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19 Best Things to do in Bar Harbor Maine In 2024

Ready to explore the total awesomeness of Bar Harbor and looking for some of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine? Heck yeah, you are since this gorgeous town on Mount Desert Island overlooks stunning Frenchman Bay, is easily one of the best beach towns in Maine, and is the unofficial getaway to the ethereal beauty of Acadia National Park.

So yeah, clearly a visit to Bar Harbor is a total must for anyone planning a trip to Maine. But it can be tricky to know where to go and what to do if you’ve never been to the area.

And that’s where you’re friend, Girl with the Passport comes in mighty handy.  I’ve been to Bar Harbor countless times since my family used to vacation in Maine every single year.

Therefore, I know all about some of the top things to do in Bar Harbor Maine. A wealth of awesome places that you should 100% add to any Maine road trip itinerary.

So, if you’re ready, let’s swan dive into all of my secret expert tips as I help you plan the perfect Bar Harbor Maine itinerary!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

🕒 In a hurry and looking for the best place to stay in Bar Harbor, Maine? I highly recommend Inn on Mount Desert which is a mid-range hotel that offers great rooms for amazing deals. 🏨

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What is Bar Harbor Maine Known for?

Aerial view of bar harbor which is one of the best stops on your road trip to Maine.

Umm, short answer? A lot of things that are obviously super appealing since more than 2 million people visit the town annually.

But, if you want a more specific answer that will help you uncover some of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine, then Bar Harbor Maine is known for:

Natural Beauty – It sits right on the coast, is surrounded by tons of picturesque islands, is just a hop, skip, and jump away from Acadia National Park, and is nestled along a rugged coast that offers visitors stunning views of the ocean.I mean, this place is so attractive that artists from the Hudson River School used to come here on the reg.

Fascinating History – Throughout the Gilded Age, wealthy Americans used to holiday in Bar Harbor in droves.

Therefore, you’d routinely find families like the Duponts, Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, Rockefellers, Morgans, Fords, and Astors vacationing in the swank summer estates that lined these shores throughout the early 19th century.

And while the Great Fire of 1947 changed a lot of this, you can still learn about the area’s fascinating history at places like The Bayview – the Vanderbilt’s former summer cottage.

Celebrity Residents – While celebrity spotting isn’t exactly one of the top things to do in Bar Harbor Maine, you will occasionally see celebs like Fred Savage, Martha Stewart, and Susan Sarandon since they all vacation here or own homes in the area.

Acadia National Park – A visit here is easily one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine since this town is largely known for being the unofficial gateway to Acadia. Highlights of any visit to Acadia National Park include Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond, Precipitous Trail, and so much more that (cough) I’ll talk about later.

College of the Atlantic – Established in 1969, this charming little liberal arts college in Bar Harbor Maine is known for its fantastic Environmental Science program and counts no less than Paul Newman himself as an alum. Yup, I for one am duly impressed by this.

Jackson Laboratory – While you’re probably not going to visit at part of your Bar Harbor itinerary, this place is known for performing cutting-edge scientific research that includes mapping human genomes to predict, treat, and sometimes prevent disease.

Lobster – Like the rest of Maine, Bar Harbor is known for its delicious lobster.

And some of the best lobster dishes in the area can be found at Bar Harbor Lobster Bakes, Geddy’s (lobster roll), The Travellin Lobster, C-Ray Lobster, Rose Eden Lobster, Galyn’s, West Street Cafe, Peekytoe Provisions, Thirsty Whale Tavern, Side Street Cafe, The Chart Room, etc.

Where Should I Stay In Bar Harbor Maine?

Ships docked at Bar Harbor, Maine.

Since Bar Harbor is easily one of the most popular destinations in all of Maine, there are – not surprisingly – a ton of different places where you can stay while you’re here.

However, to make the trip planning process about 1000 times easier – yes, that’s obviously an exact figure – here are my picks for some of the best places to stay in Bar Harbor.

Belle Isle Motel (budget)

⭐️ Price: $121 per night 📍Location: 910 Maine 3, Bar Harbor, ME Details: Read more on now!

This informal, 1950’s style motel is tucked away on 6 acres of forested land and is situated a mere five miles away from Acadia National Park. It also offers guests reasonably priced rooms (around $100 per night) that include WIFI, cable TV, mini-fridges, microwaves, and coffeemakers.

There’s also ample on-site parking in addition to a heated outdoor pool, hammock, and picnic area, and playground. It’s not the most lavish place to stay but you’ll get a good night’s rest.

