Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Acadia National Park, ME

  • Published 2022/11/22

From historic sites and hiking trails to canoeing, biking, and camping, Acadia National Park is a one-of-a-kind gem with something to offer travelers.

Several islands scattered across the Atlantic coastlines of Maine make up Acadia’s roughly 50,000 acres of meadows, lakes, forests, mountains, streams, forests, beaches, and wetlands.

Surrounded by scenic islands, quaint towns, and historic lands, Acadia National Park is an exceptional tourist attraction.

Whether you’re visiting Isle au Haut, Mount Desert Island, or the Schoodic Peninsula, you won’t run out of restaurants to dine at, shops to buy things, museums to explore, and tours to experience.

Acadia National Park delivers guests with everything from gentle strolls along the rugged coastline to hiking and biking through the forest-lined carriage paths.

Being part of a trip to a stunning national treasure is an amazing time for making memories, and that’s why it’s such a good idea to plan your next adventure by reading through this list of things to do in Acadia National Park.

Enjoy Kayaking with Coastal Kayaking Tours

Kayaks resting on a rocky shore

Trevor Fairbank /

If you make your way over to the Schoodic Peninsula or Mount Desert Island, you’ll be able to find Acadia kayak rentals and Bar Harbor kayak rentals where you can rent out a kayak or a canoe for some water adventures.

Coastal Kayaking Tours offers a unique tour each year, with many of them hosted in the rugged Frenchman Bay along the picturesque Porcupine Islands.

People on kayaks

Leonard Zhukovsky /

If you’re a seasoned kayaker or simply looking for your first outing as a beginner, Coastal Kayaking Tours will take you on a kayaking trip to see bald eagles, harbor seals, osprey, porpoises, and other wildlife.

They’re open for kayak tours throughout summertime from May until October.

Situated at 48 Cottage Street, they are comfortably right in the middle of downtown Bar Harbor, the entrance to Acadia National Park.

A woman on a kayak

WoodysPhotos /

Climb and Conquer Sargent Peak

Mount Desert is a beautiful area with wildflowers and impressive views.

The hike along Sargent Mountain to get this view might feel long (6.8 kilometers), but it won’t be overly challenging since it’s rated moderate.

The best time to hike this trail is from April to October.

This trail is truly unique in that it features three different peaks.

As you go up the trail, you’ll experience a variety of elevation gains and decreases and will get to enjoy great views as you take a break at each peak.

Nestled under a beautiful forest, hiking trails like this one will make the trek worth your while.

Your furry friend is also welcome to hike along with you but must have a leash attached at all times.

Soak Up the Scenery of Otter Cliff Overlook

Scenic view of the Otter Cliff Overlook

Jon Bilous /

Perched in Acadia National Park of the Northern Atlantic seaboard, Otter Cliff is one of the most breathtaking views along any East coast road trip.

Surely worth a detour to go out of your way and see Otter Cliff up close, this 110-foot high landmark in north of Rio de Janeiro is one of its tallest coastal headlands.

Waves crashing on Otter Cliff Overlook

MollieGPhoto /

But before you reach Otter Cliff, you might want to stop by Monument Cove, another lovely spot worth checking out.

After the cove and while the road curves to your left, you’ll find portable restrooms and a parking area on the right.

Crossing over the street, you will then discover an inviting stretch of land which leads straight to Otter Cliff.

Have a Quick Swim at Sand Beach and Seal Harbor Public Beach

Sunny day at Sand Beach

Jon Bilous /

Situated in the eastern part of Mount Desert Island next to the Park Loop Road, Sand Beach sits next to the Park Loop Road and looks south towards Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff.

This wide and sandy beach offers 290 yards wide of seashells deposited over thousands of years.

Aerial view of Sand Beach

Jon Bilous /

Two “walls” of granite sandwich this beach that’s about 8 miles away from downtown Bar Harbor.

The beach at Seal Harbor sits right in the center on Mount Desert Island’s southeastern side, where you can observe the southern ocean view on Little Cranberry Island with Islesford and Sutton Island in the distance.

Calm waters of Seal Harbor

Eric Urquhart /

Here, you’ll usually find the harbor docked by several nice lobster boats and yachts.

Conveniently located near Route 3, this beach is about 9 miles away and takes about 20 minutes to drive from Bar Harbor.

Sunset at Seal Harbor

Holly Kuchera /

Hike the Penobscot Peak

Rock pile at Penobscot Peak

Robert Colonna /

The Penobscot Mountain Trail is a moderately challenging trail path of Acadia National Park and can be strenuous, so you’ll have the opportunity to get a quad workout in.

