Planning a North Atlantic getaway? Head for the fringes and discover all the best things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine. With sweeping coastal views, incredible wildlife, and outdoor activities for everyone, this beautiful seaside town is one of the most surprising destinations in the Northeast.
As you explore the top tourist attractions in Bar Harbor, enjoy beautiful sunrise views from Acadia National Park’s Cadillac Mountain. Take a tour around Frenchman Bay with the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company, and see if you can spot a humpback whale. Your family will be stunned by the powerful roar of the water bursting out of Thunder Hole. Hop on and off the Island Explorer shuttle bus as you explore the quaint town of Bar Harbor.
Need a hand deciding what to do in lovely Bar Harbor? Plan the perfect seaside getaway with this complete guide to the best places to visit in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Best places to visit in Bar Harbor, ME
Acadia National Park
Immerse yourself in the incredible scenery of Bar Harbor at Acadia National Park. This national park covers over 47,000 acres of land stretching from Mount Desert Island to Isle Au Haut, and the Schoodic Peninsula. Traverse the hiking trails and cruise along Park Loop Road to discover the natural wonders of Maine.
At the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, grab a map, and chat with a park ranger. Begin your explorations by biking, walking, or galloping on horseback through the carriage roads. Find the quaint Jordan Pond House peeking out from behind the foliage by Jordan Pond. Gaze across the glassy pond with mountains and trees reflected in the water.
Brave the chilly Northern Atlantic waters at Swim Sand Beach, Acadia’s only sandy beach. Or, if you want to get some climbing in, visit Otter Cliff. Experienced climbers can tackle the 60-foot-tall cliff and take in picturesque views from the peak.
Those sonorous rumbles aren’t a storm brewing; they’re just the sounds of Thunder Hole. Your whole family will be thrilled by the show of roaring waters swirling around and blasting out of the inlet. Arrive at this top Bar Harbor attraction just before high tide to experience the exciting booms and crashes of Thunder Hole.
Hike along Ocean Path, and enjoy the photogenic blue waters as you find your way to Thunder Hole. Water and waves rushing into the divot in the cliff face create a loud rumbling sound. Take a seat on top of the cliff and appreciate the natural wonder of Thunder Hole, possibly even seeing waves reaching 40 feet into the air.
During low tide, take the stairs down to inspect the inlet where the monstrous splashes are created. Even if the waters seem calm, a poncho may come in handy in case you get caught by a sneaky wave crashing over the fence.
On the hunt for Bar Harbor’s top picnic spot? Agamont Park is the perfect spot to toss down a blanket, soak up some rays, and tuck into a fresh lobster roll. This peaceful park at the tip of Main Street is surrounded by quaint shops on one end and stunning views of Frenchman’s Bay on the other.
Stroll or bike around the leisurely pathways winding through wide-open grassy spaces and past the ornately decorated fountain. The antique-looking lamp posts and charming gazebos throughout Agamont park give it a uniquely coastal Maine feeling. Fly a kite, toss a frisbee, or sit back and relax on a bench and tuck into your picnic.
If you’d rather dine in, swing by Testa’s Bar and Kitchen for lobster tacos or Galyn’s for a more upscale restaurant with daily fresh catches and beautiful views of the coast.
Relax in the peaceful setting of Village Green after browsing the local boutiques and shops. Its location in the center of town bordering Mount Desert Street and Main Street makes it one of the best places to go in Bar Harbor to rest before continuing your exploration of the seaside town.
Follow the walkable pathways at Village Green, stepping under a shady pergola and admiring the flourishing flowerbeds of purple petunias and yellow marigolds. Stop to read the memorials dedicated to servicemen and women, then toss a coin into the fountain.
If you need a Maine-style pick-me-up, check out CJ’s Big Dipper for a cone of their famous fresh blueberry soft serve. Or, swing by the Acadia Country Store for handmade fudge and blueberry pie.
Where are you headed next? Village Green is a major hub of bus and trolley activity. See the town by hopping aboard Oli’s Trolley and taking it to your next destination around Bar Harbor.
Get ready to check seeing the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain off your Bar Harbor bucket list. Discover the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic Coast, located in Acadia National Park. The glorious sunrise views from 1,530 feet up atop Cadillac Mountain can make a morning person out of anyone!
Take the Cadillac Summit Road to the mountain, and head to the viewpoint looking out to the east. Get there extra early, and bring a blanket to snuggle up with in the chilly Maine morning as you watch the vibrant sunrise; Cadillac Mountain is a stunning setting for one of the most glorious sunrises you’ll ever see. Watch as vivid oranges and yellows in the sky illuminate the lush forests and sparkling ocean below.
After the sun is up and shining, go for a hike along the North Ridge Trail to enjoy the rest of Cadillac Mountain’s jaw-dropping views.