Acadia Pines Motel (budget)

⭐️ Rating: 6.2/10 (482 Reviews) Price: $148 per night 📍Location: 389 State Hwy 3, Bar Harbor, ME Details: Read more on now!

This family-operated motel offers easy access to the Island Explorer Shuttle Bus and downtown Bar Harbor. Rooms here are also modest but well-appointed with TVs, WIFI, mini-fridges, coffeemakers, and more.

Children under 12 also get to stay for free and guests can enjoy free parking, use of an outdoor pool, access to a gazebo, and use of a picnic area.

Inn on Mount Desert (mid-range)

⭐️ Rating: 9.3/10 (901 Reviews) Price: $239 per night 📍Location: 68 Mt. Dessert Street, Bar Harbor, ME Details: Read more on now!

This fabulous, family-run inn is my pick for the single best place to stay in Bar Harbor. Not only is the inn well-located, but modern, casual rooms here include WIFI, flat-screen TVs, tea/coffee making facilities, microwaves, mini-fridges, private balconies, and stunning garden or harbor views.

A delicious breakfast is also included with your stay, as is access to parking, a garden, a fire pit, a pool table, and a charming library.

Saltair Inn (mid-range)

⭐️ Rating: 9.4/10 (54 Reviews) Price: $294 per night 📍Location: 121 West Street, Bar Harbor, ME Details: Read more on now!

This historic bed and breakfast sits on Frenchman’s Bay and dates all the way back to 1887. It’s also a mere three blocks away from the downtown area and features a selection of charming rooms that are all individually decorated.

So, step inside your private digs and enjoy claw foot/whirlpool tubs, designer linens, gas fireplaces, TVs, heated bathroom floors, vaulted ceilings, French doors, etc.

All-day snacks are also available in the sunroom, as is a daily, full breakfast in the dining room.

Bar Harbor Grand Hotel (luxury)

⭐️ Rating: 9.1/10 (623 Reviews) Price: $206 per night 📍Location: 269 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME Details: Read more on now!

If you’re looking for luxury with a capital “L” then this is the place for you. Because lavish, traditionally-stylized rooms here sit inside a beautiful recreation of a 19th-century Rodick House and are well-outfitted with everything you could want for a comfortable stay.

Complimentary parking and continental breakfast are also included with your stay, as is access to a heated outdoor pool/hot tub, workout room, laundry facility, gift shop, and spacious front porch.

Harborside Hotel Maina and Spa (luxury)

⭐️ Rating: 8.8/10 (221 Reviews) Price: $220 per night 📍Location: 55 West Street, Bar Harbor, ME, 04609 Details: Read more on now!

A chic, well-located, waterfront hotel with posh rooms that include flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, marble bathrooms, and private balconies. Opt for a luxe life suite and you’ll get a whirlpool tub, a fireplace, and gorgeous panoramas of the bay.

Other guest amenities include a seasonal kids club, covered parking, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, private tennis courts, a spa (additional fee), and an on-site restaurant.

What Should You NOT Miss in Acadia National Park?

Views from the Great Head Trail in Acadia National Park.

Since a visit to Acadia National Park is EASILY one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine, I wanted to give you a quick rundown of some of the absolute best things to do in Acadia National Park.

This way, you can better plan your Bar Harbor Maine itinerary and figure out exactly how long you want to spend in Bar Harbor and how many days you want to stay in Acadia.

Therefore, here are my picks for some of the best things to do in Acadia National Park. Places that you also might want to add to your list of the top things to do in Bar Harbor Maine.

Cadillac Mountain – At 1,530 feet tall, this is the single tallest mountain in Acadia and on the North Atlantic seaboard. Get up mad early and drive/hike to the top for stunning sunrise views of the park and nearby ocean. You can also walk along the easy, 0.5-mile loop trail around the summit to get the most out of your visit.

Jordan Pond – Take the easy, 3.4-mile loop trail around the pond and enjoy one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park. For a bit more of a challenge though, you could tackle the Jordan Pond Shore Trail along the coast before relaxing at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant.

The views here are stellar and are best served with a lobster roll, popover, and a spot of hot tea.

Park Loop Road – Drive along this 27-mile long loop road and enjoy easy access to major park attractions like Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliff. You can also stop by the Hulls Cove Visitors Center and use the resources/staff there to help you plan your visit to Mount Desert Island.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse – No trip to Maine would ever be complete without visiting at least one of the state’s many enchanting lighthouses. And Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse can be found right inside Acadia National Park.

This historic structure was first built in the late 1800s and is the perfect place to catch the sunset in Acadia without the intense crowds. You can’t explore the interior though so keep that in mind before visiting.

