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Your Guide to Bar Harbor, Maine

Before its name was changed in 1918, beautiful Bar Harbor was known as Eden, which makes a lot of sense. This charming village located on Mount Desert Island, Maine’s largest offshore island, is like a universe in itself, blessed with a diversity of landscapes, terrain, and wildlife, not to mention a bounty of things to do and places to eat. Named America’s No. 1 small town to visit by US News & World Report in 2022, it has the added distinction of serving as the gateway to the awe-inspiring Acadia National Park. Here are our Opal-curated picks for a trip to the Northeast’s own little version of paradise.


Egg Rock Lighthouse

Built in 1875, this unique architectural landmark in Winter Harbor is instantly recognizable by its 12-foot-square brick tower, rising from an equally cubical lighthouse keeper’s house. A favorite spot for seabirds to build their nests, Egg Rock is now part of a designated bird sanctuary. While the lighthouse is best viewed by boat, you can also get a good look from the Schooner Head parking lot off Park Loop Road, in the Bar Harbor section of Acadia National Park.

Egg Rock Lighthouse,
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Bar Harbor Town Pier

With a 180-degree panoramic view of the harbor, islands, and Mount Desert Narrows, this historic pier is the site of a bustling marina that was once filled with schooners and smaller fishing vessels and is now a docking place for tour boats, lobster boats, and the occasional yacht. This is your launchpad for whale watching, kayak tours, and nature cruises around the bay.

1 West St.
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Abbe Museum

Explore the culture and history of the Wabanaki, the Native people of this region, through the objects, photographs, multimedia installations, historical accounts, and oral histories that make up “People of the Light,” the museum’s core exhibit. The first and only Smithsonian Affiliate in the state, it was founded in 1928 by Dr. Robert Abbe as a home for his collection of early artifacts, including stone and bone tools and pottery unearthed around Mount Desert Island.

26 Mt. Desert St. 
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

The 1932 Criterion Theatre

Travel back to the days of vaudeville and speakeasies at this Art Deco jewel, with a history as rich and colorful as its purple velvet seats. Founded by former felon George C. McKay Sr. (he served a year for bootlegging), it boasted a floating balcony, a state-of-the-art “Inter-Phone” system, and yes, a basement speakeasy. Established as a nonprofit in 2015, the 760-seat theater now hosts live music, dance, and film screenings. 

35 Cottage St.
Bar Harbor, ME 04609


See the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

The highest point on the Eastern seaboard, this 1,530-foot summit served as a panoramic viewing point for 17th-century cartographers seeking to map the rugged coastland. During certain times of the year—from the fall solstice to the spring solstice—it’s the first place on the East Coast touched by the rays of the rising sun. The short, paved Cadillac Summit Loop Trail is accessible by car; vehicle reservations are required for Cadillac Summit Road from late May through October. 

Cadillac Summit Rd.
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Explore Acadia National Park

This 50,000-acre preserve encompasses 20 mountains, 64 miles of coastline, 1,100 plant species, and countless wildlife in its wetlands and forests. One natural spectacle among many is Thunder Hole near Sand Beach, a cavern below the surface of the water where the collision of waves and air causes a thunderous roar and splashes as high as 40 feet. Also on the eastern side of Mount Desert Island, the Beehive, a 520-foot-high geological feature, can be reached via a strenuous .8-mile hike through woods and up cliffs. Another “don’t miss”: The twin mountains known as the North and South Bubbles, reflected in the serene surface of Jordan Pond.

25 Visitor Center Road
Hulls Cove Visitor Center
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Sail around Frenchman Bay

Named for Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who mapped the area in 1604, the bay offers stunning views of ocean and sky, rocky coastline, and more than three dozen small islands (including the spiky-looking Porcupine Islands) that were once used for sheep grazing, logging, and growing hay. Windjammer Cruises offers a romantic sunset sail with live music on the elegant four-masted schooner Margaret Todd (a Bar Harbor mainstay), swifter-moving tours in the afternoon when the breeze picks up, and a 3-hour Lobster Picnic Cruise—three words that sound just right together. 

Windjammer Cruises
7 Newport Dr. 
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Stroll through downtown Bar Harbor

Main Street’s clapboard storefronts in primary colors are packed with local treasures, from sweetgrass baskets woven by local Native artisans to paintings, antiques, and jewelry showcasing Maine’s state gem, the watermelon tourmaline. Don’t forget to visit the resting place of sea captains, shipbuilders, and politicians in the Village Burying Grounds, established in 1790. 



