Bar Harbor Hospitality Group

Mount Desert Island Scavenger Hunt: Exploring Acadia & Bar Harbor with Kids

Mount Desert Island may be small, but between the charming town of Bar Harbor and the beautiful landscape of Acadia National Park, it can be tough deciding where to go and what to see, especially if you’ve got youngsters in tow. How do you hit all the best spots around the island, ensure there’s plenty of places for bathroom breaks along the way, and keep the kids engaged?

Each year the Acadia Inn welcomes hundreds of families to our slice of Downeast Maine and we’ve learned a few tricks for exploring Bar Harbor with kids. If your kids are having fun, you’re more likely to have fun too—and spend less time curbing tantrums. We’ve put together a nature scavenger hunt for kids that will take you to all the best spots around MDI, from Acadia’s iconic carriage roads to the lakes, peaks and beaches that make our island special. Kids will have objectives to keep them interested and excited to explore and along the way, they’ll learn a bit about the environment and the history of our island.

Preparing for Your Adventure

The best explorers are always well prepared! Before you head out on your outdoor scavenger hunt, check a few things off your list.

  • Everyone should be wearing comfortable clothes and shoes that are appropriate for physical activity. It can be helpful to plan your outfit in layers in case you get hot or cold while out and about in Acadia.
  • No matter the weather, sunblock is always a good idea. Apply before you go and bring it along so you can reapply every 2-3 hours, especially on your face and the back of your neck.
  • Scavenger hunts can be hungry work, so pack some snacks and water for the journey. You can grab some fruit from the Acadia Inn’s continental breakfast or visit the concierge to buy granola bars, trail mix and more.
  • Make sure you’ve got a map, which are available at the front desk or any visitor center in the park. It’s fun to bring along a few colored pens so you can mark the places you visit.
  • Review what it means to leave no trace. While the purpose of our scavenger hunt is to get out in nature, we must always remember to respect and protect our environment. This means properly disposing of any waste, being respectful of the wildlife, and doing our best to not disturb or alter their habitats.
  • Don’t forget your scavenger hunt checklist! You can download them and print at home or ask the front desk for a printed copy on your way out the door.

Mount Desert Island Nature Scavenger Hunt for Kids

There’s so much to explore in Acadia! As you head out on your outdoor scavenger hunt prepare to use all your senses. Listen closely for birds, take a deep breath to smell the forest air, feel the soft moss under your feet and perhaps even taste the salty mist off the ocean. For each item in our scavenger hunt, we provide a tip for how to spot it!

Animals You Can Spot in Acadia

Sometimes the best place to spot the wildlife of Acadia is from the window of your room at the Acadia Inn! In the mornings and evenings, we often get visiting squirrels, rabbits, deer and birds so keep your eyes peeled while enjoying your breakfast or settling in at the end of the night.

