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9 BEST & Most UNIQUE Things To Do on A Trip to Bar Harbor, Maine

USA Travel

Sunrise sky along the coast of Maine in Acadia National Park

From the landscapes to the delicious (and sometimes odd) foods, there are several things about Maine that set it apart from any other state in the U.S. While Maine is one of six states comprising the region of New England, there are endless ways in which it stands out. Some have even claimed Maine to be the most unique state in the country! 

This post is sponsored by Tripscout and Visit Maine.

Scenes from Maine- rocky coast, sunrise, sunset, lighthouse, beer flight, lobster roll

What Makes Maine So Unique?

Well, for starters, Maine is the only state that shares a border with just one other U.S. state (New Hampshire). Its other neighbors are international — the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec. You may already associate things like lobsters and blueberries with the state of Maine, but did you know that Maine is the only state with a state flower that isn’t actually a flower? The White Pine Cone, produced by the dominant Eastern White Pine tree (the Maine State Tree), is the official state flower! With a nickname of “The Pine Tree State,” it just makes sense (though it was voted on by Maine residents)! 

Aside from the visible attributes that make Maine “Maine,” there are things you can’t exactly see that make Maine one of the best places to visit. If you’ve ever been to New England, you may have noticed there’s a different “vibe” there than most other places in the United States. In fact, one of the best things about Maine is its chill and relaxed vibe. It’s also hands-down one of the most friendly places I’ve ever traveled to, which is a good reason in itself to visit. People just live different there — more slowly and more simply. It’s a pleasant change of pace and makes for the best time! 

The town is also easily accessible! You can either explore on foot, or take the popular Oli’s Trolley around to popular spots in town. If you’re driving from out of town or have a rental car, you can park in one of the many lots around town for a small fee, or you may get lucky and snag free parking on the street if you visit during the off-season!

Bar Harbor, ME & Acadia National Park 

Now that we’ve touched on what makes Maine so special overall, let’s get into the details of the small island town of Bar Harbor — one of Maine’s most well-known travel destinations. Located on the Gulf of Maine, it’s to the beautiful Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, downtown Bar Harbor was voted one of the best Maine towns to visit in 2022, and is certainly one of the prettiest coastal towns in the U.S.. Having just visited here, it’s pretty easy to see why! 

Aside from the quaintness of the town and the unique sand bar (more on this below!) connecting it to Bar Island, Bar Harbor reflects all the best attributes of Maine in one special place. From the rugged and rocky coastlines of the Atlantic, to the quaint fishing villages of Frenchman Bay, and the stunning rugged mountain peaks, Bar Harbor is a great place that has it ALL! I couldn’t believe the diversity of experiences we had here both outdoors and indoors, so I’m writing this post to help YOU get the full on Maine experience during your trip!

Before I dive into the specifics, let me just say that I hope you’ve already made the decision to travel to the great state of Maine! If not, I hope this list of very unique Maine experiences will convince you why Bar Harbor, ME (at the very least) needs to be on your bucket list! It’s seriously the perfect spot for a vacation!

A girl stand on pink cliffs along the Maine coast looking out over the ocean at sunrise
The BEST & Most UNIQUE Things to Do on a Trip to Bar Harbor, Maine
Here are 9 things you MUST do to get the full-on Maine experience in Bar Harbor, ME. 
1. Visit Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
On the National Register of Historic Places, Bass Harbor Head Light in Acadia National Park is located on the southwest corner of Mount Desert Island and marks the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay. It was constructed on a rocky cliff in 1876 and is currently one of the most iconic (and most photographed) landmarks in Acadia National Park. You can walk right up to the lighthouse from the parking area on a short, paved trail, or take the Bass Harbor Head Light Trail (.4 miles out and back; open year-round) to a beautiful cliff side view of the Atlantic Ocean. We did the latter at golden hour and were treated to an incredible sunset (and moon rise) over the water! Pro tip: look out onto the horizon and keep your eyes peeled for marine life! You might just see a humpback whale or harbor seal in their natural habitats. 

 

2. Cross the sand bar to explore Bar Island

If I had to choose the MOST unique activity in Bar Harbor, this would probably be it. Whether you call it a walk or hike, it is truly one of the most unique hikes I’ve done and the perfect way to enjoy Maine’s great outdoors (I say this as an avid hiker)! At low tide, the water in the harbor recedes, and a relatively wide sand bar emerges that connects Bar Harbor to Bar Island. The sand bar is only .5 miles long, so it’s a pretty doable walk for the entire family. 

