sailing boat during daytime in Bar Harbor

17 Outstanding Things To Do in Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine, is a beautiful seaside town in Hancock County on the Maine coast. Its picturesque scenery, historical presence, and vibrant culture give visitors many reasons to stay, explore and enjoy its various attractions. From outdoor activities to sightseeing to delicious seafood restaurants, Bar Harbor has something for everyone.

For those looking for outdoor adventure, Bar Harbor offers a variety of activities, from kayaking and canoeing to biking trails and hiking spots in this beautiful state. Explore Acadia National Park and take in spectacular views at the top of Cadillac Summit Road.

You can also enjoy whale-watching tours or try fishing in Frenchman Bay. A lobster boat tour where you can observe these unique creatures up close is the perfect way to complete any trip to Bar Harbor!

Whether exploring the shoreline or dining at one of the local eateries, Bar Harbor provides an unforgettable experience.

Spend the Day at Acadia

green trees on brown rocky mountain beside blue sea under blue sky during daytime
Acadia National Park. Photo credit: Trevor Hayes

When you visit Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park is a must-see. This incredible area of Mount Desert Island boasts a variety of outdoor activities and fantastic scenery sure to delight nature enthusiasts and adventurers. With all these things to do, it’s no wonder Acadia is one of the best national parks on the east coast and in the entire United States.

One of the most popular attractions is Cadillac Mountain which provides beautiful views of Bar Harbor and beyond at the summit. Another popular site includes Thunder Hole, which offers a fantastic sight as waves crash against rocks during high tide creating an impressive show. Jordan Pond is another favorite spot among visitors because its calm waters perfectly reflect the surrounding landscape. 

With its diverse landscape, driving through Loop Road Acadia to see all the park offers is one of the top things to do in Bar Harbor.

Hike The Beehive Trail

Hiking is one of the best outdoor activities offered in Bar Harbor. There are miles of trails leading through forests and the shoreline with views of the other islands off the coast of Maine. Acadia has over 50 hiking trails ranging from easy walks to more challenging ascents up the Beehive Trail and Cadillac Mountain.

Hikers should bring water bottles, bug spray, sunscreen, and snacks before venturing out. Visitors should also be aware of the potential risks when traveling off-trail, as some areas can be unstable or slippery due to weather conditions or terrain.

Explore on Two Wheels

With miles of biking trails, Bar Harbor is the perfect place to explore on two wheels. The most popular paths are the carriage roads in Acadia, which has over 120 miles of safe biking areas that offer views of Mount Desert Island.

Additionally, the mountain paths within Acadia offer a more challenging ride. Visitors can easily rent bikes from multiple locations in town or at the entrance to the park.

Electric bikes are a great option with pedal-assist technology for a more leisurely ride, making tackling hills much more manageable. When it comes to things to do in Bar Harbor, touring the island by bike is great for cyclists of all skill levels.

Go Fishing

Fishing is another popular recreational activity for those visiting this coastal Maine town. Both saltwater and freshwater angling options abound, with plenty of opportunities for:

  • Trout
  • Bass
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Haddock

Visitors can choose from various guided fishing trips or rent their boat to explore the waters around Bar Harbor on their terms. Many charter companies offer packages that include bait and tackle rentals along with a knowledgeable guide who will share tips on where to find the best spots for catching a trophy-sized catch!

Boat Tours

A list of things to do in Bar Harbor would only be complete with the inclusion of boat tours that explore the areas by sea. The harbors, islands, lighthouses, and other coastal scenery make for a beautiful day on the water. On a boat tour, you may even be able to view whales or other wildlife that inhabit this area.

Lobster boat tours allow visitors to explore the coastal waters and observe lobstermen as they do their everyday tasks. The ride on the water takes guests to Frenchman Bay with an experienced captain who can provide information on the local fish species, lobsters, and marine life.

Sunset cruises are also popular in Bar Harbor, Maine. Whether you’re looking for an intimate experience with your partner or a fun event for family and friends, plenty of options are available. Most sunset cruises depart from the downtown harbor area or local marinas, offering up breathtaking views of the ocean.

Be sure to bring your camera— the coastline views are breathtaking! Guided tours offer insights into local ecology and history and provide plenty of opportunities for spotting wild birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat. 

Town Pier

The Town Pier is the perfect place to get scenic photos of Bar Harbor. This pier, located in the heart of town, offers impressive views of Frenchman Bay and the surrounding area. It’s a great spot to take in the natural beauty of Bar Harbor and watch boats come and go in the harbor.

Sand Beach

Sand Beach is located within Acadia National Park and is one of Bar Harbor’s most popular beaches. Swimming and sunbathing are popular activities here. The sand is soft and comfortable, making it an ideal spot for a short stroll on the beach.

Visitors also love that Sand Beach offers a beautiful ocean view from Mount Desert Island and provides excellent opportunities for photography. 

Explore the History of Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor, Maine, has long been a popular destination for tourists looking to explore the natural beauty of the area, as well as experience its rich history. This picturesque New England town has many things to do, from charming lighthouses to historic mansions.