This Latin-inspired destination restaurant has been putting its spicy spin on sustainably harvested seafood, naturally raised meat, and local, organic vegetables for more than 20 years. The seafood paella is a perennial favorite, and there’s even a vegan option. A recent addition is the Parrilla, an outdoor tapas bar and grill featuring late-night and brunch menus and house cocktails.

318 Main St.
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Sunrise Café

This bright and airy creperie and coffee bar by the pier is known for its unique, regional take on sweet and savory crepes—lobster and blueberry are two of their specialties. They’ll also pack you a mouthwatering bagged lunch for your day on the water or the hiking trails, with a gourmet club sandwich or lobster roll plus fresh muffins and scones.

1 West Street
Bar Harbor, ME 04609


Ireland meets the American Atlantic at the West Street Hotel’s waterfront pub, where the cozy ambience, all dark wood and warm lighting, contrasts with the wide-open seascapes a few steps away. The breakfast and lunch menus feature classic pub staples like fish and chips and a buffet of burger options, as well as traditional dishes such as the “Pan Boxty Scramble” with Irish potato cake, Irish bacon, and veggies. After 5 p.m., the open-flame rotisserie—visible through the glass-enclosed display kitchen—roasts meat and poultry in medieval style, allowing the cuts to sear in their natural juices for maximum flavor.  

50 West Street
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Stewman’s Lobster Pound

No one does the state’s signature seafood better, notably in the classic “Down East” Lobster Experience — a one-and-a-quarter-pound steamed Maine lobster, served alongside New England clam chowder, local mussels, and buttered sweet corn and potatoes. The two oceanfront locations also offer a creative menu of handcrafted cocktails, like the Pineapple-Mint Mojito and the Polished Hurricane (light and black rum, passion fruit, and four kinds of citrus).

35 West Street 
Bar Harbor, ME 04609


Picnics & Stargazing at Sand Beach

Just 290 yards long, this secluded cove nestled between mountains, trees, and shore is Acadia’s only sandy beach, made up of shell fragments broken down by the surf. Load up the towels and picnic basket for an invigorating swim followed by lunch. Or bring a pillow and blanket for an evening visit; the sheltered location is protected from the wind and surrounding light sources, making it the perfect spot for stargazing.

East side of Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park
Access via the Park Loop Road

Village Green

The grassy heart of Bar Harbor’s downtown, the site of summer concerts and craft fairs, occupies the footprint of the former Grand Central Hotel, which was torn down in 1899. The cast-iron clock tower, old-fashioned lampposts, and cobblestone pathways are evocative reminders of that time. With an information center, shady gazebo, benches, and free wifi, it’s a great place for a pit stop. Add an artisanal cone from nearby Mount Desert Island Ice Cream on Firefly Lane (Chili Chocolate or Blueberry Basil, perhaps) for the ideal refueling experience. 

Bounded by Main Street, Mount Desert Street, Kennebec Street, and Firefly Lane
Bar Harbor, ME 04609 

Hike along Shore Path

This leisurely 1.5-mile stroll, lined with beach roses, starts by the Town Pier and winds along the coastline, with strategically placed benches for taking in the views. One of those sights is Balance Rock, a boulder carried hundreds of miles by glacial ice eons ago, and left half-toppled in the surf. It’s an awesome spot for contemplating the forces of nature—and snapping a few selfies. 

48-52 Hancock St.
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

See Nature up Close on a Kayaking Tour

Becoming one with nature always seems easier in a kayak, just inches above the water—the optimal perspective for exploring tide pools and spotting harbor seals, osprey, porpoise, and bald eagles. Two kayaking companies in town offer guided tours for groups of 12 or fewer, with family tours for kids as young as 6. Take a sunset tour, explore a remote island, or visit an oyster farm, where the oysters are harvested, shucked, and served to you in your kayak. 

Maine State Sea Kayak 
39 Cottage St.
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Coastal Kayaking Tours
48 Cottage St.
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Bar Island

There’s something magical about an island that can only be reached for a few hours before the tide comes back in and covers the crossing. During that three- or four-hour window, you can walk across the sandbar and get a close look at the local sea life (mussels, snails, sea stars, and other invertebrates) or ascend to observation points offering a magnificent vista of Bar Harbor with Champlain Mountain and Cadillac Mountain in the background. 

Access is via Bridge Street on the north or ocean side of West Street.

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