Once you reach Bar Island, you have the option to take a hiking trail another half-mile to the summit where you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view of Bar Harbor across the way! This activity was particularly high on my bucket list, and it exceeded my already high expectations. The sand bar is safe to traverse 1.5 hours before and 1.5 hours after lows tide, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time. If you get stranded on the island during high tide, you will be stuck there for 9 hours until the next low tide occurs. I recommend checking the tide charts to see what time low tide is expected, and plan your activity accordingly!

Pro tip: Search for the Bar Island Trail on AllTrails for a specific route map. You can park downtown near Bridge Street to start your hike. If you’re like me and you enjoy having a coffee in hand on your stroll, stop at The Stadium on Maine Street (open seasonally). If ice cream is more your style, you can’t miss Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium (more on this to come)!

3. Eat some fresh Maine lobsters! 

This one is probably obvious, but I do have a lobster flavored food that I bet will surprise you! Perhaps the most Maine way to enjoy some fresh seafood is in a lobster roll. These typically consist of a cold lobster salad (with mayonnaise and maybe a dash of other flavors) on a grilled and buttered bun (aka- the roll). You’d be hard pressed to find somewhere that DOESN’T serve lobster rolls, but I think the best ones are the seasonal shacks and hole-in-the-wall joints. They tend to be cheaper too! 

If you’re in Maine during the low season or you don’t feel like going on a lobster roll scavenger hunt, I highly recommend Geddy’s restaurant. Their Maine lobster roll was right on point with a toasted and generously buttered roll! Plus, they had excellent craft beer options and insanely good blueberry pie. You can’t really go wrong ordering anything lobster on the menu- lobster bake, lobster mac, lobster pasta. The seafood in general is just so fresh! 

Ok, the lobster surprise I mentioned…get ready because I’m talkin’ about Lobster ICE CREAM! Yep, you can try it for yourself at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium on Bar Harbor’s main street. They have an overwhelming amount of sweet treats to choose from, but their ice cream is delicious! Sample the lobster flavor, or get it on a cone if you dare!

Pro tip: If you aren’t a big fan of lobster, Maine is known for fresh haddock too. The Thirsty Whale makes excellent fried fish sandwiches and fish and chips! They also have an excellent craft beer selection. Noticing a theme yet?

4. Witness sunrise or sunset from Cadillac Mountain

If you are familiar with Acadia National Park, you’ve probably heard of the iconic Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 ft, it is the tallest mountain and the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard. From October 7 to March 6, the top of Cadillac Mountain is the first place to see the sunrise. For many, being the first in the U.S. to see the sunrise is a bucket list item! It was for me as well, but the weather didn’t quite cooperate.

I didn’t mind though, it was an amazing scenic drive on the way up and I was still able to catch an incredible sunset there! With 360-degree views, Cadillac Mountain is a great sunrise AND sunset spot- though expect it to be busy. We caught the sunset from the West-facing Blue Hill Overlook, which has its own parking area. Be advised that a timed entry pass is required for the Cadillac Summit Road from May 25 through October 22. There are several trail options for reaching the summit on foot as well. Restrooms and a gift shop can be found at the top. Be sure to be on the lookout for the elusive bald eagle too — they are known to frequent this area!

4. Witness sunrise or sunset from Cadillac Mountain

If you are familiar with Acadia National Park, you’ve probably heard of the iconic Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 ft, it is the tallest mountain and the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard. From October 7 to March 6, the top of Cadillac Mountain is the first place to see the sunrise. For many, being the first in the U.S. to see the sunrise is a bucket list item! It was for me as well, but the weather didn’t quite cooperate.

I didn’t mind though, it was an amazing scenic drive on the way up and I was still able to catch an incredible sunset there! With 360-degree views, Cadillac Mountain is a great sunrise AND sunset spot- though expect it to be busy. We caught the sunset from the West-facing Blue Hill Overlook, which has its own parking area. Be advised that a timed entry pass is required for the Cadillac Summit Road from May 25 through October 22. There are several trail options for reaching the summit on foot as well. Restrooms and a gift shop can be found at the top. Be sure to be on the lookout for the elusive bald eagle too — they are known to frequent this area!

