Surrounded by the majestic mountains of Acadia National Park and the Atlantic Ocean, is the town of Bar Harbor, Maine. From the rocky coast and towering granite cliffs, Bar Harbor has welcomed tourists for over a century.
The road leading into Bar Harbor itself is stone walled and lined with trees. There is a wide selection of things to do and see. Dining, accommodations, and shopping exist for every price range.
Many attractions are very close to the town of Bar Harbor. The main part of Arcadia National Park, the Schoodic Peninsula, Campobello Island and the summer home of President Franklin Roosevelt are all with a short driving distance.
For many years this town was just a quiet resort. Today, it bustles with summer visitors, tourists coming to view the colorful fall foliage, and/or people coming to enjoy its spectacular winter wonderland.
Abundant, fresh seafood is a mainstay for the area’s restaurants. Have an al fresco lunch or Sunday brunch under the Maine sun, enjoy a leisurely evening in a romantic restaurant after playing “tourist” for the day, or grab it on the run. The Downeast restaurant sign says it all – “Come on in and eat, or we’ll both starve.”
You won’t be bored while you’re there. In addition, to relaxing and shopping, there is whale watching, sailing, kayaking, hiking and biking. Or, enjoy a free tour and tastings at the Atlantic Brewing Company. It’s built on a 10-acre estate going back to the 1870’s. (Visit www.Atlanticbrewingcompany.com for more details.)
While you’re there, visit the historic St. Saviour’s Episcopal Parish. At noon every Wednesday, and Friday, and, on Sunday following the 10am service, tours are given of the church and its famous stained glass windows. The windows are Tiffany, English glass and Italian stone work. The tours are free but please call to register and confirm times. The local number is 288-4215.
The Abbe Museum is worth a visit. It’s actually now two museums, one downtown and one in Acadia National Park. At both sites you’ll find dynamic exhibitions and activities of the history and cultures of Maine’s Native people the Wabanaki. Visit abbemuseum.org for more details.
Mid July is the time for their annual music festival which has been going on for over 40 years. Variety is key to this festival and every year, music is performed at a variety of local venues and you’ll find a list of performances from opera to string quartets and everything in between. A performance might be held at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church, at the Blackwoods Campground Amphitheatre in the nearby Acadia National Park or the art-deco Criterion Theatre in downtown Bar Harbor. If you plan to go, make reservations way in advance. For more information, go to barharbormusicfestival.org
One of the best places to stay is the Bar Harbor Manor, nestled on two acres right in the heart of town. There are five historic homes and a hotel and they create a village within Bar Harbor. They have over 25 newly remodeled rooms and suites and many come with balconies, fireplaces, whirlpools and kitchens. The surrounding grounds have beautiful gardens and carefully groomed lawns. Their elegant parlor in the Main Inn acts as a meeting room for the guests. From here you’re only a short walk away from the Atlantic Ocean, whale watching, shopping and dining. Check out their website at barharbormanor.com.
If you’d like to stay by the ocean, look no further than the Atlantic Oakes Resort, Mansion and Conference Center set on 14 acres of lush gardens and wide expanses of lawn. Here you’ll enjoy incredible views of Maine’s coastal area. This was once the estate of Sir Harry Oakes, a Klondike billionaire, and is only a mile from the entrance of Acadia National Park and only a few minutes from downtown Bar Harbor. This is also a beautiful site to get married and they can accommodate up to 300 guests. The resort offers tennis courts, both an indoor and outdoor pool, hot tub, a private fishing dock, and a fitness center. There are eight different hotel room buildings on the premises and a delicious seasonal buffet breakfast is offered every morning. Visit barharbor.com for details.
The Bar Harbor Inn & Spa also has an oceanfront location on Frenchwater Bay. Their luxury spa and gym is brand new, having been completed in the spring of 2006. In addition to three buildings, each with a variety of guest rooms, this private estate property is comprised of eight acres of colorful gardens and spacious lawn, plus a Â½ mile walk shore path. You’ll check in at the elegant lobby at the Main Inn which has several elegantly appointed rooms. There is also the Oceanfront Lodge and all rooms here have a private balcony overlooking the ocean. The rooms in the Newport Building have balconies or patios overlooking the grounds. All rooms’ queen or king beds with jetted tubs in the bathroom. There is also a restaurant, the Reading Room, and a lounge on the premises.
The Primirose Inn is a charming B & B which was built in the 1870’s. Guests here can enjoy a gourmet breakfast on the wraparound porch, or by the fire in cooler months. Their afternoon tea is just splendid. All rooms have air conditioning, private baths and TVs. If you rent on a weekly basis, breakfast is not included. For more information, visit primroseinn.com
There are many other motels, hotels, B & B’s in the area as well as campgrounds. This is a popular tourist area so you’ll need to make reservations well in advance of your stay.