10 Things to Do In Bar Harbor Maine

One of my all time favorite vacations with my family took place in Bar Harbor Maine. Thanks to my friend Jennie Baird, I was armed and ready with her family’s favorite things to do in Bar Harbor and I have to say, Jennie was right on the money. So this list includes a few of Jennie’s picks sprinkled in with our fave finds. Take a look…
IMG_0554.jpg1. Watching the sunset on Cadillac Mountain. One of the most amazing places I have ever seen is Cadillac Mountain, located high atop a summit in Acadia National Park. The views are incredible and the kids had fun climbing the rocks as we looked out over the water and watched the sun go down over the mountains. One suggestion – dress warm! Once the sun disappears, the temperature drops at least 15 degrees.
2. Diver Ed’s Dive in Theater – This made Jennie’s kids’ must see list and it tops ours too. If your family is in the mood for entertainment, then get ready for Ed – a diver/commercial scallop fisherman who appears to be a cross between Jim Belushi and Zach Galifianakis (“The Hangover”). Diver Ed, his incredibly knowledgeable and witty wife, mini Ed (a tiny action figure who takes a beating from sea creatures), Evil Ed (I believe a guy with a beard who was perched at the back of the boat), his nephew and two New Foundland dogs who demonstrate how to properly wear a life vest, offer an action packed underwater tour for passengers. No worries – you and your kids don’t participate in the dive (the water is way too cold), but Diver Ed jumps in three times a day along with a hi-tech video camera that he uses to captures the activity 25 feet below the sea and a bag that he uses to catch a few creatures that he brings back on board so that the kids can touch, carry and play. The only request – don’t squeeze the animals! The tour lasts two hours and it’s well worth the trip – even in the rain!
IMG_0621.jpg3. Jordan Pond Nature Trails & the Jordan Pond House – If you’re up for a hike that’s not too strenuous and ends in tea with popovers overlooking Jordan Pond, then this is the excursion for you. Jordan Pond Restaurant can get pretty busy so be prepared to wait or if you’re impatient like us, buy a Popover mix (or chilled whoopie pies) in the gift shop and make them when you get home. The trail we took led us along the pond – giving us ample time to take frequent breaks where the kids sat on the rocks and my daughter accidentally stepped in the water with one of her converse sneakers – not a particularly fun moment for her but she survived. The views from the base of the pond were gorgeous – we captured several shots of Bubble Mountain. We called it something else though – take a guess…
IMG_0571.jpg4. Listen to the Waves at Thunder Hole – Another must see in Acadia National Park – where the water crashes into rocks made of granite and the sound that erupts bears a striking resemblance to thunder – hence the name. There are also places to climb although if you have a fear of heights, I’d say opt for the Jordan Pond excursion and hold onto the railing at Thunder Hole while you watch the waves.
IMG_0591.JPG5. Take a Walk to Bar Island During Low Tide – This was totally cool – in the morning, the entire area is covered in water and by late afternoon, the sand bar is exposed so that cars can drive and pedestrians and dogs can walk across to Bar Island. The kids can cruise for shells and crabs while you take a lazy walk along the beach. But make sure you head back before the tide rolls back in or else you’ll be swimming back to your hotel!
IMG_0570.jpg6. Whale & Puffin Watch, Nature Cruise or Lobster and Seal Watch – The Whale Watch takes the longest and fills up first and can also be tough for people with weak stomachs so I suggest the Lobster fishing and Seal Watching excursion that only lasts 90 minutes. Your kids will get the chance to touch sea creatures (like Diver Ed’s adventure but not as funny) and you can get some great photos of seals. And they don’t go too far out to sea, so the ride is pretty smooth.
7. Best Breakfast – Michelle’s Bistro – There are a few breakfast joints in Bar Har including Jeannie’s (there’s always a wait) and Testa’s, but don’t believe the hype or long lines. Our favorite by far was Michelle’s Bistro – located in an Inn near some cute shops (my fave was the store that was full of Suncatchers). We sat out back on a deck, enjoyed blueberry pancakes, omelets, french toast and more and the service was fabulous. And the kids loved Rosie – the proprietor’s friendly and fluffy dog.
IMG_0564.JPG8. Best food and fun for Adults & Kids – Geddy’s – It took a few tries to get into Geddy’s but once we did, we understood why there’s always a wait. They have tons of lobsters, towers of nachos, fried seafood galore and friendly waiters who take your picture and put it on their website. Plus, the kids placemats rock. Trust me when I tell you they’ll be coloring throughout dinner and once they’re done, they can present their finished product to the gift shop and win a prize (some beads and tchotchkes from a treasure chest). We also loved Geddy’s Down Under – the gift shop where the kids picked up cool sweat shirts and my husband bought a rain coat for a steal (less than $30).
IMG_0633.JPG9. Blueberry Mojitos at the Harborside – This summer, it’s been all about blueberries and since Maine is known for them, I decided to try out all the alcoholic beverages featuring this incredibly healthy fruit – hello acai berries! While Stewman’s Lobster Pound offers a blueberry martini (which I tried), the best blueberry beverage on the island goes to the Harborside which offers blueberry mojitos by the pool – in two words: muy delicioso!
IMG_0601.jpg10. Best Ice Cream – Ben & Bills – Within 24 hours of arriving in Bar Harbor, we discovered Ben & Bills – where they make their own ice cream and fudge and the line loops out the door every single night. In fact, they even sell lobster ice cream – which we tried – the kids didn’t care for it much but instead, opted for the chocolate tsunami (chocolate, marshmallow, oreos and more) and I went for the sugar free blueberry ice cream. Just be prepared – while you’re deciding what to order, the scoopers are constantly shuffling you down the line – it can get a bit off-putting when you’re trying to make a decision but I guess that’s how they keep the patrons coming in fast and furious. I discovered while we were there that USA Today just selected Ben & Bill’s as the best ice cream parlor in Maine and as a dessert afficionado, I knew my senses were right on target!
A few more picks include Stewman’s Lobster Pound which was visited by the Obama’s this summer (they’ve got a sign to prove it), the amazing Italian restaurant at the Harborside where you get to create your own pasta dish and the Bar Harbor Club where we received a host of spa treatments – from a facial, to massage, a dip in the jacuzzi and a manicure.
Have you been to Maine? If so, share your top picks and stories!