While in college, I took a 2 week marine ecology course on Mount Desert Island in May. It rained every single day. I still remember the damp, bone-chilling cold and the clothes that never seemed to dry. Yet, hopefully now that memory will fade as I have now spent two remarkably clear, beautiful, sunny August days in Acadia National Park with my kids.
Here's my recommendations for a first time visitor to Acadia National Park.
1. Enjoy the View from Cadillac Mountain. I am much too lazy to hike to the drop - but, fortunately, it's an easy drive. My kids loved hoping around on the rocks. On a clear day, the view is amazing.
2. Go tide pooling. As a native Californian, I find the tide pools in the northeast to be a bit boring because there are few (if any) sea anemones or urchins and lots of seaweed. However, I still can't resist climbing the slippery rocks to see the periwinkles, dog whelks, mussels, crabs and sea stars.
3. Dip your toes in the Atlantic at Sand Beach. Even in August this water is frigid - but it's a pretty clear blue.
4. Hike/Climb to a Viewpoint. We loved the Great Head Trail by Sand Beach and the Bubble Rock Trail near Jordan Pond. Be prepared for some rock scrambling - even on Acadia's "easy" trails.
5. Enjoy the View and a Popover from Jordan Pond House. Fresh popovers with jam and cream -- need I say more.
6. See the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. It's a classic.
7. Eat Lobster - preferably in Bar Harbor.
8. Drive the Park Loop and stop at Thunder Hole.
Of course, there's so much more to do in Acadia National Park! I remember enjoying the view from Shoodic Point at twilight seeing the lighthouses flash their signals as it became dark when I visited the park as a college student. Also, taking a boat out to some of the islands is a great way to escape the crowds.
Acadia is one of New England's top tourist destinations for good reason. Get out early to escape the crowds and enjoy.
Our family of 5 took a road trip up to Acadia from Pensvylvania this spring (by spring I mean late May because that's when it comes to the northeast). We were planning on staying 2 days here and then driving back down to Boston to finish of our week. After a day, we decided to skip Boston and just spend the week here. It was the week before the season actually starts (which is Memorial day weekend) so it was quiet, serene, and incredibly peaceful. We spent everyday hiking around the island. If your schedule is flexible, this is the week I would pick to go. Although I will mention not everything is open until after Memorial Day so if you want to do EVERYTHING the area has to offer wait until later in the summer. The weather was perfect for us, cool but not cold and mostly sunny.
We spent our first day doing the Junior Ranger program with the kids. They love to earn their badges at all of the national Parks we hit. If you go during early May many of the Ranger programs will not have started yet, however the park rangers are eager to help and share (and you're getting more one on one time :) since things are so quiet. Our kids loved the bird museum in the upper station and the Ranger there even talked to them about why birds have different types of beaks. That was fun for a homeschooling family!
The second day we did the park loop stopping at all the major spots like Thunder Hole, Seal Harbor, etc. Because our kids are still pretty little, we skipped the "scenic" views and took more adventurous stops. We got out to see a beaver dam up close, found a creek to go exploring in just off the road, and even saw a deer just the oppostie side of seal harbor. The main loop has LOTS of pull of areas and often times you can just park in the lane as its one-way in most areas. We put the baby in the Ergo and we were off to get dirty!
Besides its absolute beauty, the one thing I like about Acadia is that there is something to do for everyone. Like to hike? There a hundreds of trails to take with varying ability levels. There are easy hikes if you have a toddler, or strenuous ones if you want to strap the kids in a carrier and climb across iron rungs. Don't like to hike? Simply driving the ring road and stopping at various points will bring sheer delight to all ages. Jordan Pond has a wonderful little tea restaurant while Echo Lake has some awesome fresh water swimming. A great place for an outdoor loving family!
We're big hikers in our family and this past year was our first trip taking a toddler along. We were afraid we wouldn't be able to find enough trails that our 14 month old could walk along and still keep us interested enough but we did! We even had her walking around the path on top of Cadillac, around Jordan Pond, Hunter's Beach and a ton others. I think we figured we went 14 miles of hiking in the week we were there. Not all of it was daring adventurous trails but all family friendly :)
We come here every summer and our kids love it. We do park ranger programs for their age, we go on hikes, we have picnics, visit Jordan Pond House, and run into the waves at Sand Beach. I don't think I see my kids any happier than I do here, in this place. It's beautiful!
I have been blessed enough to visit Acadia National Park on two separate occasions. Interestingly enough, the weather was quite different each time, but I enjoyed the park nonetheless. Once it was sunny and warm, and the other time it was foggy and misting, but the experience was equally incredible. The ocean scenery is stunning, and one could sit and listen to the waves crashing against the rocks for hours. This is a beautiful place that I cannot wait to visit again.