Bar Island Land Bridge
Mother Nature performs one of her best magic tricks yet, making the Bar Island Land Bridge appear before your eyes. Low tide reveals a pebbled land bridge through the Skillings River, leading straight to Bar Island. Crossing this land bridge, you’ll experience one of the most unique perspectives of Bar Harbor’s coastal scenery.
Tread across the pebbly Bar Island Land Bridge, and look out for the small tidal pools forming along the edges. You’ll find sea creatures, barnacle-encrusted rocks, and maybe some whole shells or sand dollars if you’re lucky. Snap a few shots of Bar Harbor’s rocky shores to the south and Bar Island to the north.
Arrive about an hour before low tide to ensure you’ll have time to explore the land bridge and Bar Island itself. When high tide comes, Mother Nature performs her final act, making the land bridge back to Bar Harbor disappear.
Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company
How does adding a romantic sunset cruise to your Bar Harbor itinerary sound? Or maybe exciting whale-watching tours are more up your alley? The Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company has an excursion to please everyone! Nature fans will especially love getting a peek at puffins and exploring the waters of Acadia National Park.
On The Bar Harbor Nature Cruise, observe spectacular wildlife along the Bar Harbor coastline, like the seals sunning themselves on the shores. Or, climb aboard a catamaran and journey to the famous lighthouses around Mount Desert Island.
Whale-watching is a classic Bar Harbor activity. You’ll spot a variety of whale species showing off their fins and slapping the water. Spy minke whales, pilot whales, humpback whales, or endangered sperm whales. Your family will be impressed by the sprays coming from their blowholes. Getting so close to these beautiful beasts is an incredible experience and an unforgettable Maine memory!
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
Ahoy, matey! Put your family’s putt-putt skills to the test at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf. Making your way through the courses, you’ll be totally immersed in a land of pirate mischief. About ten minutes up the coast from town, this mini golf course is a bounty of fun for everyone and one of the top points of interest in Bar Harbor.
Choose the more challenging course if you’re traveling with big buccaneers or the easier one if that suits your little scallywags better. Walk the gangplank onto the authentic pirate ship and aim for a hole in one. As you cross the bridge to the next hole, peer down at the pirate propped up in his paddle boat, taking a snooze. There are pirate-themed surprises everywhere you look!
Whoever gets the worst score must walk the plank! Or, in this case, walk across the road to Udder Heaven. Show them your losing scorecard, and they’ll give you an extra scoop of ice cream.
Adrenaline seekers, listen up! Precipice Trail is just what you need to take your holiday to the next level. Don’t underestimate this half-mile of narrow paths and challenging ascents. Even advanced climbers will need to muster up some bravery for the Acadia National Park hike. Strap on your hiking shoes, take a deep breath, and hit the trail.
At the start of the Precipice Trail, climb over large boulders and up a steep trail. Tackle ladders going straight up, with no end in sight.
You’ll be faced with iron rungs to cling to as you work around the rock wall. The Precipice Trail swerves around the cliff in unpredictable twists and turns, with sheer cliff faces above and below that’ll surely get your heart pumping.
Finally, at the summit, relax and bask in the breathtaking views of Acadia National Park—and be proud of yourself for conquering the mighty Precipice Trail!
Wild Gardens of Acadia
Need a break from rugged hiking terrain? Discover a more tranquil side of Acadia National Park at the Wild Gardens of Acadia. Learn all about the native species of plants on Mount Desert Island. Grab your camera and take your time walking through the enchanting forests.
If your holiday is during autumn, you’ll be just in time for leaf peeping the fiery reds and vibrant oranges of the turning foliage. In the summer months, the crisp green ferns, fragrant flowers, and lilypads floating on serene ponds create a peaceful atmosphere at the Wild Gardens of Acadia.
Meander paths winding through lush vegetation, cross over wooden bridges, and listen for frogs croaking as you pass the lively marshes. Stop in the speckled light of the forest canopy to read the informational plaques about the plants. (And next time you go on an Acadia National Park hike, impress everyone by recalling the names of local plant life!)
Egg Rock Light
A trip to Bar Harbor wouldn’t be complete without a boat ride around Egg Rock Light. Built on Egg Rock in 1875 but still in use today, the Egg Rock Lighthouse is a classic Maine landmark. The wildlife who call the small island home will welcome you to visit the Egg Rock Light.
Take in the lovely views of the 40-foot tall Egg Rock Light on top of a coastal New England home. The rocky shores are patched with grass and speckled with white seagulls. You’ll find plenty of playful seals and stubby-nosed porpoises. You might even see a bald eagle soaring overhead!
Gently rock back and forth with the tide, and relax in the ambiance of Egg Rock Lighthouse. Breathe in the salty Maine air, listen to waves breaking on the ocean rocks, seals barking in the distance, and appreciate the iconic Egg Light Rock atmosphere.
