My Visit to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine

The coolest thing about visiting every National Park in America is you actually get to visit every National Park in America! This is different than trying to visit every state because often times you’d just go to a popular city or even drive through on a bigger road trip. Many National Parks are in somewhat remote locations and to visit you have to really make some effort. Acadia National Park requires some effort to get to. So my visit to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine allowed me to see the whole of this beautiful area tucked away up in the corner of our country.

My Visit to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine

Heading into Acadia National Park

I grew up in Southern New England (Trumbull, Connecticut) less than an hour from New York City. Although it is technically New England, it’s not really New England. Trumbull is a New York suburb. I didn’t associate with the other New England states and Maine in particular, was almost forgotten in my mind-it was kind of a random state like Iowa. However, I had always heard about Bar Harbor as a beautiful and fun place to visit.

Hector and Dad in Acadia National Park

Hector and Dad in Acadia National Park

My only previous trip to Maine was to Kennebunkport for lobster rolls and to see the Bush compound. Then we drove through much of the state into Quebec as part of a much larger Canadian road trip years ago. Other than lobster, Maine did not leave much of an impression in my limited time, as the interior of Maine is very Middle America looking. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just what it looks like in my opinion!

Bar Harbor, Maine from the air

Bar Harbor, Maine from the air

To get to Bar Harbor, the gateway to Acadia National Park, you can drive of course-it’s an 8-hour drive from New York City. You can arrive via private plane into the Bar Harbor County Airport. But most people, including me, flew to Bangor where they have a great pet relief area, rented a car and drove to Bar Harbor-about an hour from Bangor.

The pet relief area at Bangor Airport in Maine

The pet relief area at Bangor Airport in Maine

My visit to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor was special because it was the first real trip I was taking with my dog, Hector. Anyone who follows me on Instagram Stories can tell you how much I love that little guy but he doesn’t like transportation very much-especially cars. So flying with him was going to be tricky.

Hector is excited to be in Acadia National Park

Hector is excited to be in Acadia National Park

After going through the somewhat absurd rigmarole of getting him certified as a therapy/service dog (or whatever they’re called) he came to visit my family in Florida last weekend and that went well. So I was really excited to take him to his first National Park. Plus, I planned the whole trip around dog friendly places, restaurants and activities-so I was really excited!

Yes they actually sell lobster ice cream in Bar Harbor, Maine

Yes they actually sell lobster ice cream in Bar Harbor, Maine

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort just outside of Bar Harbor and right on the water. It was a dated resort but very pleasant and very dog friendly. It was the nicest place in and around Bar Harbor I found that allowed dogs and had availability. Plus it had a lot of open grassy areas for him to run and do his business. Even on Memorial Day Weekend, it was only about $200 a night; which was a pleasant surprise!

Hector enjoying the grass and space at the hotel in Bar Harbor

Hector enjoying the grass and space at the hotel in Bar Harbor

We started out eating at Paddy’s for breakfast in Bar Harbor, just off the water right in the center of town. The food and service were fantastic. Plus, they really catered to Hector, bringing him fruit, water and a lot of attention. I highly recommend the Lobster Benedict.

Lobster Benedict at Paddy's in Bar Harbor, Maine

Lobster Benedict at Paddy’s in Bar Harbor, Maine

After breakfast, we took a walk around the adorable little streets. Bar Harbor is one of those great coastal towns with fudge shops, country stores, local souvenir shops that aren’t trashy and just a really nice place to be with no chains!

Hector enjoying the shops in Bar Harbor, Maine

Hector enjoying the shops in Bar Harbor, Maine

Hector loved it and went into many of the shops. Probably 50% of the stores in Bar Harbor had water bowls outside welcoming dogs. Hector is just like his dad and has a lot of energy and big appetites for everything-so this was great!

Team Hector on a boat tour of Acadia National Park

Team Hector on a boat tour of Acadia National Park

In the afternoon, we did a boat tour of Acadia National Park with Acadian Boat Tours. It was a 2-hour putter around Frenchman Bay, Egg Rock lighthouse and cliffs of Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. The boat was 100% dog friendly and Hector liked the boat because he got so much attention from our fellow passengers. Although, like his dad, he doesn’t love boats!

Egg Rock Lighthouse, Maine

Egg Rock Lighthouse

For dinner, we headed downtown and had an amazing dinner at Stewman’s Lobster Pound right on the water. The lobster may have been the best I’ve ever tasted and that’s no joke-I’ve had a lot of lobster in my day! Also, you must get the blueberry pie for dessert; it’s out of this world!

Pretty much the perfect dinner at Stewman's Lobster Pound in Bar Harbor, Maine

Pretty much the perfect dinner at Stewman’s Lobster Pound in Bar Harbor, Maine

The next day started with a scenic flight around all of Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor and the surrounding areas. It was a great way to get some perspective and while you can get 15-minute tours for only $49 or so, the full package is only $119 and well worth a look in my view. However, make sure you sit on the right of the little 3-seater Cessna, as that’s where most of the action takes place. I was told they had 6-seaters as well but didn’t see one.

Little Cessna for the Acadia by air tour

Little Cessna for the Acadia by air tour

Then after seeing Acadia by sea and air, we hopped into the car and drove the loop road inside Acadia National Park. That’s really the best way to do it. I also recommend climbing to the top of Cadillac Mountain-tallest mountain on the east coast and a great view. Also check out Jordan Pond and the rocky beaches. Acadia is just stunning and you’ll be gaping the whole time in awe of the natural beauty.

Hector enjoying the view atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Hector enjoying the view atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Hector loved his visit and frequent stops around Acadia National park made for an easier time dealing with the car. After heading back into town for a lobster lunch and some ice cream, it was back to Bangor for the night before an early flight. Bangor kind of looks like Albany, New York and like Albany, there’s not much to it. However, if you’re there check out McLaughlin’s for excellent seafood at a great price right on the water at the marina.

Beautiful overlook of Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park

Beautiful overlook of Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park

So all in all, I loved my visit to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine. Excluding Dry Tortugas National Park, it’s the best National Park on the east coast. It’s also a great family and dog destination. I noticed several bars and pubs in town but I didn’t go out at night. So there’s something for everyone. On Maine license plates, it says Vacationland. I never knew what that meant as a kid or even as an adult-but now I do. Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine are well worth the trip!

Comments

  1. I’m from Massachusetts and think Maine is a random state too!

  2. Hector is so cute!!!!!!

  3. I follow you on Instagram as well and I think we all need more Hector in our lives!

    Acadia looks nice too but let’s be honest, Hector is the cutest.

  4. Tell me you didn\’t really claim him as a therapy or service dog! Please! You usually are okay traveling without him, right?

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