Even though it wasn't on our route from Bar Harbor to Ogunquit, we decided to make a detour to Bass Harbor to see the Bass Harbor Head Light, one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine. It wasn't as quick of a detour as I had thought it would be but it was definitely worth a stop, especially since we saw a seal playing around in the water just off the coast.
When you park in the free parking lot here, you can go down a path to your right as you are facing the ocean and get the view of the lighthouse from one side but be sure to also take the trail going down to the left side which had a much nicer view.
This lighthouse was built in 1858, is fully automated and marks the entrance to Blue Hill Bay. If you click on the website below, you'll see the best view of the lighthouse, from the water and you can read more about the history of the lighthouse.
If you visit here near lunchtime, several people recommended a place called Thurston's Lobster Pound in nearby Bernard at Steamboat Wharf and Bernard Rd.
Plan your day to have lunch at Jordon Pond. You can dine inside or on the lawn overlooking the lake. We chose inside as it was time for a break from the sun but either location is great. We could see hikers miles away on the top of the ridge as we ate our lunch of pop overs and clam chowder. The pop overs are a must. If there's a crowd you need to sign up for dining times at the window outside of the restaurant...not in the restaurant. We only had a 20 minute wait on a busy day. The store next to dining is great. We picked up some hiking shorts at 25% off and they had some very tasteful Maine and Acadia items. Dinner is also served at this spot but our lunch time stop was winner.
f you've made the trip to Bar Harbor, you MUST plan on visiting this natural treasure. Located right on Mount Desert Island, this beautiful park encompasses a rocky coast, mountains, forests, lakes and streams. To get a good overview of Acadia take a drive, or a tour bus around the Loop Road. Get off at all the stopping points and have a look around. Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Point, and Cadillac Mountain, to name just a few breathtaking areas not to be missed. I also highly recommend stopping at the Jordan Pond House for Popovers and lemonade or tea. Absolutely delicious!
The first U.S. National Park created east of the Mississippi, Acadia is made up almost entirely of once-private land donated by ultra-rich tycoons, like John D. Rockefeller, who were concerned about the region's lasting preservation. It's a truly gorgeous, wild place with mountains, forests and cliffs stretching right down to the sea. There are miles and miles of hiking and bike trails as well a 27-mile loop road for sight-seeing from cars. You can swim at Sand Beach, climb Cadillac Mountain, roam the forests and see all kinds of wild animals including deer, moose and bald eagles, and although thousands of people visit each year it's very easy to find a spot where you can be alone with your thoughts.
It cost $20 for a one-week group pass (a group is however many people fit in your car) and $40 for a yearly pass, which is worth it if you plan on making more than one visit or staying longer than two weeks. Passes are available at the Park Visitors Centers in downtown Bar Harbor as well as the main Visitors Center at the Park's entrance on Eden Street.
Acadia is open all year, though many of the Park's roads are not. If you plan on doing some winter camping or cross country skiing you may want to check and see what's happening before you go.
I woke up Monday morning around 6 am and looked out my window and saw the glorious yellow and orange hues of an ocean sunrise, threw on some pants and a sweater, grabbed my camera and ran down the street before it disappeared. Robert, who had checked to see what time sunrise was, the website he checked said 6:30, set his clock for 6:15 am. By the time he got out there, the oranges and yellows were already gone and the last traces of the pinks and purples were fading as the sun made it's appearance. Perhaps it's not everyday that you get to see what I did but it was about 30 minutes before the official sunrise that I took these pictures.
This is great little boat tour, especially for kids. Lasting about 1 1/2 hours, you can cruise out into Frenchman Bay on Miss Samantha and see how lobsters are caught, as well as view seals hauled out of the water on the rocks and check out a number of cool sea creatures living in the boat's onboard tank. The tour is led by a local naturalist who explains all about lobsters and how lobster traps work. As part of the tour they haul a few traps out of the water so that everyone can see how it's done. They also demonstrate how fishermen measure lobsters to determine if they are of legal size and explain how you can tell if a lobster is male or female. They pass some of the lobsters around for people to look at as well. Many other things besides lobsters are also caught in the traps, like stone crabs, sea cucumbers and fish, which kids think is really cool.