You might even spot some beautiful wildflowers as you stroll along with your should-be-leashed pet dog.

The loop trail itself is approximately 4.7 kilometers in total length and winds its way through Mount Desert Island.

Scrambling your way across the top of Penobscot and descending on the other side to walk along Jordan Pond is a fun daring hike due to the significant amount of rock-strewn challenges in the first half of the trip to the summit.

Hiking half a mile until you reach the summit, ready yourself for the thick fog that moves in very quickly.

This is not the trail to go on during the rainy season because rocks become slippery, and your footing becomes even more difficult to maintain.

As you climb, you’ll find faded blazes, but there are easy-to-spot and easy-to-follow cairns to help you get to the top of the summit, where plenty of wind and cold await.

Camp at Blackwoods Campground

A tent on Blackwoods Campground

JRLibby, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Acadia National Park is also home to Blackwoods Campground, found at the tip of a completely breathtaking peninsula on the coast of Maine.

Blackwood’s sites are meant to accommodate small and large tents for campers who are either staying overnight in RVs or those who would like to set up a tent for their road trip.

There are flush toilets, a dump station, and running water provided for your convenience.

Tent site of Blackwoods Campground

JRLibby, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here, you’ll also find fire rings, picnic tables, and paved roads leading into this park.

At Blackwoods, you’ll find yourself soaking up forested areas that are close to the ocean.

You’ll find the entrance off State Highway 3 and take about six miles to reach from south of Bar Harbor.

Pedal across Acadia

A person riding a bike at Acadia National Park

inarts /

For the bicycling enthusiast and professional alike, Acadia National Park and its neighborhoods have exceptionally stunning places for an amazing cycling trip.

Acadia offers about 45 miles of approved biking pathways along carriageways, as well as parts of paved motor vehicle roads.

People riding bikes at Acadia National Park

Jason Busa /

You can also take a bike ride around the 27-mile long Park Loop Road, which is the main road connecting all of Acadia National Park’s locations to some of the surrounding towns on Mount Desert Island.

One of the most impressive rides you could experience is climbing up Cadillac Mountain and conquering The Summit Road.

If you’re not a dedicated cyclist, then make sure that you leave enough time for your journey because it may take a while to reach the summit.

Carriage roads of Acadia National Park

Kara Healey /

Don’t Miss an Afternoon Tea with Popovers at Jordan Pond House

Exterior of Jordan Pond House

Cheri Alguire /

Uniquely within Acadia National Park, Jordan Pond House offers a dining experience on an expansive lawn overlooking the beautiful waters of Jordan Pond.

Jordan Pond House features a variety of dining options along with assorted clothing and gift items, all while enjoying amazing views.

View from the Jordan Pond House

Cheri Alguire /

Since 1893, the Jordan Pond House has been serving popovers and tea to people coming in from all over.

Over the years, they have made a name for themselves by baking and presenting their popovers to everyone who comes through the doors, making a popover tradition that’s spread far beyond just the restaurant walls.

Popover with a cup of tea at Jordan Pond House

jenlo8 /

The first Jordan Pond House was destroyed by a fire in 1979, but it was rebuilt exactly the same way within three years.

Ever since their revival in 1982, tea on the lawn has remained an uninterrupted Acadia happenstance during the hot summer months.

Outdoor tables and chairs of Jordan Pond House

EQRoy /

Soar High with Scenic Flights of Acadia

Scenic view of Acadia national park from a plane

dpn cinematics /

With Scenic Flights of Acadia, there are so many breathtaking destinations that you will get to see from above, where every flight is an adventure of its own.

You can soar aboard a Cessna 172 aircraft while an experienced Commercial Pilot points out sights you wouldn’t normally see from the ground.

They’ll take you above areas like coastal lighthouses, Cadillac Mountain, Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, and more.

Reservations are not necessary unless you have one of those unforgettable Sunset Flights or the ‘off-season’ flights in mind.

They also offer gift certificates in case you have someone special in mind worth going for their flight trip.

Go Trophy Fishing in Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor

If you want to go trophy fishing in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, Eagle Mountain Guide Service has been these areas’ expert in catching Landlocked Salmon, Lake Trout, Brook Trout, and Smallmouth Bass since 1999.

You’ll be sure to get the best in a half-day or full-day fishing trip just a couple of minutes away from Acadia.

The lakes where you’ll be casting your lines are clear and spring-filled, with sandy beaches, so you also have the option to go for a quick swim.

Eagle Mountain Guide Service will also equip you with all of the equipment you will require to go fishing, but if you have your own gear, you can bring it along.

