Hi, friends! Sorry for the radio silence, life has gotten in the way of my blogging recently.
While it’s more than a month overdue, I wanted to share about a recent weeklong trip that Nick and I took with his parents to Bar Harbor, Maine. We had such an enjoyable and relaxing time on our trip and I’d highly recommend the area to anyone who is considering a visit.
We rented a lovely and well-appointed house at the tip of Long Pond peninsula, the largest lake on Mount Desert Island, which is home to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.
The upper levels of the house and patio offered the most serene and breathtaking views of the pond.
The rental house also had a dock on the water, where we spent a good amount of time reading and relaxing in the sun (mostly in the morning when the water was calm, by early afternoon the wind picked up and lake became very choppy — we even saw some canoe-ers capsize in the pond early one evening).
While we packed swim suits — and the weather was mostly sunny and in the 70s — the long, cold winter meant the water temperature was very cold. (Nick was the only one brave enough to take a dip, and he was in and out of the water faster than I could take a picture.)
When the water was calm, the dock was a great place to catch the sunset as well.
The house came with several canoes and Nick and I and his parents went out on the water a few times during our visit. We spotted a bald eagle circling the area, and we eventually found a large, marked nest right around the bend from our rental.
We spent two afternoons visiting different parts of Acadia National Park, and driving portions of the 27-mile scenic drive around the park. Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak in the park at 1,500 feet and offers an amazing view of the park and coastline. This peak is supposed to be the highest point in the Northeast and therefore the first place in the U.S. to see the sun rise each morning, while we were the tempted to catch the sunrise some morning, the 4:30 a.m. wake-up time was a bit too early for us :).
(We didn’t do it on this trip, but the park’s 40-50 miles of historic carriage roads are open only to bicyclists and biking them would be a great adventure on a future trip).
During the week, we also made two stops to Thunder Hole, named for the thunderous sound that’s made when large waves crash into the rocky gap. We visited around low-tide one day and at high-tide on another day but never saw much splashing.
We also made a stop to the park’s Sand Beach, which is popular among sunbathers in the hot summer months. Since it was still very early in the tourist season, we saw only a few people with their feet in the water.
There are lobster pounds all over Bar Harbor; these are restaurants with large tanks filled fresh, live lobsters that are sold by the pound. Most of these lobster pounds were located right along the water, and the lobsters come right off the boats from the ocean.
On our first full night in Bar Harbor we visited Thurstons, which overlooked the boats on Bass Harbor. While the food at Thurstons was good, later in the week we came across another lobster pound, Parsons, which was takeout only, but had great prices and an amazing selection of fresh lobsters, clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops.
From then on we dined on lobster and seafood almost daily – we definitely got our fill of lobster dinners and rolls and clam chowder.
Another fun activity that we enjoyed was a tour and tasting at Atlantic Brewing Company (their Island Ginger was one of our favorites). Attached to the brewery was Mainely Meat BBQ, a local favorite that served up such good ribs that we went back for a second visit later in the week!
Nick and I have taken dozens of brewery tours over the years, and never before Atlantic Brewing have we been required to wear protective eyewear (apparently it’s an OSHA requirement). Nick’s Bono-like glasses kept us all laughing throughout the brewery tour.
Another fun thing that we did was cross the gravel “bridge” to Bar Island, which becomes visible during low tide. Bar Island has an easy 1-mile hiking trail up to a peak that offers a good view of downtown Bar Harbor. It’s important to make sure that you re-cross back to the mainland before the tide comes back in otherwise the passage becomes completely covered in water.
There are several local lobster boats that give tours and one afternoon we hopped aboard Lulu for a two-hour tour with Captain John. He was very entertaining and incredibly knowledgable about the community, lobsters and the lobstering industry, and local conservation efforts. During the tour, Captain John even pulled in a few live traps to demonstrate the lobster-fishing process.
The tour was also very scenic; we saw quite a few seals sunbathing on the rocks and even another bald eagle.
During our trip, we also spent some time in downtown Bar Harbor. The area is filled with enough cute shops and restaurants to keep you busy on a rainy or cold day; thankfully we mostly had good weather during our visit.
One afternoon, Nick and I hiked Acadia’s Beech Cliff trail, which was only a few miles away from our rental. There is an observation tower at the summit, but unfortunately it was not open the day we visited. Thankfully the high cliffs allowed us to see for many miles around (in the picture below I’m gazing down at Long Pond and in the direction of our rental, which was on the tip of the larger peninsula).
On our last full night in Maine, we planned a feast to celebrate our vacation and the great time we had with Nick’s parents touring the area. We bought several large live lobsters, mussels and tiger shrimp (and even some steaks).
We had so much fun preparing and eating our dinner and it was such a wonderful (and delicious) ending to our trip. If you haven’t been to Bar Harbor or Maine and are considering a future trip, I’d highly recommend it. The land and seascapes were incredible, the pace was slower, and there were plenty of things to do and see during our weeklong visit.
Until next time, Maine – you were a beauty and I can’t wait to visit you again!
Since I don’t have photos of everything we did during the week, I’ve put together a bulleted list of recommended activities and restaurants.
Things to see and do:
- Take a day trip to Northeast Harbor to visit the cute cafes and shops (don’t miss The Kimball Shop, I could have spent hours in there)
- Hop aboard Lulu for a lobster fishing and seal watching tour
- Enjoy a tour and tasting at Bar Harbor Brewing Company
- Visit Bar Harbor Cellers Winery
- Hike the Beech Cliff trail
- Bike a portion of Acadia’s 45 miles of carriage roads
- Walk the Shore Path in downtown Bar Harbor
- Visit the Northeast Harbor Farmers Market on Thursday mornings
- Stop for popovers at Acadia’s Jordan Pond House
- Cross the gravel passage during low tide to Bar Island and hike to the summit
- Shop at the LL Bean outlet in nearby Bangor (or take the several hour trip to the main outlet in Freeport)
- Drive Acadia’s 27-mile Park Loop Road
- Take in a sunrise from Cadillac Mountain
Where to eat:
- Thurston’s Lobster Pound
- Parsons Lobster Pound (takeaway only)
- Mainely Meat Barbeque
- West Street Cafe
- Side Street Cafe
- Rosalie’s Pizza