Bar Harbor is a very nice little town full of historic buildings, beautiful ocean views, and thousands of tourists. This place is certainly worth visiting, but if you go in the summer, prepare to fight the crowds. Even the map of the town that they hand out in the visitor center says to be mindful or tourists in the road.
Really though, don’t let the crowds scare you away. The town offers a lot of great shopping, dining, and site seeing opportunities. There’s quite a bit of public parking, and the town is really small so it can easily be walked. If you happen to be camping at Acadia or one of the surrounding campgrounds there is a shuttle that will take you right into Bar Harbor. No need to drive.
The majority of the streets in the town have a mix of gift shops and restaurants, the most popular street being Main Street. It’s a typical tourist town in that respect. At the end of Main Street is where the town pier is. This is where many of the whale watching and other tourist ships depart from.
From the pier you can catch the Shore Path. This is a paved path that goes along the ocean. On one side you will have views of the ocean and the ships in the harbor, on the other side you’ll be walking past beautiful old mansions. It’s a short path that loops back around and takes you back out onto Main Street. I would definitely recommend it. Lots of people were out enjoying it, many of them with their fur babies.
From the Pier, if you head the opposite direction of the shore path, you end up on West Street. This street has more shops and restaurants as well as many public parking lots. About halfway down West Street you get to Bridge Street. Take this turn down to the ocean in order to get to Bar Island.
This is the island that can only be reached when the tide is low. We didn’t check the tide times and when we got there the tide had just come back in. There were a handful of people who were wading in water up to their chest trying to make it back to the main land. They had waited a little too long to start the journey back to shore. Definitely stop by the visitor center to check the tide times so you don’t end up stranded and drowning.
We weren’t able to go out to the island because of the tide being up, but the view was still amazing. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a bad view anywhere in that town. There was a group kayaking class going on that we watched for a little while. If I ever get back to Bar Harbor that is something I’d really like to sign up for. Ocean kayaking looks like a good time.
We headed back up Bridge Street to West Street and wandered back downtown to check out some of the gift shops before calling it a day. Some of the shops are just full of cheap, made in China junk. But there are some that have pieces that were made by local artists. These are a little more pricey, but they are also one of a kind items made right there in Maine.
When we’d had our fill of window shopping we made our way back to the Village Green. That is where the buses pick you up. We caught the one back to our campground and decided to spend the rest of the evening relaxing on the beach at Hadley’s Point. We watched a beautiful sunset, then headed back to camp to get some sleep before the next day’s long drive.
Have you been to Bar Harbor? What were some of your favorite things to do?