  • Snowshoe Hare: These are bigger than your backyard bunnies but can be shy! Find them early in the morning nibbling grass or ferns near the Great Meadow Wetlands.
  • Whitetail Deer: Deer are plentiful in Acadia but their perfectly camouflaged brown coat can make them hard to spot. Look for their signature white tail through the trees.
  • Eastern Painted Turtle: Stroll around Jordan Pond where these colorful little turtles love to warm up in the afternoon sun on rocks and logs.
  • Red Fox: These elusive omnivores are most active in early morning and evening so keep your eyes peeled as you’re leaving the park at the end of the day or on your drive up Cadillac for sunrise.
  • Grey Squirrels: It’s tough not to spot a grey squirrel while visiting Acadia but you can listen for their chatter to help identify where they’re hanging out.
  • Red Squirrels: The smaller counterpart to the Grey Squirrel, these critters are characterized by their ginger coat and fuzzy ears. They love to eat seeds from conifers so look for them among pine trees.
  • Spotted Salamander: Acadia’s largest salamander species, these guys can be up to 10 inches long and like to hang out by rocky streams like the ones found along the Witch Hole Pond section of the park’s carriage roads.
  • American Toad: Did you know this is the only toad that lives in Acadia? You’ll have the best chance of spotting them on rainy days or after a storm has ended. And even if you don’t see them, you might hear their chorus.
  • North American Beaver: Freshly chewed stumps are a good sign in you’re in beaver territory. These hardworking fellows can be seen around Jordan Pond, the Tern and Witch Hole Pond.
  • Common Loon: Time to use those ears again! While walking around Eagle Lake listen for their long, expressive calls.
  • Harbor Seal: Driving along Otter Cove, Somes Sound, or Southwest Harbor you’re likely to spot these marine mammals. Look for dog-like heads bobbing in the water or on rocks and other resting spots.
  • Harbor Porpoise: These members of the whale family are shy but like to travel in small groups around the island and can sometimes be spotted in the Somes Sound fjard.
  • Bald Eagle: While hiking Acadia’s granite mountains don’t forget to glance up. The majestic Bald Eagle can be spotted cruising the thermal currents and swooping for fish in Acadia’s lakes and ponds.
  • Great Blue Heron: These long-legged birds stalk their pray slowly in shallow waters. Watch how quietly they move through the Great Meadow Wetland or Bass Harbor Marsh.
  • Downy Woodpecker: Look among deciduous trees for these small woodpeckers and listen for their shrill call and rapid drumming on trees.
  • Pileated Woodpecker: This woodpecker is one of the biggest and most striking forest birds. Can you spot the distinctly rectangular holes they drill on trees?
  • Blue Jay: Bright blue and characteristically loud, you’ll know when a blue jay is nearby!
  • Chickadee: This adorable songbird is Maine’s state bird and can be quickly identified by its call which sounds just like its name: chicka-dee-dee-dee.
  • Cardinal: Their red feathers announce these birds quickly, but they prefer to hang out in dense brush so make sure you’re on the lookout.
  • Wild Turkey: Turkeys are early risers who forage in groups along roadsides and in meadows so if you spot one, there’s probably more where that came from!
  • Monarch: While common throughout the park, you can visit the Wild Gardens of Acadia for a good opportunity to spot these orange pollinators fluttering about.
  • Luna Moths: These gorgeous, pale green moths only make their appearance for a short time in spring. Their caterpillars feed on birches so take a stroll around Hemlock Loop for a good chance to stop these pretty moths.

The Plants of Acadia National Park

Mount Desert Island is home to more than 1000 species of plants thanks to its variety of different habitats. Wetlands to coastline to mountains, forests, and freshwater environments such as streams, lakes and ponds bring together unique factors and foster the growth of diverse plants. See if you can identify the plants in this outdoor scavenger hunt.

  • Cattail: They look a little like hot dogs on sticks! They grow in swamps and marshes like the Great Meadow Wetland or Bass Harbor Marsh.
  • Lady Slipper: In June, these little gems decorate the forest floor with their pink blossoms. They also happen to be a favorite snack of deer.
  • Lowbush Blueberry: Maine’s blueberries prefer acidic soil and make their homes atop rocky mountains. They ripen throughout August and can be found along most hiking trails like North Bubble or atop Gorham Mountain.
  • Lupine: These bouncy purple, pink and white blossoms make for a colorful landscape in May and June and can be seen along roadsides or woodland clearings. They are also planted in the Hulls Cove Visitor Center garden.
  • Mountain Holly: Also called catberry, this plant prefers wet soil and is most often found growing near streams, ponds or lakes.
  • Red Clover: Clover is essential for pollinators and puts on white and purple flowers all the way from June through September. You can probably spot it at any picnic area or campsite in Acadia, and if you’re lucky, you might find a four-leaf clover too!
  • Rugosa Rose: Beach roses dot the coastline so keep your eyes peeled when walking the shore path or visiting Thunder Hole. They bloom in late June but you may also spot their orange and red ‘hips’ later in the summer and fall.
  • Wild Blue Iris: The bluish, purple flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators hanging out in brackish waters like those around the interior of Otter Cove.

Mount Desert Island’s Deciduous Trees

A deciduous tree is one with leaves that drop in autumn, carpeting the forest floor and insulating it over winter. Most of Acadia’s deciduous trees can be found at lower elevations. How many can you find?

