Visit Bar Harbor: 12 Top-rated Tourist Attractions and Popular Activities To Do In Bar Harbor, Maine (2023)
A Bar Harbor Vacation is all you need if you are an avid traveler and love exploring new places. Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island and perhaps the most happening tourist destination in Maine. Nestled along Maine’s Frenchman Bay, Bar Harbor serves as a base and gateway to the grand Acadia National Park. Though that’s not it, Bar Harbor is much more than your Acadia gateway. This town in Maine is popular for its coastal beauty and views, mouthwatering lobsters, endless recreational opportunities in the sea, and of course, the solace.
A trip to Bar Harbor opens opportunities that you can truly never get full of. This town has been attracting tourists since the mid-1800s, and since then, it’s been the ultimate summer destination of Maine. From June through September mid, this coastal town is full of hustle, bustle, and crowd from state and beyond. But as soon as September starts heading towards its end, tourists who are looking for some peace step into it. And thereafter, Bar Harbor is totally good weather, a tranquil town that can rejuvenate you to bits. Bar Harbor is for everyone, whether you are visiting with your family, friends, partner, kids, or even alone. So are you ready to explore?
Visit Bar Harbor: 12 Top-rated Tourist Attractions and Popular Activities To Do In Bar Harbor, Maine
Here are the Top-rated Tourist Attractions and Popular Activities to do in Bar Harbor, Maine. Have a look:
1. Take Entry Into The Acadia National Park
A spectacular national treasure, Acadia National Park is the highlight of Bar Harbor and Maine simultaneously. The majority of Bar Harbor visitors are here simply because they want an entry into the great Acadia, Maine’s only National Park. And why not? This region of natural wonder has endless opportunities that will keep one bounded with adventure and peace for a long. Acadia features everything from rugged, rocky coastlines to majestic mountains, lush green forests, towering woodlands, North East’s most breathtaking scenery, and several other geographical features. A visit to Acadia National Park allows individuals to indulge in scenic driving, biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, birdwatching, stargazing, rock climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and much more. The National Park is also a great spot for history and culture enthusiasts that takes one back to the 17th century.
Acadia National Park is never off duty and welcomes visitors year-round. Every season here has its own charm; however, facilities do operate and close at different times of the year. May through October is typically Acadia’s summer season and the most populated one as well.
2. Visit the College of the Atlantic Gardens
Acadia isn’t the only attraction in Bar Harbor, and this seaside town has much of its own as well. One of the popular places to visit in Bar Harbor is the College of the Atlantic Gardens. The facility consists of recreation areas, gatherings, an arboretum, many historic gardens, walking pathways, and more such features. Anyone looking for some peace in Bar Harbor should definitely check out this place. Some of the popular things to check out in COA gardens include Turrets Sea Side Garden, which features a beautiful blue-grey color scheme. Next are the Straus Gardens and Sunken Gardens. In addition, the Beatrix Farrand Garden and Newlin Gardens too are some beautiful features to check out. There’s even a Northern European Garden that turns beautiful in the Spring season. Garden enthusiasts can also check out the Japanese-inspired garden.
3. Take Out Time To Visit Bar Island
Bar Island is a tidal island in Mount Desert right across Bar Harbor. This uninhabited Island is a part of Acadia and is popular for its pine and birch trees. Throughout Bar Island are multiple trails that allow visitors to reach close to the rugged forested beauty. To reach Bar Island, visitors use the rocky land bridge that connects the western end of the bridge with Bar Harbor. What’s unique about this land bridge is that during low tide, it suddenly appears and connects both the natural lands, but after three hours, the bridge again disappears into the Atlantic. One either needs to come back from Bar Island within three hours or wait for another low tide. Bar Island allows visitors to hike and walk to a high point from where one can grab spectacular views of Bar Harbor and Frenchman Bay.
4. Take An Early Morning Or Late Evening Walk At Shore Path
Shore Path is a 1.5-mile-long walkway starting in Agamonth Park of Bar Harbor. Taking a stroll here is a beautiful way to start the morning or end the evening. This lovely coastal pathway was established back in the 1800s. It wraps around a point that continues south along the eastern shore of the Island. Throughout the way, you will come across several magnificent cottages and enchanting views of the water. There are several benches through the Shore Path, and during the summer season, you may even spot some celebrities spending time here. Over the sea various views of Porcupine Island, Egg Rock, and many more small islands. Shore Path is a popular place to watch the sunrise in Bar Harbor. When the first sun rays of the day hit the water of the Atlantic Ocean and create the glittering effect, that natural phenomenon is totally worth watching.
5. Make a trip to Bald Porcupine Island
Bald Porcupine Island is perhaps the best place to visit in Bar Harbor. It is basically an archipelago consisting of 5 different islands. Located between the Schoodic Peninsula and Mount Desert Island, these 32 acres of the well-forested isle are a part of Acadia National Park. What got Bald Porcupine its name are the mature spruce firs and other trees over a rocky cliff that resemble a porcupine’s spiky back. On a clear sky day, Bald Porcupine Island is clearly visible from Cadillac Mountain with one of the finest views. Though for individuals who want to reach close, the Island is accessible by boats and cruises. Individuals can also paddle their own kayak and reach Bald Porcupine Island. However, during mid-February and the end of August, bald eagles and other birds nest on the Island, and thus humans are not permitted to visit.
