Skip to content

Why Go To Acadia National Park

Why Go To Acadia National Park

Why Go To Acadia National Park – A rocky coastline dotted with islands, beautiful lighthouses, and more await visitors to Acadia National Park in Maine.

Acadia National Park ranks high on many travel bucket lists, and I have to agree! If you’re traveling to Acadia National Park, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of all the amazing things to do in that area! The area around Acadia offers incredible hikes, picturesque camping sites, and some of the freshest seafood in the US! Maine has some very unique things to offer that can’t be found in other parts of the United States, so this is a trip you won’t want to miss.

Where Is Acadia National Park?

Acadia National Park is located off the Atlantic coast in Maine and occupies the majority of Mount Desert Island and some accompanying smaller islands. The region is often broken down into 6 areas – Winter Harbor, Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor, and Isle au Haut. Click here to access a full park map, courtesy of the National Park Service. You can also pick up maps and guides when visiting the park visitor centers in person.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Acadia?

The best time to visit Acadia National Park is September through early October, after the summer crowds have left but before the temperatures drop below freezing. Visiting in March, April and May can be soggy – fog and rain are common – so you’ll need to pack your waterproof gear. The weather is pleasant come July and August, but it’s by far the most crowded season for the park. The park doesn’t see many visitors in winter, but it’s the perfect time to visit for the dedicated adventure traveler ready to brave the freezing temperatures

Best beaches in Florida

How Do You Get To Acadia National Park?

The beauty of Acadia National Park is that it feels so remote! With miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, Acadia is like nowhere else in the world. That said, it can be a journey to arrive! Since the park is pretty sprawling, I recommend driving or renting a car so that you have one to get around the park. Mount Desert Island is located about 4.5 hours drive north of Boston.

The other option is flying! You can fly into Bangor, ME, which is about 1 hour from Acadia. This is a good spot to pick up your rental car. Another option is to fly to Portland, ME where you can rent a car for the rest of the drive north to Acadia National Park. It takes about 3 hours to drive from Portland to Acadia. I like to use Kayak and Skyscanner to find reasonable rates on flights.

Acadia National Park Entrance Fees:

The private vehicle entrance fee that covers everyone in the vehicle is $30 USD. It will cover 7 days of exploring the loop road, and other sections of the park. Or you could splurge and buy a National Park Pass for $80 USD and is good for all the U.S. National Parks.

What to Eat:

Lobster is a must-try dish in Maine, and you’ll find some of the best at Beal’s Lobster Pier, Thirsty Whale Tavern and Galyn’s. Many visitors also recommend the blueberry pancakes and pies from Café This Way and Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast. If you would rather pack a picnic lunch for your day in the park, stop at one of the few grocery stores downtown or grab a sandwich from a casual shop like Downeast Deli and Boxed Lunch Co. Keep in mind many Bar Harbor restaurants operate seasonally, so be sure to check the hours and closures before you go.

The only restaurant within the park is Jordan Pond House Restaurant, which overlooks Jordan Pond. The restaurant is famous for its afternoon tea, popovers and seafood. However, be prepared for long waiting times as it’s usually crowded.

Fresh Seafood:

First on the list, and rightly so, is the fresh seafood. You’ll find delicious seafood all over Maine, from Portland to Bar Harbor and beyond. Some of the classics include:

Lobster roll sandwich: If you aren’t familiar with this tasty meal, it is a sandwich native to New England and also popular in the Canadian Maritimes. It is made of lobster meat served on a grilled hot dog-style bun with the opening on the top rather than the side.
Clam chowder: In case you have never tried clam chowder before, it is a soup containing clams and broth or milk. In addition to clams, common ingredients include diced potatoes, salt pork, onions, and celery. Other vegetables are not typically used.
Crab dip: This delicious appetizer is a thick, creamy dip that is typically prepared from cream cheese and lump crab meat. Other primary ingredients such as mayonnaise may be used. Various types of crab preparations, species and superfamilies are used, as are a variety of added ingredients.
Clams: Whether raw, steamed, grilled, stuffed, over salad, in soup, or on pizza, clams are a New England specialty.
Scallops: These tasty morsels are often served up seared or grilled, in a variety of dishes. No matter how you eat them, they are sure to be delicious.
Oysters: Whether raw, grilled, fried, in stew, or wrapped in bacon, you can bet they will be tasty. While not very visually appealing, oysters are low in calories yet loaded with nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Mussels: These delicacies might be found in soup, with pasta, broiled, steamed, baked, with cheese, with curry, or so many other ways!
Fish: This seafood staple is fresh and plentiful in Maine! You might find oven baked fish or even fish chowder at your local restaurant.

Where To Stay:

All of these properties are located in Bar Harbor.

Bar Harbor Grand Hotel. Located in central Bar Harbor, this is one of the highest rated properties in town. Rooms can accommodate up to six people and this hotel has a pool, hot tub, and fitness center.

Bar Harbor Inn and Spa. This is a big property with a beautiful setting right on the coast. From the Bar Harbor Inn, it is less than a five-minute walk to the shops and restaurants in the center of town. If you book a room with a view, you can look out at the harbor or the islands that sit just off the coast. The Bar Harbor Inn also has a spa, heated outdoor pool with hot tub, and one of the highest rated restaurants in town, The Reading Room. This is where we stayed and we had a great experience.

