narrated guidance highlighting exciting facts about the spots is another plus. As Acadia prohibits vehicles on carriage roads, this tour is a terrific way to follow the loop road while enjoying the scenery.

Why Do It? Sometimes it happens that you don’t have much time to spend. In these instances, the short tour comes in handy. Get a glimpse of majestic Acadia National Park while being guided by professionals. Also, you can embark on this journey if you’d like to combine hiking with the loop road attractions. Plus, it’s super affordable too. 

Good to Know: The tour starts and ends at Bar Harbor, the gateway city to Acadia National Park. All admission tickets are included in the price. 

Enjoy the park on your own terms with a private tour Cater your trip to your interests on a private tour
Credit: Cater your trip to your interests on a private tour by Michael & Diane Weidner via Unsplash.com

Enjoy the park on your own terms with a private tour

What Is It? If you prefer flexibility, going for a private tour instead of the group bus would be a great option. Visitors have rated this experience highly, noting the knowledgeable guidance, the all-inclusive programming, and their overall satisfaction with the activity. It includes more stops than the classic tours and allows you to experience each attraction for as long as possible. 

Why Do It? The private tour features a climate-controlled vehicle and an itinerary individually tailored to your needs and expectations. While it’s on the pricey side, you’re getting a luxurious way to experience one of America’s most trip-worthy national parks, and it’s worth it if extra comfort is on your travel menu. 

Good to Know: This experience also includes visiting the charming Asticou Azalea Garden, Somesville Historical Museum and Gardens, and the fishing village of Southwest Harbor, with a stop at the lobster pound. 

Stay in an Airbnb right next to the fjord Stay right next to the fjord
Credit: Stay right next to the fjord by Airbnb.com

Stay in an Airbnb right next to the fjord

What Is It? How about a private terrace with a prime view of one of Acadia’s most striking sights, the picturesque Somes Sound? This unique vacation rental near Acadia National Park provides that along with a beautifully-designed country home that would work as an ideal base for exploring the national park. Situated in a tranquil location in the middle of Mount Desert Island, it’s a go-to place for a charming natural escape. 

Why Do It? Waking up with the sunrise over the fjord and enjoying the gentle sunset light over Somes Sound is nothing short of spectacular. Apart from the views, you’re getting a comfortable and well-located accommodation with direct access to the water. In other words, a superb chance to experience Acadia National Park from an exclusive angle. 

Good to Know: The property has two bedrooms and can accommodate up to 7 people, so it will work great for groups of friends or families with children. Southwest Harbor is a short drive from the house, so you’re never too far from civilization either.

Explore Acadia on a horse Explore Acadia on a horse
Credit: Explore Acadia on a horse by PublicDomainPictures / 17902 via Pixabay.com

Explore Acadia on a horse

What Is It? One of the most curious features of Acadia National Park is that some of its roads are entirely closed to motorized vehicles. That allows for better preservation and enables you to get to the heart of this fascinating Atlantic area the old way: on the back of a horse. You’ve got 45 miles of carriage roads taking you to some of the most beautiful parts of the park, so saddle up and get ready for an exciting adventure. 

Why Do It? Horseback riding in such a breathtaking national park as Acadia is an unforgettable experience that one should experience to find absolute joy in the outdoors. The slow pace gives you a contemplative observation of the surroundings. It’s travel in its purest, most unrestricted form. 

Good to Know: You can either opt for a horse-drawn carriage ride from the local Wildwood Stables or come with your own. Always follow the safety rules the National Park Service lays out to have a smooth riding experience. 

Camp next to the Atlantic Ocean Camp next to the Atlantic Ocean
Credit: Camp next to the Atlantic Ocean by Benjamin Rascoe via Unsplash.com

Camp next to the Atlantic Ocean

What Is It? Nothing beats camping next to the coast. It’s an irresistibly romantic outdoor escape that many dream of. In Acadia, booking a spot at one of the campgrounds on Mount Desert Island allows you to feel the force of nature first-hand. Blackwoods Campground is one of the best campgrounds in Acadia with its perfect combination of proximity to all the hikes, basic comfort, and mind-blowing ocean panoramas.  

