It’s easy to see why the 46,000-acre Acadia National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. In addition to its cliff-lined coast, the park features lakes, forests, and the highest mountain on the Atlantic coast of the United States. Tourists have more options and can see more sights at the many picturesque little ports.
Bar Harbor is the largest settlement on Mt. Desert Island, but there are several others dotting the coast. These include Bass Harbor, Seal Harbor, Southwest Harbor, and others. The park also encompasses the outer islands, as well as the Schoodic Peninsula and Isle au Haut.
Best Places to Visit in Acadia National Park
Plan your trip to Acadia National Park with our guide to the best activities in the park, whether you’re going there with the kids or your significant other.
1. Visit the Top of Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Mountain is one of the first places in the United States to see the sunrise, making it the most popular sunrise location in Acadia National Park.
Of course, if you’re not a morning person, you don’t have to go at sunrise if that’s not your thing. I’ve also heard that this place is lovely at sunset.
2. The Park Loop Road
The park’s main drive is the best way to see all of the sights and experience the park’s natural wonders. There are numerous pull-offs for taking photographs along the 27-mile route, though they are likely to see heavy use during the summer months.
Great Head, Sand Beach, and Thunder Hole are all great places to stop along the coast, as are Otter Point and Otter Cliffs, which are some of the highest sea cliffs on the East Coast at 110 feet.
- Discover the Hidden Gems: The 10 Best Ultimate Places to Visit in Northern Arizona!
- See the Top 10 Best Attractive Places to Visit in Sequoia National Park, USA!
- Explore the 10 Best Adventurous Places to Visit in Joshua Tree National Park, USA!
If you’re interested in seeing some seabirds, you’ve come to the right place. Midway through April through November, with a fraction of the road remaining open all year. The route should be taken in a clockwise direction due to the one-way nature of certain sections.
3. Pedal or stroll along the country lanes
John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his family donated a 57-mile network of vehicle-free carriage roads, 45 miles of which are located within the national park. The park’s automobile roads are traversed by a series of lovely stone-arched bridges.
Built between 1913 and 1940, the carriage roads are now frequented by walkers, cyclists, equestrians, and those on horseback in an effort to re-create the atmosphere of the early 20th century, before the advent of air conditioning, when Acadia served as a summer retreat for affluent families from the city. The undeveloped backroads provide excellent birdwatching opportunities.
4. Acadia’s Sieur de Monts Spring and Wild Gardens are home to the Abbe Museum
The Abbe Museum, located just outside of Bar Harbor at Sieur de Monts Spring, introduces visitors to the Wabanaki, the indigenous people who have inhabited the region for more than 12,000 years.
Multimedia and interactive displays, as well as physical artifacts, highlight the region’s rich cultural history. Outstanding collections of basketry and other ancient and contemporary Wabanaki artifacts and art are on display at the museum’s other location in Bar Harbor.
5. Schoodic Peninsula travel
The Schoodic Peninsula, located to the north of Mount Desert Island, is a beautiful area with cliffs and scenery along the coast. The park’s six-mile loop road takes visitors past Raven’s Nest’s cleft cliffs and out to Schoodic Point, where they can take in breathtaking views of Mount Desert Island.
The Mount Desert Mountains and the Bay of Fundy can both be seen in their entirety from Schoodic Head. Recreational vehicles are restricted to the Schoodic Woods Campground.
6. Detour to Thunder Hole
The Thunder Hole chasm, where a small cave has formed just under the surface of the water, is perhaps the most dramatic location in Acadia National Park. When one wave recedes, it creates a space through which air can flow into the cave; the next wave then crashes into this cleft, colliding with the air and forcing it to rush out with a deafening roar.
Spray from high waves can reach heights of up to 40 feet. Thunder Hole can be found on the most beautiful stretch of the Acadia Coast, between Great Head and Otter Cliffs.
7. Nature Trail and Jordan Pond Home
Afternoon tea and popovers have been served on the lawn of Jordan Pond House, which overlooks Jordan Pond and the rounded mountains known as The Bubbles, since the late 1800s, when visitors arrived by carriage.
The original Jordan Pond House burned down in 1979, and the new building is a run-of-the-mill concessionary visitor center. While popovers are still available, the lawn is now more like a carnival than a place for a refined afternoon tea.
However, The Bubbles can be seen across the pond, and the view is beautiful. If you show up between 11:30 and 4 without a reservation, you can count on a long wait.
8. Go on a Boat Trip or Cruise
Mt. Desert Island is a great place to launch boat trips and other sea adventures because it is surrounded by three bays and the Atlantic Ocean. A ferry service and day trips connect some of the offshore islands. As a result, getting a glimpse of Acadia National Park from the water is a common activity.
- The Most Remarkable 10 Best Places to Visit Near Jacksonville, FL, USA!
- Escape to Nature’s Wonderland: 10 Best Places to Visit in Redwood National Park, USA!
You can sail on a Windjammer, go on a motor launch nature tour, or go whale watching (where you might also see dolphins) all from Bar Harbor.
9. Beech Mountain and the Great Head Trail
The Great Head Trail, which winds through a forest of evergreens and along cliffs, seems to encapsulate the essence of the Maine coast. Birdwatchers flock to this trail every September to catch a glimpse of migrating hawks and raptors, and for good reason: the vantage point is superb.
The easternmost point of Sand Beach is the starting point for the 1.5-mile loop. The 1.1-mile Beech Mountain Trail loops back to the parking lot from which it set out. It provides a stunning panorama of Long Pond, one of the park’s many long, skinny glacial lakes.
10. Beachcroft Path and Beehive Trail Hike
Sand Beach can be reached via the challenging Beachcroft Path, which starts near Sieur de Monts on Route 3 south of Bar Harbor. Views of the coast, Frenchman Bay, and the offshore islands are particularly stunning from the rocky, open slopes.
There is a long granite stairway, constructed in 1915, that is part of the route. The hike is 2.4 miles one way and 4.4 miles if you include the Bear Brook Trail from the peak.
Hiking, biking, camping, carriage rides, and driving tours of the park’s many natural features are just some of the activities available to visitors of Acadia, in addition to taking advantage of the park’s convenient Island Explorer buses.
Outside the park, in places like Bar Harbor and other towns, you can find places to eat, as well as places to stay in hotels, resorts, vacation rental cottages, motels, and cabins, and places to rent canoes, kayaks, sailboats, and motorboats, and to sign up for fishing trips, whale-watching tours, and nature cruises.
The busiest months for the park are July and August when most of the amenities are open. The peak viewing period for autumn foliage is late September through early October.