15 Best Things to Do in Bar Harbor, ME

Bar Harbor, ME
DenisTangneyJr / iStock.com

If you're looking for a charming New England town to explore, Bar Harbor in Hancock County, Maine, is the place for you.

This coastal town is on Mount Desert Island and offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Bar Harbor has set the benchmark as one of the top summer vacation spots in the United States over the years, and it deserves that spot.

The Wabanaki people and their forefathers inhabited the region for thousands of years before the European settlers arrived.

By the 1800s, Bar Harbor was a thriving community.

Artists began to appear during the late 1800s due to their stunning scenery attracting attention to the area's rural beauty, and people started coming for the first time over the summer.

Wealthy American families built opulent vacation homes on Bar Harbor during the Victorian era, including the Pulitzers, Morgans, Rockefellers, Astors, Fords, and Vanderbilts.

Once a summer playground for the rich and famous, Bar Harbor now welcomes visitors worldwide.

So if you're looking for a fun-filled vacation destination, add Bar Harbor, Maine, to your list!

Here are the best things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine:

Take a Scenic Drive along the Coastline of Acadia National Park

Coastline of Acadia National Park
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

The Acadia National Park is the first must-see place visiting Bar Harbor, Maine.

Acadia National Park is among the country's top ten most popular parks, with more than three million visitors annually.

As an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, Acadia National Park provides 14 mountains for hiking with breathtaking sights of Mount Desert Island and the ocean.

Coastline of Acadia National Park
Romiana Lee / Shutterstock.com

The park also has biking trails that run on the picturesque Carriage Roads.

Wake up early to see the astonishing sunrise on the rocky shoreline of Acadia.

You can enjoy the Jordan Pond House while munching on your strawberry jam and bun at night.

Coastline of Acadia National Park
Lukas Proszowski / Shutterstock.com

See the Dolphins and Whales at Bar Harbor Whales Co.

This trip is sure to be one you won't forget when you visit the Bar Harbor Whales Co.

Go into the Gulf of Maine in search of massive baleen whales like the humpback, finback, and minke, as well as other intriguing marine species.

Take a journey out into the broad ocean while keeping an eye out for offshore seabirds, porpoises, dolphins, seals, sharks, and other marine life.

They also have a tour guide that will inform you about the environmental and cultural history of the Gulf of Maine as you set off in search of whales.

Since 2012, Bar Harbor Whales Co. has participated in Whale SENSE, a voluntary initiative that supports ethical whale-watching methods, education, and ocean conservation.

You don’t have to worry about what to do or not to do when you're on the whale-watching tour.

Listen to their reminders and enjoy watching your day watching whales!

Climb Cadillac Mountain

View of Cadillac Mountain
Mike Ver Sprill / Shutterstock.com

Cadillac Mountain is the highest mountain on the Eastern Seaboard.

It's also one of the most popular destinations in Acadia National Park.

On a clear day, visitors can see for miles from the top of the 1,530-foot granite peak.

There are many options you can use to embark on an adventure here.

You can reach the top of Cadillac Mountain by several methods, including a car, foot, or bicycle.

View of Cadillac Mountain
Winston Tan / Shutterstock.com

You also have several mountain trails to choose from when you climb the peak.

The 2.2-mile Gorham Mountain Trail offers breathtaking views of Somes Sound, the only fjord on the East Coast of the United States, as it meanders through the forest.

The 1.5-mile Beehive Trail has iron rungs and ladders that climb steep granite cliffs.

This spot is perfect for those seeking a more challenging journey.

Marvel at the stunning sights of Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and the Atlantic Ocean.

View of Cadillac Mountain
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

Take a Cozy Boat Tour of Frenchman Bay

View of Frenchman Bay
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Boaters and kayakers enjoy Frenchman Bay for its scenery of Mount Desert Island, Bald Eagle Mountain, and the Porcupine Islands.

Along with picnicking on one of the many islands in the harbor, visitors can take whale watching and lobster boat cruises.

View of Frenchman Bay
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Frenchman Bay also has commercial and leisure boating activities you can try.

It's common for people to launch a sailboat, drift around the nearby islands, and catch some wind in their sails.

Gear up and enjoy boat tours at Frenchman Bay!

Learn about the Wabanaki People at the Abbe Museum

Front view of Abbe Museum
Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock.com

The Wabanaki people have inhabited what is now Maine for more than 12,000 years.

Their life and culture are featured at the Abbe Museum.

Front view of Abbe Museum
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to traditional arts and crafts, storytelling, and music, the museum offers a variety of exhibits and activities that examine the Wabanaki way of life.

The museum's gift shop also offers traditional Wabanaki artwork for sale you can buy.

If you find yourself in the delightful town of Bar Harbor, visit the Abbe Museum!

Go to Downtown Bar Harbor

View of Downtown Bar Harbor
Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

Given the town's modest size, you might frequent Downtown Bar Harbor.

Due to the abundance of vibrant, clapboard storefronts of neighborhood eateries and shops, the streets surrounding Downton Bar Harbor are utterly beautiful.

View of Downtown Bar Harbor
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

These shops create a romantic mood in this area; its proximity to the ocean and the lovely city parks also add to the vibe.

You can enjoy walking while seeing and looking at different shops and eateries at Downtown Bar Harbor.

View of Downtown Bar Harbor
Miro Vrlik Photography / Shutterstock.com

Explore the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History

Plan a trip to the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History if you want to learn more about the wildlife of Maine.

The College of the Atlantic operates this museum.

It informs visitors about the wildlife living above and below Maine's waterways.

The museum has many dioramas that show local wildlife that has been taxidermized in its natural setting.

