My Maine Top 10 ~ #2 Acadia National Park

Series Introduction:  After years of giving recommendations to friends visiting my home state of Maine, I decided to spend a little time compiling my favorites here. My Top 10. Some places are directly on the beaten path, others are not. I try to include something for every traveller but if you’re going to Maine, expect a lot of the great outdoors. If you must shop, do it at local stores and support Maine’s eclectic entrepreneurs.

I love Maine and the people who live there. All of the places I’m listing in the Top 10 I would recommend to my friends and family. If you have additional recommendations, please leave a note in the comments. I’d love to share as much of this great state as possible. Cheers! ~ Hannele

 

#10: Moosehead Lake Region (previously blogged)

#9: The Southern Beaches: Kennebunk & Ogunquit (previously blogged)

#8: Baxter State Park (previously blogged)

# 7 Reid State Park (previously blogged)

# 6 Portland (previously blogged)

#5 Western Mountains (previously blogged)

#4 The Mid-Coast Region (previously blogged)

#3 The Maine Lakes (previously blogged)

Acadia National Park, Maine’s only National Park, is my Top 10 Runner-Up! 

There’s something special about Acadia. The first national park east of the Mississippi River, designated in 1919, is an ideal place to reconnect with nature. From the tidal pools at Seawall and Schoodic Point, to the woodland forests, the glacial lakes and ponds and the majestic vistas of Cadillac and Acadia Mountains, visitors are greeted with a varied degree of landscapes to enjoy within a very small area. This makes for a well loved destination for those seeking a soul soothing nature-based experience. Recently, Acadia National Park was even picked as America’s Favorite Place by popular vote on Good Morning America.

 

Otter Cliffs & the Atlantic along Park Loop Road

 

To get acquainted with the area, start your trip off with a drive around the Park Loop Road. Take your time and explore the many destinations and overlooks along it. Consider lunch or tea at the Jordan Pond Housepopovers and jam – yes, please!  From there you can hike, bike or drive up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the eastern coast. I like Cadillac Mountain at sunset because the low light makes the flecks of quartz crystal and black hornblende sparkle in the pink hue of the glacially carved granite. If you’re an early riser, you might want to try going for sunrise. Due to its elevation, it’s the first place in the U.S. to see daylight.

 

Cadillac Mountain Summit

Views from the top of Cadillac

My recent trip to the summit on a not so great summer day. But I had my choice of parking spaces… :)

 

Acadia is well known for it’s almost 200 miles of hiking trails with options suitable for any hiker – beginner or experienced. Even though the trails are well marked, I would recommend picking up a trail guide at the visitors center or online before you go. Even though I’m still exploring all the trail options in Acadia, my favorites so far are: Great Head Loop, Acadia Mountain, Jordan Pond Loop and Cadillac North Ridge. There are also 45 miles of gravel carriage roads which are open to hiking, horseback riding and my favorite, biking. The park loop road is also a great option for road bikers, just watch out for car doors near popular destinations.

 

Hiking trail along Long Pond

View of the Atlantic from the Great Head Loop trail

 

Once you’ve seen the destinations along the Park Loop Road, head over to Southwest Harbor for a visit this beautiful area. Seawall tends to be a quieter area of the park where you can explore tidal pools, walk along the coastline on easy hiking trails and the campground here is wonderful. The Bass Harbor Headlight, still operational, sits atop granite cliffs and provides visitors with a quintessential Maine coastal landscape. The Acadia Mountain trail, while pretty challenging, gives hikers an amazing view of Somes Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and the outlying islands. Long Pond and Echo Lake are wonderful spots for kayaking, fishing and swimming (Echo Lake only for swimming…).

Southwest Harbor is a nice spot to stop for a bite to eat. I like the Little Notch Bakery for soup and sandwiches and the Milagro Cafe for coffee and bagels.

foggy morning at Seawall

Classic Maine coastal scene – Bass harbor Headlight

The wharf on the northern shore of Long Pond.

View from the top of Acadia Mountain of Somes Sound and the Cranberry Islands.

 

If you’re into the quiet places, a trip to Winter Harbor and Schoodic Peninsula is a must. My family has been visiting Schoodic for generations and I can remember many summer days climbing along the rocks and staring into tidal pools here. It’s a special place that many tourists miss due to its placement off Mount Desert Island.

There is ferry service to the Schoodic Peninsula from Bar Harbor as well as service to Little Cranberry Island from Northwest Harbor. If you are interested in traveling to Isle au Haut, the ferry leaves from Stonington. Other transport options include the Island Explorer bus which connects to many of the most popular points in the park with the harbor towns.

 

Schoodic Point – great place for watching waves crash on the rocks and exploring tidal pools

 

Though  not part of the park, Bar Harbor is a fun town to visit. There are a ton of shops, restaurants and a beautiful harbor to see here. It is also where you can book sailing trips, whale watches and rent bicycles. After a morning hike, I highly recommend having brunch at 2 Cats, the food is amazing and very satisfying. They close daily at 1 so make sure to get off the trail in time. Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium is also a must for those with a sweet tooth.

 

Foggy day along the Village Green in Bar Harbor

Veggie Eggs Benedict to die for at 2 Cats on Cottage Street.

 

Acadia. There is so much I could write about this place but no one wants to read a 10 page blog post. I’m only posting my personal highlights after a lifetime of visiting this wonderful park. Please, if you have experienced Acadia and have suggestions, share them in the comments section.

It was a tough decision to make Acadia only #2 on my list of favorite Maine locales. Honestly, depending on the day any of my top 3 could hold the number one position. That must say something. Maine is a special place full of natural wonder and real people. Stay tuned for my top pick coming up on Monday!

 

Waves rolling in at Seawall

 

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