  • Sugar Maple: That’s right, this tree is where most maple syrup comes from! Identify their leaves by looking for 3-5 lobes with slightly toothed edges.
  • Silver Maple: As the name suggests, these maples can be identified by looking at both sides of the leaves. On top, they appear pale green but underneath they are a silvery white.
  • Striped Maple: This tree prefers to stay under the cover of larger trees and only grows to about 25 feet. They have large, 3-lobed leaves that look like a goose’s foot.
  • Red Maple: Who knew there were so many types of maple?! Red maples have leaves with 3-5 lobes and plenty of teeth.
  • Paper Birch: These birches grow in straight lines with distinct white bark that peels in thin papery sheets. You can feel the bark, but don’t peel it off the trees!
  • Grey Birch: The trunks of these trees look a little like cookies and cream with flecks of dark brown or black marking the white.
  • Red Oak: These giants can grow up to 80 feet tall and have long leaves with 5-9 lobes that end in points. If you’re visiting in fall, you might find acorns scattered around their bases.
  • White Oak: The leaves of the white oak are similar in shape to red oaks but can be distinguished by the rounded ends of each lobe.
  • American Beech: Large, oval leaves with small teeth lining the edges mark this try. In fall they turn a vibrant golden color.
  • American Elm: While the leaves are similar in shape to a beech, you can tell an Elm leaf by its sandpaper texture.

Conifers of Acadia National Park

Maine is also known as the pine tree state—home to many conifers. Conifers are trees that produce cones to distribute their seeds. They often have needles for leaves and are evergreen, meaning they don’t drop their leaves in fall like deciduous trees. Most of Acadia’s forests are made up of conifers so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to check these off your outdoor scavenger hunt checklist.

  • White Spruce: Spruce needles are shaped like rectangular cylinders with four distinct sides. Try rolling them between your fingers to feel the shape. While hiking, look for them on the north side of mountains and slopes.
  • Red Spruce: With needles shaped like the white spruce, you can tell the two apart by the slight reddish hue of their twigs and their smaller, shorter cones.
  • Red Pine: Characterized by their tall, straight growth, these pine trees have long, flexible needles that grow in groups of two. These needles blanket the forest floor and make for soft walking and great nest building material.
  • Eastern White Pine: Our state tree stands tall and proud, even more picturesque the older it gets. The needles are bluish green and they produce long, slender pinecones. Did you know there are white pines that have been dated as more than 500 years old?
  • Balsam Fir: Christmas trees in the wild! These pines have flattened needles in a dark green color and a wonderful fresh scent.
  • Northern White Cedar: Smaller than their spruce and pine counterparts, the white cedar grows lovely fan-like leaves that look a bit like ferns. They prefer to grow in wet areas and are most common around Acadia’s lakes and ponds.
  • Eastern Hemlock: Hemlock’s produce petite, round cones about the size of an acorn. They have droopy branches of flattened needles and prefer growing in cool areas like the north side of a slope.

Making Memories on Your Trip with Acadia National Park with Kids

With nearly fifty different plants and animals to keep your eye out for, this nature scavenger hunt for kids provides plenty of opportunities for young adventurers to interact with their environment. Along the way, snap some photos of your finds or get the whole family in the shot to document what spot in Acadia you discovered an item from the checklist. For quiet evenings or rainy days, kids can draw their favorite finds or locations throughout the park.

Planning a family trip can often feel like navigating through a maze, especially with the added challenge of keeping young minds engaged and entertained. The Mount Desert Island Scavenger Hunt guides families through the stunning landscapes of Acadia National Park, occupying and engaging little ones. As children learn to interact with nature, parents can relish the moments of discovery and joy that unfold with each step of the hunt. Next time you visit Bar Harbor with kids, use this scavenger hunt to transform every corner of Acadia into a classroom alive with wonders and opportunities to create lasting family memories.

Off Season Splendor

The Best Time to Go to Acadia National Park

Picture this: Acadia’s iconic Park Loop Road padded with a few inches of bright snow and patterned with cross country ski tracks and snowshoe prints. Freshly formed icicles glisten on the pink granite cliffs. A white-tailed deer steps carefully through the quiet forest among pine boughs weighed down under their white blankets. And the best part? You have it almost entirely to yourself.