Sargent and Penobscot Mountains

This was my personal favorite hike, partly because I didn’t know it existed until I hiked it. We hired a local guide from Maine Guided Trips to take us on an off-the-beaten path hike, and he definitely delivered! On this lesser known hike, we summited the second highest peak in the park, saw the oldest lake in Maine, and had panoramic views of Somes Sound (the only Fjord along the Atlantic coast), Cranberry Isles, Frenchman’s Bay, and more. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Katahdin in the distance. 

Ocean Path

This trail is a great option for those looking to enjoy a gentle stroll while taking in incredible views of the rocky shores. Like the name suggests, the Ocean Path is a coastal walking path that runs alongside Park Loop Road. It begins at Sand Beach and runs 2.2 miles to Otter Point (and Otter Cove). This is one of the best ways to view popular overlook points such as Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs. The views are simply spectacular. 

Jordan Pond Path

This gentler 3.3 mile loop follows the shore of Jordan Pond is recognizable from its view of two rounded peaks known as “the Bubbles.” You can stay on the Jordan Pond Path for an easy hike, or you can connect with the Bubble Trail to climb up to North and South Bubbles (see below).

A girl stands on a boulder in a pond looking out at the mountains

Bubble Rocks

Visible from many places within Acadia National Park, North Bubble and South Bubble are collectively referred to as “Bubble Rocks.” I’m sure you can see how they got that name! The Bubbles Rocks trail (starting at the Bubble Rocks Parking Area) is a relatively steep, but short day hike that offers incredible views from the North and South peaks. South Bubble features the iconic “Bubble Rock,” which is a large boulder that sits right on the edge of a cliff. It’s really something to see! Don’t sleep on North Bubble, though. The views overlooking Jordan Pond are phenomenal!

6. Go on a whale watching tour

Going on a boat tour to whale watch is one of the most popular activities you can do in Bar Harbor! There are a number of reputable whale-watching tour companies that offer daily tours around the Mt Desert Island area, and most tours last between 3.5 to 5.5 hours. This is an exciting opportunity to get up close and personal (respectfully) to the local marine life for a pretty affordable price, too. In fact, the Mount Desert Island area is home to hundreds of species of marine life including humpback whales, porpoises, harbor seals, fin whales, pilot whales, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, Sei whales, Minke whales, and even killer whales! 

The best time to take a whale watching boat is anytime late April through October, with the summer months of June, July, and August being the most active for whales. Before you depart, make sure to bring a poncho or other water resistant jacket, a light sweater or coat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a reusable water bottle. Weather conditions can change very quickly in Maine, and the temperature is usually a lot colder out on the ocean. If you get seasick easily, it’s advised to take a dramamine 30 minutes before departure, or bring ginger chews to help with nausea. If you’re looking to book a whale-watching tour for your next Maine vacation, the Bar Harbor Whale Watch company is a reputable company that has been safely taking people to sea for decades. Since whale-watching is a seasonal activity, check the company’s calendar to ensure they are offering sails during the dates of your visit.

Pro tip: if you really want to learn more about whales and the species of whales that roam the waters off the coast of Maine, make a visit to the College of the Atlantic. Located on Mt. Desert Island, it’s a private college that offers degrees solely in the field of human ecology. It’s home to the Dorr Museum of Natural History, which includes a giant blue whale skull on display, among other unique artifacts. 

7. Explore the Carriage Roads by bicycle

Did you know that Mount Desert Island provides some of the most beautiful biking routes on the East Coast of the U.S.!? I sure didn’t, so I was quite pleasantly surprised by all of it’s natural beauty! The unique carriage road system winds 45 miles through the heart of Acadia National Park and is completely closed to motorized traffic. You just have to share it with horses and pedestrians! 

There are several bike shops in Bar Harbor that offer full or half day bike rentals, along with helmets and other gear. We rented from Bar Harbor Bike Shop, which is just .7 miles from a Carriage Road access point. The owner talked us into renting e-bikes, and I’m very glad he did! The roads are definitely hilly, and we were able to explore 20 miles in just a few hours without completely exhausting ourselves. 

The carriage road system can be tricky to navigate, so I definitely recommend getting a map and highlighting your anticipated route. The experts at the bike shop will assist you with this! There are numbered points of interest to help you figure out where you are. I strongly recommend biking by Jordan Pond so you can stop for a famous popover at the Jordan Pond House (reservations may be required). 

