Acadia National Park has been on my bucket list for many, many years! After living in the midwest for most of my life, and then traveling mostly the west coast for four years, we just had to get to Maine! Waiting until we lived in Idaho didn’t really help make that trek any easier. Because we had so many states to see in a short time period, we decided on two full days to see the awe-inspiring Acadia National Park.
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Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont were states 47, 48, and 49 for me, so this was a momentous trip! Vermont and New Hampshire were as beautiful as their reputation, and Maine was equally beautiful, if not more so. Any state bordering the ocean has a special place in my heart!
I really couldn’t wait to spend time here. I booked us a hotel right in Bar Harbor, The Wonder View Inn. It was a nice place, slightly dated, but it had a decent ocean view and a large room and balcony. It was located right next to the Looking Glass Restaurant, which was convenient and yummy, and had ocean views as well. When the restaurant was closed, the outdoor patio was still opened for guests to enjoy. There was also a fire pit that could be used in the evenings.
ISLAND EXPLORER SHUTTLE
Being situated in Bar Harbor gave us the advantage of using the Island Explorer Shuttle. This shuttle had pick up and drops offs at hotels within Bar Harbor, the Acadia National Park Visitor Center, AND downtown Bar Harbor to shop and eat. It was complimentary, because parking is an issue in the area. It worked well, but because of crowds, sometimes you’d have to wait for the next shuttle that wasn’t filled. All in all, we did a combination of driving our car and shuttling.
We spend two full days exploring Acadia. Day one we began with breakfast at the Looking Glass Restaurant, and then drove to the Visitor Center. After collecting maps and information, we grabbed the Island Explorer Shuttle and headed straight for Jordan’s Pond. Now, be forewarned, do not go to Jordan Pond on a full stomach! They are known for their famous popovers! It is common to wait over an hour for your turn at this lovely restaurant, which has tables and seating indoors and outdoors, overlooking the Pond.
JORDAN POND TRAIL
Due to our filling breakfast, we chose not to wait the hour, and instead hit the Jordan Pond Trail. This 3.1 mile hike is an easy path that circles the pond, on paved walkways, gravel, and raised wooden planks. Our teens enjoyed the trail, the views, and some minor rock scrambling onto rocks IN the pond. The “single” path that was created from the raised wooden planks and streaming crowds made it a unique little hike for the boys.
OCEAN PATH TRAIL
We spent the remaining afternoon taking in the views from the Ocean Path Trail. This is an easy 4.5 mile trail that skirts the ocean, just as its name implies. We meandered along the trail, stopping at several different vantage points. The kids scrambled over many, many rocks, challenging themselves to make it from one rock to another. (This is a favorite activity they love to torture me with, so I just sent them a warning and stopped watching.) That made it the perfect afternoon to relax and rejuvenate from a couple of very busy touring days, and simply listen to the crashing waves!
The trail eventually gave way to both Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, very popular spots along the trail. As the name implies, at Thunder Hole the tide is pushed into a very narrow section and forced against the back wall. If the conditions are just right, the water explodes into the air. We did not catch it in full force, as you can tell from my pictures below. But, it was still enjoyable to take the steps down along the crevice and listen to the thundering of the tide against the rocks.
We began our second full day in Acadia with a timed entry to drive Cadillac Summit Road. If you want to guarantee entrance to this drive, you need to make reservations for a half hour time slot. I did this well in advance of our trip. It’s extremely popular and books quickly for sunrise and sunset.
Because I wasn’t sure what to expect, I just booked a 9am slot. But, if I had it to do over again, I’d definitely book the sunrise or sunset. It was a short, easy drive to the summit. Cadillac Summit Loop was a very quick, 0.5 mile paved loop trail. You were awarded with 360 degree views. It was stunning.
Since we had driven our car into Acadia to do Cadillac Summit Road, we took the rest of the day to drive to different viewpoints throughout the park. Another stop where we spent significant time was between Otter Cliff and Otter Cove. We simply got out of the car and walked a portion of this area, once again taking in the ocean views. Despite the crowds, it was easy to find solitude here.
When we had our fill of the views, we spent the evening in downtown Bar Harbor perusing some shops. We ate dinner at Side Street Cafe, where the objective was for all four of us to try lobster for the first time. The boys actually had Lobster Mac, and we all agreed that it was not bad.
I found Acadia National Park to be a peaceful and beautiful place to visit. Despite the crowds, it was easy to find some solitude. There were so many things to do in the area, but with a limited time, I felt that two days was a good amount of time to visit.