Schoodic Point – Located in mainland Maine, this place isn’t super easy to get to. But, what it lacks in accessibility it more than makes up for with a distinct lack of crowds and a sense of seclusion that outdoor enthusiasts will love. So, if you want to hike along craggy shores and marvel at the Atlantic crashing into the coast of Maine then this is the place for you.

Sand Beach – The water is cold and the sand of this 900-foot long beach is littered with broken shells – making a wak in bare feet next to impossible. But, this popular beach in Acadia is known for its awe-inspiring views since it’s surrounded by walls of pink granite and enormous evergreens that make this place next-level picturesque. If you want, you can also hike the Great Head Trail while you’re here.

Carriage Roads – Unlike the Park Loop Road, this 57-mile long network of paved pathways is off-limits to motorized vehicles. Therefore, this is a great place to either bike or walk while enjoying the natural splendor of Acadia.

Precipice Trail – This challenging, 2-mile trail (round trip) will take you up iron rungs, ladders, and exposed cliffs as you conquer Champlain Mountain and enjoy killer views of Sand Beach.

Thunder Hole – Visit right when the tides change for a chance at hearing that enormous “boom” that accompanies the ocean waves filling up this semi-submerged cave along the coast. The resulting explosion of water can also lead to an enormous, 40-foot spray of water. So, deffo come prepared with a raincoat. You can also take the Ocean Path here which is a fantastic hike along the coast.

Otter Cliff- Great place to visit along the Loop Road for exceptional views and a welcome lack of people.

What is there to do in Bar Harbor Maine?

Umm…a lot. LoL. Is that a good enough answer? in all seriousness though, I’m gonna answer this question a bit more in-depth below.

But, a brief outline of some of the top things to do in Bar Harbor Maine includes the following:

  • College of the Atlantic Gardens
  • Dorr Museum of Natural History
  • Picnic at Agamont Park
  • Go Whale-Watching
  • Lobster Roll at the Thirsty Whale Tavern
  • Abbe Museum
  • Walk along the Shore Path
  • Acadia National Park
  • Jordan Pond
  • Thunder Hole
  • Visit Egg Rock Lighthouse
  • Enjoy a Boat Tour of Frenchman’s Bay
  • Experience Oli’s Trolley
  • Criterion Theater
  • Hike Up Cadillac Mountain

How Many Days Should I Spend in Bar Harbor Maine?

Because there are a ton of fun things to do in Bar Harbor Maine, I would recommend spending at least a day or two in this amazing town. Although, that type of short visit will really only give you a small taste of what a Bar Harbor itinerary has to offer.

That’s why to really experience all that Bar Harbor Maine has to offer, I would spend at least three days experiencing all of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine.

Best Things to do in Bar Harbor Maine

1. Wander through nature at the College of the Atlantic Gardens

College of the Atlantic Garden filled with purple flowers and a stone building in the background.

One of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine is visit the College of the Atlantic Gardens. They sit just north of the town center and located right near the ocean.

In total, there are five gorgeous gardens to explore. Firstly, there is the organic Community Garden, which provides the campus with fresh produce.

If you want – and have an exceptionally green thumb – you can even do a bit of gardening here with your own plants in the spring!

From there, visitors head into the Newlin Gardens, which are the creation of longtime former Mount Desert Island resident Elizabeth Battles Newlin. Yeah, she sounds wonderfully badass to the extreme!

Afterward, there’s the Beatrix Ferrand Garden, designed by – you guessed it! – celebrated garden designer Beatrix Ferrand, with its cascading stone staircases and carefully arranged rock walls. It’s a great place to sit and be at one with nature, and maybe grab a quick selfie!

Next down the line is the Turrets Seaside Garden. As you might be able to tell, this garden offers visitors a stunning view of the ocean, with the historic Turrets building standing nearby, in addition to a fully functioning central fountain to complete the horticultural aesthetic (feel my dictionary power!).

Believe it or not, restoring this garden to its current state was actually the senior project of one of the college’s students! Yes sir, it’s not often that you get to go and relax in a landscape that you created after you graduate!

Finally, you’ll find the Sunken Garden, with its brick walkways and stone benches that slowly descend down into a central cultivated area.

According to the college, visitors are welcome to “enjoy the bounty the garden offers”, so healthy snacks are on the menu!

Address: 105 Eden St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Hours: Check the website but I believe they are open twenty-four hours a day.

Price: Free!

