ACADIA NATIONAL PARK / BAR HARBOR / PORTLAND
- When: 16 September – 18 September, 2016
- Where: Ramada Ellsworth, Ellsworth, ME
- Transportation: Approximately 5 hr drive from Boston by car
- Must see and do: Cadillac Mountain, Beehive Trail, Loop Road– Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond. Jesup Trail, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Portland Head Light
- Food/drinks: Cafe This Way, Acadia Jordan Pond House, Havana Restaurant, Portland: Eventide, Duckfat, Central Provisions
The summer is quickly coming to an end here in Boston, which reminded me of the incredible weekend in Maine we had last September. It was only a two day trip, but we covered Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor and stopped in Portland on the way back home. There is a lot to do in all three places, so if you have an extra day, spend a long weekend exploring this beautiful area.
FRIDAY – Cadillac Mountain / Bar Harbor
On Friday we worked half a day and left Boston in the afternoon. This allowed us (to some extent) to beat the rush hour traffic leaving the city. The goal was to go straight to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park and watch the sunset. If the weather was not cooperating or the traffic was worse, we were prepared to get up early and see the sunrise. It was our plan B, which we both hoped we would not need. Neither of us is a morning person 🙂 .
We made it to the top just in time!
More sunset chasers were arriving and the parking lot filled up pretty quick. We walked around the summit area and took some pics, but it was windy and cold.
For the actual sunset we walked a bit lower down the road and decided to hangout at the Blue Hill Overlook. In my opinion, the view was better there than at the summit!
It was not as windy, so we were able to enjoy it without shivering. Still, bring a blanket or scarf- it was nice to have a warm cover-up while watching the sunset.
There is not much to do in Acadia when the sun goes down, we will resume sightseeing tomorrow, time to get some food in our bellies. Bar Harbor has plenty of restaurants and shops- just a matter on deciding which one to try first! We chose Cafe This Way based on the reviews online and were very happy with the decision. You know how usually restaurants give you bread and butter while you wait? I don’t typically eat much of it, saving my appetite for the meal and dessert. Well this one was an EXCEPTION! Their butter was unique- it had honey in it, and was SO good we asked for the second basket of bread 🙂 !
The meal was great as well and of course we had room for dessert! How can you not, when it’s a warm blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream?! We actually came back for this dessert the following night!
SATURDAY- Beehive Trail / Loop Road / Bass Harbor Lighthouse
No need to wake up for the sunrise, it cannot be much better than the sunset view we witnessed at the top of the Cadillac Mountain! We also lucked out- parts of the park were closed for car traffic in the morning. This allowed hikers, bikers and anyone on foot to enjoy the park without interruptions of vehicles on the roads. It was a treat to just walk in the middle of the street and enjoy nature.
One of the MUST do in Acadia in my opinion is Beehive Loop Trail.
It’s a moderate to difficult 1.3 mile hike with incredible views up top. You should not be afraid of heights if you are doing this hike, especially if you choose to do the loop and go from the side with the iron ladders and steep climb up the rocks.
The other side is much easier, so we took the steep trail up and the easy one down. The ocean water looked so blue, very unusual to see this type of color so far away from the Caribbean. Do this hike early if you can- it gets pretty crowded and the climb becomes slow if even one person takes their time going up those ladders.
By the time we finished the hike, the park roads were opened up for cars, so we were able to drive and did the Park Loop Road enjoying several stops along the way. Make sure to stop by the Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Jordan Pond.
The beach was beautiful – we made it there just before the bus full of tourists pulled up. I was slightly disappointed that the Thunder Hole was quiet.
The waves were small that day, so we did not get to see the spectacular splash, but it’s still a beautiful sight of the majestic cliffs. Walking the Ocean Path toward the Thunder Hole, keep an eye to your left towards the ocean. When you see the little piles of stacked rocks, make sure to get down to get a better view.
The piles are man made of course, but makes a beautiful picture nonetheless.
By this time we were getting hungry, so to find out that there is a place to eat right near the Jordan Pond was a pleasant discovery. Just so happens that Jordan Pond House serves warm straight out of the oven popovers with tea- why not start your meal with that?
Yes please 🙂 !
We restored our energy and are ready to explore the other side of the park. I have seen lovely pictures online of the Jesup Trail. It’s right near the Acadia Gardens and is a bit out of the beaten tourist path.
We were the only people there. It was very nice to enjoy the peacefulnes, listen to the wind and the birds chirping in the birch trees lining the path. I’d recommend this walk if you want to escape into the nature and away from the crowds for a bit.
The weather was nice in the evening, so we wanted to see another sunset, we don’t get many of those living in the city. Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse was on our list of places to check out- sunset overlooking the ocean it is! Try to get there early, the parking lot is pretty small and there are a lot of other tourists and photographers who had the same idea.
We parked and climbed down on the rocks near the water for the better view. It was quite spectacular. Highly recommend this stop if the skies are clear for the sunset.
For dinner we went back to Bar Harbor. It’s a very cute town to stroll around.
We decided on Havana restaurant for dinner and were seated at the fine dining part on the patio outside. It was a very nice ambiance with the little string lights hanging overhead.
Meals were good, but we did not see anything that could compete with that blueberry pie, so went back to Cafe this Way for a slice of heaven 🙂 .
SUNDAY- Portland, ME
Acadia National Park visit was short but fun. Since we only had a weekend for this trip and the drive to Boston is long, we headed to Portland first thing in the morning. It’s a beautiful city with a perfect downtown for some walking and stretching our legs.
Having a stop to break up the drive was very convenient. It also helps that Portland has SO many restaurants! We decided to walk around and try a couple of them- just get an app or a meal to split at each. At Eventide we got some oysters and THE BEST lobster roll I have ever had. And I’ve had many! It was on a soft steamed bun and literally melted in the mouth. I’ve heard that this restaurant is planning on opening in Boston soon and cannot wait to see if they have the same menu!
Duckfat was another place that we loved. The fries were SO good and the milkshake delicious. I don’t have any photos of the last place- Central Provisions, but I remember liking their steak tartare and the ambiance.
One more stop before heading home- Portland Head Light. New England at it’s best.
Weekends are sometimes all we have for exploring. We try to make the best out of the time off that we have. It may involve a long car drive or an early wake up in the morning, but on Monday, when we are back to our office jobs, we feel refreshed and excited again. Little escapes can be just as enjoyable as long far away vacations. Never stop exploring!