Hi all! Today’s post is going to cover all things Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park best hikes. I visited Acadia for the first time last month (August 2020) for a long weekend. We had a packed three days full of hikes, nature, lobster, and lots of blueberries. Today I’m going to share everything we did so you can plan a visit of your own and check out some of the Acadia National Park best hikes!
Getting To Acadia National Park
Getting to Acadia can be a bit difficult depending on where you’re from. If you live in the northeast of the United States, it’s quite easy – just drive! From Boston, Acadia is located about four hours north, so it’s a bit of a road trip. From the New York City area, Acadia is about an 8 hour drive. If you live in other states or countries, I recommend flying into Boston Logan Airport and catching a direct flight to Hancock County – Bar Harbor Airport (BHB), which is located about 10 minutes from the park.
The drive up to Acadia is super scenic as you past all of the towns in southern coastal Maine, including Ogunquit, Kennybunkport, and the city of Portland. The last two hours of the drive is mostly forest. Once you pass Bangor, you’ll make your way east to Mount Desert Island, the gateway to the park.
Staying In Acadia National Park
Mount Desert Island consists of the quiant town of Bar Harbor and the national park. I recommend staying in downtown Bar Harbor. This town is so quaint that there are no major hotel chains in the downtown, so use this opportunity to stay in a cozy b&b. We stayed in the Quimby Inn and really liked it!
Acadia National Park Weekend Itinerary
Day One: Acadia National Park Best Hikes
Now that you know how to get to Acadia and where to stay in Bar Habor, let’s get into the itinerary! This is the exact one my boyfriend and I followed and we covered a lot of ground, so hopefully this is useful to you.
We arrived in Acadia around lunchtime on a Friday, after leaving early in the morning from the Boston area. Our first stop was Thrive Juice Bar & Kitchen for lunch. Located right in Bar Harbor, this place is one of the highest rated restaurants for lunch, so stop here! We split wraps, but their açaí bowls looked amazing. Located around the corner from this restaurant is the Village Green and since seating is limited at Thrive, take your lunch to this park! It’s right in downtown Bar Harbor and is perfect for people watching. Oh ya, there’s a gazebo and fountain too… so cute.
After a satisfying lunch we hit the forest for a hike! We hopped back in the car and drove 10 minutes to Hull’s Cove Visitor Center. I recommend starting here for two reasons. First, you need to purchase a National Park’s Pass. This cost us about $30 and was good for the whole weekend. Second, you’ll want to grab a park map. Park rangers are super helpful, so don’t be afraid to ask them questions.
The road around Acadia is called the Park Loop and is a one-way road for most of the time. We followed this from the Visitor’s Center to Sandy Beach to begin our hike on the Beehive Trail. This trail isn’t super well marked, but you’ll see all the cars parked alongside the road. Before hitting the trail, check out Sandy Beach! There’s public restrooms here and it’s super pretty.
The Beehive trail is short but incredibly steep. If you’re afraid of heights, I don’t recommend it, but if you crave adventure like I do, it’s perfect! It’s only .5 miles to the summit where the view is extremely rewarding. The first part of the the trail is pretty flat like any other hike, but eventually you literally rock climb to reach the summit. There are ladders built into the rocks to assist you… hold on tight!
The top provided the perfect view of Sandy Beach below, along with views of the Atlantic and Frenchman’s Bay. Once you take in the view, continue on the Bowl Trail. Do not, and I repeat do not, attempt to hike back down the Beehive Trail. It’s too steep. The Bowl Trail will take you back down behind the summit to the Bowl, a small pond located in the park. No one was here when we arrived and the water looked super refreshing, so my boyfriend convinced me to swim… in my clothes. I don’t really recommend this because I found out this pond is full of leeches (after we got out thank goodness), but it was fun! A few other people made the jump with us after we told them how good it felt.
From here, continue along the Bowl Trail for another mile or so until you reach the beginning of the the Beehive Trail (they intersect) and return to your car. The total loop was only about 2 miles long and was SO much fun. I would set aside about 2-3 hours to really enjoy one of the Acadia National Park best hikes.
From here, we returned to our hotel and got ready for dinner. We walked downtown to the Bar Harbor Beer Works for dinner and drinks. We ordered the lobster artichoke dip to start and wow…Get it!
Day Two: Exploring Bar Harbor
We started this morning by grabbing a yummy breakfast at Jordan’s House in downtown Bar Harbor. A must for their blueberry pancakes and muffins! Maine really takes pride in their blueberries and I can see why! After breakfast, we spent the next few hours browsing the shops downtown. I got lost in a cute bookstore and really enjoyed all the locally-owned shops here. We also checked out the waterfront where the Bar Harbor Inn & Spa is located.