A girl on a bike overlooking a pond

8. Visit a craft brewery

In recent years, Maine has established itself as one of the best craft beer destinations in the world. Pause for shocked expressions. From Portland to Norway, craft breweries are brewing all kinds of delicious beer from thick stouts to New England IPA’s! If you are a craft beer lover, there are plenty of places in the downtown area of Bar Harbor to grab a brew. If you want to dig in a bit deeper, you can also take a guided tour of some of the local craft breweries in Bar Harbor to sample some of the most popular ales. We particularly enjoyed Fogtown Brewing, Finback Alehouse, Tap and Barrel, and Bar Harbor Beer Works. Geddys had a great selection of local Maine beer as well! 

After drinking all that brew, make sure to take a stroll down to the town pier to view the sail boats and cruise ships coming in and out of the harbor. You might also catch a glimpse of a playful seal or otter. If it’s cold, you can grab a coffee to go from the Choco-Latte Cafe on Main Street!

A man sitting at a table with a tasting flight of craft beer

9. Eat some wild Maine blueberries 

Again, this may be obvious, but it has to be mentioned in any post about Maine! With wild blueberries being native to Maine, it’s an excellent place to get your fill of the delicious berries. In fact, there’s no better place to have them as Maine and blueberries go hand-in-hand. There’s also no shortage of ways to enjoy your blueberries, so I’m going to give you my Maine favorites:

Blueberry ice cream: Stop at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium or any ice cream shop in Bar harbor.n

Blueberry pie: Geddy’s restaurant had especially good blueberry pie that complemented their exceptional good lobster roll! It’s worth visiting even if you have to wait a little bit to get seated!n

Blueberry pancakes: The blueberry pancakes at Everyday Joe’s were the BEST pancakes I’ve ever had. Everything on their breakfast menu is delicious, but you have to at least order a single blueberry pancake. It’s the perfect place to get your blueberry fix, and you can always hike or bike off the calories later with all the outdoor activities offered nearby!

Conclusion: Unique Things to do on a Trip to Bar Harbor Maine

There you have it! You’re all set to have your very own uniquely Maine experience in the quaint coastal town of Bar Harbor. 

Want to learn more about U.S. travel? If you’re also interested in visiting other states, be sure to check out my other posts about my adventures in VirginiaWest Virginia, and Utah

I hope you enjoyed this post, and I know you’ll enjoy your trip. As always, thanks for reading, and happy travels!

– Kris


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From the landscapes to the delicious (and sometimes odd) foods, there are several things about Maine that set it apart from any other state in the U.S. While Maine is one of six states comprising the region of New England, there are endless ways in which it stands out. Some have even claimed Maine to be the most unique state in the country! n

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This post is sponsored by Tripscout and Visit Maine.

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Scenes from Maine- rocky coast, sunrise, sunset, lighthouse, beer flight, lobster roll
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What Makes Maine So Unique?

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Well, for starters, Maine is the only state that shares a border with just one other U.S. state (New Hampshire). Its other neighbors are international — the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec. You may already associate things like lobsters and blueberries with the state of Maine, but did you know that Maine is the only state with a state flower that isn’t actually a flower? The White Pine Cone, produced by the dominant Eastern White Pine tree (the Maine State Tree), is the official state flower! With a nickname of “The Pine Tree State,” it just makes sense (though it was voted on by Maine residents)! 

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Aside from the visible attributes that make Maine “Maine,” there are things you can’t exactly see that make Maine one of the best places to visit. If you’ve ever been to New England, you may have noticed there’s a different “vibe” there than most other places in the United States. In fact, one of the best things about Maine is its chill and relaxed vibe. It’s also hands-down one of the most friendly places I’ve ever traveled to, which is a good reason in itself to visit. People just live different there — more slowly and more simply. It's a pleasant change of pace and makes for the best time! 

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The town is also easily accessible! You can either explore on foot, or take the popular Oli’s Trolley around to popular spots in town. If you’re driving from out of town or have a rental car, you can park in one of the many lots around town for a small fee, or you may get lucky and snag free parking on the street if you visit during the off-season!

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Bar Harbor, ME & Acadia National Park 

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Now that we’ve touched on what makes Maine so special overall, let’s get into the details of the small island town of Bar Harbor — one of Maine's most well-known travel destinations. Located on the Gulf of Maine, it's to the beautiful Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, downtown Bar Harbor was voted one of the best Maine towns to visit in 2022, and is certainly one of the prettiest coastal towns in the U.S.. Having just visited here, it’s pretty easy to see why! 