There’s something truly magical about winter in Acadia National Park and we invite you to join us and experience its quiet splendor. Read our suggestions for how to spend the off season on Mount Desert Island and you too might be convinced that winter is the best season to visit Acadia National Park. Just grab your puffy, mittens and Bean boots.

Winter in Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor

By the end of October, Bar Harbor’s riot of colorful fall foliage has faded, and Mount Desert Island returns to its true form: a small, waterfront town of only about 5,000 year-round residents who fiercely love their little slice of Maine’s coast. Winter in Bar Harbor gives visitors of glimpse of our town’s quirky traditions, access to Acadia’s sweeping views and winding carriage roads, and a chance to rest, relax and absorb the quiet beauty and slow pace of the season. Whether you’re looking for a winter workout, some holiday shopping, or a relaxing dip in a hot tub, we’ve got plenty of great suggestions for how to spend winter in Bar Harbor.

Book Your Winter Lodging

One of the few year-round lodgings in Bar Harbor, you couldn’t pick a better place to spend your winter nights than the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel. Each room boasts uninterrupted views of Frenchman Bay so every morning can be spent sipping hot coffee in front of your French doors, with a slow sunrise over the snow dotted beach.

Our indoor pool and hot tub stay open throughout the year, where you might bump into locals using their pool passes to get in a few laps under the greenhouse style roof.

The Bistro is a popular winter meeting spot for residents and visitors alike, where seasonal cocktails, craft beers and a locally inspired menu can be enjoyed beside floor to ceiling windows overlooking the water. On special winter nights, The Bistro also hosts local music, open mics, and the occasional comedy set. You can always give us a ring to see what’s on deck.

The Atlantic Oceanside is also home to an event center, Bar Harbor’s go-to spot for meetings, conferences, private celebrations and more. With options for full-service catering, presentation technology and anything else you might need to make your event perfect, we’re prepared to welcome your group to Bar Harbor any time of year. You can also follow the Atlantic Oceanside on Facebook or Instagram to see announcements about public events like lobster bakes and film screenings.

With a cozy bed squared away, you’re ready for some winter adventures.

First Sunrise in the US at Cadillac Mountain

A sunrise hike up Cadillac Mountain is always a good idea, but it takes on a special quality between October and March of each year. Starting on October 7th, Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the United States that the sun touches so a hike to the summit during these months means you’ll be welcoming the day before anyone else in the country. You can take one of three routes up Acadia’s tallest peak or walk the curving summit road. In winter, it’s not uncommon to arrive at the trailhead and find the path ahead untouched by people, ready for you to make the first tracks through the snow.

If you’re looking for a truly exceptional winter hiking experience, we suggest a full moon hike of Cadillac. The snowy path practically glows in the light of a winter moon, and patches of exposed granite sparkle along the way. You’ll be rewarded at the summit with a serene landscape of frozen lakes, islands like cupcakes frosted with snow, and the sense that you could reach up and touch the moon. There are a few opportunities throughout winter in Acadia National Park to experience this wonder but our favorite is the Wolf Moon on January 25th of 2024 which reaches peak brightness just past midnight.

Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing & More

Winter in Acadia national park makes road access by car limited, but that doesn’t mean trails are closed! Just as the carriage roads are perfect for biking in the summer months, they make ideal cross country ski and snowshoe trails when snow coats the ground. Volunteers set tracks and groom sections of the carriage roads to make these 45 miles of scenic trails even more perfect for winter recreation. Spend early mornings gliding around Eagle Lake alongside residents or bring the whole family for afternoons passing under stone bridges or pausing for a snowball fight in the amphitheater. You can bring your own equipment or rent from a local shop like Cadillac Mountain Sports or Alpenglow Adventure Sports.

Some of Acadia’s lakes and ponds also freeze during the winter and, for savvy skaters, can make beautiful spots to ice skate. Just make sure to check the depth of the ice and be prepared for the uneven surfaces that come with ungroomed, natural skating.

Ice climbers also flock to Acadia in winter, eager to try their skills on frozen waterfalls and columns of clear blue ice that form on our granite cliffs. There are a number of guide services that welcome beginners to this winter sport, like Equinox and Acadia Mountain Guides.

Pajama Sale? Bed Races? Say What?

