Watching sailboats in the harbor, the crisp, salty air, and fresh lobster to your heart’s content—the charming seaside town of Bar Harbor, Maine is not to be missed!
The beauty of Bar Harbor, Maine’s mountain and ocean landscape is truly breathtaking. It’s the ideal spot for couples and families alike to take a long weekend for relaxation, yummy seafood, endless hiking terrain, unforgettable scenery, and perhaps the best ice cream on the planet.
I visited Bar Harbor back in 2015 and have been dying to visit in the fall ever since. One of my favorite parts about this quaint town is that nearly everything, including the businesses, is local. I recommend visiting in late September or October when the leaves are just starting to change and it’s not as crowded as it can be in the early summer months.
As far as travel logistics go, I recommend flying into Bangor and renting a car for the hour drive to Bar Harbor, Maine. You’ll want a car anyway to get to Acadia as well as some of the most beloved lobster restaurants that are located a bit farther out. Another option is to fly into Boston and drive a few hours to Bar Harbor (you can stop and see some other towns along the way).
We stayed at The West Street Hotel, a boutique waterfront hotel in downtown Bar Harbor complete with Maine’s only rooftop swimming pool. The pool alone makes it a quite the destination! Now let’s dive into the must-do’s of this magical coastal town.
1. Take a Foodie Tour
One of the best ways to get to know a city and its accompanying food scene is to take a culinary walking tour. It’s best to do this early on in your visit so you can not only taste a bit of everything, but also score top notch restaurant recommendations from the local guide while meeting new people. On our tour we enjoyed fresh lobster rolls on buttery brioche, wild Maine blueberry popcorn, one of the best peekytoe crab cakes I’ve ever laid mouth on, and so much more.
2. Sail on the Margaret Todd
Set sail on this beautiful four-masted windjammer boat for a breathtaking panoramic view of the bay and surrounding islands plus plenty of history. We enjoyed the Schooner Afternoon Sail but you can also take a two-hour sunset cruise if you’re feeling extra romantic. Don’t forget a bottle of wine!
3. Eat Blueberry Pancakes at Cafe This Way
You don’t have to tell me twice! Bar Harbor, Maine is brimming with wild blueberry fields so enjoying them in hot flapjacks is an absolute must. My favorite breakfast spot by a mile was Cafe This Way, an eclectic spot owned by three women serving scrumptious breakfast and dinner favorites. There’s almost always a wait, but since it’s right in the middle of the downtown area, you can peruse the local shops until your table is ready. For more yummy breakfast fare, try 2 Cats Restaurant.
4. Hike Acadia National Park
As if Bar Harbor, Maine isn’t stunning enough, Acadia’s 125 miles of hiking trails are a short ten-minute drive away. The park is enormous, so you can spend an entire day (and then some) there. If you prefer driving the park, you can book a ride with Oli’s Trolley. We drove up to Cadillac Mountain and it was one of the most gorgeous panoramic views I’ve ever seen. Other great hikes are Great Trail Head, Otter Cliff, Bubble Rock Trail, Beehive, and Jordan’s Pond Nature Trail.
5. Devour Popovers at Jordan’s Pond House
Ever had a popover? How about a steaming hot one with an unforgettable view of Acadia in the background? Make this foodie dream a reality at the historic Jordan’s Pond House. I recommend doing a bit of hiking first and then taking a snack break there.
Of note, the rest of the menu isn’t anything to write home about so stick to tea, popovers and the epic view!
6. Sip Coffee at Choco-Latte
If you know one thing about Jeff and me, it’s probably that we love our coffee. We visited Choco-Latte twice while we were in Bar Harbor, once while we were waiting for breakfast and another day as we were strolling along. They have plenty of organic coffee drinks, yummy baked goods, and breakfast sandwiches with homemade bread and organic eggs.
This is also a nice place to sneak in some work since it has WiFi. Another adorable morning spot with locally-roasted coffee, homemade quiche, bagel sandwiches, and plenty of vegan options is Morning Glory Bakery.
7. Enjoy Cocktails by the Sea
You won’t find a better view of Frenchman Bay and Porcupine Islands than at Bar Harbor Inn’s outdoor Terrace Grill. Relax on the comfy couches while sipping a speciality drink (I’m partial to the blueberry juniper cocktail) and watching the boats in the harbor. Save room for wild Maine blueberry pie!
Another one of my favorite spots for a drink is Project Social. I recommend going for their happy hour and sitting outside for prime people watching. If you’re hungry, the tuna rolls wrapped in grilled zucchini are insane.
8. Ride a Lobster Boat
Did you know lobster used to be the food of prisoners? That’s right—it wasn’t always considered the delicacy it is today! Learn more than you’ll ever need to know about Bar Harbor’s famed crustacean, including how they used to catch them and how they catch them today, with Lulu’s Lobster Boat Ride. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some seals, too!
9. Eat Lobster at Beal’s Lobster Pier
It’s a bit of a drive away, but locals agree that Beal’s is THE spot for the most authentic Bar Habor, Maine lobster experience. The lobster comes straight from their pier and all the vegetables are grown by local farmers. Enjoy a beautiful view of the southwest harbor in a fun and casual atmosphere while you wait for your steamed lobster, cornbread, and red potatoes. Bib included!
10. Savor Ice Cream at Mount Desert Ice Cream
This insanely creamy ice cream is made five batches at a time with real ingredients, and boy is it obvious. Mount Desert Ice Cream truly has some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. We went there twice in one weekend and I miss it like crazy. My flavors of choice were butterscotch miso and blackstrap banana bread.
Now tell me–have you ever been to Maine? Where are you dying to travel to next?!
Thanks to Visit Maine for coordinating the hotels, meals, and activities during our stay at Bar Harbor. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.