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Aside from the quaintness of the town and the unique sand bar (more on this below!) connecting it to Bar Island, Bar Harbor reflects all the best attributes of Maine in one special place. From the rugged and rocky coastlines of the Atlantic, to the quaint fishing villages of Frenchman Bay, and the stunning rugged mountain peaks, Bar Harbor is a great place that has it ALL! I couldn’t believe the diversity of experiences we had here both outdoors and indoors, so I’m writing this post to help YOU get the full on Maine experience during your trip!

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Before I dive into the specifics, let me just say that I hope you’ve already made the decision to travel to the great state of Maine! If not, I hope this list of very unique Maine experiences will convince you why Bar Harbor, ME (at the very least) needs to be on your bucket list! It’s seriously the perfect spot for a vacation!

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The BEST & Most UNIQUE Things to Do on a Trip to Bar Harbor, Maine

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Here are 9 things you MUST do to get the full-on Maine experience in Bar Harbor, ME. 

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1. Visit Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

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On the National Register of Historic Places, Bass Harbor Head Light in Acadia National Park is located on the southwest corner of Mount Desert Island and marks the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay. It was constructed on a rocky cliff in 1876 and is currently one of the most iconic (and most photographed) landmarks in Acadia National Park. You can walk right up to the lighthouse from the parking area on a short, paved trail, or take the Bass Harbor Head Light Trail (.4 miles out and back; open year-round) to a beautiful cliff side view of the Atlantic Ocean. We did the latter at golden hour and were treated to an incredible sunset (and moon rise) over the water! Pro tip: look out onto the horizon and keep your eyes peeled for marine life! You might just see a humpback whale or harbor seal in their natural habitats. 

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2. Cross the sand bar to explore Bar Island

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If I had to choose the MOST unique activity in Bar Harbor, this would probably be it. Whether you call it a walk or hike, it is truly one of the most unique hikes I’ve done and the perfect way to enjoy Maine’s great outdoors (I say this as an avid hiker)! At low tide, the water in the harbor recedes, and a relatively wide sand bar emerges that connects Bar Harbor to Bar Island. The sand bar is only .5 miles long, so it’s a pretty doable walk for the entire family. 

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Once you reach Bar Island, you have the option to take a hiking trail another half-mile to the summit where you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view of Bar Harbor across the way! This activity was particularly high on my bucket list, and it exceeded my already high expectations. The sand bar is safe to traverse 1.5 hours before and 1.5 hours after lows tide, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time. If you get stranded on the island during high tide, you will be stuck there for 9 hours until the next low tide occurs. I recommend checking the tide charts to see what time low tide is expected, and plan your activity accordingly!

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Pro tip: Search for the Bar Island Trail on AllTrails for a specific route map. You can park downtown near Bridge Street to start your hike. If you’re like me and you enjoy having a coffee in hand on your stroll, stop at The Stadium on Maine Street (open seasonally). If ice cream is more your style, you can’t miss Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium (more on this to come)!

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3. Eat some fresh Maine lobsters! 

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This one is probably obvious, but I do have a lobster flavored food that I bet will surprise you! Perhaps the most Maine way to enjoy some fresh seafood is in a lobster roll. These typically consist of a cold lobster salad (with mayonnaise and maybe a dash of other flavors) on a grilled and buttered bun (aka- the roll). You’d be hard pressed to find somewhere that DOESN’T serve lobster rolls, but I think the best ones are the seasonal shacks and hole-in-the-wall joints. They tend to be cheaper too! 

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If you’re in Maine during the low season or you don’t feel like going on a lobster roll scavenger hunt, I highly recommend Geddy's restaurant. Their Maine lobster roll was right on point with a toasted and generously buttered roll! Plus, they had excellent craft beer options and insanely good blueberry pie. You can’t really go wrong ordering anything lobster on the menu- lobster bake, lobster mac, lobster pasta. The seafood in general is just so fresh! 

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Ok, the lobster surprise I mentioned…get ready because I’m talkin’ about Lobster ICE CREAM! Yep, you can try it for yourself at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium on Bar Harbor’s main street. They have an overwhelming amount of sweet treats to choose from, but their ice cream is delicious! Sample the lobster flavor, or get it on a cone if you dare!

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Pro tip: If you aren’t a big fan of lobster, Maine is known for fresh haddock too. The Thirsty Whale makes excellent fried fish sandwiches and fish and chips! They also have an excellent craft beer selection. Noticing a theme yet?