For more than 25 years, the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce has organized an event wholly unique to our Mount Desert Island community: the Early Bird Pajama Sale. In mid-November, the town rolls out of bed and hits the streets of Bar Harbor in their pajamas to score deals on holiday gifts and more from 30+ participating local businesses. When else will you find people shopping in slippers and long johns than winter in Bar Harbor?

By mid-morning, the second Mount Desert Island winter tradition kicks off. Local businesses and organizations form teams to build and decorate souped up bed frames, some elaborate enough to rival Macy’s parade floats. They race through downtown, pajama-clad crowds cheering them on to win first place and bragging rights for the year. The fun isn’t over yet!

In early December, Santa Claus makes his appearance in Bar Harbor for the Village Holidays celebration. Neighbors pass around free hot cocoa, the YMCA hosts kid friendly activities like ornament making and cookie decorating, and the town tree is lit for the first time as the sun sets. The holiday season truly shifts into high gear with the start of the Midnight Madness sale where local shops keep their doors open late into the night for shoppers to find their perfect presents and grab a few discounts along the way.

When the streets are cleared of tourists, Bar Harbor’s shenanigans come out, celebrating the success of another busy summer concluded and adding a sparkle to everyone’s eye before we settle in to rest and recuperate for the coming spring. Exhilarating and silly, these unique winter traditions keep the community connected and help support local businesses in the dark months.

A Magical Winter Sabbatical

The truth is you don’t need an activity to bring you to Bar Harbor in winter. We might be biased but we think Mount Desert Island is the perfect place for a sabbatical. From your room at the AO, you can enjoy the quiet winter landscape while you work on a novel, research paper, or just get away for a bit. Visit the public library to pick up new reading material or attend an author talk. Bundle up and stroll the shore path, watching the lobstermen still hard at work pulling traps from the deep waters where crustaceans hang out in this season. Or enjoy views of Somes Sound and the Bass Harbor lighthouse along Sargent Drive, from the safety of a heated car. Hungry? In the winter, local restaurants often rotate which days they open so there’s always somewhere to grab a hot bowl of chowder and a beer.

Winter Wonder Awaits

As snow dusts the rugged landscape of Mount Desert Island, there lies a secret waiting to be discovered by those who dare to venture to Downeast Maine in winter: Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park at their most serene. Days spent tracing the cross-country ski trails, winter hiking to watch the first rays of the sun grace America atop Cadillac or sharing in the cheer of Bar Harbor’s quirky winter traditions; this off-season haven is full of memories waiting to be made.

Full time residents cherish this quiet time of year on Mount Desert Island. By letting you in on the best time to visit Bar Harbor, Maine, we’re trusting you to maintain the beautiful, peaceful nature of our little island. We welcome you to join us for winter in Acadia—just don’t tell too many friends!

Getting a Taste of Acadia’s Waters on Your Trip to Bar Harbor

Located more than 150 miles up the state’s jagged coast, Maine’s largest island juts into the cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Only one road connects Mount Desert Island to the mainland, leaving every edge surrounded with views of Frenchman Bay and the Mount Desert Narrows.
Life in and around Mount Desert Island has been bound to the sea for millennia. For more than 12,000 years, the Wabanaki relied on the saltwater bays and freshwater lakes to provide fish, mollusks and more. Today, Bar Harbor remains a working waterfront, home to lobsterman, oyster farms and more.
So, it comes as no surprise that visitors to Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor have ample options for exploring the waters and marine life. The toughest part is just in choosing one! There are Bar Harbor boat tours where you learn a bit of history, see Maine’s fisherman at work, bask in the sunset or perhaps even spot an elusive Puffin. In this blog, we’ll talk about four Bar Harbor boat tours you can take on your trip to MDI and a bonus way to explore Frenchman Bay.

4 Types of Bar Harbor Boat Tours

From dawn to dusk, Frenchman Bay is full of boats going about their business. From small fishing vessels to large cruise ships traveling to Nova Scotia. Excluding passenger ferries that take visitors to and from surrounding islands, harbors and towns, you can group Bar Harbor boat tours into four categories. 