2. Dorr Museum of Natural History (at the College of the Atlantic)

While you’re at the College of the Atlantic, make sure you don’t miss out on this highly informative hidden gem that is also one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine!

After all, the George B. Dorr Museum has everything you could ask for when it comes to natural history.

Seriously, the amount of animal specimens they’ve got under that roof is almost unbelievable! Especially since they’ve got collections of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, skeletons, eggs, aquatic creatures, stuffed mounts, and so much more!

But you don’t just get to look at all these amazing specimens – you get to take a hands-on approach too!

Because the George B. Dorr Museum invites visitors to engage with learning about the natural world through “experiential learning”. It’s a process that allows all would-be scholars to get their hands on all sorts of different furs, wings, and even skulls!

There’s also the Touch Tank, where you can literally come to grips with real live sea creatures from nearby Frenchman Bay. I mean, have you ever held a starfish in your hands? Well, now you can!

But, if you don’t want to get too up close and personal with the museum’s collections, there are plenty of safely behind the glass exhibits to see. And they are impressively realistic!

The dioramas here are also pretty dang awesome, making a visit here feel like you’ve stepped inside a 3D photograph!

Whiich makes sense since each taxidermied animal here is placed inside a replica of its original habitat, allowing you get to see exactly how it would have looked out in the wild. The beavers in particular are super cute and my total fave!

Address: 105 Eden St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Hours: Currently n/a since they might open in the fall.

Price: $2.00 per person.

3. Have a Picnic in Agamont Park

Splashing water fountain in downtown village Agamont park in summer with children family playing, running, walking, sitting on ground in background

When you feel like it’s time for a snack, head just north of the downtown Bar Harbor and you’ll find yourself in Agamont Park.

This delightful green space offers stunning views of the ocean and nearby islands, with a full 180-degrees of natural beauty on show from the northwest right round to the southeast. It’s probably the best view in Bar Harbor – making this one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine!

And if you’ve brought a picnic blanket and some snacks or sandwiches, this is the place to set up camp and enjoy the sunshine! But, if you’re a vacationing couple looking for a bit of romance, add in a bottle of wine and this could turn into one of the most romantic getaways in Maine!

But hold on there, Romeo – Agamont Park isn’t just an Insta smooch-fest. There’s history to be found here too!

This area wasn’t always wide open grassland. In fact, Agamont Park used to be the site of Agamont House, built by Tobias Roberts in 1840. After fifteen years though, it was converted into the town’s first hotel and hosted visitors to Bar Harbor for well over thirty years.

However, the Agamont Hotel caught fire one night in 1888 and, despite being hosed down with water from a steamer ship on the water, the building was completely gutted. Fortunately, though, no one was killed, but the Agamont Hotel was no more.

Luckily for you, Agamont Park has taken it’s place and is now one of the many top things to do in Bar Harbor Maine.

Address: Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Price: Free!

4. Go Whale Watching

Crowds watching a whale sink beneath the water,

It’s time to get out on the water so that we can get up close and personal with some of Mother Nature’s greatest creations!

Because as you probably already know, Maine is home to some of the best whale-watching spots in the USA, and Bar Harbor is no exception.

So, hop onto a boat, Head out onto the water, and you can be treated to humpback, finback, and minke whales aplenty, as well as various species of shark, Giant Tuna, seals, and more!

This glorious area is also home to the Atlantic Puffin (formerly known as the Common Puffin – someone got an upgrade!). These colorful, pigeon-sized wonders of nature can fly AND swim, and look adorable in their nests high among the granite rocks!

FYI though, Maine’s whale-watching season typically runs from mid-April through October, so make sure you plan your Bar Harbor itinerary accordingly. After all, this is one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine, and definitely one of the best things to do in Maine in the fall!

Pro tip: Make sure you set sail on a clear day. Many a seafaring tourist has had their hopes dashed by Maine’s legendary fog rolling in! Take it from me, just hearing a whale is nowhere near as good as seeing one!

And if you need a rec for a good whale watching company, try Bar Harbor Whale Watching. Just book WELL in advance since tickets sell out quickly.

Address: 1 West Street Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Hours: Cruises last between three and five hours and depart at 8:30 am and 2:30 pm daily.

Price: Adults are $67, kids 6-14 are $41, and children 5 and under are $15.

5. Get a Lobster Roll at the Thirsty Whale Tavern

Maine lobster roll

I’ve raved about this place before, but it deserves to be said again, and again. The chowdah here is out of this world! And the lobster is some of the best in the state of Maine, which makes it some of the best in the whole of the United States!

