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Bar Harbor in the fall

Top Things to Do in Bar Harbor from October through November

From fall foliage and gorgeous hikes to clear night skies, Bar Harbor looks its best when the temperatures begin to fall. Here’s the best of Bar Harbor to explore during your fall visit this fall through Thanksgiving (with us at Harborside Hotel!). 

US News Travel claims that September through October is the best time to visit Bar Harbor, and it’s no wonder. With the kids back to school and the nights getting chillier, tourism drops by almost half when the fall rolls in. That means no more crowds coveting popular Acadia National Park trails or the picturesque streets of downtown Bar Harbor. New England’s venerated fall season is also the best time to check out some “Downeast” foliage and take in the Milky Way in the crisp, clear night skies.

Activities & Attractions

Under the Stars Boat Cruise

Bar Harbor Whale Watching Company

Through October 11, 2021, take to the sea with the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. Take in sweeping views of Acadia, the islands, lighthouses, and the Downeast coast from the water while keeping an eye out for humpback whales and other native wildlife such as porpoise, seals, and seabirds. Learn about the habitats and daily lives of whales and other species of the Gulf of Maine in this three-to-five hour oceanic adventure.

Discover the Secrets of Bar Harbor

Red Cloak Tours offers a half dozen varied and fascinating historical walking tours of Bar Harbor. These private, live, guided walks are conducted with your own personal storyteller via conference call on your phone. Explore topics such as Bar Harbor’s Haunted History, a Historic Cemetery Exploration, or the Seafood Discover Tour which illustrates the communities historical tie to the sea.

Climb the Cliffs of Acadia

Interested in learning rock climbing from an expert? Take a fall outdoor course at Acadia National park. Bar Harbor’s Atlantic Climbing School has been teaching climbers of all skill levers for over two decades. Learn a solid foundation of the basics of the sport at their Top Rope Competency courses that run through the end of October.

Take Advantage of Newly Opened Trails

While Acadia’s 155 miles of trails are beautiful regardless of the time of year, casual hikers tend to forget the benefits of hiking in cooler weather. For one, the amount of people sharing the trails plummets, and, secondly, you get access to some additional trails that close down in the spring and summer seasons on account of nesting and fledgling peregrine falcons. Since these birds start migrating in August (you can see them soaring overhead yourself during the annual HawkWatch program), you can expect the Precipice Trail and Jordan and the Valley Cove cliffs to open back up to hikers.

aerial of Acadia in the fall

Maximize Your Leaf-Peeping Opportunities

Bar Harbor’s window of peak fall colors falls from mid-September to mid-October each year. You can stay abreast of the conditions by keeping an eye tuned to Maine’s official foliage tracker. To come back with awe-inspiring Instagram photos of the foliage against Acadia’s rocky coast, sign up for one of the many photo tours in the area that takes place in October like Acadia Images’ day-long tours or John Paul Caponigro’s four-day fall foliage photography workshop from October 11 to 15.

Soak Up a Chilly Evening

There are few things better – especially after spending a chilly afternoon checking out the foliage or hiking Acadia – than warming up in a private hot tub. Each of the oceanfront Boathouse Suites at the Harborside Hotel come equipped with a private rooftop hot tub that overlooks Frenchman Bay.

2021 Festivals & Events

Acadia Night Sky Festival, 9/29–10/3

Now in its twelfth year, this unique nighttime event features a slew of stargazing outings, lectures, workshops, and a “star party” held on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Expect telescopes of all sizes and volunteer astronomers to point out constellations among the Milky Way in the largest expanse of entirely dark night sky east of the Mississippi.

Island Arts Oktoberfest Craft Fair, 10/9

Peruse the work of artists from in and around Bar Harbor and across New England on the sprawling lawn of the Atlantic Oceanside Event Center during the Island Arts Oktoberfest Craft Fair. Explore paintings and handcrafted woodwork, handmade quilts, and listen to local musicians while sipping a hot cup of locally made cider.   

Mount Desert Island Marathon, 10/17

Lauded by Runner’s World, Competitor Magazine, and Men’s Health Magazine, RunMDI is probably one of the most scenic marathons in the country. This race begins at Bar Harbor and snakes its way through 26.2 picturesque miles through Acadia Park and along Mount Desert Island’s rugged coast to Southwest Harbor. Along with the Marathon, there is a half-marathon, team relay, and kids run.

Top Things to Do in Bar Harbor from September through October

Pajamarama, 11/13

Pick up some new, high-quality pajamas at a discount at some of Bar Harbor’s finest retail locations during the Early Bird Pajama Sale and Bed Race. Cheer on area businesses and organizations as they race decorated beds down Cottage Street for a year’s worth of bragging rights. And remember: if you’re in pajamas, you can earn additional discounts with some participating stores!

A Harborside Thanksgiving, 11/25

Start new holiday traditions when you celebrate Thanksgiving at the Harborside Hotel, Spa, & Marina. Start your day with a leisurely turkey trot through Acadia National Park to work up an appetite! Then enjoy a chef-prepared prix fixe meal along with a la carte offerings served in a spacious dining room overlooking stunning views of Frenchman Bay. You’ll be most thankful to have left the cooking to someone else this year… check out what our La Bella Vida chefs have in store for guests here!

Where to Stay Harborside Hotel, Spa, & Marina | West Street Hotel

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