George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History
Looking for a hands-on way for your family to learn about the wildlife of Maine? At the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History, your little explorer will get hands-on experience in touch tanks, interactive exhibits, events, and tours. Set aside a few hours to get the most out of the George B. Dorr Museum.
Your little ones will be mesmerized by the lifelike taxidermy created by students from The College of the Atlantic. Gaze upon beavers chewing trees for their dams, puffins stretching their wings and perching on rocks with fish in their beaks, and much more Maine wildlife frozen in time.
Your child can examine marine life like bumpy starfish, hermit crabs, and snails in the touch tanks. Then, your young adventure buddy can join a coastline scavenger hunt or nature walk on the beautiful grounds of the college.
Mount Desert Island
Part of what makes a getaway to Bar Harbor so special is its setting on gorgeous Mount Desert Island. Bike, kayak, swim, or climb, your way around the diverse 108-square miles of the island. The varied scenery of ocean and mountain views make it ideal for wildlife lovers and anyone looking to get active in the great outdoors.
In Bar Harbor, stop at Acadia Bike and Coastal Kayaking Tours for land or water sports. Sign up for paddleboarding experiences, or rent a bike to pedal down the rocky coastline. Hike and sightsee around Acadia National Park, and take advantage of the Island Explorer‘s convenient bus routes.
Indulge in fresh seafood and whole lobsters from Rose Eden Lobster on the north coast or Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound to the south. If you’re staying in downtown Bar Harbor, check out the Atlantic Brewing Company for a frosty craft beer on the deck.
At the Abbe Museum, you’ll discover that there’s more to Bar Harbor’s history than the lobster industry and lighthouses. Learn about the Wabanaki people through engaging exhibits and stories told from the Native American perspective. Founded in 1926 by Robert Abbe, The Abbe Museum is a fantastic way to discover Maine’s indigenous heritage.
The rotating exhibit, Stitching Ourselves Together, features traditional and modern Mi’kmaq porcupine quill art. Entering the core exhibit, People of the First Light, your eye will be drawn to the magnificent ash tree sculpture. Its branches reach in all directions, connecting the artwork and historical pieces in the room together.
The exhibits juxtapose ancient history with the modern Wabanaki experience. Peruse displays of colorful Wabanaki artwork, hand-carved canoes, woven baskets, and ancient arrowheads. The student art from local Wabanaki communities is quite touching, seeing the youth carry on their beautiful traditions.
Get the quintessential Bar Harbor experience at the Town Pier. Stroll the promenade and feel the bustling energy of this coastal town. Seafood lovers will especially love the selection of eateries along the pier.
Amble along Town Pier and watch fishermen unload their catches and boats and yachts pull into the port. Watch people coming and going, embarking on boat tours, and returning with wind-swept hair.
At the end of Town Pier, turn around to look back at the rocky coastline of Bar Harbor with Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park rising in the distance. If you’d like a boat tour, swing by the Lulu Lobster Boat Tours shop.
If you’re ready for some North Atlantic cuisine, enjoy seafood galore at the Fish House Grill. Grab a table on the deck, and dig into fried clams and plump raw oysters in the nautical ambiance of the Bar Harbor Town Pier.
Explore the craggy coastline of Bar Harbor on foot or by bike along the Shore Path. This coastal trail will take you by some of the city’s hidden gems. With beautiful scenery and a great location, you might just find yourself returning to Shore Path more than once during your time in Bar Harbor.
The trail passes right by the grand Bar Harbor Inn, grassy Grant Park, and several rocky cliff viewpoints of Frenchman Bay and Sheep Porcupine Island. Take a photo of the Bar Harbor landmark, Balance Rock. The massive boulder seemingly defies gravity as it sits at a precariously balanced angle.
Fuel up for this coastal trail at Jeanie’s Great Maine Breakfast. When you’re on vacation in Maine, Lobster isn’t just reserved for lunch and dinner. Dig into a lobster omelet or the lobster Benedict for a Maine-style breakfast.
The sparkling salt waters of Frenchman Bay surround the east coast of Mount Desert Island. Interesting shorelines and peaceful waters around the bay make it perfect for water sports and appreciating the beautiful coastline. One of the best things to do in Bar Harbor is to get wet and play in the bay or sit back and appreciate the views from the land.
Head to the Black Fly Coffee Co. for a blueberry iced coffee before your Bar Harbor explorations. While it’s still early, watch the serene Frenchman Bay come to life with fishermen, couples, families, and boats bobbing in the water. On clear days, you can see the Schoodic Mountains rising across the bay on the mainland.
Outdoorsmen and women will want to spend a day sea kayaking around Frenchman Bay with Nautical By Nature Kayaking. Your guide will stop at beaches, the Ovens rock formations, and other seaside caves. You’ll have a blast experiencing the adventurous side of Frenchman Bay.