So, If you’re looking for something to CHOW-down on when you’re picnicking in Agamont Park, then the Thirsty Whale Tavern is just around the corner on Cottage Street.

Originally opened in 1988, this locally owned and operated restaurant has been satisfying locals and tourists alike for over thirty years now. And as soon as you bite into that lobster roll, you’ll understand why!

Of course, there’s not just lobster and chowder on the menu. In fact, If you’re in the mood for something a little different, there are plenty of burgers, grilled sandwiches, salads, and other seafood selections to choose from too. Basically, if you’re hungry, you should get here ASAP!

Oh, and make sure to try their Basil Lemon Gimlet – washing down your seafood with this tasty beverage is refreshing AF!

Address: 40 Cottage St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Hours: Open daily – except Tuesday – from 11:00 am to 1:00 am.

Price: A lobster roll here will cost $21.

6. Take the Land Bridge to Bar Island 

For a couple of hours each day, visitors can go to Bar Island when the land bridge appears during low tide. Take note of low tide, head over to Bridge Street, and drive or walk over the land bridge to enjoy the view from across the water.

Visiting the island over the land bridge is one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine. Where else can you say that you were able to do something like that?!

While there you’ll have enough time to go hiking through the rugged forest and up to the highest point on the island for a wonderful view of Frenchman Bay and Bar Harbor. But make sure to know when the tide is expected to go back up and get back onto the mainland. The land bridge usually disappears under the water three hours after low tide.

6. Learn Some History at the Abbe Museum

Exterior of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor Maine, one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine

Once you’ve nourished your body, it’s time to nourish your mind! And there are few better places to do so than the Abbe Museum – an educational institution focused on Native American culture and history in Maine.

Founded in 1926 by Dr. Robert Abbe – a regular summer resident of Bar Harbor – he gathered together vast collections of Native American artifacts that he found in the Frenchman Bay area. He later placed them inside a building where they would be protected and enjoyed by the public.

To do this, he worked with, among others, George B. Dorr (who I’ve talked about already on this list of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine) and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who had similar collections. Sadly, Dr. Abbe died before the museum could be properly opened to the public, and so the museum bears his name.

There is an upside though! The museum’s collection has grown so much that it now represents 12,000 years of Native American culture and history. And in 2013, The Abbe Museum had the honor of becoming the first and only Smithsonian Affiliate in the state of Maine.

And THAT, y’all, is worth flexing about!

Address: 26 Mt Desert St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Hours: Open Monday through Wednesday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Price: Adults $10, seniors $7, children 11-17 $5, and children 10 and under free.

7. Take a Stroll Along the Shore Path

The view of ther waterfront from the Shore Path in Bar Harbor.

Sometimes it’s nice to slow down, take a breath, and enjoy the feel of a place. And nowhere in Bar Harbor captures that sentiment better than a walk on the Shore Path.

Starting in Agamont Park, your new favorite picnicking destination, the 1.5 miles long Shore Path takes you from the Town Pier and winds its way along the eastern shore of Bar Harbor. It runs over seaside trails, rocky shorelines, and behind some very pretty mansions!

The path was originally built in 1880, and throughout your walk you’ll discover charming old fences, and wild red roses, all while soaking in the fresh seaside air. It’s trails like this that prove Bar Harbor is one of the best beach towns in Maine!

Overall, Shore Path is about ½ mile long and, as you might’ve guessed, is good for all hiking skill levels.

If you’re an early riser, one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine is to start your Shore Path journey at dawn. When the sun comes up over the horizon and hits the water, it’s Insta-worthy natural beauty!

Address: 48-52 Hancock St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Price: Free

8. Hop over into Acadia National Park

A beautiful beach in Acadia National Park. The end of one of the best scenic drives in Maine.

Of all the things to do in Bar Harbor Maine, if you only have time to do one thing, make sure it’s Acadia National Park.

This is New England’s only National Park, but it REALLY earns that title! Because nestled within this park’s 47,000 acres of land there are 20 mountainous peaks to climb, 1,100 species of plants to discover, and 158 miles of hiking trails on which to do it all in.

Yes my friend, it’s going to be a busy day!

Because there are summit hikes, coastal hikes, and lake and forest trails, covering all levels of capability. And If you’re more about the water than the land, there are plenty of boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities available in the park’s many lakes.

For those looking for more of an adrenaline rush, look no further than the Park Loop Road cycling trail. It will take you all over Mount Desert Island, so you’ll definitely be getting a major workout if you do the whole thing!

Just be aware: at times, you’ll be on the road with cars and other vehicles, sometimes without a designated cycle lane. So make sure you stay safe!