The scenery on the tour is also very nice, as it passes by the Porcupine Islands in the Bay.
Offering 2 hour cruises, the beautiful 151 foot windjammer MARGARET TODD leaves from Bar Harbor and sails among the islands of Frenchman's Bay. In full sail it is a wonderful sight to see.
It makes three trips daily at 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and sunset
This delightful small museum, open since 1991, is the only museum in the state dedicated to telling the story of whales and marine mammals common to the Gulf of Maine. There is an actual whale skeleton and several interesting displays which have been created by faculty and students of the College of the Atlantic. One exhibit is a life-size model of a nearly 50-million year old whale. You will also find an excellent gift and book shop, including an extensive collection of books on marine mammals. Proceeds go to the ongoing research efforts of Allied Whale, an organization which has been studying whales and seals in the Gulf of Maine for more than 30 years..
Open Daily in Season:
June: 12 noon - 8 p.m.
July/August: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
September/October: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Admission: Free, but donations are appreciated.
One of the most famous in Maine, this little lighthouse lies at the very southern end of Mount Desert Island, south of Bar Harbor. It was built in 1858 and is today owned and operated by the United States Coast Guard. In fact, a real family lives in the house attached to the light so it's important when you visit to be as conscientious of this as possible. The light coming from the tower is fixed and red, not white and flashing as in most lighthouses, meant to warm ships of the Bass Harbor Bar as well as mark the entrance to Blue Hill Bay.
There is a parking lot at the lighthouse, but it often gets very crowded so it's best to go early in the morning or during times when fewer people will be around, like when it's raining. The Island Explorer bus also has a stop nearby.
Board the "Miss Samantha" for this fascinating and fun tour through Frenchman's Bay. They begin by pulling up traps and talking about Lobster biology and the history of Lobster fishing. Did you know that years ago Lobsters were so abundant, that Maine prisoners and servants refused to eat them more than three times a week.
You can touch and feel the sea creatures in their touch tank while they cruise off in search of seals. Harbor Seals are a must see and the boat gets so close you can almost count their whiskers. hehe!
The Captain is available to answer all your questions and this tour with the BAR HARBOR WHALE WATCH CO. sure is a fun trip for the whole family.
Bar Harbor is small - just a couple streets. There are two key streets. Main which runs from the harbor towards Acadia, and Cottage Street which is one block up from the harbor. There are many small shops and some are quie unique. Surpirsingly, some of them are upscale (I think maybe because cruise ships seem to stop here). Although a variety of stores are touristy, I found this actually to be a good thing as some of the merchandise is related to "ocean" or 'seascapes" whether it be art or other things.
Located downtown on West Street, the Whale Museum is run by the nearby College of the Atlantic. It's a small place exhibiting several sets of whale and dolphin bones and offering information on the area's local species of whales, dolphins and seals. The museum has a nice gift shop and is a good place to go with kids if it happens to rain. The Whale Museum is free, but they do accept donations.
In the center of Bar Harbor is a really lovely little green, with benches, flower gardens and occasionally live music! In the little Gazebo there was a band playing the evening we visited, complete with an 80 year old(approximately) little lady on the bass drum!
There are a few islands in Bar Harbor's Frenchman Bay, the closest of which is Bar Island. At low tide you can walk to Bar Island across a large sandbar. This is a lot of fun. You can swim or bring out a kayak from the sandbar, or just look for shells. Bar Island is also a very pretty place, with forests and cliffs; sometimes you'll even find seals hauled out the water on the rocks. One thing you need to watch out for though is the time! Don't spend too long on the island or when high tide comes in you'll be stuck there!
Acadia National Park is just a short distance from Bar Harbor, we arrived around 3 pm and drove up to the top of Cadillac Mountain first and then decided to do the Park Loop Road, a 27 mile one way drive through the eastern side of the park. It was odd that there was no cost to drive up to the top of Cadillac Mountain but that once we entered the Park Loop Road, there was a $20 week long pass that we had to purchase, assessed by car, not by person.
We really didn't do the park justice as we only had about 3-4 hours to see it. But I thought it was still worth a stop even with our limited time frame.
I put a few more pictures and information about what we saw in the park on my Acadia National Park page