Get to know Maine's wild and rugged beauty during a weekend excursion to Bar Harbor. Explore 35,000-acre Acadia National Park as well as the seaside beauty in the quaint downtown area. Fill your belly with the state's best delicacies including lobster and fresh blueberries.
Where to Stay
Bar Harbor Inn & Spa
The Bar Harbor Inn & Spa is a luxurious waterfront hotel overlooking serene Frenchmen Bay. The inn's guest rooms are in 3 buildings spread out over 8 lush acres. The elegant Main Inn features rooms with fireplaces while the Oceanfront Lodge has 64 rooms with oceanfront views from private balconies. While you will save some money, you're certainly not settling when staying at the Newport Building. While these rooms don't offer the same spectacular views, they're just as comfortable and include the same amenities. Take advantage of the complimentary continental breakfast buffet.
Bar Harbor Grand Hotel
Kids are welcome at the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel, making it a good choice for a family vacation. Children under 5 stay free while you pay just $10 extra per night for kids between the ages of 6 and 17. The hotel's 70 rooms provide basic accommodations with a few frills like high-speed internet, a DVD player and hair dryer. The real draw is the location just a few blocks to town and a short drive to Acadia National Park. From mid-June through October, leave your car at the hotel and enjoy the complimentary shuttle to many spots around Acadia.
The Primrose Inn is a bed and breakfast with a rich history. Built in 1878, the house is a classic example of "Stick Style" Victorian architecture with crisscrossing lines and patterns as well as some ornamental trusses, braces and overhanging eaves. Despite this grand inn's age, the accommodations are comfortably modern with gas fireplaces and deep spa tubs in many rooms. All rooms have private bathrooms, central air, luxurious linens, free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Borrow a Garmin to explore the area, or take advantage of the guest wine chiller to cool down your bottle before dinner. Breakfasts include sweet and savory entrees while Afternoon Tea is a smorgasbord of sweet treats, fresh coffee and lemonade.
Bar Harbor KOA Campground
There are 2 campgrounds inside Acadia National Park, but the KOA outside of the park's entrance offers a variety of sites from wooded spots to waterfront campgrounds. If tent camping is not your thing, opt for a rustic cabin or rent a 4-person Airstream RV with a view of the ocean. The campground has a private beach and a heated pool. It offers a variety of activities for kids, from a ride on the KOA Express train to events like campfire story times, make-your-own sundaes or outdoor films. Shuttles are available to get around the camping village and the town beyond.
Where to Eat
Cafe this Way
Linger over a long breakfast at the cozy Cafe this Way. Breakfast staples gain depth with touches like homemade hollandaise sauce alongside corned beef hash and poached eggs. Eggs Benedict is available with the standard ingredients or smoked trout, and omelet specials include the Green Eggs and Sam with spinach, kalamata olives, artichokes and feta cheese. Even vegetarians can indulge with veggie bacon and sausage or a vegan scramble with tofu, mushrooms, broccoli, potatoes and peppers. Round out the meal with a spicy Bloody Mary or carafe of Mimosas.
This cozy spot is an unassuming foodie favorite with classic French bistro-style cooking. A locavore's delight, the menu changes daily or weekly depending on the availability of local fresh produce, fish and meats. Start with a grilled flatbread topped with a mushroom confit or a filling salad of Provencal-style grilled calamari tossed with aioli, olive tapenade and baby arugula. Entrees might include duck breast over cassoulet or a pan-roasted pumpkin seed cod served over garlic mashed potatoes with a lemon brown butter sauce.
Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound
Located on Route 3 right before the bridge to Mt. Desert Island, Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound beckons locals and tourists with a large sign on the roof proclaiming "Lobsters." There's no need to say more -- the succulent shellfish take care of the rest. Bring an appetite and some patience as both indoor and outdoor tables at this outdoor seasonal spot fill up quickly. Choose your own lobster to be boiled gently in seawater and served alongside a pot of steamed clams, cole slaw and potato salad. Save room for a slice of fresh blueberry pie.
Reel Pizza Cinerama
Combine dinner and a movie at Reel Pizza Cinerama. The theater screens movies from Hollywood blockbusters to indie hits, art-house flicks and foreign films. Forgo the traditional theater seat for a cozy couch or recliner and enjoy the big screen with all of the comforts of home. You can have a popcorn and soda or order a freshly made pizza with cinematic flair: The Manchurian Candidate is topped with broccoli, carrots and chicken or tofu with peanut sauce while the Mussel Beach Party has smoked mussels and goat cheese.
What to See & Do
Acadia National Park
A day goes by quickly with all of the opportunities for fun and outdoor adventure at Acadia National Park. To make the most of a short trip to the park, start with a scenic drive around the 20-mile Park Loop Road and up the mountain road to the park's peak at Cadillac Mountain. If you'd prefer to stick to 2 wheels, rent a bike to explore the 27-mile paved carriage road system. Ranger programs enlighten guests on the park's history, geography and resident plants, animals, birds and sea life. If you prefer to stay by the sea, explore the tide pools at Sand Beach; while there's a lifeguard on duty, the sea's frigid temperatures -- averaging 55 degrees Fahrenheit -- are not for the faint-hearted.
Bar Harbor Whale Watching Company
The Bar Harbor Whale Watching Company sets sail in the Gulf of Maine in search of whales, puffins, seals, dolphins and porpoises. Throughout the trip, a naturalist provides an overview of the wildlife and points out sights. This outfitter has the fastest boats in town, which makes for a quick ride out to sea and a faster response time when tracking sea life. Embark on an evening sunset cruise to watch the whales enjoy their dinner of herring and plankton or learn more about the sea's crustaceans during a lobster-fishing and seal-watching adventure. Tours are available from June through October.
With no fewer than 8 televisions, Little Anthony's is the sports bar in town to catch a Red Sox game. Order a beer and a plate of fried ravioli or wings and enjoy the camaraderie or competition, depending on your team of choice.
Carmen Verandah has the largest dance floor in town with nightly entertainment ranging from live bands or DJs to karaoke. Come early and fuel up for your dance party with a meal on the expansive verandah overlooking the Town Green. From noon until 9 p.m., the restaurant serves sandwiches, burgers and plenty of lobster, including lobster rolls, lobster pie and lobster mac and cheese.
Travel Channel Insider's Tip
With miles of flat, paved road and rocky mountain-bike trails, having a bike is a bonus in Bar Harbor. If you can't bring along yours for the trip, stop by the Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop to rent a bike and all of the necessary accoutrements, including helmets, locks and trailers for little ones.