The Elmhurst Inn. This bed and breakfast also gets glowing reviews and is a great value for the money. Rooms can accommodate up to two people and guests rave about the breakfast.

Bar Harbor Motel. If you are looking for a cheaper stay, this property gets rave reviews and it is one of the highest rated properties in Bar Harbor on This motel is located north of town, so you will have to drive and park in town if you want to eat or shop here. But this motel can accommodate up to six people in one room so it is also a great pick for families.

1. Go Hiking:

Acadia National Park is filled with an amazing variety of hiking trails. From easy strolls along coastal paths to summit climbs to thrilling cliff walks, there is something here for everyone.

One of the things that makes Acadia so unique, and so exciting, is the large number of trails with ladders and metal rungs. Similar to a via ferrata, you can hike along narrow ledges and climb up sheer rock faces with the aid of these metal rungs.

Hikes that feature iron rungs and cliff walks include the Precipice Trail, the Beehive Trail, the Jordan Cliffs Trail, and the Beech Cliff Ladder Trail.

For a short, easy strolls, hike Ocean Path or the loop trail around Jordan Pond. The Cadillac Summit Loop Trail is a short, easy hike on Cadillac Mountain that offers some of the best views in the park.

South Bubble was one of our favorite hikes, with its great views of Jordan Pond.

2. Drive Park Loop Road:

Park Loop Road is a 27-mile loop through Mount Desert Island. This very scenic road connects several of Acadia’s popular spots, such as Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, and the carriage roads.

Starting in Bar Harbor, drive the Park Loop Road clockwise. As you head down along the coast, you will pass the trailheads for the Precipice Trail and the Beehive Trail, and then come to Sand Beach, Ocean Path, and Thunder Hole. Park Loop Road continues around Otter Point and then heads inland towards Jordan Pond.

3. Sand Beach:

Sand Beach is filled with sharp shells and its water rarely warms above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. But still, this is the most popular of the park’s two beaches. Why? Because the views here are outstanding. Sandwiched between two walls of solid pink granite and surrounded by towering evergreens, the approximately 900-foot-long shoreline is not your average beach. When you’re not admiring the views from the shore, consider hiking up the Great Head Trail for an even better vantage point. This trail, which starts at the eastern end of the beach (the opposite end of the parking lot), has ascending granite steps that start at the base of the cliffs. Once you get to the top, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the beach and be able to spot The Beehive, a mountain that attracts experienced hikers.

4. Jordan Pond House:

Jordan Pond House is famous for their popovers. Located on the shore of Jordan Pond, you can enjoy these tasty treats before or after doing one of several great walks in the area.

Midday, expect big crowds. During our visit, we couldn’t even get a parking space so we had to come back later in the day.

5. Carriage Roads:

John D. Rockfeller Jr. played a huge role in funding and building the carriage roads that crisscross Mount Desert Island. Originally constructed to travel by horse drawn carriage through the park, these roads were built between 1913 and 1940.

Now, these historic roads are now also open to hikers, walkers, and bikers.

6. Thunder Hole:

Thunder Hole is a small inlet where the waves roll up against the rocks, creating a thunderous sound. The water can spray up to 40 feet in the air.

This is one of Acadia’s landmarks so expect big crowds here. There is a parking lot across the street or you can walk here from Sand Beach (2 miles round trip).

7. Echo Lake:

Echo Lake is a beautiful lake on Mount Desert Island. It is located west of Park Loop Road, so it doesn’t get the same volume of visitors as Jordan Pond. You can enjoy views of the lake from the small beach, or, if you are looking for a gorgeous hike, hike the Beech Cliff Ladder Trail. The views of Echo Lake are amazing from the cliffs.

8. Explore Bar Harbor:

Bar Harbor is a lovely little town that sits just outside of Acadia National Park. This is the best place to stay, eat, and shop while visiting the park.

9. Take A Boat Tour Of Acadia:

There are numerous companies offering tours of the islands and coastline of Acadia National Park. Take a sightseeing cruise, go fishing, cruise past Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, go on a puffin cruise, or take a sunset nature cruise.

Acadian Boat Tours and Bass Harbor Cruises are two highly rated companies offering many different cruising options.

10. Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse At Sunset:

This photogenic spot is very popular with photographers. A gorgeous view of a lighthouse perched along the rocky coastline…this is iconic Maine.

This is another very popular place to visit in Acadia and the parking lot is tiny. Which is a good thing…a larger parking lot would make these cliffs even more crowded.

We visited mid-afternoon on a Sunday and park rangers were turning people away. It gets that crowded.

If you have hopes to watch the sunset here, you are going to have to get here very early. How early depends upon the time of year, but I have read that people arrive as much as 3 hours before sunset to get a parking space (and the perfect tripod location).

From Bar Harbor, it takes over 30 minutes to drive here. Along the way, you will pass Echo Lake (worth the stop!!) and Seawall (nice coastal views but the views along Ocean Path and Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse are better).