Acadia Nature Cruise

The cold waters surrounding Acadia are home to a host of marine and wildlife that will thrill nature lovers. Acadia nature cruises are the perfect way to explore the Gulf of Maine and make a great activity for kids, older folks and marine enthusiasts alike. Of course, your interest may already be piqued by a Bar Harbor whale watching tour or you may be wondering where to see puffins in Maine, but there’s so much more to take notice of! Here are a few species to look out for on your Acadia nature cruise:

  • Harbor seals & gray seals
  • Bottlenose & short-beaked dolphins
  • Sunfish
  • Basking sharks
  • Petrels
  • Arctic terns
  • Razorbills
  • Eagles

Experienced nature guides will point out these species and many more as your travel around the islands of Frenchman Bay and Bar Harbor. What you see will also depend on the time of year you visit MDI. Acadia puffin cruises run from May to August with the best viewing in June and July. Likewise, whale activity peaks in June through August but spring and fall can still be fruitful for spotters.

Acadian Boat Tours offer a few different nature cruises, departing conveniently from the dock at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel. They range in price from $15-60 depending on the type and length of the tour. You’re encouraged to bring along binoculars for the best spotting or can rent a pair for just $5 aboard the boat. Acadia nature cruises are typically offered twice daily, with a 9:30 am and 1:30 pm departure option. Tickets can be purchased right at the front desk of any Witham Family Hotel and vehicle parking is included in the Atlantic Oceanside lot.

 
Bar Harbor Sunset Cruise

To us, nothing says vacation more than a Bar Harbor sunset cruise around Frenchman Bay on the gorgeous deck of Margaret Todd, four masts towering above and the sunset painting Acadia in red, orange and pink. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it’s very real and one of the best Bar Harbor experiences out there!

The Margaret Todd is a stunning four mast schooner replicated after late 1800’s cargo vessels that has been sailing around Acadia since 1998. It’s rust red sails are an iconic image against the grey blue waters of the Atlantic. Captained by Steven Pagels from mid May through October, it sails around Mount Desert Island, offering views of coastal cottages, pink granite mountains and the surrounding islands.

While the Margaret Todd does offer scenic sails in the morning and daytime, we think their Bar Harbor sunset cruise is the absolute winner. Passengers are encouraged to bring along picnic items and beer, wine and soft beverages are sold on board during the cruise. Sunset cruises also often feature live folk music like banjo, fiddle or guitar. Bar Harbor sunset cruise length changes with the season as daylight hours wax and wane, but they are typically one to two hours.

The schooner docks at the Bar Harbor Inn pier and guests should plan extra time to find downtown Bar Harbor parking before arriving for their boarding time. Tickets for any Windjammer cruise can also be purchased at the front desk of any Witham Family Hotel. Romantic, picturesque and truly memorable, you won’t want to miss this Bar Harbor sunset cruise.

Bar Harbor Lighthouse Tour

Did you know there are 65 lighthouses in Maine and 7 of them are located in and around Mount Desert Island?! These beacons are icons of coastal Maine and hold so much history about the land and the people who have worked and explored these waters for hundreds of years. Built in the mid to late 1800’s many of these are still operational, using bright flashing lights and deep fog blasts to keep boaters safe in foul weather. Below is a list of the 7 lighthouses in the area.

Bass Harbor Head Light: The only lighthouse on MDI, it is located at the southwestern reach of Acadia National Park where it guards the southern entrance of Blue Hill Bay and warns against Bass Harbor Bar.
Bear Island Light: Constructed in 1839, the tower is only 31 feet high and is located just south of the entrance to Northeast Harbor. It is now privately maintained and accessible only by boat.
Burnt Coat Harbor Light: Off Swans Island and marking the entrance of Burnt Coat Harbor, this lighthouse originally sported two towers. The site is now owned by the town of Swans Island and sports a park and museum.
Egg Rock Light: Due to growing seasonal ferry traffic to Bar Harbor, Egg Rock Lighthouse was constructed in 1875. It stands 40 feet tall and marks the entrance to Frenchman Bay, near Winter Harbor. 
Baker Island Light: Owned by Acadia National Park, this 43-foot tower was originally built out of wood in 1828 but was remade in 1855 in stone.
Mount Desert Rock Light: This 48-foot granite tower was built in 1847 and is truly ‘deserted’ as there is no vegetation on this windswept rock. It is now used by College of the Atlantic’s Allied Whale as a marine mammal research station. 
Great Duck Island Light: Built in 1890, the 42-foot brick tower light was home to a keeper and his family in the early 1900s. Several shipwrecked sailors have washed up on the island over the years.