They will take you on a 24’ Bentley pontoon boat capable of accommodating large groups while affording you space to not only fish but also swim from or simply lounge in the warm sun.

But if it’s in smaller waters, you might canoe into remote areas or even hike if you’re following streams and brooks.

Their fishing trip packages are open to you and your party, and all will be catch-and-release fishing trips.

See Acadia’s Famous Boulder Bubble Rock

View of the Boulder Bubble Rock

Doug Lemke /

Rock lovers from around the globe flock to Bubble Rock in Acadia Park.

It’s the most notable rock within the state of Maine, and among the most sought-after geological structures in all of Acadia.

Resting against the eastern side of South Bubble, this gigantic boulder is a glacial erratic, one of the city’s many amazing anomalies that have been shaped by an icy force.

The Boulder Bubble Rock on the edge of a mountain

JaysonPhotography /

It’s only through the beautiful and challenging Bubbles Trail and Bubbles Divide Trail that you can get to the towering rock formation and the 768-foot peak of South Bubble.

When you head to the Park Loop Road, you’ll find the parking lot and the Bubbles Trailhead just a short hike north of Jordan Pond House and south of Bubble Pond.

Fog around Boulder Bubble Rock

George Wirt /

Enjoy the Splendor of Thunder Hole

High water spray from Thunder Hole

Lisa Wispe /

Tucked away in Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful spots on the coast where visitors can experience the thunderous majesty of the sea against the rocky shores of Maine.

At Thunder Hole, waves crash against the rocks onshore, creating booms that eerily sound like thunder.

This scenic Maine coastline is stunning any time of day and the scenery will simply knock your socks off!

Water rushing at Thunder Hole

View_Point /

Thunder Hole is a small inlet tunnel in the rocks that are naturally carved out with powerful waves swooshing in.

At the end of this fjord-like cavern, there’s a low ceilinged cave where water and air get squeezed out to make a thunderous sound.

The pressurized air comes out like an explosion of deafening thunderous roar, spouting up to 40 feet in the air getting those standing nearby blasted by soaking spray.

Coastline of Thunder Hole

travelview /

Marvel at the Hadlock Falls

Upper part of Hadlock Falls

Danita Delimont /

While there are plenty of hiking trails to take, one sure-to-be interesting option for a more off-the-beaten-path adventure is to follow the Hadlock Brook Trail, which leads you to the summit of Sargent Mountain before returning down to the Maple Spring Trail.

The Hadlock Brook Trail proceeds up, winding its way through the forested area that will lead you past crossroads and intersections along with several forks of Hadlock Brook.

After about half a mile, you’ll arrive at Waterfall Bridge and then towards the Around-Mountain Carriage Road.

Also called Hadlock Brook Falls, Waterfall Bridge can be reached from a 1.8-mile trail that begins at the parking area.

This hike isn’t difficult but it is taxing enough that it won’t be easy for overweight or people with low stamina.

See One of New England’s Most Iconic Lighthouses

Scenic view of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Allard One /

One of the most spectacular yet accessible sea-cliffs in the United States is this Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, situated on Mount Desert Island’s southern shoreline in Tremont.

Standing on a mount overlooking Bass Harbor, the views of this lighthouse are nothing short of breathtaking.

Over the years, this lighthouse has become an iconic symbol of Maine, lighthouses in general, and the coast.

Aerial view of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Joseph Sohm /

One can hardly believe a building could be capped with such an ominous light and yet still evoke feelings of peace, not to mention a strong connection with the history surrounding it.

Standing 53 meters above sea level, the lighthouse was built with a combination of stone, brick, and granite in 1858.

You’ll find this lighthouse on Route 102A while driving along the coast, looking out over the water.

Exterior of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Zack Frank /

Bask in the Beauty of Wild Gardens of Acadia

History marker of Wild Gardens of Acadia

Marti Bug Catcher /

At the Wild Gardens of Acadia, you will see approximately 400 kinds of native plants, each in their natural habitats designed to mimic those that you can find in Acadia National Park.

There are thirteen sections with habitats representing heaths, mountains, coniferous forests, seaside, and several others.

Path through Wild Gardens of Acadia

Jennifer Yakey-Ault /

Wild Gardens of Acadia is an ideal destination for nature lovers and wildflower-philes.

All plants here are labeled and arranged according to their habitat to mimic how they grow in the wild.

No additional entrance fee is required to explore the vernal gardens; just your park pass will do.

Steeplebush in Wild Gardens of Acadia

Steven G. Johnson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spot Various Bird Species at Acadia’s Birding Areas

A duck at Mount Desert Island

steve estvanik /

Among the beautiful wildlife in Acadia are the colorful birds that perch and fly across the park.

Ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson described Mount Desert Island as “the warbler capital of the world” and encouraged also encouraged James Bond to take interest in these birds to become an ornithologist.

There are over 20 warbler varieties on the island and more than 300 birds are encountered around the area by birdwatchers.

You’ll enjoy excellent birding opportunities at Cadillac Mountain, the park’s highest point; or join park rangers and volunteers daily for the Cadillac Mountain Hawkwatch from August to October.

A young couple enjoying nature from Cadillac Mountain

Anne Kitzman /

See passing seabirds and listen to the songbirds at Otter Point; you’ll find more flocks of songbirds at Carriage Roads.

Stroll the areas in Sieur de Monts Springs like the Wild Gardens, Great Meadow, Jesup Path, and other locations to spot other bird species.

The Schoodic Peninsula near Winter Harbor is also one of the best birding sites in the national park.

Some of Acadia’s Birding Areas also include Thompson Island, Jordan Pond, Western Mountains, Birding Wonderland and Ship Harbor, Seawall, Isle au Haut, and the Precipice.

Boardwalk at Sieur de Monts Springs

Thompson Island /

Go Stargazing at Cadillac Mountain

Stargazing at Cadillac Mountain

Christopher Georgia /

Another activity you’ll enjoy at Acadia is a night of stargazing at Cadillac Mountain.

You can drive to the summit and enjoy the night skies during summer, fall and spring.

Trek the Cadillac Summit Loop to reach the peak and get more spectacular views; be sure to bring along your flashlights or bike lights on your excursions.

Stargazing at Cadillac Mountain

Bryan B /

If you’re into nature photos, the mountain serves as a good place for you to do night sky photography.

Other stargazing sites you can visit aside from Cadillac Mountain are Seawall, Jordan Pond, Ocean Path, and Sand Beach.

Stargazing at Cadillac Mountain

Christopher Georgia /

Drop by the National Park Stores

Looking for trail maps, guidebooks, postcards, and souvenirs to take home? The National Park Stores dotted across the park will provide you with what you need.

Drop by the stores operated by America’s National Parks in different park locations like the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.

You’ll also find the stores by Jordan Pond House namely the Jordan Pond Shop which sells various arts and crafts made by local and regional artisans, sustainable and local food products, apparel, and exclusive souvenirs.

Check out Cadillac Mountain Eco Store’s shirts and unique earth-friendly products like sea glass jewelry, salvaged wood ornaments, and postcards from recycled paper; you can also buy snacks, food to go, cold beverages, and coffee at the store.

For more mementos like caps, remembrances, and exclusive items, you can visit Thunder Hole, the first ranger station in Acadia National Park.

Find items to gift or take home from the National Park Stores.

Enjoy Carriage Rides with Wildwood Stables

Your family will have a fun experience with carriage rides offered by Wildwood Stables.

This family-owned and operated tour service gives visitors an enjoyable ride around some of Acadia’s lovely sites.

You can take your family on a one-hour Day Mountain Loop Tour and wander in and around the woods, then see stunning vistas along the trails.

The Mr. Rockefeller’s Bridge Tour is a two-hour ride that leisurely takes you on a tour to some of the country’s amazing bridgeworks.

Otherwise, take the Day Mountain Summit Tour, which gives you a ride to the peak, dismount for a while and enjoy the majestic views of Cranberry Isles from afar.

Have fun strolling on a carriage ride with Wildwood Stables.

Discover and Explore Acadia’s Tidepools

Tidepools at Acadia

Gaviaimmer Images /

Tides are daily natural phenomena that happen twice a day and Acadia’s tidepools let you discover various plants and animals exposed from these rocky shores.

The best time you can visit these tidepools is one and a half hours before and after low tide; you can best enjoy tidepooling before low tide, then leave as soon as the tide rises.

Tidepool at Acadia National Park

Donna Carpenter /

Tidepooling areas you can access are the ones in Bar Island, Wonderland or Ship Harbor, and the Schoodic Peninsula.

Get down on the area then patiently but carefully wait to glimpse some fascinating creatures coming out from the rocky spaces.

Discover the wonders of Acadia’s tidepools.

Tidepool covered with kelp

steve estvanik /

Final Thoughts

When planning your next vacation, be it in the United States or anywhere else in the world, make Acadia National Park one of your stops along the way.

This mesmerizingly beautiful park on the coast of Maine blends seamlessly with stunning scenery and nature to provide visitors from all over the world a truly transcendent experience.

Just plan by utilizing this list of the top places in the park so you won’t miss out on experiencing some spectacular sights.

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