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 page linking in one place all the Q&As.
1) My husband and I are coming to Bar Harbor on June 15th and 16th. I have some knee problems and can’t hike much or bike ride. What are some suggestions for us to do that wouldn’t be too physically demanding? Also, can you recommend some unique things to do in Bar Harbor? – Sherry Burmeister, Lansing, Mich.
Thanks for the question, Sherry! You’re making a good choice coming to Bar Harbor before the busiest months of July and August, although it will still be plenty busy. And there are lots of things to do in Acadia and Bar Harbor that aren’t too physically demanding.
The highlight of any trip to Bar Harbor has to be a tour of Acadia National Park. You’ll be arriving before the Island Explorer bus starts up in late June, so the best way to get around the park is either driving yourself, or taking one of the park-approved tour buses that leaves from Bar Harbor, either Oli’s Trolley or Acadia National Park Tours. (NOTE: Please see sidebar about TripAdvisor affiliated partner links in this blog)
The 27-mile scenic Park Loop Road includes stops at the top of Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Point, Jordan Pond, Wild Gardens of Acadia, and other places to take in the views. You don’t need to do much hiking to enjoy these spots, as there are short easy walkways and plenty of roadside pullouts with explanatory wayside exhibits. There are gift shops at the top of Cadillac, Thunder Hole and Jordan Pond. The park recommends taking 3 to 4 hours, including stops, to enjoy the Park Loop Road. A CD audio tour of the Park Loop Road is available for purchase at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. There is also a short film worth watching at the visitor center, as an introduction to the park.
Even though you won’t be visiting at the busiest months, you may still encounter crowds during busy times of day, such as sunrise or sunset at the top of Cadillac, or lunchtime at Jordan Pond House, with its grand view of the twin mountains known as the Bubbles. You can time your drive along the Park Loop Road off hours, or make reservations at the Jordan Pond House, to minimize waiting and traffic jams. (NOTE: Please see sidebar about TripAdvisor affiliated partner links in this blog)
Lots of variety in things to do in Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor
Among the other special things to do in Acadia: Take a ride on some of the 45 miles of carriage roads that were built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and gifted to the park. Popular for bicyclists and hikers, the carriage roads can be appreciated by taking a horse-drawn carriage ride from Wildwood Stables, off the 2-way section of the Park Loop Road south of Jordan Pond. (NOTE: Please see sidebar about TripAdvisor affiliated partner links in this blog)
You can also check the park’s interactive calendar to find ranger-led activities of interest during your visit. That can include boat cruises, nature walks and historic talks.
If time and interest permits, you can also drive over to the Schoodic section of Acadia, the only part of the park on the mainland. About an hour’s drive from Bar Harbor, Schoodic offers a 6-mile one-way Park Loop Road along the dramatic Maine coast. The Island Explorer bus began running for the season on Schoodic Peninsula in late May, so you have the option of parking your car at the new Schoodic Woods campground and visitor center lot, and taking the bus around the Schoodic Loop Road, with stops in nearby villages.
As for unique things to do in Bar Harbor, here’s a sampling (NOTE: Please see sidebar about TripAdvisor affiliated partner links in this blog):
- Haunted History Tours – short lantern-lit walking tours, by reservation only
- Bar Harbor Ghost Tours – 3 walking tours on different days of the week, ghost, historic homes or Prohibition tour
- Lulu Lobster Boat – 2-hour ride on lobster boat, which can include views of seal colonies, Egg Rock Lighthouse and sunset
- Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company – 2-3/4 hour lighthouse and Acadia tour, or 1-3/4 hour lobster fishing and seal watching tour, with optional lobster bake
- Abbe Museum – associated with the Smithsonian Institution, the year-round location for this museum of Native American culture, history and art is in downtown Bar Harbor, while the seasonal site is at the Sieur de Monts entrance to the park
- Atlantic Brewing Company – 3 tours daily
- Diver Ed’s Dive-in Theater – 2-hour boat cruise in almost all weather to see Diver Ed in real-time video, as he seeks out sea creatures and brings them up for passengers to touch, 3 shows Monday – Saturday
- Down East Birdwatching and Nature Tours – 2- to 4-hour field trips, rain or shine, in 6 passenger air-conditioned van, reservations required
- Maine Foodie Tour – 2-hour Bar Harbor culinary walking tour
- Bar Harbor Cellars Winery – tastings of locally made wines and Maine-made chocolates in restored Civil War era barn, starting daily at 10 a.m.
- Margaret Todd Downeast Windjammer Cruise – 1-1/2 to 2-hour trips, 3 times daily, including sunset sail
As you can see, Sherry, there are lots of things to do in Acadia and Bar Harbor, even if you’re not able to do much hiking or biking. There are so many things, you won’t be able to do them all in just 2 days, so you’ll have to visit again!