Another in a series of “Ask Acadia on My Mind!” Q&As
If you have a question about Acadia National Park on your mind, whether you’re a first-time visitor or long-time fan, leave a comment below, or contact us through the About us page. We may not be able to answer every question, or respond right away, but we’ll do our best. See our new page linking in one place all the Q&As.
1) Love your Facebook page. We are going up to Acadia/Bar Harbor for the first time at the end of September, could you recommend any restaurants for us to try 🙂 Thanks for any help. – Nancy from Tyngsboro, MA
2) Hello. I will be visiting for the 1st time in October to run the MDI Half Marathon and am looking for some help with locale for lodging. I would like to use my car as little as possible but also be within walking distance and central to the race & Acadia. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also, I am considering bringing my dog. Thank you. – Jessica, from Southern NJ
Dear Nancy and Jessica,
You’re both picking a good time of year to visit Acadia National Park for the first time. Fall in Acadia can be less crowded and the weather can still be spectacular, even if peak fall foliage may not fall exactly when you’ll be be there.
With summer already half over, it’ll be fall in Acadia before you know it.
While we’re neither restaurant critics nor fast runners, we have eaten out enough in Bar Harbor and surrounding communities, and jogged the trails or read up enough on some of Acadia area races and restaurants to have some opinions. Thanks for asking!
Places to dine in and around Acadia National Park
Nancy, this is not an exhaustive list, although we have a series of pages listing area year-round restaurants, none of which pay us for advertising. We don’t go out to eat a lot since we’re usually hiking long days when visiting Acadia, and too tired to get spiffed up for an evening of fine dining.
With those caveats, here are some ideas for places to dine during fall in Acadia National Park:
– Jordan Pond House – The only restaurant in the park itself, it’s open through Columbus Day. Since the 1890s, tea and popovers have been served on the lawn with a view across Jordan Pond, to the distinctive mountains known as the Bubbles. A couple of years ago, the park awarded the contract to run the restaurant to a new firm, Ortega Family Enterprises, headquartered in New Mexico, after it had been run for decades by a local firm, the Acadia Corporation. We haven’t dined at the Jordan Pond House since the new company took over and can’t speak to the current management, although we’ve read some criticisms about the changeover. All the times we’d eaten there before, whether for lunch or dinner, the experience was memorable. The view itself is worth the visit, as well as the ability to hike to the restaurant for lunch or tea, and take the Island Explorer bus to your next destination.
– Asticou Inn and Restaurant – New in 2015, Acadia Corporation is now managing the Asticou Inn and Restaurant, and serving popovers overlooking Northeast Harbor rather than Jordan Pond. We haven’t eaten here yet, but if the service is the same as when the company had the Jordan Pond House contract, we would expect it to be a dining experience to remember as well. The nonprofit Friends of Acadia hold their annual benefit auction at the Asticou Inn, on August 8 this year.
– Galyn’s Restaurant – Serving fresh seafood and steaks since 1986, Galyn’s is conveniently located on Main Street, Bar Harbor, and is open for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. in season. It caters to summer visitors as well as year-round residents, opening its doors in mid-March and not closing until November. It’s a great feeling to get off the trail and have a late lunch or early dinner at Galyn’s.
– Burning Tree Restaurant – Fodor’s recently called this one of the top restaurants in all of Maine. It has no Web site, but it has a loyal following, located in the sleepy village of Otter Creek, a few miles south of Bar Harbor on ME 3. We haven’t eaten here either, but what we’ve learned about Otter Creek while writing this blog, and the review by Fodor’s, has tempted us.
– Stewman’s Lobster Pound – Notable for serving President Obama and his family during their historic visit to Acadia in July 2010, the downtown Bar Harbor location has boat parking for customer yachts up to 150′ (the Obamas arrived by boat), and is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. in season. We’ve taken family to lunch or dinner here. Good place for lobster, but there are also steaks and other items on the menu for people who don’t like shellfish or seafood.
– Jordan’s Restaurant – Not to be confused with the Jordan Pond House, this down-home and homey Bar Harbor restaurant is well-known among locals and visitors alike for their hospitality, their breakfasts and their wild blueberry muffins and pancakes. We always have breakfast at least a couple of times here when we are in town, and the lobster roll for lunch if we make it off the trails before they close at 2 p.m. (they open at 5 a.m.). It’s such a draw, you may run into people you know from your hometown, as we did one time. And there’s even a poem about Jordan’s written by a patron, that’s framed and hanging above one of the booths. Some of the Secret Service guarding President Obama during his visit to Acadia ate breakfast here.