Honestly, I just straight up adore Acadia National Park, and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it too since it’s home to some of the best hikes in Maine.

Address: Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME

Hours: Most of the park is open all day, every day, between May and October.

Price: $15 per person, $25 for a motorcycle, and $30 for a vehicle.

9. Make a splash in Jordan Pond

A view of Jordan Pond. Easily one of the best hikes in Acadia National Park.

Visiting Jordan Pond is one of Acadia National Park’s most popular activities. It’s easy to see why – this place is B-E-A-UTIFUL! The water is super crystal clear, so you’ll feel like your boat is gliding through air!

Why will you be in a boat? Well because unfortunately swimming is prohibited as the lake is used as a water supply for nearby Seal Harbor. But, canoes and kayaks are permitted to go out on the water from Jordan Point North parking lot.

Jordan Pond also comes with its own restaurant – Jordan Pond House – which has been happily serving customers since the late 1800s. Why not take the time to have afternoon tea just as the original Victorian-era visitors did? It’s hella sophisticated, yo and you cannot leave without enjoying some popovers.

There’s also an amazing, easy, 3.5-mile loop trail that will take you all around the entire pond. So yeah, don;t forget to add this hike to your list of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine.

Address: Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME

Hours: Most of the park is open all day, every day, between May and October.

Price: $15 per person, $25 for a motorcycle, and $30 for a vehicle.

10. Feel a force of nature at Thunder Hole

Thunder hole in Acadia, Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park, Maine

Now it’s time for some raw nature power! Thunder Hole can be found on the eastern side of the island, just past Sand Beach on the Park Loop Road.

In this small inlet, waves from the ocean come crashing into the rocks and push air and water out of a small cavern, just below the surface of the water.

When that happens, it creates naturally occurring water spouts that can reach up to forty feet in the air! This comes with the deep rumbling sound from which Thunder Hole gets its name.

Seeing this exciting natural phenomenon is one of the most unique things to do in Bar Harbor Maine! Make sure you time it right, and you can walk away with the perfect Insta-shot!.

Pro Tip: For the best chance of seeing Thunder Hole in action, try to time your visit for the changing of the tides.

Address: Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME

Hours: Most of the park is open all day, every day, between May and October.

Price: $15 per person, $25 for a motorcycle, and $30 for a vehicle.

11. Visit Egg Rock Lighthouse

Egg Rock lighthouse in Maine with seagulls standing on the rocks and Acadia National Parks Cadillac Mountain behind it on a summer afternoon. (Egg Rock lighthouse in Maine with seagulls standing on the rocks and Acadia National Parks Cadillac Mountain

I know you’ve heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again because it’s 100% the truth.

No trip to Bar Harbor – and Maine in general – is ever complete without stopping at one (at least), super cute lighthouse.

And in Bar Harbor Maine, that lighthouse is Egg Rock Lighthouse. So, if you want to visit this unique nineteenth-century lighthouse for yourself (it was first built in 1875), head six miles south of Bar Harbor to the 12-acre, Egg Rock area in Winter Harber.

It sits right near the opening of Frenchman Bay, high above the rocky shore below, and has a distinct, square base. It’s also named for all of the eggs that used to be found in and around the area.

Sadly though, the facility is not currently open to the public, So, if you want to enjoy one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine for yourself, you’ll need to either hire a boat or hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain for impressive views of the lighthouse below.

12. Enjoy a Boat Tour of Frenchman’s Bay

A panorama of Frenchman's Bay near Bar Harbor.

What’s the best way to see Bar Harbor? Why from a boat of course! That’s why one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine is to hop on a boat and explore the pristine waters of Frenchman’s Bay.

It’s a stunning, 15-mile area that is named after the famous, French explorer, Samuel de Champlain. And while there are a ton of different boat companies in the area, I highly recommend Acadian Boat Tours.

Not only are they exceptionally well-reviewed, but they offer regular sightseeing cruises – with wonderfully spacious windows – that will take you out into Frenchman’s Bay and past Egg Rock Lighthouse.

Just be sure to dress warmly since it’s hella cold out on the water at basically any time of year. Also, be sure to book well in advance since spots do fill up quickly.

And if you’re not a huge fan of the water, you could always take in sweeping views of Frenchmen’s Bay from Bar Harbor Pier, the Shore Path,  Agamont Park, or from the top of Cadillac Mountain – all of which are securely on land.

Address:119 Eden St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Hours: Sightseeing cruises are typically two hours long and depart daily at 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 6:00/6:30 pm.