Often inaccessible by car, a Bar Harbor lighthouse tour will not only give you unparalleled views of these buildings but also teach you a little about Maine’s history. Acadian Boat Tours offer three different lighthouse tours that combine views of Acadia National Park, the Somes Sound fjard, and wildlife for a truly photo-worthy experience.

With both morning and afternoon departure options, these Bar Harbor lighthouse tours are a longer expedition, typically lasting 3-3.5 hours. Like the Acadia nature cruises, they depart from the Atlantic Oceanside where you can park and purchase your tickets.

Lobster Boat Tours & Fishing Trips

If there were such a thing as a state shellfish, there’s no doubt lobster would be Maine’s. If you want a true taste of lobstering, you can head out on a lobster boat tour to watch experienced fisherman haul traps from the ocean floor. Guides explain the process and teach passengers about catching and tagging lobsters, the gear they use and even provide the chance to get up close and personal with our favorite ocean critters.

Likewise, ocean lovers can jump on a public or private fishing trip run by Acadian Boat Tours to catch cod, harbor pollock, mackerel, Acadian red fish and more. These 3–4-hour trips are great for both families and fishing enthusiasts alike. Fishing gear is supplied, and the experienced crew will help you clean and bag anything you wish to keep.

Bonus: Kayaking in Bar Harbor

While the many Bar Harbor boat tours provide ample ways to explore Acadia’s waters, you can get even more up close and personal with life at sea. For those looking to stay active during their time on Mount Desert Island, kayaking is a great way explore Frenchman Bay and even some of the lakes and ponds within Acadia National Park. If you already own kayaks, you can launch your boat directly into Frenchman Bay from the private pebble beach of the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel.

There are also a number of rental shops throughout town that can outfit you for kayaking in Bar Harbor. Some businesses offer guided sea kayaking tours for wildlife spotting or exploring the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay.

Your experience of MDI’s waters isn’t limited to the ocean! Some of Acadia’s most scenic lakes allow kayaking or canoeing like Long Pond, Eagle Lake, Echo Lake, Jordan Pond and more. Paddling offers a unique and serene way to take in the beauty of our national park.

Tips for Being Seaworthy

Like all outdoor activities, you should be prepared for any Bar Harbor boat tour or kayaking adventure. You’ll be fully exposed while out in the bay so remember to wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Hydration is also important so bring a water bottle with you! Sunglasses, hats and even rain gear to protect against the ocean spray are helpful. If you are prone to nausea you can purchase Dramamine directly from the Atlantic Oceanside gift shop before embarking or you can try wearing an anti-nausea bracelet during your tour.

There are so many ways to enjoy Frenchman Bay but sometimes nothing beats sitting on the patio with a drink in hand while the sun sparkles on the water. Without fail, a room by the ocean is a wonderful way to soak up the beauty of Mount Desert Island. From comfort and privacy of your room at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel you can enjoy views of Frenchman Bay any time of day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can all be savored with an ocean backdrop at the Cadillac Café or the Bistro. And if you just can’t get enough, leave your curtains open when you head to bed for a stunning sunrise surprise.

Mount Desert Island Scavenger Hunt: Exploring Acadia & Bar Harbor with Kids

MDI YMCA Fall Half Marathon & 5K

The Mount Desert Island YMCA Fall Half Marathon is the only half marathon that runs through a national park. This September, follow a challenging loop course along Acadia National Park’s historic carriage roads, an excellent running surface far away from cars. For over 40 years, this half marathon has supported the MDI YMCA as their biggest fundraiser of the year. Support local recreation programs and youth development while running a spectacular course through Acadia.

Acadia Night Sky Festival

Join us for one of the premier night sky events on the eastern seaboard in September at the Acadia Night Sky Festival. With workshops, internationally recognized speakers and hands-on experiences, there truly is something for everyone from families to the serious amateur astronomer.