Fun in Acadia & MDI, Maine
Cate and I have been going to Acadia annually since 2008. For the last ten years or so, we spend two weeks on the quiet side of the island, renting a house just north of Southwest Harbor.
As the crowds get larger, we spend more time away from Bar Harbor and the most popular parts of the park. If it's your first time visiting, these "must sees" are fun and impressive, but do expect things to be busy. You can find those iconic outings on any "top ten" list or search, below are some of our favorite, more hidden things to do and see.
Things to do
a way to dip in the lake with a little adventure
Follow a trail down a steep hillside behind the Acadia mountain parking lot to the lake. There is a small "cliff jump" and rocky ledges to sit out between swims.
the park's picnic areas seem to be less crowded and are always beautiful; pick up lunch from somewhere nice and enjoy it outside:
Seawall has fire rings and tables right on the ocean
Fabri is a nice wooded area just beyond the most popular areas of the park
Pretty Marsh is a bit out of the way but so peaceful. Follow the trail down to the water to find the picnic pavilion
a half mile hike leads to a secluded cobblestone beach with a babbling stream flowing right into the ocean
Easy hikes with a view
these are shorter and easier hikes, but lead to spectacular views:
Flying Mountain - not only a great view, but take the trail over the top and down to a beach great for tide pooling, wildlife witching, and even a dip
Beech Mountain - hike up to a fire tower and views of Long Pond; stop at the farmstand on the way out
Acadia Mountain - to keep this short and easy, go up and down on the same trail; the loop always feels a bit long
Gorham Mountain - another out and back hike to keep it short. This one is very popular; plan to get to the trail parking by 8AM
Walks to the ocean
There are several short walks out to the ocean for wildlife viewing and tide pooling- great to do on a cloudy day
Bass Harbor lighthouse
Blagden Preserve - we almost always see seals at the end of the trail! Bring binoculars! Walk down the path towards the ocean; bear left at the end. Look for 2 red Adirondack chairs and seals are usually on the rocks to your left. This preserve is not part of the park and seldom crowded.
a very causal place for great fried seafood, BBQ, and lobster
picnic tables outside overlook Southwest Harbor
breakfast choices and delightful lunch boxes; perfect to take on a picnic
Stop by Colonel's for a donut while you're in town
our favorite place for lobster, with a scenic drive across the island to get there
over the years, the lobster stew has become our top choice
it has gotten very popular recently, so get there early and prepare to wait
a more upscale option for a nice dinner out
Common Good Cafe
the better choice for popovers!
They run a soup kitchen for locals in need. To fund operations, they do a popover sale during the summer for donations.
These are our favorite places for food shopping, desserts, and treats:
Parson's lobster - a fish market with super fresh fish, amazing smoked salmon pastrami, and cooked shrimp
MDI ice cream - simply the best
Sawyer's specialties - wine and cheese shop, 2 locations
Bar Harbor popcorn - the blueberry is our favorite