There are touch tanks throughout the museum where guests can get up close and personal with marine creatures like sea stars, snails, and hermit crabs, to mention a few.

You might also consider participating in one of the museum's educational programs, including hands-on learning opportunities and viewing the skeleton of a minke whale, for a more in-depth lesson.

Take a Walk along Bar Island Trail

This small island is a popular destination for tourists and residents because you can easily access it through the Bar Island Trail.

Low tide exposes the bay's surface as the water recedes far enough to provide a temporary path from Bar Harbor to Bar Island.

When it happens, it's a reasonably fantastic sight and a rare opportunity to cross the bay by foot.

Exercise caution when walking here because the high tide will sweep away the pathway.

You have up to two hours before low tide and two hours after low tide to reach the sandbar, according to the local council of Bar Harbor.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium

People inside Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium
Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com

You must visit Ben & Bill's Chocolate Emporium if you have a sweet tooth.

The store specializes in making its ice cream, with wide different varieties to pick from.

Pretzels, marshmallows, and Graham crackers are just a few chocolate-covered goodies available to visitors.

People inside Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium
Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com

The Bar Harbor location of Ben & Bill's alone offers 64 hard-serve flavors and 12 types of gelato, high-quality confections prepared from original recipes.

Sample their delicious handmade ice creams while touring the area.

Try Golfing at Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf is the best spot for you if you are a golfing fan.

The cove has 36 fun-filled holes of Adventure Golf with over two 18-hole courses that you can play and enjoy with your family and friends.

The cove boasts well-designed golf holes, rushing white waterfalls and streams, lush landscaping, intricate pirate-themed decorations and props, and prompt customer service.

The cove takes great pride in its cleanliness, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence, having provided these things for over 30 years.

Aside from the golf course, the cove also offers different attractions in its pirate-themed setting, making you feel like you are sailing the sea as a pirate.

Bring your family to Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf!

Grab a Pint at Bar Harbor Beer Works

View of Bar Harbor Beer Works
Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock.com

Bar Harbor Beer Works is relaxed, fun, and family-friendly.

It's a fantastic spot to enjoy Bar Harbor's scenery with a beverage.

Bar Harbor Beer Works, with its convenient downtown location and plentiful outdoor seating, is a pleasant place to try Maine craft beers and have something to eat.

Along with offering a large variety of craft beers and well-known favorites, the brewery is renowned for its inventive burgers, outstanding sandwiches and salads, and daily dinner specials.

Eat a pretzel, some nachos, and some wings, or place a complete dinner order.

What are you waiting for?

Try these beers and drink them on a night out with friends and family.

Grab a Scoop at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream

Mount Desert Island Ice Cream (MDIIC), a local favorite, is well known for its delectable ice cream.

In addition to various flavors, the business also sells milkshakes, sundaes, and ice cream sandwiches.

The ice creams prepared here are made using Maine Milk and Cream and are meticulously crafted in incredibly tiny batches.

Mount Desert Island Ice Cream makes an effort to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

They use eco-friendly materials and packaging, recycling nearly everything they can.

They always try to buy from regional suppliers, and over the years, they've taken part in several significant initiatives to help regional farmers.

This is not just your typical ice cream shop but a shop to help local farmers.

See Performances at the 1932 Criterion Theatre

Front view of 1932 Criterion Theatre
Coal town guy at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 1932 Criterion Theatre is the place to be if you want to chill with a play.

This historic theater, built in 1932, is in the heart of Bar Harbor.

It is one of two Art Deco theaters in Maine and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Over the years, the 760-seat theater with a balcony and Art Deco furnishings has screened many movies and hosted various events.

The 1932 Criterion Theatre was built as a focal point for culture and the arts around Bar Harbor and the surrounding communities.

Book a Staycation at Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center

View of Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center
giggel, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the best hotels in Bar Harbor is the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center.

The hotel has several on-site dining options, a fitness facility, and an indoor pool.

With ocean views, contemporary amenities, indoor and outdoor pools, unique holiday packages, and first-rate hospitality, the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center provides high-quality lodging at competitive prices.

Guests can wake up and watch the sunrise overlooking Bar Harbor's scenic ocean views from the hotel's pool deck or rooms.

You can relax here at the hotel after all the adventures you have tried during your visit to Bar Harbor.

Wander the Beautiful Gardens at Sieur de Monts

Often called the "Heart of Acadia," Sieur de Monts is home to the spring and spring house.

The Wildflower Garden, Butterfly Garden, and Woodland Garden are just a few of the lovely gardens found at Sieur de Monts.

The preserve also has a system of hiking trails that meander through the woods and provide visitors access to the park's numerous picturesque vistas.

Visitors can also participate in a ranger-led program to learn more about the flora and creatures that live in the preserve.

Sieur de Monts, located a short drive from the center of Bar Harbor, is in Acadia National Park.

In 1987, Eclipse Gallery was founded in Bar Harbor, Maine, a historic bayside community close to Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island.

The previous proprietors, Linda and Hank, devoted many years to representing hundreds of excellent American craftsmen all around the country.

They have emphasized "Contemporary" American Fine Crafts.

They provide remarkable collections of one-of-a-kind works of art made of glass, ceramic, and metal and items made of other materials such as distinctive lamps, wall art, stone sculptures, and handcrafted furniture.

Admire the collections at the Eclipse Gallery!

Final Thoughts

Bar Harbor, Maine, is perfect for seeing stunning sunsets, mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean.

During your visit, you will be spoiled with spectacular places and attractions that will make you want to stay longer in the area.

Enjoy the best things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.