Located in Maine’s picturesque Down East region, the town of Bar Harbor houses the College of the Atlantic as well as Acadia National Park, and both of these sites help make the community a popular tourism destination. The variety of things to do in Bar Harbor helped earn the city a spot on our Top 100 Best Small Towns list. Starting with a visit to Acadia, here are seven things to do in Bar Harbor:
Treat your senses to a stimulating experience with a trip to Acadia National Park, which has natural amenities like mountains, deep lakes, granite cliffs, sand and cobblestone beaches, evergreen forests, and views of the Atlantic Ocean and its rocky shoreline. Activities include bike riding, hiking, camping, scenic drives along Park Loop Road and several park ranger-led tours.
Take the kids to see lobsters ranging in size from babies to full-grown crustaceans at Mount Desert Oceanarium, a hands-on museum where children can participate in activities like propelling wind-up boats in a water tank, dressing like seals at an educational seal exhibit, and observing ocean creatures like sea urchins, horseshoe crabs and starfish. The museum doubles as a working lobster hatchery that opens for tours from Memorial Day to October.
Let It Shine
Explore the world of New England lighthouses by visiting six of them in the Bay Harbor area. Bass Harbor Head Light is manned by the U.S. Coast Guard, while the other landmark structures are Bear Island Light, Egg Rock Light, Great Duck Island Light, Isle au Haut Light and Mount Desert Rock Light.
Get some exercise and observe incredible scenery through Coastal Kayaking Tours, a downtown Bar Harbor company known for having the area's most experienced waterway tour guides. Area wildlife to see by kayak include eagles, seals and porpoises, and excursions can be booked from three hours to three days.
Try the Mud Wrap
Sign up for manicures, pedicures, holistic facials, mud wraps, Swedish massages, and salt-and-sugar glows at several spas in the region. Some of the popular ones are Bar Harbor Inn & Spa, Eden Spa at the Bluenose Inn, and The Spa at Bar Harbor Club. All of them are outfitted with hot tubs, steam rooms and exercise rooms.
Access the Arts
Treat your eyes and ears to many arts activities in Bar Harbor, including galleries, art shows, improvisational comedy theater, an art-deco Criterion Theater with new and classic movies, and bars and clubs that host a range of bands and solo musicians. The town also stages an annual Bar Harbor Fine Arts Festival as well as a Bar Harbor Music Festival.
Hop on a bike and pedal along the many car-free carriage roads that grace Bar Harbor. The town is known for its bicycling and hosts many cyclists who train long distances, especially since Bar Harbor serves as the eastern terminus of the Adventure Cycling Association's Northern Tier Bicycle Route that ends in Anacortes, Wash. Bar Harbor is also the northern terminus of the ACA's Atlantic Coast Bicycle Route that ends in Key West, Fla.