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The Family Reunion Guide to Bar Harbor

Reconnect over the unique beauty and culture of coastal Maine during your next family retreat in Bar Harbor at the Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina.

Whether you’re expecting just a handful of cousins or more like a 100 relatives, family reunions require some serious logistical planning. How are you going to keep the kids entertained? How far can you expect Grandma and Grandpa to walk during the day? Where are you going to find a hotel that is going to cater to your family retreat in a location that is within easy traveling distance of all the best area attractions? Of all Maine’s family reunion locations, Bar Harbor may just be the cream of the crop. The historical and quaint town offers myriad attractions for small and large groups of all ages. And when you stay right in the heart of town at the Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina, all of the best Bar Harbor activities are just right outside your guestroom door, from exploring the natural beauty of Acadia National Park to the quirky character of downtown.

Where to Stay

Overlooking Frenchman Bay on West Street – just steps from iconic Bar Harbor activities, like the Abbe Museum and the Cool as a Moose store – The Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina has been welcoming families since the early 1990s and is known for its kid-friendly atmosphere. Regarding ideal accommodations for large groups, there are two great options: The Oceanfront Suites and Boathouse Suites. The Oceanfront Suites offer flexible floor plans to accommodate all group sizes. These suites include a full bath, living, and kitchen, as well as a dining area for six – perfect for family meals. The four Boathouse suites each have two bedrooms off a full kitchen and living area, as well as off-suite balconies on the water of a working marina and a rooftop patio complete with a Jacuzzi for unwinding after a long day of family togetherness.

Let the Kids Play While You Spa

While you and the other adults in your clan retreat to the Bar Harbor Club Spa for ocean-inspired therapies, let the kids run wild at the Harborside Hotel’s Bar Harbor Kids Club. Designed for children between the ages of 5 and 12, the kids’ club offers children the opportunity to experience an authentic Maine adventure under the guidance of friendly and qualified counselors. They’ll learn about local history, make arts and crafts, and participate in a variety of games.

Reunite for Dinner at La Bella Vita

With earthy tones, copper pots, handcrafted Italian mosaics and al fresco patio dining, the Harborside Hotel’s La Bella Vita offers an exceptional Bar Harbor dining experience that builds on the traditions of an Italian trattoria. The youngings in your crew will appreciate the pizza and dining room wood-fired brick oven to watch it being made, while the adults will love the carefully selected, seasonal wine list and specialty seafood dishes, like wild King Salmon Florentine and East Coast halibut with tagliolini.

Sunset Tours at Sea

You can see a spectacular sunset anywhere on the island, but to get the best view, you have to strap into a life jacket with Acadia Park Kayak Tours. All fitness levels can enjoy a leisurely paddle around the harbor, which stops at some of the smaller islands to look for endangered peregrine falcons diving off the cliffs. Or for a truly unique experience, book the stargazer tour or plan an ethereal paddle on a foggy day.

Family-Friendly Learning Experience

Rainy Maine days are made for exploring the quirky shops and museums in Bar Harbor. Check out the Naturalist’s Notebook, which mixes the informative nature of a science museum with the whimsy of a children’s museum through clever installations, or Sherman’s Books & Stationery, Maine’s oldest bookstore with an array of unconventional books about Maine, stationery, and collectibles that are intriguing to all age groups.

Take a Hike

Home to the stunningly rugged destination of Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island is full of hundreds of miles of walking paths and hikes. For something accessible right from the Harborside Hotel, the one-mile Bar Harbor Shore Path begins at the Town Pier next to Agamont Park and is a flat, easy stroll that follows the curve of the bay, giving hikers views into the harbor and the surrounding islands. If your gang can handle a more moderate hike, head to Acadia National Park, with an entrance just a mile from the Harborside hotel, and tackle the iconic Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail. The route heads up Cadillac Mountain – the highest point on Mount Desert Island at 1,530 feet – and offers spectacular views of Frenchman Bay and the surrounding mountains. Leave early in the morning and be the first to greet the sun.

Music on the Green

Pack some blankets and everyone’s favorite sandwich from Harborside’s Splash Pool menu, and enjoy dinner alfresco in the heart of town. Just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, the Village Green is a lush landscape with gazebos, fountains, and benches and the ultimate place to people watch or play. If here on a summer evening on a Monday or Thursday, you’ll hear the Bar Harbor Town Band perform a free concert, featuring everything from classical to the golden oldies.

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