If you visit the US, you will want to visit the beautiful national parks outside of big cities. Acadia National Park located in Maine is a really popular choice if you are visiting the East Coast. Or if you live in New York and want to find a long weekend getaway, this is, in my opinion, an amazing choice.
Why do I like this national park so much? Well, it’s because there are plenty to see, eat, and do here, especially if you are a lobster lover. Not a lobster lover? No worries, there are also good crabs and blueberries here.
Things To Know Before You Go:
- Best time to visit is late May – September
- Temperature drops at night, so bring layers to change
- There is a parking pass you need to purchase from the visitor’s center in Acadia National Park
- There is a beach in the park, so pack your best swimsuit
- Lodging is limited especially for holiday weekends, so book at least a month in advance
- Pack hiking boots with you
- You will need a car to get around
- Good food takes a long time (especially brunch)
- Drive: You can always drive from Boston, Portland, or New York. But traffic going in/out can be pretty bad on long weekends
- Fly: You can fly into Portland and rent a car to drive over (~3 hours) or fly into Bangor and drive over (~1 hour)
- Tourist bus: I’ve seen some tour companies now operating in Acadia National Park if you want to do a bus tour, but you won’t have the flexibility to hike and eat there
What To Eat
- Lobster/ Lobster Roll: I can go on forever about how amazing and cheap the lobsters are in Maine. There are a number of places I’d recommend for Lobsters/Lobster rolls:
- Red’s Eats: This is probably my No.1 spot for Lobster Rolls. It’s a little out of the way (~2.5 hours from Acadia National Park). But if you are driving up from Portland to Acadia then it’s definitely worth trying. Their lobster rolls is probably the best value for money and the most tasty. Go early, they tend to sell out really early and usually there’s at least a 45 minute line, but sooooo worth it!
- Thurston’s Lobster Pound: It’s a restaurant by the water about 1 hour from Acadia National Park. It’s quite a large place and you wait to order. Once you order you can find a table inside. The lobster rolls here are okay, but their steamed lobster are amazing! You can order a combo for steamed lobster with mussels, corn, bread, and blueberry cake. The blueberry spiced cake with ice cream is amazing.
- Eagle’s Nest Restaurant: This compact joint is near Bangor Airport. Their lobster roll is pretty fresh and tasty and comes in good portion size. They also have these combo meals like fried shrimp and fried scallops. If you are landing in Bangor, definitely should stop by
- 2Cats: This is a bed & breakfast but serves brunch. It’s probably the best brunch place in town. We had to stop ourselves from going everyday. Their specialty is probably anything blueberry related (pancake, muffins, etc). Other breakfast items are equally as amazing. Go early as the line is usually an hour after 10am and then food takes another hour to come out but it’s worth the wait
- Cafe This Way: This is another good brunch place that we found in Bar Harbor. It was also about an hour wait to get the food.
- Other Food
- Morning Glory Bakery: really really good blueberry pie that melts in your mouth
- Side Street Cafe: It’s a pretty popular restaurant. We had to wait for about an hour while the BBQ restaurant next door was empty. They have all sort of food, from steamed lobster to pasta to sandwiches. Food was ok but the desserts are to die for. We had the blueberry pie with ice cream and this amazingly rich Chocolate bread pudding with ice cream. They also have a few blueberry flavored drinks that were really good.
Things To Do
Hiking is probably the most popular activity in Acadia National Park. There are numerous hiking trails throughout the park, ranging from easy to strenuous. We did a couple of relatively easy hikes with great views
I used a couple of websites to find the hikes I wanted to do. So if you are thinking about hiking and not sure which one to do, check them out:
Biking is another popular thing to do in Acadia. We rented a bike from Bar Harbor (there are a couple of bike rental shops). The bike shops give you a map and tells you the different routes. We have biked the harder routes before and they were pretty tough, with a lot of up hills. The easier loop we did around Jordan Pond took about 2 hours and it was relatively flat with a few uphill rides going counter clockwise.
About an hour from the park, there is a famous light house called Bass Harbor Lighthouse. A lot of people drive here to enjoy the sunset. It’s also located really close to the restaurant Thurston mentioned above. However, you should aim to get here at least an hour before sunset because parking is crazy.
*image source: http://www.thegreatestroadtrip.com
Another great spot to watch the sunset is from the top of Cadillac Mountain. You can either hike up or drive up. We drove up and found parking quite easily since we went 30 minutes before sunset. The view was truly breathtaking.
Sunsets are always beautiful but so are the stars. Since Acadia National Park is so far from light pollution, on a clear night you can see all the stars and even the Milky Way.
Explore With A Car
Most people don’t know that there is a small beach in the Park. It’s called Sand Beach, accessible via the Park Loop Road. It’s a really small but cute nevertheless.
If you don’t want to hike or bike, you can drive around Park Loop Road and see a lot of sights without hiking. One famous thing to do is to visit the Thunder Hole. It’s a naturally formed inlet that makes a thunder sound when the right conditions are met. You can read more about it here.
Otter Cliff is another area right by the Park Loop Road that’s beautiful and easy to visit.
Acadia National Park is a truly beautiful and relaxing place, that’s why we kept going back there. I’m sure I will be back again in a year or two.