Bar Harbor was a real surprise on my trip to Maine that I want to share with you all. A picturesque coastal town in the heart of Maine, this charming retreat is a hidden treasure, offering the perfect mix of outdoor adventure, breathtaking views and fascinating local culture. Join me as we explore this Maine gem!
A busy harbour, a delightful village with lively wooden buildings, a whale encounter and the natural wonders of Acadia National Park. All this and more are the calling card of Bar Harbor, a coastal town in Maine, developed on Mont Desert Island. We are about 3 hours from Portland, the state’s largest city, and about 4½ hours from Boston, the largest and best known city in New England, which also includes the state of Maine.
When to visit Bar Harbor?
As with all New England states, I recommend visiting Bar Harbour in autumn to make the most of the charm of the foliage when expanses of foliage are tinged with burgundy, red, orange, ochre and yellow, which, together with the green, create an enchanting palette of colours, especially during the peak period, which along the coast generally falls in early October.
Bar Harbor weather forecast
The continental climate gives rise to cold winters with possible snowfall, spring can be rainy but the flowers begin to bloom while summer is mild and pleasant enough to make it a popular tourist destination.
How to get to Bar Harbor?
If arriving from Europe, opt for Boston’s Logan Airport, with the option of flying on to the domestic airport in Bar Harbor. The choice is to pick up a rental car and continue north along I-95. A tip: if you have never seen Boston, make the most of a visit to the capital of Massachusetts.
Have you ever considered a cruise with a stopover in Bar Harbor? The itineraries are worthwhile and generally run from May to October.
What to eat in Bar Harbor?
The first thing that springs to mind are shellfish and crustaceans: clams, oysters, crabs, tasty shrimps and lobster, the undisputed star and proposed in a variety of ways. Try one of the restaurants, e.g. Stewaman’s Lobster Pond on the waterfront pier, with a nice view of the ocean.
What to do in Bar Harbor?
Bar Harbor Maine,Lush greenery, a breathtaking coastline and cetaceans characterise this pleasant and lively town that hosts annual events including musical performances, craft fairs and the American Independence Day Fourth of July fireworks, all under the starry skies of Acadia National Park. But what to see in more detail in Bar Harbor? Set off with me on its discovery.
What to see in Bar Harbor in a day
Bar Harbor Main Street
It is the main street of the hundred, which the Americans call downtown. It boasts pretty, brightly coloured wooden buildings housing shops and restaurants. The amusing signs of the businesses also add to the pleasantness of this artery, which is even more attractive at night.
After wandering around its quaint streets and tasting the typical Maine lobster, you cannot miss visiting the places around the town.
Acadia National Park (fee)
- If you visit Bar Harbor in Maine, you can’t miss visiting this natural area, which is enchanting all year round, but increases in interest particularly in early autumn when the foliage creates an explosion of colours.
- The vast Acadia National Park sweeps through mountains, forests, lakes and a breathtaking coastline that also boasts two beaches.
Another place not to be missed is the Bass Harbor Head Light, a 10-metre high lighthouse still in operation that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
- Another thing I particularly enjoyed was reaching the 456 metres of Cadillac Mountain at sunset time to admire the view at its most impressive.
This enchanted place is also worth a visit during the winter, laden with all its charm. The snow brings with it various opportunities including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice fishing.
Whale Watching in Maine (fee)
Exciting narrated excursion by fast catamaran, usually 3 hours long, usually operating from May to mid-October. Given its popularity, it is strongly recommended to book in advance on the website of the Bar Harbor Whale Watching company based near the Town Pier.
This tour is suitable for all members of the family who will marvel at the whales’ evolutions. The scholars who accompany visitors on the tour tell us that the whales are given names, which is why one is incredulous when the cetaceans respond both physically and audibly to the guides’ greetings.
Bar Harbor Maine: what to see in several days
We can spend several days visiting this area of Maine because there is no shortage of attractions and breathtaking sights.
Route to Bar Island
An experience possibly not to be missed. For three hours, the low tide creates a sandy passage of about 800 metres that leads to the nearby islet of Bar Island for an impressive walk through the greenery and a grandiose panorama of Bar Harbor and the bay from its highest point. Be careful to calculate well the times when the esplanade remains accessible so as not to see it vanish before your eyes.
It was this natural connection that gave rise to the name Bar Harbor (sandy harbour). Bar Island can be reached on foot, on two wheels or by car.
Another Downtown artery, with colourful wooden buildings, is Mount Desert Street. Here, one can visit the Abbe Museum (for a fee), an informative journey through the history and culture of Maine’s Native Americans, and Saint Saviour’s Church, an Episcopal church featuring Romanesque and Victorian styles as well as stone and wood materials. Bright ornate windows embellish this place of worship.
I point out some inviting green areas in downtown: Agamont Park and Grant Park (both facing the sea) as well as Village Green (in downtown).
Town Beach & Pier
From Agamont Park, a few steps lead to a pebbly shoreline in the bay that hosts the pier, an ideal site for strolling and from which to enjoy spectacular sunsets.
South Shore Path
If you are sporty and enjoy walking, take advantage of the path that starts at Town Pier and continues eastwards to Mount Desert Island via Frenchman Bay. A multitude of boats complete the scenery that opens up before your eyes. A camera is a must!
Dorr Museum of Natural History
Not too far from downtown, at the College of the Atlantic, this museum disseminates and delves into the history of Maine’s coastal area.
An interesting site in which to observe a tank with special Maine sea creatures, including the rare blue lobster, which will also arouse the interest of children. Operational from May to October, it offers the opportunity to learn about local ecology and marine biology.
Wild Iris Farm (fee)
Carriage rides within the estate, in the countryside but also in the city centre. And you can also book a tour for a special event to be clebrated. Within the estate it is possible to ‘make friends’ with some of the animals. Generally, farm tours take place in the summer months, while country tours take place from May to October.
Artist Rocky Mann’s workshop where various objects made mainly from clay can be appreciated and purchased: tiles, plates and pottery. The artist also makes creations at the customer’s request.
Don’t miss the surroundings
Bar Harbor is a good starting point to appreciate places along the coast such as Portland, Camden, Rockport and Rockland.
But there are also inland destinations such as the capital Augusta and Bangor, which is home to the house of writer Stephen King as well as the very interesting Cole Land Transportation Museum where numerous Maine transportation vehicles are on display. In a state where nature reigns supreme, don’t miss Camden Hills State Park, the enchanting lake region of Sebago Lake and don’t miss the many scenic roads around Bar Harbor.
I am sure that as it did for me The Maine will remain in your heart.