6. Check Out The Abbe Museum
Abbe Museum is a popular tourist destination located in two locations, one in Bar Harbor and another in Mount Desert Island. The one in Bar Harbor is located at 26 Mount Desert Street and is quite a fun place to visit for history and cultural enthusiasts. Abbe Museum and its collection are all about Maine’s native people, the Wabanaki tribe. This premier tourist destination of Maine houses a huge collection of Native American artifacts that were made during prehistoric and historical times. The collection also consists of pieces from European settlers who were in Maine in the early 17th century. The artifacts include a rare 2000-year-old flute, arrows and spearheads, harpoons, combs, and more such things. Held during one weekend in mid-May, the museum also hosts an Indian Market that features good food, shopping, and art hopping opportunities.
7. Next, stop at the george b. Dorr museum of natural history
Another excellent museum in Bar Harbor is the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History. A popular family place, this museum is dedicated to the preservation, interpretation, and exploration of Maine’s natural world. The museum hosts an array of interactive exhibits and displays, along with dioramas of local coastal wildlife. As you walk inside, you will come across a large tidal pool which has everything from starfish, hermit crabs, sea snails, and other marine creatures. Visitors are also allowed to touch various items on display, like whale bones, furs, and skulls. The museum also allows tours and nature walk that enhance visitors’ experience to another level. Besides the museum, the facility also features a gift shop with a fine selection of gifts, books, and much more.
8. Do Not Miss The Thunder Hole
Thunder Hole is a small natural rock inlet where the sea waves roll into. Wondering what’s special about that? As the water from the sea smashes through the hole, it makes a very thunderous sound. Probably before you see this attraction, you are definitely going to hear a lot about it. Visitors can walk to the vantage point along the path to the cavern’s head and actually see the Thunder Hole from close. However, while you stand there, be ready to get splashed and wet as well. If you are here on a clear weather day, you can also capture some astounding views of Otter Cliff and Sand Beach. Thunder Hole in Bar Harbor can be reached via Park Loop Road while it makes its way to Otter Cliff. Visitors can take the trip to Ocean Path and make it a three-mile-long hike.
9. Spend Some Hours in the St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church
St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church is a historic church complex in Bar Harbor. Popular amongst both locals and visitors, St. Saviour flaunts a fine local example of an American Shingle Style church. Construction of the church began in 1876 though parts like a stained glass window and more were added later in 1901. The structure is executed in stone and wood and consists of those famed Tiffany windows. As you walk inside, the church is truly dark, and the only natural source of light comes from the large window. From June through October, the church opens 9 am to 5 pm for regular visits and self-guided tours. On Sundays, guided tours are offered at 11:15 am. This quaint and picturesque church has a lot of history behind it, along with some excellent photo opportunities. There’s one history cemetery right outside as well.
10. Be a Part of The Acadia Night Sky Festival.
Hosted by the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Acadia Night Sky Festival is an event you cannot simply miss. It is basically an event celebrating starlit skies above Acadia National Park. The Acadia Night Sky Festival organizes every year in the month of September, and not only Mainers from populations from the entire United States gather to observe this magic. According to scientists, the night skies of Acadia National Park are some of the last pristine, and therefore before we lose them, experience them. The festival attracts not only spectators but also photographers, researchers, speakers, artists, workshops, and many vendors to the area. There is, of course, a lot of stargazing, national attention and recognition, and experience that needs to be beheld.
11. Explore and Experience The Nightlife Of Downtown Bar Harbor
Downtown Bar Harbor is an exciting place to be, not only for the seaside retreat but also for the nightlife. The fun begins with watching the sunset by sitting on a porch, deck, or beach. As the sky turns yellows, greys, oranges, and dusty blue, the views become truly magnificent. And slowly, with that, the bars and pubs in downtown Bar Harbor operate for people’s entertainment. There are quite a few family-friendly as well as a couple of appropriate options in the town. For instance, Leary’s Landing Irish Pub is where one can enjoy drinks as well as rocking music for the night. Finback Ale House and Cottage St. Pub are some other great options offering a plethora of drinks, both cocktails and mocktails, and a truly entertaining atmosphere.
12. Lastly, Go For Bar Harbor And Mount Desert Island Photo Tour
Also known as Acadia Photo Safari, the Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island Photo Tour is a must for photography enthusiasts. This tour is basically led by local, professional photographers that take amateur shutterbugs to the beautiful depths of Acadia National Park. The tour comes with four different choices, including the Night Sky, Sunset by the area, Jordan Pond, and Ocean Drive. Every tour includes only six participants, so each of them can get a good amount of personal attention. The tour lasts for three hours and develops photographic awareness amongst the participants. Acadia Photo Safari is offered thrice a day in the morning, afternoon, and evening depending upon which tour is operating for the time. It is definitely a unique and wonderful experience, and every photography enthusiast must take part at least once.