Fun and Unique Things to Do in Bar Harbor, Maine

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The sunset glows on Bass Harbor lighthouse and the coast of Bar Harbor, Maine.

Welcome to Bar Harbor, Maine. This beautiful town, although small in size, offers many activities, tours, and attractions. Visitors flock to the area in the summer, but fall colors beckon travelers as well. Check out this list of things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine, and begin planning your next trip to this Northeast destination.

Where Is Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor sits on the northeast side of Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine. The College of the Atlantic and Acadia National Park are both located here. You’ll also find Cadillac Mountain, a peak in Acadia National Park, in Bar Harbor. 

Only about 5,200 residents call Bar Harbor home, but it attracts millions of visitors every year. Celebrities such as Susan Sarandon, David Morse, and Martha Stewart regularly spend summers here.

What Is Bar Harbor, Maine Known For

Primarily, Bar Harbor is known for its natural beauty. Celebrities buy vacation homes here and enjoy the peaceful tranquility of Acadia National Park and the Atlantic Ocean. Several Presidents have chosen to visit the area during their time in the White House. It offers a stark contrast from the hustle of Hollywood and Washington.

Bar Harbor is also a yachting town and a place where lobster is king. The popular Shore Path that begins at Ells Pier and wraps around the point has a beautiful ocean view. 

Outdoor enthusiasts will find many things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine, such as birding, boating, fishing, whale-watching, hiking, biking, and more. Bar Harbor regularly makes the “America’s Favorite Towns” list with both land and water adventures.

Things to Do in Bar Harbor, Maine

Here are a few outdoor activities you’ll want to put on your list of things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine. Although shoppers and foodies love the small-town atmosphere, shops, and restaurants, it’s the outdoor enthusiasts who really thrive here. Let’s take a look at a few things to do, and then you can decide what best fits your travel lifestyle.

Acadia National Park

Bar Harbor is called the gateway to Acadia National Park. Established in 1916, Acadia National Park began with 6,000 acres but now covers more than 49,000. This beautiful landscape welcomes millions of visitors every year as one of America’s top ten most visited parks.

Bar Harbor is home to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point within 25 miles of the coastline on the entire East Coast. Some say that you can observe the first sunrise in the United States here.

You can also drive the 27-mile scenic byway on Park Loop Road. At Thunder Hole, one of the most popular stops along the drive, you can walk down a long staircase along granite rock and take in beautiful ocean and mountain views. 

Hike the Bar Island Land Bridge

For 90 minutes before and after low tide, you can journey across this gravel sand bar usually covered by the ocean. Pay close attention to the time so that you safely return to the starting location before the tide. The hike is a little less than two miles and continues through the forest to scenic views of Bar Harbor and Frenchman Bay.

Walk the Shore Path to Agamont Park

You can relax and enjoy the coastal view of the boats in the harbor at Agamont Park. To get here, take a stroll along the Shore Path that runs from Ells Pier to Wayman Lane along Frenchman Bay. This historical path is over 100 years old and passes by some of the oldest inns and cottages in the area.

Take a Whale Watching Cruise

Several companies offer whale watching cruises in Bar Harbor. Consider booking one of these scenic ocean tours aboard a catamaran during your stay. You may see the largest animals on Earth and other wildlife like porpoises, seals, and seabirds. Plus, you can enjoy the beautiful sights of the seashore, lighthouses, islands, and Acadia National Park.

Two men on a boat watch a whale tale in the water on a golden morning.

Explore the Historic Lighthouses

One final suggestion that makes our list of fun things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine, is exploring the lighthouses that line the coast. Maine has over 60 lighthouses, with the tallest one located on Boon Island in southern Maine. In Bar Harbor, you can visit several of them, including Bass Harbor Head Light, the fifth most-visited location in Acadia National Park. This fully operational lighthouse is not open to the public, but you can tour the grounds. 

Where to Camp

You can stay at a few campgrounds in Acadia National Park, which you can reserve at the website. No backcountry camping is allowed. But if you want a more traditional campground experience, try Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort in Bar Harbor.

You can also check out any of the campgrounds listed in our Everything You Need to Know About Acadia National Park Camping article.

Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort

Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort offers spectacular views with sites right along the coastline. The kids will love the heated pool, indoor pavilion, and playgrounds on the property. The resort also provides ice cream socials and magic shows. You can’t beat this location with only a 15-minute drive to downtown Bar Harbor.

If you purchase the Trails Collection camping pass from Thousand Trails, you get 14 nights free.

Website: Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort

Address: 1219 State Hwy 3, Bar Harbor, Maine

Open dates: May 15 – October 11

Plan Your Stay

Plan your stay now for Bar Harbor, Maine. With so many things to do, Bar Harbor has something for everyone. Hike the trails, sail on a catamaran, go shopping downtown, or tour the historic sites. Kids and adults will enjoy visiting this small town on Mount Desert Island. When will your trip begin?

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