Maine, a state that is so beautiful is truly a photographer’s dream and a complete gem in the state is the Acadia National Park. A rugged coastline, greenery all around, iconic lighthouses, majestic roads, what more can you ask for. A road trip across this 47,000-acre wide area by the Atlantic Coast gives you a variety of magnificent vistas that will leave you mesmerized. Check out a list of things to do in Acadia National Park Maine to help you plan a dream vacation.
Undoubtedly, Acadia is the most visited national park on the East coast. With plethora of outdoor activities, it makes it one of the best places to visit in the US with kids.
How to Explore Acadia National Park?
The best way to explore the beauty is to drive the 27-mile Park Loop Road beginning near the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. The road traverses through a diverse terrain of lakes, ponds, rocky coastline, mountains, beaches, and forests and makes it a memorable drive. There are multiple scenic spots like Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, Otter Cliff, Jordon Pond, and many more along the loop with parking spaces to pull off.
And if you are an adventure lover, then there are many hiking trails to explore the untouched vistas and some spectacular views.
The free Island Explorer Shuttle runs during the Summer month is the best way to skip the parking hassles and explore the park with pick/drop at major points especially during the peak season and holiday weekends.
Things to do in Acadia National Park
#1 Park Loop Road
Park Loop Road is a 27-mile long loop built around the national park covering most of the attractions. Driving the Park Loop Road is the best way to begin or explore if you are short on time. No doubt that Park Loop Road is one of the Best road trips in the USA.
Park Loop road begins at Hulls Cove visitor center.
Most of the Park Loop Road is one-way traffic with detours to places like Cadillac Mountain and Jordon Pond. So be careful and follow the directions and map.
#2 Sand Beach
Sand Beach, the most sought after destination in the park is a gorgeous beach nestled between the rocky cliffs and mountains. It is beautiful and perfect to spend a day there relaxing. The clear blue waters and sparkling sand are inviting and soothing. But the waters are cold even during summer, so be a brave heart to dip in.
So spread out your beach blanket and build your castles. There are lifeguards on duty from Memorial to Labor Day.
This popular beach is accessible through the Park Loop Road and near the Sand Beach Park Entrance.
Sand beach is connected through some gorgeous trails – Great Head Trail or the Ocean Path that meander Through ocean views, rocky cliffs, and greenery.
#3 Thunder Hole
A small inlet along the coast is the place where at times of high tides, the water crashes into the rocky cliffs making a thunderous sound and hence the name Thunder Hole. But don’t be surprised if you hear nothing when the sea is calm. There is a railing along the path at the end of which is the place to see the thunder hole below. In spite of that, you will see people climbing all over the rocks around.
Look towards right direction for gorgeous views of Otter Cliff.
Pro Tip: Do check the time of the high tides to experience the thunderous sound.
Pro tip: Be mindful of the wet path and water splashes.
#4 Otter Cliff
Otter Cliffs are 110 feet tall rocky cliff at the edge with the ocean waters crashing onto them. This is a place where spectacular views of the vast expanse of ocean charm you. It is accessible on the Park Loop Road with a parking lot right outside.
It can also be accessed by hiking through the Ocean Path Trail.
Some professional people do learn rock climbing or enjoy climbing the rocks at the cliffs.
#5 Ocean Path Trail
This is one easy trail that begins from the parking lot of Sand beach till the Otter Cliff. The 2-mile long Ocean path trail traverses next to the main road And most of it is leveled making it easy to do with kids as well.
#6 Jordan Pond
Jordon Pond is the picturesque tarn formed by the glaciers. The crystal clear water, the reflection of trees, rocks shining through the waters just wants you to gaze at the beauty.
Just take a stroll around the lake or sit down and appreciate the beauty.
Jordon Pond House is the only restaurant inside the park and is set overlooking the pond. There is a sitting area outside next to the pond that makes it the most sought after place for a meal.
Pro Tip: Be prepared for long wait for seating in the restaurant during the peak season And holidays.
#7 Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak of the East Coast and is the first place to see the rising sun. So how can you miss an opportunity to see the magical sunrise and views of the park? Believe it or not, it is well worth waking up at dawn to catch a glimpse. I woke my small kids up at 4:30 a.m. two days in a row to witness the magic.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a clear sky and we saw the mighty sun peeping behind the clouds showing us its glimpses, but it surely cast the spell on us.
If you are not a morning person then watching the sun paint the sky in the evening should be a must.
Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit the Cadillac Mountain, though the day gets some amazing views of the Eagle Lake and Bar Harbor.
