Good Morning America, ABC News’ popular morning program, asked its viewers to identify their favorite place in America. With nominations ranging from Chicago’s Lakefront to Alabama’s Gulf Shores, Acadia National Park came in at the top. It’s easy to understand why.
The views are breathtaking. Maine’s rocky coastline, rich spruce forests, and pristine lakes are set around 24 mountain peaks. And because Acadia was created through private donations of land tracts, some of Maine’s most charming villages–think white-steepled churches and village greens–are nestled alongside the national park.
There’s not only a lot to see, but a lot to do. Whether you are a family with kids, girlfriends on a get-away, or a couple combining adventure and romance, Acadia National Park offers many different activities. People who love the outdoors hike, bike, and kayak. Art lovers roam galleries. And everyone eats lobster.
There’s so much to enjoy, in fact, that a little advance planning pays off. Consider what you want to do most in the amount of time you have. And remember that certain events are not offered daily. For example, some of the Park Ranger Programs occur only once or twice a week, so check out the schedule of events and plan around it. And remember, with Acadia National Park ranked by GMA viewers as their “Favorite Place in America,” you may want to get reservations in advance for the most popular restaurants!
Don’t miss these highlights…
If you have three days
- Drive the Park Loop Road, taking in the key sights such as Frenchman Bay, Ocean Trail, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, and Jordan Pond.
- Hike a trail from among the 125 miles of stunning, well-maintained routes on the island. Consider Jordan Pond as a starting point so that you can efficiently include lunch or tea (popovers, lemonade, chowder) at Jordan Pond House.
- Visit the “Quiet Side,” being sure to see Somes Sound, the postcard-perfect Somesville Bridge, Echo Lake, Bass Harbor Headlight, and the fishing village of Bass Harbor.
- Have dinner at Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard on the “Quiet Side.”
If you have one week
- Add in a sea kayaking tour – great from Bar Harbor in the morning, Southwest Harbor for sunset — or just rent a kayak and paddle around on your own in one of the lakes.
- Take a horse-drawn carriage drive from Wildwood Stables, an Acadia tradition.
- Go to Sand Beach – swim if you dare.
- Go mini-golfing at Pirate’s Cove in Bar Harbor.
- Shop in Bar Harbor and explore the waterfront.
If you have two weeks
- Bike along any of Acadia’s 45 miles of scenic carriage roads.
- Get up early one morning to see the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain.
- Attend a ranger-led program, whether it’s to explore tidal pools or visit an 1800s farm house.
- Take a boat ride in the Starfish Enterprise with Diver Ed or in a romantic, historic Friendship Sloop.
- Work in a second hike on another part of the island – the views and terrain are so varied!
- Visit the village of Southwest Harbor to shop and have a lobster roll and blueberry pie.
- Seek out a Maine public supper or flea market — and enjoy the company of locals.
- Schedule a family rock-climbing expedition.
- Visit an oceanarium with touch tanks to see marine life up close and personal.
- Attend a tour of one of Mount Desert Island’s award-winning local breweries.
Now that you have a calendar of activities sketched out, consult OUR ACADIA for guides, tours, and outfitters. Mount Desert Island is also the home not only of sublime traditional lobster pounds, but creative young chefs who are making the most of local seafood and produce. Check out the restaurant reviews on OUR ACADIA and consider making some reservations ahead of time, especially during the height of summer season.
Then, after your trip, be sure to tell us what you loved the most about Acadia National Park!