All of Acadia National park is simply breathtaking. I can't say more than WOW! Be sure to wear your sunscreen though and wear comfy shoes, and don't forget to hydrate. If you and your family love outdoor activities this is a must-experience destination. Canoeing, hiking, biking, you name it! Even if you don't consider yourself "outdoorsy" you have to make the trek up Cadillac Mountain, even if you don't get out of the car once you reach the top, the views on the journey are simply amazing. If you do decide to hop out at the top, which I strongly recommend you do, don't forget to grab the camera! Before our daughter was born my husband and I would head up there to sit for hours in silence. The views are breathtaking and you can really hear yourself think. This last year we took our 1&1/2 year old up there and she walked all over. The paths are easy to navigate, you could probably use a stroller if necessary, but I recommend a backpack/front carrier instead. There are a few steps, and some areas are quite steep, but I did the whole path in flip flops without a problem.
Bathroom facilities are available, and there was a changing table but it was in such an awkward place I just did what I needed to do in the backseat of the car.
This National Park is a must see in your lifetime. I truely believe Acadia and the surrounding coast line of Maine may be the most beautiful place on earth.
Be sure to take a drive around the Park Loop Road and pull over at all the little turnoffs to experience the amazing views. For easy walks check out the carriage roads. Pick up a trail map and there are trails from easy to difficult, perfect for everyone to find something at their experience level. Every hike rewards you with stunning views of nature.
Need some refreshement? Be sure to stop at the Jordan Pond House for popovers. Lunch was delish. Need to cool off? Take a swim in Echo Lake.
Be sure to stop in the visitors center and find out about the Ranger programs. They are offered throughout various locations in the park. Some are drop-in and free while others need to pre-register and pay a small fee. The Park Rangers are friendly, informative and very helpful, don't be afraid to ask them for any advice on exploring the park!
Watch carefully for no parking locations. We witnessed several cars being ticketed.
Visit my profile for detailed reviews on various locations throughout the park!
On Mount Desert Island - so much to do. We stayed in Bar Harbor but you can stay in the park if you camp out in 2 different areas. There is something for everyone- we are not hikers- took the driving loop route and went one day in the fog and the next day in the sun and it was amazing both days. There is a restaurant that has been serving popovers for years out on the lawn by Jordan Pond and we walked partially around the pond under the shade of the pines. Just beautiful! There is thunder hole that was a highlight. Also Cadillac mountain and there are wild blueberries growing. There is Sandy Beach and a place to change. The park has carriage paths for bikers and horses. I can't wait to return!
Wonderful National Park, biking and hiking on the carriage roads was awesome - no cars or traffic and often you see the horse drawn carriages.. A national park is great by definition - but this one has the ocean too! You can't beat it. Beautiful, peaceful and full of history and wildlife great for the kids.
The hiking is varied (from short and easy to long and more difficult) so it is good for all ages. The views are amazing regardless of your hike desitnation. Thunder Hole is family hike destination for us. Besides the hiking there is a Light House, Echo Lake (which has warmer water for swimming) and the Sand Beach for swimming (if you can take the cold water because even on the hottest day that water is cold) and building sand castles. You can camp or go into Bar Harbor and stay at a B&B, hotel or rent a cabin/house. Bar Harbor is full of cafe, art galleries, and it offers numerous boat rentals and wildlife sea tours (like whales or seals).
The Park puts on different programs during the summer for kids of all ages also.
My wife and I go to Acadia every summer. There are so many things to do, it's hard to know where to begin. First and foremost is the hiking. There are an abundance of hiking opportunities - varying lengths and degrees of difficulties - that can be tailored to suit anyone in the family. Many of the high peaks in the park are accesible by vehicle if you just want to enjoy the views. The carriage road system allows for easy walking, jogging and, in the winter time, cross country skiing. There are cruises that can take you around the bay and kayak tours of some of the surrounding waters. Accomodations range from B&B's, to private rental houses to car camping. We usually spend the first half of our vacation camping and then move into a rental house for the second half.
Our family had a wonderful time at Acadia National Park. We were traveling with 3 kids ages 7, 5 and 1. The park is wonderful because it has so many short, easy hikes for the kids that go somewhere. We all know that motivating kids to hike can be difficult at times when there is no "destination". We found really amazing views and things to see on every hike. My kids had a great time playing in tidepools and climbing on rocks near the ocean. We were traveling with extended family and there was really something for everyone at this park. Most of the mountains have granite at the tops so there are amazing views. The kids REALLY enjoyed the "tidepool school" run by the Park rangers. It was very educational and hands on. There is a free shuttle bus service that can take you from your campsite to the park which is great if you are not interested in driving around. Be aware that we traveled during the hottest weeks of the year and the ocean temp was still 55, so don't plan on swimming in the ocean. You can go to the Echo lake section of the national park, The kids really enjoyed swimming there where the water was warmer.