You can easily drive all the way to the summit or hike the South Ridge trail and North Ridge trail.
Pro Tip: It gets very windy on the top, so please take blankets, jackets and caps to wrap yourself warm.
#8 Bass Harbor Lighthouse
It is the iconic lighthouse that is visible on every pic of the national park making it is the most photographed location. Located on the cliffside, it is a picture-perfect location for mesmerizing views of the ocean. Built way back in 1858, it is situated on the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island.
The lighthouse is closed for the public but can visit its premises. The lighthouse is open from 9 a.m. to sunset.
This is a perfect place to watch the sunset, but need to reach well before time.
From the Park Loop Road, drive all the way to the most photographed Bass Harbor Lighthouse and along the route 102A for some untouched beauty.
#9 Carriage Roads
There is a wide area which beams signs of history, where you feel like going back into the 20th century. Carriage Roads are broken stone roads and bridges spreading over 45 miles within the park.
Carriage roads are motor-free areas and can be accessed only by hiking, cycling, or horses. If you need to step back into yesteryears, then take a horse carriage ride along the route.
Acadia National Park Passes & Fees
There is an entrance fee of USD 30 for each vehicle to enter the park which is valid for 7 days. The entry fee for the motorcycle is USD 25 while it is USD 15 per person if you enter without a vehicle.
Plan to visit again?? Then buying an Annual pass is the best bet.
Annual pass – USD 55 for a vehicle, valid for 12 months from date of purchase.
What to See near Acadia National Park?
# Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor is a vibrant historic town on Mount Desert Island by the bay. It is great to spend evenings in downtown or by the bay. Walk along the Shore path right next to the Bar Harbor Inn in the town and feel the fresh breezy air.
Maine is famous for sea food especially lobsters, so you can opt for a culinary walking tour to indulge in the delicacies.
#Walk across to Bar Island
An experience that is special and can be experienced only at this place in US to walk over to the island.
During the low tide, one can walk over the gravel sandbar over to the Bar Island across Bar Harbor. It is unbelievable to see this place during high tide, all covered with water and not possible to walk over to the island.
Head downtown to Bridge Street during the low tide and walk up to the island. Come back during high tide to see a totally different picture with the gravel path nowhere in sight.
#Ariel view of Acadia
The beauty of the national park and Bar Harbor are mesmerizing and to get an Ariel view makes up for it. There are many flight operators that have options from helicopters to biplanes to gliders.
We took a small aircraft ride and it’s simply breathtaking to see Maine’s coastline.
Best time to visit Acadia National Park
Acadia can be visited anytime from late Spring to Fall with summer being the busiest. But another great time to see the nature’s palate is Fall, to see the spectacular colors of the foliage. The tree in the shades of yellow, orange, red with backdrops of the Atlantic Ocean is a sight to behold.
Most of the Park Loop Road is closed during winters from December to April, except the Ocean Drive and Jordan Pond Road. Ocean Drive is accessed via the Schooner Head Road about 2 miles south of Bar Harbor.
Where to Stay
Bar Harbor is the best area to stay and be close to the Acadia National park. There are many hotels and Airbnb to choose from.
Bar Harbor Inn – This is one of the most popular hotels due to its location. Located right next to the bay with views of the ocean, it is a great place to be. The Shore Path is right outside the hotel. The hotel gets booked very fast, so book it well in advance.
Hampton Inn Bar Harbor – A great choice for families with views of the ocean and the mountains. There are indoor as well as outdoor pools and complimentary breakfast included.
So what are you waiting for? Check the rates and availability
Woodland Park Cottages – If living close by nature and away from the hustle-bustle of the city is your choice, then this is the place to be in. There are wooden cottages along the shore. Check the property and book it.
Where to Eat near Acadia
Jordon Pond House Restaurant – One place that you cannot miss having a meal is at the fancy Jordon Pond house restaurant. Located overlooking the Jordon Pond, this is the only restaurant inside the national park. There is a sitting outside as well with mesmerizing views of the pond.
Mount Desert Island Ice cream – Try out some unique and tasty homemade ice cream flavors at Mt Desert Island ice cream. With many outlets around the area, you can’t miss your scoop.
Seafood & Lobsters – If you love seafood then Maine will not disappoint you. Maine is famous for its fresh lobsters. There are many waterfront shacks and restaurants that serve the lobsters.
Have you been to Acadia National Park Maine? Didn’t you fall in love with the place? We loved it and yearn to be back soon. Did we miss something? Do let us know about your experiences.
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