First Time Visitors Guide

to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park 

Below is our personal list of the “crème de la crème” of the Mount Desert Island area. If this is your first time visiting the area, this guide is designed to help you spend less time figuring it out and more time having fun. 

We would recommend starting with our website page, Acadia National Park, which contains useful information and links. Each one of our guides also contains an interactive map. 

The Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce “Official Guide” to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park includes such information as dining, shopping, nightlife, calendar of events, hiking, wildlife and is available electronically or in hardcopy at

There are two Acadia National Park Visitor Centers, Thompson Island Visitor Center located at the head of the island, and Hulls Cove Visitors Center located in Hulls Cove. Click here for a park map.

For a weeklong stay, we would recommend the following: 

  • Spend a day driving the Park Loop Rd, the main auto road though Acadia National Park. Highlights include: the visitors center (wonderful movie about the park, great book store, and huge 3-D map of the island), Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond House, and Cadillac Mountain. There are some wonderful hikes off the Loop Rd as well.
  • Explore some of the 50 + miles of carriage roads by foot, bike or horse drawn carriage. Click here for a carriage road map and information. 
  • Spend a day hiking on any of the over 120 miles of trails that loop, crisscross and summit most of the mountains on Mount Desert Island. Click here for an overview of trials by the park. 
  • Take a day for, what we locals call, “the quiet side” of Mount Desert Island. Get away from the t-shirt shops and explore the working coastal towns of Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor. There are several wonderful restaurants in Southwest Harbor (see our restaurant guide). In addition to the Bass Harbor Light House, we love to explore Wonderland at low tide with all its tide pools as well as walk the Ship Harbor area.  Beech Mountain and any of the western mountains are paths less traveled and Seawall is a stunning place to have a picnic lunch.   
  • Spend a day on the water either sea kayaking, sailing on a schooner, photographing whales on a whale watch boat, watching for seals, or hauling lobster traps aboard a nature cruse. 
  • Spend a day exploring Bar Harbor with its collection of interesting shops, parks, working harbor and town beach. 
  • And last but not least, the best of Acadia is simply finding a quiet piece of rocky shoreline with a bottle of wine, loaf of bread, hunk of cheese and simply sit and watch the tide come in and out. After all, you are on vacation!
  • If you have a rainy day, you might try the Abbe Museum of Maine's Native Cultures, the Bar Harbor Historical Society, The Door Museum of National History or the Oceanarium and Lobster Hatchery. 

Not only are there seven days but also seven nights! Mount Desert Island has numerous excellent restaurants (refer to Adam’s Restaurant Guide), and Bar Harbor has a number of night hot spots. Popular bars include The Lompoc, Geddy’s, Side Street Café, The Dog and Pony, Thirsty Whale and Little Anthony’s Sports Bar. Carmen Verandah’s is our dance club. We have a fantastic comedy club- Improv Acadia, a unique movie theater (how about a outstanding pizza and beer while watching the film on a couch?)- Reel Pizza, and a performing arts center- The Criterion.