Why Do It? If being one with nature is something you’d want from your national park experience, camping at Acadia National Park satisfies this craving. Also, by spending a night among the trees, you’re fully immersing yourself in the landscape on the one hand and will have all the trails close by on the other.

Good to Know: As Acadia National Park is among the top 10 most popular parks in the U.S., reserving a camping spot beforehand is a must. Use the NPS website to choose the time and place that best suits you. 

Stargaze at the beach Stargaze at the beach
Credit: Stargaze at the beach by Ivy Main via Wikimedia Commons

Stargaze at the beach

What Is It? With almost zero light pollution, Acadia is the perfect place to stargaze. The park allows and encourages it too. So why not marvel at the starry skies at Sandy Beach, one of the most scenic corners of the national park? You can picnic here during the sunset and wait for darkness to fall and the sky to light up with a million stars. 

Why Do It? The peaceful sound of the waves, the silhouettes of the cliffs in the distance, and the spellbinding spectacle unfolding in the skies above are some of the most magical things to do while in Acadia. 

Good to Know: Come to Sandy Beach prepared by bringing a flashlight with you and read the recommendations of the NPS before going stargazing. Also, make sure to take warm clothes. The nights can get cold in Acadia. 

Stay at a historic hotel Stay at a historic hotel
Credit: Stay at a historic hotel by yellowhousemaine.com

Stay at a historic hotel

What Is It? Who said you couldn’t have luxury when visiting a national park? Acadia National Park is located around historic towns and communities, so there are several excellent accommodations to choose from. Yellow House Inn is one of the classiest. A historic mansion-turned-boutique hotel, it’s the perfect pick for lodging right on the park’s fringes. 

Why Do It? With a convenient location at the center of the historic fishing town of Bar Harbor (a.k.a. the gateway to Acadia National Park), you’ll get to enjoy an upscale stay while being next to all of the delights of nature. 

Good to Know: The hotel boasts lovingly renovated antique interiors, an Instagrammable front porch, and a complimentary hot breakfast. WiFi is available throughout the property as well. 

Paddle your way through the park Paddle your way through the park
Credit: Paddle your way through the park by Benjamin Rascoe via Unsplash.com

Paddle your way through the park

What Is It? With lakes, a fjord, and ocean, Acadia National Park is a water wonderland and one of the best national parks for water sports. The good news is that you can explore it by boat. Local regulations allow it, and it would be a sin not to get out on the water. Whether in a kayak or a canoe, the spectacular panoramas and fun, active times ahead are guaranteed. Echo Lake and Long Pond are two great places for an easy paddling escapade. 

Why Do It? There’s something special about observing the majestic Acadia National Park from the water. It’s an experience that takes you further and opens up a new and refreshing perspective of the well-known places and attractions inside the park. Also, it’s a fantastic family activity.  

Good to Know: Be extra careful with every water activity, including boating. Don’t go alone and have some basic prior training before going all-in. Also, check regulations before heading out for a smooth sail. Ocean paddleboarding is allowed too but is reserved for experienced paddle boarders only. 

Fall in love with birdwatching Fall in love with birdwatching
Credit: Fall in love with birdwatching by Alan Howe via Unsplash.com

Fall in love with birdwatching

What Is It? There are two kinds of people: those passionate about birdwatching and those who’ve never tried it. The middle ground is rarely found. With a truly impressive roster of colorful species found here, Arcadia National Park may be the best place in the U.S., and one of the best in the world too, to try this activity. You’ll have a chance to see Atlantic puffins, 20 types of warblers, and even the bald eagle. 

Why Do It? Maybe you will absolutely love birdwatching. Maybe you won’t. Either way, you will have a great time breathing in the fresh air in a magnificent setting. So why not give it a try?

Good to Know: Acadia National Park takes birdwatching seriously and has prepared a special sheet for you to track which birds you’ve spotted. 

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