Later this afternoon we went to the Bar Harbor Cheesecake Company, a place I couldn’t recommend more. This restaurant is locally owned and offers $5 cheesecake and wine tastings! We tried four different cheesecakes and three wines. The wine here was SO good and all locally produced. I tried their famous fruit wines – the blueberry and cranberry did not disappoint. The cheesecake slices were bite-sized and were also so delicious. We went here around 4/5 pm, but I recommend doing this activity for dessert after dinner! The best part about this spot were the owners. The service here was incredible and our waitress took the time to share with us the history of the place, to describe each and every flavor, and even gave her personal recommendations!
From here, we walked downtown to Testa’s for dinner. They have the best lobster mac & cheese in town, so come here if you want to try some!
Day Three: Cadillac Mountain & Jordan’s Pond
Rise and shine! We saved today to see the sunrise since Saturday was rainy. Make sure you choose one morning to do this. We got up at 5 am and drove up to Cadillac Mountain for sunrise. This mountain is famous for sunrise viewing because of the scenic views, but also because it’s the first sunrise in the United States! I was thrilled to discover that you can actually just drive up to the top of this mountain instead of hiking in the dark. Drive slow and arrive early- the roads are windy here and it was very foggy. Also, spots fill up fast so you may have to park on the side of the road and walk like we did.
Unfortunately, it was so cloudy at the summit that it never cleared up for sunrise. We waited up there for almost 30 minutes and it never got better. I guess this happens sometimes, but hopefully you are luckier than we were. Fortunately, as we were driving back down the mountain it started to clear up and we caught the sunrise! We pulled over to an overlook and watched for awhile – so grateful for this.
Since we were already wide awake at this point we drove back to downtown Bar Harbor to eat at Jeannies’ Great Maine Breakfast. We got there at 7 am and tables had already been turned over 1-2x – this place is that popular. There was even a wait! I highly recommend eating here one morning if you can.
From here, we hungout at the inn for a bit (I fell asleep again oops), checked out, and returned to Acadia National Park to drive along the scenic Park Loop. We again began at Hull’s Cove Visitor’s Center and drove on the one-way road, past Sandy Beach, until we reached a new stretch.
Our first stop was Thunder Hole. This natureal phenomenon can’t be missed! It’s basically a cave underwater that fills with water and when it does, it creates a geyser-like explosion that sounds like thunder. The best time to see this is if you arrive two hours before high tide.
From here, we pulled over at several lookouts for scenic views before making our way to Jordan’s Pond.
Jordan’s Pond is my number one recommendation for Acadia National Park! First, the pond itself is stunning. Second, the Jordan’s Pond House is the perfect place for lunch! After fighting for a parking spot, we made our way to the house to grab lunch. In the summer months, there are tables on the grass by the pond that you can eat at. We brought a blanket and had a picnic! You can’t leave Jordan’s Pond House without trying their blueberry tea and popovers. This place has been serving popovers since the 1800s and they certainly did not disappoint! After lunch we walked down to the pond to take some photos, something else I recommend doing since the pond’s backdrop are the North and South Bubbles – two mesmerizing mountain peaks and some of the Acadia National Park best hikes.
Pro-tip: Besides the house, Jordan’s Pond has a ton of trails, so the parking lots fill up quickly. I recommend coming here around 1 pm after the lunch rush. We arrived around 11:30 am and had a hard time finding parking.
Leaving Acadia National Park
From Jordan’s Pond House we went back to Bar Harbor to check out and get gas before hitting the road. We bid our farewells to Mount Desert Island and drove south 1.5 hours to Camden, Maine. My mom recommended that we visit Camden and we ended up loving it! It’s another super charming, coastal New England town.
After a short visit to Camden we drove down to Old Orchard Beach to eat dinner before heading home. What a day!
I hope these tips and itinerary recommendations are helpful to all of you considering a visit to Acadia National Park. This weekend truly felt like a getaway and was so much prettier than I expected. If you live in New England, you need to plan a trip here ASAP! You won’t leave disappointed.
Pro-tip: If you like biking, make sure to pack your bikes! There are over 40 miles of pedestrian and bike-only carriage trails that run through Acadia. We didn’t have time to do this, but I wish we did!
Want more New England weekend/day trip ideas? Check out my Ultimate New England bucket list! I update it often.
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Great blogpost and amazing photography.
Makes me want to visit Acadia again… 🙂
Thanks Marie! I hope you get back!