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4. Witness sunrise or sunset from Cadillac Mountain

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If you are familiar with Acadia National Park, you’ve probably heard of the iconic Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 ft, it is the tallest mountain and the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard. From October 7 to March 6, the top of Cadillac Mountain is the first place to see the sunrise. For many, being the first in the U.S. to see the sunrise is a bucket list item! It was for me as well, but the weather didn’t quite cooperate.

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 I didn’t mind though, it was an amazing scenic drive on the way up and I was still able to catch an incredible sunset there! With 360-degree views, Cadillac Mountain is a great sunrise AND sunset spot- though expect it to be busy. We caught the sunset from the West-facing Blue Hill Overlook, which has its own parking area. Be advised that a timed entry pass is required for the Cadillac Summit Road from May 25 through October 22. There are several trail options for reaching the summit on foot as well. Restrooms and a gift shop can be found at the top. Be sure to be on the lookout for the elusive bald eagle too — they are known to frequent this area!

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4. Witness sunrise or sunset from Cadillac Mountain

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If you are familiar with Acadia National Park, you’ve probably heard of the iconic Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 ft, it is the tallest mountain and the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard. From October 7 to March 6, the top of Cadillac Mountain is the first place to see the sunrise. For many, being the first in the U.S. to see the sunrise is a bucket list item! It was for me as well, but the weather didn’t quite cooperate.

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 I didn’t mind though, it was an amazing scenic drive on the way up and I was still able to catch an incredible sunset there! With 360-degree views, Cadillac Mountain is a great sunrise AND sunset spot- though expect it to be busy. We caught the sunset from the West-facing Blue Hill Overlook, which has its own parking area. Be advised that a timed entry pass is required for the Cadillac Summit Road from May 25 through October 22. There are several trail options for reaching the summit on foot as well. Restrooms and a gift shop can be found at the top. Be sure to be on the lookout for the elusive bald eagle too — they are known to frequent this area!

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Sargent and Penobscot Mountains

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This was my personal favorite hike, partly because I didn’t know it existed until I hiked it. We hired a local guide from Maine Guided Trips to take us on an off-the-beaten path hike, and he definitely delivered! On this lesser known hike, we summited the second highest peak in the park, saw the oldest lake in Maine, and had panoramic views of Somes Sound (the only Fjord along the Atlantic coast), Cranberry Isles, Frenchman’s Bay, and more. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Katahdin in the distance. 

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Ocean Path

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This trail is a great option for those looking to enjoy a gentle stroll while taking in incredible views of the rocky shores. Like the name suggests, the Ocean Path is a coastal walking path that runs alongside Park Loop Road. It begins at Sand Beach and runs 2.2 miles to Otter Point (and Otter Cove). This is one of the best ways to view popular overlook points such as Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs. The views are simply spectacular. 

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Jordan Pond Path

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This gentler 3.3 mile loop follows the shore of Jordan Pond is recognizable from its view of two rounded peaks known as “the Bubbles.” You can stay on the Jordan Pond Path for an easy hike, or you can connect with the Bubble Trail to climb up to North and South Bubbles (see below).

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Bubble Rocks

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Visible from many places within Acadia National Park, North Bubble and South Bubble are collectively referred to as “Bubble Rocks.” I’m sure you can see how they got that name! The Bubbles Rocks trail (starting at the Bubble Rocks Parking Area) is a relatively steep, but short day hike that offers incredible views from the North and South peaks. South Bubble features the iconic “Bubble Rock,” which is a large boulder that sits right on the edge of a cliff. It’s really something to see! Don’t sleep on North Bubble, though. The views overlooking Jordan Pond are phenomenal!

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6. Go on a whale watching tour

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Going on a boat tour to whale watch is one of the most popular activities you can do in Bar Harbor! There are a number of reputable whale-watching tour companies that offer daily tours around the Mt Desert Island area, and most tours last between 3.5 to 5.5 hours. This is an exciting opportunity to get up close and personal (respectfully) to the local marine life for a pretty affordable price, too. In fact, the Mount Desert Island area is home to hundreds of species of marine life including humpback whales, porpoises, harbor seals, fin whales, pilot whales, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, Sei whales, Minke whales, and even killer whales! 