The history of Bar Harbor dates back over 200 years when Europeans first settled in it. Since then, it has become one of Maine’s most important fishing ports and tourist destinations. Throughout the 19th century, wealthy families began building grand Victorian-style homes around the harbor with mountain or ocean views.

Visiting one of the museums offers a more comprehensive look at Bar Harbor’s heritage. The Abbe Museum explores the history and culture of Native Americans that inhabited the area. The location at Sieur de Monts Spring in Acadia National Park is in a woodland setting with parks and trails.

Bar Island Land Bridge

Bar Island Land Bridge is a unique experience for Bar Harbor, Maine visitors. The bridge is at the end of Bridge Street, in the center of the town, connecting it to Bar Island at low tide. 

It’s an awe-inspiring sight to see the sand and rocks stretch across the mouth of Frenchman Bay and make a path between two pieces of land. Visitors can take a leisurely walk over the land bridge while enjoying the harbor views.

As tides change quickly in this area, visitors should plan their visits around low tides to have enough time to enjoy Bar Island before water levels rise again. With plenty of places to stop along the way, this is an experience not to be missed!

Dining

Dining is a significant part of any visit to Bar Harbor, and there is something for every taste. From seafood shacks serving local lobster rolls and chowders to waterfront restaurants with stunning views, there’s no shortage of delicious options. You can even stop at the Jordan Pond House restaurant in Acadia National Park.

For those looking for an upscale experience, plenty of gourmet restaurants feature fresh lobster dishes and creative takes on traditional coastal recipes. Many establishments also offer outdoor seating overlooking the harbor or bay so visitors can enjoy their meals al fresco while taking in the beautiful scenery.

Shopping

Bar Harbor has some of the region’s best shopping experiences. With its quaint downtown, local boutiques, gift shops, and souvenir stores, it’s easy to find something special to return home.

The downtown area near the harbor has many unique local stores worth checking out. You’ll find everything from clothing and accessories to books and toys – all with creative Maine-inspired flair. Don’t forget about the souvenir shops offering all sorts of:

  • T-shirts
  • Hats
  • Mugs
  • Magnets featuring iconic images from Bar Harbor

The Shore Path

Downtown Bar Harbor is an excellent destination for visitors looking to experience the beauty and culture of Maine. Walking on the Bar Harbor Shore Path is one of the best things to do. The Shore Path is an excellent spot to observe the boats entering the port daily. This waterfront walking path follows the shore of Frenchman Bay from Ellis Pier to Wayman Lane.

Ride on the Island Explorer

The Island Explorer shuttle bus is a great way to explore Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. The free shuttle service runs from mid-June to mid-October. With various routes that wind through the region, planning an exciting day of exploration without worrying about parking or directions is easy. Riding on the Island Explorer should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for fun things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Bass Harbor Head Light

lighthouse, bar harbor, maine
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Photo credit: FrankWinkler

Bar Harbor Head Light is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bar Harbor. It is a historic lighthouse on Mount Desert Island’s southwest corner.

The lighthouse grounds are the most popular visitor spot on the island’s west side. There is only a small parking lot at the light station, so it can be difficult to find a place to park, especially around sunset. But the rocky ocean coastline where the lighthouse sits is an excellent place for visitors to take stunning pictures.

Kayaking

Kayaking is one of the top outdoor activities available in Bar Harbor. Kayakers can explore the rugged coast, lakes, and streams. There are several kayak rental shops in town offering single or tandem kayaks, as well as guided trips.

Explore Natural History

The George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History is a must-see for any Bar Harbor, Maine traveler. The museum, located in the College of the Atlantic campus library, features exhibits that explore the unique geological and ecological history of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.

In addition to its permanent collection, the museum hosts special exhibitions throughout the year highlighting different aspects of local nature and culture. Visitors can learn about native plant and animal species while exploring interactive displays, touchable specimens, and more. A visit to this natural history museum is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with a greater appreciation for Maine’s beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

Play Miniature Golf

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf is an 18-hole miniature golf course in Bar Harbor, Maine. It features pirate and nautical themes throughout the course, from pirate ships to lighthouses.

The holes are at various skill levels, making it fun for all ages. And playing a game of mini golf is a great way to have family fun during your Maine vacation!

Reasons to Explore Bar Harbor Maine

Bar Harbor is a fantastic destination for those looking to explore the outdoors of the northernmost part of New England. The town’s coastal Atlantic location, picturesque parks and trails, and abundant wildlife make it an ideal spot for nature lovers. Plus, plenty of activities and attractions keep visitors busy during their stay.

From whale-watching tours to sightseeing adventures, there is something for everyone. Many options are also available for relaxing and enjoying the stunning natural beauty, such as kayaking trips or a stroll along the water.

With so much to do, it is no wonder why Bar Harbor has become one of Maine’s top tourist destinations. 

This article originally appeared on Savoteur.

Featured image credit: Michael & Diane Weidner

Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey

Scott And Julie McConkey

After 30 years, Scott and Julie McConkey left the corporate world for a life of travel and adventure. What started as a gap year became a second act, and they are now full-time travel bloggers!
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