Price: Tickets are $35 for adults, $32 for seniors, $21for kids 6-14, and $12 for children 5 and under.

13. Enjoy. a Show at the Criterion Theater

The beautiful exterior of the Criterion Theate in Bar Harbor.

Step back into yesteryear and enjoy a show at the historic, Criterion Theater. It’s a masterpiece of Art Deco beauty that was first built way back in 1932.

And while it was primarily used for musical performances way back when, the current theater is now a not-for-profit performing arts center that plays host to film screenings, dance festivals, choral performances, and so much more.

So, stop by, marvel at this masterpiece of art deco beauty, take in a movie or a live performance, and enjoy one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine.

Just check out their website first since performances can be more than a little sporadic here.

Address: 35 Cottage Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Hours: Varies by show.

Price: Varies by show.

14. Take a Ride on Oli’s Trolley

The vibrant red and green Oli's Trolley in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Want to do a fun, slightly off-beat tour while in Bar Harbor? Then, by golly, give Oli’s Trolley a try! It’s basically like a traditional tour, except that you get escorted around the area in a vibrant, red trolley that makes you feel as though you’re partying it up like it’s 1945.

But seriously, doing a tour with Oli’s Trolley is a fun and fascinating way to get to this part of Maine. Just choose between narrated tours to Acadia National Park, downtown Bar Harbor, and Cadillac Mountain, and Oli’s Trolley basically takes care of the rest.

Per usual though, book well in advance since seats sell out quickly. I’d also personally opt for the Acadia National Park tour since it’s the perfect way to see the park and better understand/appreciate what you’re looking at.

I also love that you have the option of booking either a two or four-hour tour, depending on how into the experience you are.

So what are you waiting for? Buckle up and enjoy one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine!

Address: 1 West Street, Bar Harbor, Maine, USA

Hours: Tours depart daily and vary by tour. The downtown Bar Harbor tour specifically is 30 minutes long and departs at 11:15 am, 1:30 pm, 2:15 pm, and 3:45 pm.

Price: Tours start at $18 for adults and $13 for children 12 and under. But prices do vary by tour.

15. Hike (or drive) Up Cadillac Mountain

Views from the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.

Easily one of the best hikes in Maine, the gorgeous hike up Cadillac Mountain also happens to be one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine.

After all, Cadillac Mountain is THE single tallest mountain in all of Acadia National Park and just an all-around magical place to watch the sunrise.

So yeah, definitely set those alarms and leave yourself between two and four hours to complete this entire hike.

However, before you haul ass to the top, you’ll first need to choose between either the South Ridge Trail or the North Ridge Trail.

Personally, I’m an anti-morning person and like to get up as late as humanly possible. Therefore, I’d go with the shortest route to the top, which is the 4 mile, out and back, North Ridge Trail.

However, it is the more popular of the two so don’t think that you’ll have the place all to yourself. You’ll also want to take extra care on the exposed rock faces since they can be slippery.

Conversely, you could always opt for the long AF, South Ridge Trail. Okay, it’s not THAT long but it’s a solid, 7.1-mile loop trail that takes you up this enormous, 1,329-foot mountain.

But, regardless of the trail you choose, you can admire stunning panoramas from the overlook at the Eagle Crag spur loop or take a well-deserved break at Featherbed Pond before the final push to the summit.

Pro Tip: Lazy like me? Then drive to the top and just do the easy, half-mile, Cadillac Summit Loop around the summit. It’s a short, 30-minute hike that is perfect for anyone who isn’t a huge fan of hiking.

Address: Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME

Hours: Most of the park is open all day, every day, between May and October.

Price: $15 per person, $25 for a motorcycle, and $30 for a vehicle.

16. Bald Porcupine island

There are a couple of Porcupine islands and each of them have interesting names. Long Porcupine island, Sheep Porcupine island, Burnt Porcupine island and bald porcupine island are some of the island names that may give you a bit of a giggle.

These islands are located in Frenchman’s bay. Bald Porcupine island in particular makes an interesting day trip. The whole island is densely forested and looks like a spiny porcupine’s back. This is because the main trees on the island are deciduous trees. Spruce firs are very common here.

Being an island, the only way to access it is via boat. It is important to note that because of its landscape, this island is an ideal ground for bald eagles to nest. The high trees provide the safety needed for their young and waters nearby provide food for their sustenance.

The nesting season is between mid February and the end of August. In order to ensure that the eagles are not disturbed, people are not permitted on the island at this time of the year.

