Rather than fight the crowds in Bar Harbor for the fireworks, why not go to Sand Beach and tour the night sky with a ranger? How about having a cookout at one of the six picnic areas in Acadia National Park? Or, for a patriotic tour, why not retrace the historic visit by President Barack Obama and his family in July 2010?
There may be no better way to celebrate Independence Day than at one of America’s best ideas, the National Parks. For new and repeat visitors to Acadia, there are plenty of tried-and-true or off-the-beaten-path methods to mark the founding of our country.
Among the July 4 week activities, from the Acadia National Park calendar: Take a cruise to Baker Island or Islesford, enjoy the night sky with rangers at Sand Beach and learn about the park with a guided bike tour on the carriage roads.
And for the traditionalists, there is the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s July 4 line-up, including blueberry pancake breakfast, Independence Day parade, a lobster scavenger hunt and fireworks.
But perhaps the most uniquely patriotic way to celebrate the holiday in Acadia National Park is to take a tour of some of the sites visited by President Obama and his family during their Bar Harbor mini-vacation in July of 2010.
The significance of Obama’s three-day Acadia vacation cannot be understated. He is the first sitting president to ever visit Acadia National Park and the first in a century to visit Mt. Desert Island.
Have dinner at Stewman’s Lobster Pound in downtown Bar Harbor, where Obama and his wife chowed on lobster and their daughters had shrimp. When we went to Stewman’s the past couple of years, we found the waiters were eager to share their favorite stories about the presidential visit and their dealings with the Secret Service.
Then cap the evening at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream in Bar Harbor, where Obama had a coconut cone, the First Lady enjoyed chocolate, and the two girls, candy shop. The Obamas had stopped at the store’s 325 Main St. location, but that building is now used as the company’s full time kitchen and is not open for sales. Yet, you can still order from the same ice cream maker that served the Obamas by going to Mount Desert Island Ice Cream at 7 Firefly Lane near the Village Green in Bar Harbor.
Or follow in the president’s footsteps – literally – by hiking some of the same trails as the Obamas.
Obama and his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha hiked on the summit of Cadillac and along the Ship Harbor Trail, and got a private tour of Bass Harbor Head Light.
President William Howard Taft went to Mount Desert Island in 1910, but that was before Acadia became a national monument on July 8, 1916. Acadia became a national park on February 26, 1919.
Chester Arthur and Benjamin Harrison were the other sitting presidents to visit the area, stopping in 1882 and 1889 respectively.
For July 4, there may be nothing more patriotic than spending it at Acadia or any of the other National Parks, and remembering the value of America’s best idea.