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The best time to take a whale watching boat is anytime late April through October, with the summer months of June, July, and August being the most active for whales. Before you depart, make sure to bring a poncho or other water resistant jacket, a light sweater or coat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a reusable water bottle. Weather conditions can change very quickly in Maine, and the temperature is usually a lot colder out on the ocean. If you get seasick easily, it’s advised to take a dramamine 30 minutes before departure, or bring ginger chews to help with nausea. If you’re looking to book a whale-watching tour for your next Maine vacation, the Bar Harbor Whale Watch company is a reputable company that has been safely taking people to sea for decades. Since whale-watching is a seasonal activity, check the company’s calendar to ensure they are offering sails during the dates of your visit.

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Pro tip: if you really want to learn more about whales and the species of whales that roam the waters off the coast of Maine, make a visit to the College of the Atlantic. Located on Mt. Desert Island, it’s a private college that offers degrees solely in the field of human ecology. It’s home to the Dorr Museum of Natural History, which includes a giant blue whale skull on display, among other unique artifacts. 

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7. Explore the Carriage Roads by bicycle

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Did you know that Mount Desert Island provides some of the most beautiful biking routes on the East Coast of the U.S.!? I sure didn’t, so I was quite pleasantly surprised by all of it’s natural beauty! The unique carriage road system winds 45 miles through the heart of Acadia National Park and is completely closed to motorized traffic. You just have to share it with horses and pedestrians! 

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There are several bike shops in Bar Harbor that offer full or half day bike rentals, along with helmets and other gear. We rented from Bar Harbor Bike Shop, which is just .7 miles from a Carriage Road access point. The owner talked us into renting e-bikes, and I’m very glad he did! The roads are definitely hilly, and we were able to explore 20 miles in just a few hours without completely exhausting ourselves. 

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The carriage road system can be tricky to navigate, so I definitely recommend getting a map and highlighting your anticipated route. The experts at the bike shop will assist you with this! There are numbered points of interest to help you figure out where you are. I strongly recommend biking by Jordan Pond so you can stop for a famous popover at the Jordan Pond House (reservations may be required). 

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A girl on a bike overlooking a pond
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8. Visit a craft brewery

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In recent years, Maine has established itself as one of the best craft beer destinations in the world. Pause for shocked expressions. From Portland to Norway, craft breweries are brewing all kinds of delicious beer from thick stouts to New England IPA’s! If you are a craft beer lover, there are plenty of places in the downtown area of Bar Harbor to grab a brew. If you want to dig in a bit deeper, you can also take a guided tour of some of the local craft breweries in Bar Harbor to sample some of the most popular ales. We particularly enjoyed Fogtown Brewing, Finback Alehouse, Tap and Barrel, and Bar Harbor Beer Works. Geddys had a great selection of local Maine beer as well! 

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After drinking all that brew, make sure to take a stroll down to the town pier to view the sail boats and cruise ships coming in and out of the harbor. You might also catch a glimpse of a playful seal or otter. If it’s cold, you can grab a coffee to go from the Choco-Latte Cafe on Main Street!

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A man sitting at a table with a tasting flight of craft beer
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9. Eat some wild Maine blueberries 

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Again, this may be obvious, but it has to be mentioned in any post about Maine! With wild blueberries being native to Maine, it’s an excellent place to get your fill of the delicious berries. In fact, there’s no better place to have them as Maine and blueberries go hand-in-hand. There’s also no shortage of ways to enjoy your blueberries, so I’m going to give you my Maine favorites:

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Blueberry ice cream: Stop at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium or any ice cream shop in Bar harbor.n

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Blueberry pie: Geddy’s restaurant had especially good blueberry pie that complemented their exceptional good lobster roll! It's worth visiting even if you have to wait a little bit to get seated!n

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Blueberry pancakes: The blueberry pancakes at Everyday Joe’s were the BEST pancakes I’ve ever had. Everything on their breakfast menu is delicious, but you have to at least order a single blueberry pancake. It’s the perfect place to get your blueberry fix, and you can always hike or bike off the calories later with all the outdoor activities offered nearby!

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Conclusion: Unique Things to do on a Trip to Bar Harbor Maine

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There you have it! You're all set to have your very own uniquely Maine experience in the quaint coastal town of Bar Harbor. 

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Want to learn more about U.S. travel? If you’re also interested in visiting other states, be sure to check out my other posts about my adventures in Virginia, West Virginia, and Utah

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I hope you enjoyed this post, and I know you'll enjoy your trip. As always, thanks for reading, and happy travels!

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– Kris

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