13 Fun Things to Do in Bar Harbor, Maine – A Charming Coastal Town

Located on Maine’s eastern coast, Bar Harbor offers eager visitors plenty to do while spending summer in New England. The city has long been known and continues to uphold its reputation as a hub of New England culture, cuisine, and comfort. The northern Maine city also offers access to Acadia National Park and is often considered one of the greatest “park cities” in the nation. Every summer, Bar Harbor transcends from a quiet seaside town to a bustling vacation hotspot. Spring and summer climates bless visitors with sunny skies and cool breezes. Anyone visiting can expect several fun things to do in Bar Harbor since it really is one of the best places to visit in Maine. Because between opportunities for adventure, exceptional gastronomy, and endless memories, Bar Harbor really does have it all.

13 Things To Do in Bar Harbor, Maine

1) Visit Acadia National Park

Every year Acadia National Park’s premier hiking trails, grand vistas, and coastline views draw over 3.5 million visitors to the park. The park is one of the top ten most visited National Parks each year and is only located minutes from downtown Bar Harbor. The park’s premier attractions are the Precipice trail, the Beehive, and the Thunderdome. Check out our Acadia guide here!

Important Acadia Information:

  • Entrance fees: $30/ per vehicle, $25/ per motorcycle, $15/ per bicycle or pedestrian
  • Acadia Annual Pass: $55
  • NPS Pass Series: standard annual pass $80, senior annual pass $20
  • Camping fees: Tent/ Rv sites $22 – $30 per night, Group sites $60 per night

2) Go Lobster Fishing 

Bar Harbor, Maine: Things to do for foodies is trying the local lobster!

It is not possible to visit Maine without at least seeing a few signs advertising fresh lobster. 

Though, Bar Harbor’s lobster advertising is more than a gaudy tourist trap. In fact, lobster fishermen have long called Bar Harbor home. The best way to experience this New England stable is to get on a boat yourself. 

Lobster Fishing Information:

3) Experience the Nightlife

Downtown Bar Harbor offers several bars and pubs for visitors’ enjoyment. In summer months these bars peak in visitation. The city is very family-friendly and offers several options to suit everyone’s enjoyment. Some of my favorite places are listed below:

Leary’s Landing Irish Pub

This bar features several craft beer choices, margarita’s and Maine Blueberry infused cocktails 

Finback Ale House 

A plethora of craft beers, local favorites, and specialized cocktails make this a must-visit on any night in Bar Harbor

Cottage St. Pub

A small pub offering outdoor seating and various drinks in the heart of downtown Bar Harbor 

4) Take a Culinary Walking Tour

There is such a wide array of culinary treats awaiting visitors of Bar Harbor, that interested 

parties may find the city’s delectable eats best explored via a culinary walking tour. Maine Foodie Tours offers two different walking tour packages. 

The standard walking tour package costs $84.95 and includes the standard walking tour that last lasts about three hours. The VIP package costs $109.00 and includes the standard walking tour and a Maine Foodie Exclusive Shopping Bag that features a guide to the three top lobster rolls in the area, discounts for various area attractions, and all the tools you need to enjoy lobster at your own home. 

5) Soak in New England History

Today, the city thrives as vacationers arrive via automobile. Years ago, Bar Harbor was a village best accessed by steamship and explored by foot. The Manor House Inn has compiled and curated a list of Bar Harbor’s premier historic attractions as well as a map to follow when exploring on their website.

6) Explore Mount Desert Island

Mount Desert Island is the largest island off of the coast of Maine and the particular island Bar Harbor calls home. The rest of the island includes spots worthy of exploration such as Southwest Harbor and Tremont. If you are feeling extra seaworthy, visit Cranberry Island via ferry from Southwest Harbor or Northeast Harbor. 

7) Relax on a Boat Cruise

Most of Bar Harbor can be explored by foot. Though, if you wish to explore the water around the city one option is to book a boat cruise. Acadian Boat Tours offers several different tours including nature tours, seabird and puffin tours, and tours of Somes Sound.  

