We started the day by biking on the state-of-the-art carriage roads built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. Along the way, we experienced awesome vistas of Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond. We stopped by the Jordan Pond House for lunch and their famous popovers. After returning the bikes, we walked on the sand bar during low tide to Bar Island. We continued our day of strenuous activities with a sunset sea kayaking tour. Before heading back home the next day, we explored the southwest part of Mount Desert Island, where the iconic Bass Harbor Lighthouse is.
See & Do
- Biking on the Carriage Roads: $25 per rental bike for a full day at Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop. From the shop, you can ride your bike directly to the carriage roads (about 1.5 miles) or if it’s peak season, you can take the free shuttle directly into the park. The ride from the bike shop is almost completely uphill, but it’s nothing worse than what you’ll encounter during the carriage road ride. There are over 57 miles of carriage roads in the park, of which we rode approximately 19 in a counterclockwise loop around Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond from the morning to afternoon with a break for lunch and popovers at the Jordan Pond House. There are so many places to stop and admire the scenery and amazing views along the way (sometimes it’s tough to make progress while biking because you’ll want to keep stopping!).
- Sand Bar to Bar Island: The sand bar that connects Bar Harbor to Bar Island is a unique place–in fact, it’s how Bar Harbor got its name. During low tide, the sand bar is above water and you will have the opportunity to walk from downtown Bar Harbor over to Bar Island for a nice hike and views of the area. You’ll even see plenty of cars driving and parking on the bar. Just make sure you make it back to Bar Harbor before the tide rises, otherwise you might find yourself stuck on Bar Island. I really wonder what happens if you get stuck, because I am sure it happens all the time during peak tourist season (though I’m pretty sure it’s nothing good).
- Sunset Sea Kayaking: $39 per person. As if we didn’t have enough physical activity today by biking the carriage trails, we hopped right into a kayak after visiting the sand bar for a guided sunset tour of the harbor. We booked a spot in the 5pm tour one day before and we were the first to sign up, but when we got there the tour was completely filled up, so I’d strongly recommend booking in advance. We departed on our kayaks from the bar as it was low tide, and our friendly guide Peter helped explain how to steer the kayak (the person sitting in the rear has foot pedals to control the rudder) and how to paddle efficiently (use your core, not your arms). We then departed and made our way around Bar Island, through the Porcupine Islands (where we spotted a Bald Eagle!), and into Bar Harbor. Truly a spectacular way to see Mt Desert Island and the surrounding areas from a perspective that you’ll never get on land, plus it’s a good enough workout that you won’t feel too guilty splurging on dinner.
- Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse(Next Day): Pretty cool lighthouse. Some dude and his family actually live here right now so try not to disturb him. You can go down to the lighthouse on either side, the paved path gets you closer to the lighthouse but the unpaved path to the rocks gets you a better view of the lighthouse standing out amongst the cliffs.
- Ship Harbor Trail(Next Day): A family friendly trail (which is currently under construction to make it ADA accessible) that is about 1 mile round trip. It’s an easy way to enjoy the local nature which ends up with an amazing view of the Maine Coast. Check out the tidal pools on the rocks at the end of the trail–when the tide washes in and then out, little pools form where the water is trapped by the rocks, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot some salt water marine life in one of these pools like fish or mussels. Although, probably not so lucky for these little guys trapped in the pool.
Eat & Drink
- Jordan Pond House: This was the number one recommended spot to eat during our carriage road bike ride from multiple sources so of course we just had to stop here. It’s been a longstanding tradition to serve popovers by Jordan Pond for many years. A popover is a fluffy muffin-shaped bread that you eat with butter and/or jam. It looks pretty big but it’s mostly hollow and puffy, and not too filling, so if you’re hungry then make sure you also order a proper meal. A pint of beer, popovers, and some Maine lobster for lunch really hit the spot after about 10 miles of biking. We could have really used a nap after this meal but alas, we still had a long way to bike afterwards.
- Finback Alehouse: A nice little cozy place on Cottage Avenue in Bar Harbor, we had Shrimp & Lobster Penne and Fried Haddock Sandwich here and washed it down with a local blueberry beer and a honey ginger beer. I really could have used a few more pints but unfortunately there was still a bit of driving left to get back to the hotel. Note to self: stay in downtown Bar Harbor next time!
- Thurston’s Lobster Pound: You pick a live lobster and they kill it for you, and then you eat it. Try not to get too attached to the little guy. You can sit overlooking the harbor either outdoors or indoors and watch the fisherman hard at work.
- Best Western Acadia Inn: It’s a Best Western, which means it has consistently decent and predictable rooms. The room itself was clean and comfortable, but there was nothing that particularly stood out about it (which could be a good thing, depending on how you look at it). The woman running the breakfast buffet is super sweet and really nice to talk to–she made it a point to chat with everybody there, and even offered us a freshly made cappuccino muffin!
- Flew into Portland, ME and rented a car. A 7 day vehicle pass for Acadia National Park costs $25 as of June 2015. There is a bus available in the summer months that will take you around the park, but during the off-season, a car is probably the best and easiest way to get around. Well, besides a motorcycle…