When I got to Bar Harbor
, I went straight to Acadia National Park to catch a colorful sunset from Cadillac Mountain
. In town for dinner, I walked over to Geddy's Pub
for clam chowder and lobster cobb salad. Geddy’s has been around since 1974 and is in a row of restaurants near the harbor. Striking up a conversation with tourists from New York and a few locals, I experienced Bar Harbor’s late-evening scene with stops in Testa's Restaurant
and Bar Harbor Beer Works
I started my full day in Bar Harbor at Slice of Eden Bakery for a latte and bagel. They’re known for their doughnuts. The apple crisp ones looked scrumptious, so I grabbed one for hiking fuel. Instead of doing the traditional 27-mile loop in Acadia National Park
, I drove straight to Jordan Pond where I traced the water’s edge on a short hike. Avoiding peak visiting hours in the park, I went out the Stanley Brook entrance and made stops in Seal Harbor and Northeast Harbor, where I grabbed a latte at 123 Café. In the Great Harbor Maritime Museum—housed in an old firehouse dating back to 1917—I learned about Northeast Harbor.
I took the scenic route on Sargeant Drive, which takes you along Seawater Bay in Somes Sound. It’s one of only a few fjords in the contiguous United States. I stopped for lunch in Southwest Harbor. Filled with quaint bed and breakfasts and cute shops, it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of Bar Harbor. One shop is even called Acadia Quietside. Several locals suggested Beal’s Lobster Pier, a family-owned restaurant on the water since 1932. Sitting in the captain’s galley nook outside, I chatted with a couple from Jacksonville, Florida, between bites of Beal’s traditional lobster roll and sips of a blueberry lemonade.
My next stop was the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Since a Coast Guard family lives in it, you can only tour the outside. I drove back into Acadia National Park and stopped at Pretty Marsh. I walked on the spongy forest floor through the fragrant pines in this secluded southwestern side of Mount Desert Island and ended up at a wooden staircase. I took it down to the shoreline where the afternoon sunshine twinkled like glittery diamonds on the water.
After a quick stop back in Bar Harbor, I drove the 27-mile loop in Acadia National Park since I had about 2.5 hours before sunset. I made a few stops including Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff. My longest stop was at a geological rarity. Sand Beach is one of the few cold-water, shell-based sand beaches in the world. There’s an offshore rock called “Old Soaker.” It diverts a strong current into a glacially formed pocket which catches shell fragments. The cold water then traps gases dissolving the seashells and forming the beach resting on a huge bed of granite stones.
I finished the Acadia loop at Cadillac Mountain. The sunset with hues ranging from pink to orange was a stunner even for this perpetual sunset chaser. I chose the upstairs bar in Galyn's Restaurant
for a quiet space to sip a dry Ricker Hill Mainiac Gold cider from Maine and enjoy a bowl of traditional clam chowder. On a post-dinner stroll, I stopped in Sherman’s Bookstore, reputedly Maine’s oldest bookstore open since 1886. I looked around Acadia Shop filled with everything from hats to jellies in addition to admiring creations by local artists at Island Artisans, including nautical glass pieces, wool beanies and colorful birdhouses. I thought about tasting the lobster ice cream at Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, but I opted for a scoop of coffee toffee bar from Bar Harbor’s popular candy shop to end the night.
I love a stellar sunrise as much as I love a spectacular sunset. So, before leaving Bar Harbor, I drove back up the 3.5 miles to Cadillac Mountain. I stopped about halfway for an incredible view of fog hovering along the shoreline then raced to the top just in time to hear oohs and aahs from other sunrise watchers as the sun crested the horizon. When I got back into town, I popped into Jordan's Restaurant
, a Bar Harbor favorite of locals and tourists. It has great diner coffee and is known for wild blueberry pancakes and muffins. The normal order is two pancakes, but you can order just one as I did and drench it in maple syrup for a Maine delicacy.
On the way out of town, I stopped back in A Slice of Eden for an almond latte for the road. I couldn’t pass up a pumpkin doughnut for later as my fall road trip adventure exploring the history, outdoor adventure and food of New England was coming to an end.