Perfect 3 Day Itinerary for Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine

July 2020

Perfect 3 Day Itinerary for Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine

Our escape from quarantine! I wrote an entire post on how we planned and prepared for this trip in a COVID world so check that out if you are planning this trip soon.

After searching for the best place to start our travel post-quarantine, Acadia National Park checked off many of the boxes – low COVID numbers, option to travel from out of state without a two week quarantine, plenty of outdoor activities, and affordable. Bar Harbor allows for a break from the outdoors for a lovely downtown experience. There really is so much to do! This itinerary can easily be extended past 3 days. Our trip in total with travel was 5 days and there really is enough to fill a week or longer.

A bit of logistics to cover – most of which I highlight in the rough draft. The season for visiting is from May to September with a peak at July and August. The fall looks simply stunning here with the change of season. Acadia may not be the easiest destination to get to. We drove nine hours but there is the option of flying into Bangor or even Portland to extend the trip and explore around there. Regardless, a car will come in handy for exploring. We stayed the the Otter Creek area and felt it was perfectly located to explore the park and the downtown, and was more affordable than staying downtown.

What is there to do?

  • Acadia National park has so many trails for all levels from easy, flat, well groomed trails to difficult rock climbing. I outlined the most popular trails and well as the ones we completed in this post.
  • Rent a bike and ride the 45 miles of car free Carriage Roads
  • Visit one of the many gardens in the area: Wild Gardens of Acadia, Sieur de Monts Nature Center, Thuya Garden, Azalea Garden
  • Walk across the sand bar in town that appears at low tide to Bar Island
  • Go on an excursion kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, boating, lobster catching, whale watching, wildlife sightseeing, rock climbing, you name it!
  • Visit one of the many places for sunrise, sunset or star gazing – driving up to the top of Cadillac Mountain is great for all three.

Where to eat?

Lobster, blueberries and whoopie pies! There are tons of seafood pubs in town but I challenge you to visit some of the different types of dining experiences in Bar Harbor. We also packed a lot of food for breakfast and snacks while hiking so not every meal was a meal out for us.

  • Visit a lobster pound – we went out of the way to Thurston’s and we were not disappointed. While you are at Thurston’s, stop but the Bass Harbor Lighthouse.
  • Stop into a cafe – we loved Lompoc Cafe and wanted to fit in The Social Project but ran out of time.
  • Whatever you choose, go to CIAO for dinner one night – it was exceptional! Read the full review here.
  • When visiting Jordan Pond, make sure yo stop into the restaurant to order their famous popovers.
  • There is tons of ice cream to try so take advantage and taste a new one one each night. While Mt Desert is the favorite due to the unique flavors, we enjoyed Jordan Pond Ice Cream and Fudge the best.

Comparing my rough draft itinerary to the one we ended up completing, there were a few notable differences. First, we completed the trails in less time than was suggested to allow for which meant we could fit more hiking in a day. Second, we did not have ideal weather – we had dense fog for almost the entire trip and there was a tropical storm on one of the days as well. These both forced a few good changes that allowed for the development of the perfect itinerary below! Keep in mind with all weather related activities, you may also need to make some adjustments to your trip as well.

Activity  Food
Day 1 Afternoon  Arrive

The Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse 

Thurston’s Lobster Pound
Evening  Shore Path / Bar island

Cadillac Mountain for sunset

Day 2 Morning  The Beehive Trail / Precipice Trail 

Ocean Path (Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliff)

Afternoon The Bubbles

Eagle Lake

Jordan Pond House Restaurant
Evening Downtown Bar Harbor  CIAO
Day 3 Morning  Carriage Roads 

Parkman Mt and Bald Peak Trails

Afternoon Afternoon excursion 

Garden visit

Lompoc
Evening Downtown Bar Harbor 

Stargazing at Cadillac Mountain

The Social Project
Day 4 Depart 

Read the full trip details here!

If you have been to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor before, let me know what I missed and what your favorites are!

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