8) Go Kayaking Around Porcupine Island

Kayaks paddling around Porcupine Island

Kayak around the chain of evergreen dotted island archipelago called the Porcupine Islands. Here you can watch for marine life such as seals and birdlife such as the bald eagle! Paddling a kayak around the islands is one of the most scenic things to do in Bar Harbor and a fun way visitors can explore the outdoors by water.

Several outfitters in the city offer kayak rentals by the hour and for the entire day. These outfitters also offer tours and will provide you with needed information. 

  • National Park Sea Kayak Tours
  • Coastal Kayak Tours Inc.
  • Acadia Outfitters 

9) Indulge in the Local Gastronomy 

photo credit: Grace & Nat of @twofoodiesinNJ

A Maine gastronomic experience is not complete without the tasting of several different seafood dishes including but not limited to lobster mac & cheese, seafood dip, and a hot Maine lobster roll. The places listed below are Bar Harbor’s premier restaurants in terms of culinary talent, service, and experience. 

Stewman’s Downtown

Located downtown near the Bar Harbor marina, Stewman’s Downtown is the perfect place to experience Maine’s culinary treats as well as take in the surrounding views. Ask to sit on the back deck for the best viewing experience. Try their seafood dip appetizer and the Seadog Blueberry Ale or Blueberry Jam Mojito for a true New England Experience 

Thirsty Whale Tavern

The Thirsty Whale Tavern is located on Cottage St. making it the perfect spot to grab an afternoon lunch while sitting outside and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city. The tavern is best known for its endless beer list and its tasty Haddock Fish and Chips. 

Route 66

Step back in time to the 50’s and enjoy a steaming dish of lobster mac & cheese at Route 66 restaurant. The restaurant’s menu features whole lobster dishes at market price, Maine lobster salad, and lobster quesadillas to coincide with its decorative interior. You will find yourself noticing something new on the restaurant’s curated walls every time you lift your eyes from your plate. 

10) Walk the Ocean Trail 

This easy walk features astonishing views and winds around Frenchman Bay. Visitors can access the trails starting at Sand Beach within Acadia National Park. The trail follows a paved path until ending at Otter Cliffs. 

11) Have a Picnic in Village Green Park 

Village green is a grassy area in the middle of Bar Harbor. The spot is equipped with benches and a gazebo. This area is perfect for a seaside picnic and is home to city hosted concerts in the summer.

12) Play Mini-Golf 

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf is Bar Harbor’s one and only mini-golf course. The course features pirated themed obstacles making it a family favorite. Watch out and don’t hit your ball into the course’s various waterfalls!

13) Shop the Town’s Various Boutiques 

Bar Harbor still honors its village trading routes with several exquisite shops and boutiques. Sherman’s Bookstore and Department Store is a crowd favorite while several other shops offer Maine and Bar Harbor themed trinkets and souvenirs. 

Where to Stay in Bar Harbor

photo by Bar Harbor Inn & Spa

Within the town’s limits, there are several great hotels and inns that provide visitors with more than just a place to sleep. There are also several private listings on Airbnb that visitors can book. These listings are limited and book fast. 

List of Hotels to Stay in Bar Harbor

How to Get to Bar Harbor & Local Transportation

Bar Harbor is a three hour drive from Portland, Maine via I-295 and I-95N. Once in the city, the best way to travel is by car and by foot. The town does offer free shuttles from several locations to Acadia National Park (not offered currently due to COVID-19). Within the downtown area, visitors will also find various shops offering bike rentals. A bike is the best way to see all of Bar Harbor in a quick amount of time. 

Have a Great Trip!

A trip to Bar Harbor is bound to make anyone smile. Thank you for choosing to read my guide to the city. I hope you have a great trip and get to experience all the New England hub has to offer. 

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