That’s just a sampling. There are also many places where you can get pizza or subs, if you’re on a budget or looking for a late night supper. One place we’ve always wanted to try for pizza – with a movie! – was sold out in July, but September might not be so busy, if you want to check out Reel Pizza Cinerama. Locals also like Side Street Cafe in Bar Harbor for its gourmet touch and creative drinks. And if you’re into eating where famous people have dined, the Obamas also ate at Havana in Bar Harbor, as has Martha Stewart, who owns a home in Seal Harbor.
You can also check out restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor, which gives you price points and ratings by diners, or a blogger that we follow, A Picky Traveler, who recently reviewed the Reading Room at the Bar Harbor Inn and Mache Bistro.
Places to stay for the Mount Desert Island Half Marathon
Jessica, congratulations on signing up for the MDI Half Marathon, one of the most scenic races around!
Because the 13.1 mile race begins in Northeast Harbor, and not in Bar Harbor like the full MDI Marathon, your choices are a bit more limited in terms of lodging and minimizing driving for your first visit to Acadia, if you decide to stay close to the start.
That’s because the Island Explorer bus ends its season on Columbus Day, although it will help shuttle runners and spectators the day of the Oct. 18 race.
But race director Gary Allen tells Acadia on My Mind that there are shuttles from Bar Harbor to Northeast Harbor to take half marathon participants to the start, and then to take racers at the finish line back to Bar Harbor. The buses to Northeast Harbor leave from the Village Green in Bar Harbor, beginning at 6:30 a.m. and running continuously until 7:30 a.m., giving participants enough time for the 8:30 a.m. half marathon start.
Staying in Bar Harbor opens up many more possibilities for being able to experience Acadia National Park without needing to drive. And since this is your first time to Mount Desert Island, Jessica, you MUST see Acadia.
In fact, Bar Harbor and surrounding communities are so pet friendly, the local Bark Harbor pet store has a list of pet-friendly lodging and restaurants.
If you’re looking to stay at a pet-friendly establishment closer to the Village Green than the Atlantic Oceanside, see the choices below on the Bark Harbor list that would be close. But call or check out each establishment’s Web site to verify availability, rates and current policies – we haven’t stayed at any of these places so can’t offer opinions or make a recommendation. You can always check out reviews at TripAdvisor. Or if you don’t bring your dog, or you decide to stay in Northeast Harbor, you can check out our listings of year-round Bar Harbor lodging and year-round Northeast Harbor lodging, none of which pay for advertising.
- Primrose Place (formerly Aurora Inn)
- Anchorage Motel
- Quimby House Inn and Spa
- Canterbury Cottage Bed and Breakfast
How to experience fall in Acadia without getting into your car
If you’re not too sore from running 13.1 miles, Jessica, you can walk or run into Acadia National Park using one of the many village connector trails between Bar Harbor and the park, or bike from town to the park’s carriage roads.
Among the hiking trails we include in our Best Easy Day Hikes, Acadia National Park guide that are accessible by foot from downtown Bar Harbor: Great Meadow Loop and Jesup Path to Sieur de Monts Spring; Compass Harbor Trail; and Schooner Head Overlook and Path. (NOTE: See sidebar about Amazon.com links on this site.)
And if you want longer, more challenging hikes than the easy trails above, you can design a route up Cadillac, Dorr or Champlain Mountains, or even a long trek to Sand Beach, from downtown Bar Harbor. For that, you may find helpful our larger book, Hiking Acadia National Park. (NOTE: See sidebar about Amazon.com links on this site.)
Another way to access the park by foot, if you happen to stay at the host hotel, is via the Duck Brook Connector, which starts kitty corner from the Atlantic Oceanside, next to the Acadia Inn.
The connector brings you to the carriage road around Witch Hole Pond, which was named by Runner’s World as one of its “10 Can’t-Missing Running Adventures.” In fact, there are plenty of running adventures in Acadia. You can also walk a bike up the connector trail, then bike to the carriage road from there.
Thanks again, Nancy and Jessica, for giving us this chance to opine! Enjoy your visit during fall in Acadia, a lovely time of year.
If you, too, have questions, feel free to Ask Acadia on My Mind! Comment below, or on our About us page.