Pro Tip: If you are in the area during the eagle nesting season, don’t be disappointed. While you cannot technically land on the island, you can head out on a cruise and see the island from afar. Alternatively, if you love the great outdoors, Cadillac mountain has some incredible views of Bald Porcupine island too.

Hours: The hours will be predetermined by the cruise or boat you book.

17. Admire The Gothic St. Saviour’s Church And It’s Stained Glass

One of the epic things to do in Bar Harbor is to check out the Gothic past. A great place to do this is at the St. Saviour’s church. The church took almost 60 years to build but it wasn’t because the structure is very big. Unfortunately, construction was halted many times between 1876 and 1938. The church was eventually completed and is still in use.

One of the most iconic parts of the church is the stained glass windows. They filter in the light beautifully and provide an other worldly feel to the church. 

St. Savior’s church is open to everyone, everyday. People head here to worship and sit in the solitude of the church. You are also free to wander around the church on your own. 

Pro Tip: If you want a guided tour of the St. Saviour’s Church, you can join in on one of the tours that are held every Sunday at 11:15am. This is only during tourist season though. So you will find this tour active between June to September.

Hours: 8:30am – 4:30pm

Price: Free

18. Great Harbor Maritime Museum

Great Harbor Maritime museum was originally a town fire station. After renovations and modifications, it was then repurposed as the Maritime museum that stands today. This makes the building doubly interesting. I keep trying to see all the parts of the building that look like a fire station when I visit. Its become kind off a game for me.

Since Bar Harbor is along the Maine coast, it has some pretty interesting maritime history. You will find it chronicled in the Great Harbor Maritime museum. From historical newspaper clippings to postcards and furniture. 

Some of the most interesting exhibits include steamships and other model boats. These exhibits keep changing around so you can always go back without getting bored. All in all, you will find the displays in the museum fascinating.

Did I mention that entering the museum is free? Pretty amazing right? So make sure to add it to your list of things to do in Bar Harbor now!

Pro Tip: Since the museum is all indoors, I would recommend keeping it as an afternoon activity so you can get out of the scorching sun. Or if the weather is bad, head here. That way you have something interesting to do till the weather turns.

Address: 124 Main St, Northeast Harbor, ME 04662, United States

Hours: Open everyday from 10:30am – 5pm

Price: Free entry

19. Agamont Park

Love the outdoors and don’t want to head away from the city? I would recommend heading out to Agamont Park. The park is located on a hill and offers some of the most spectacular views in the area. On a good day, you can see Mount Desert Narrows, Frenchman bay and even its islands.

Did I mention that the park also has free Wifi? Yeah. You can literally get your laptop/tablet and sit here and work. Seriously being a digital nomad doesn’t get better than working in a park like this.

Oh and it is worth noting that Bar Harbor’s Shore path starts off at the park. So once you are done here, you can head out for a leisurely walk.

Pro Tip: If you are here on the fourth of July, Agamont Park is the best place to watch the fireworks!

Address: Newport Dr, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, United States

Hours: Always open

Things To Do In Bar Harbor Maine FAQ

Is Bar Harbor Maine Worth Visiting?

Bar Harbor is an insanely popular tourist spot and with good reason. It is situated on the coast, has some really gorgeous views, provides easy access to Acadia National park and allows you to visit some amazing islands.

If that isn’t enough, Bar Harbor itself is a very pretty town with lots of things to do and plenty of places to chill at. Oh, and did I mention that it also has some of the legendary Maine food? 

So to answer your question… Yes! Bar Harbor is definitely worth visiting!

Is Bar Harbor A Walkable Town?

Bar Harbor is a pretty walkable town. Most tourists spend their time walking around the city center which offers a wide variety of places where you can shop and chill at. If you want to head further out of the city, like to Acadia National Park, then you will definitely need transport.

How Many Days Do You Need In Bar Harbor?

There are loads of things to do in Bar Harbor and plenty of day trips that you can embark on. If you just want to do a quick stop in and out, then a day in Bar Harbor would suffice. If you really want to explore the place then I highly recommend staying here for at least 3 days.

🕒 In a hurry and looking for the best place to stay in Bar Harbor, Maine? I highly recommend Inn on Mount Desert which is a mid-range hotel that offers great rooms for amazing deals. 🏨

Map of the Best Things to do in Bar Harbor Maine

Map of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine
Click here for the full map.

Additional Resources You’ll Love

There you have my Maine-loving friends! Because that just about wraps up this post on all of the best things to do in Bar Harbor Maine. 

Tell me, did your have Bar Harbor attraction make the cut? If not then let me know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to check it out. 

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