Rocky cliff walls meet the Atlantic Ocean in Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island.
Commonly known as Vacationland, Maine offers everything from delicious locally sourced seafood to beautiful outdoor terrain. There’s something for everyone to enjoy here!
Bar Harbor, Maine is the lively gateway community to Acadia National Park. With fun shops, walking trails, and restaurants, Bar Harbor makes a perfect basecamp for your Acadia adventure.
Choose from the many New England style bed and breakfasts, modern hotels, or even campgrounds when you go to book your trip accommodations.
Grab your map, camera, hiking gear, and National Park Pass for a fun 3-day tour of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island — some of the best places to visit in Maine!
Day 1 of your Acadia National Park itinerary
Afternoon Sun at Sand Beach
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Since you’ve just arrived on Mount Desert Island, a little relaxation by the ocean is in order. Although most of the coastline on the island is rocky cliff faces, there is one sandy ocean beach hidden inside Acadia National Park for all to enjoy!
Sand Beach is about a 20-minute drive from the Bar Harbor town center and is one of the first attractions along the Park Loop Road. The parking area tends to fill up early, so be prepared to scout for a parking spot.
The beach is staffed with park lifeguards to make swimming in the chilly water safe for all the brave souls that choose to do so. Sand Beach is the perfect spot to set up for a sunny afternoon with a cooler, beach chairs, and plenty of sunblock.
If you’re not interested in swimming, there’s still plenty to do in this area, such as searching through tide pools to see who’s swimming around and walking the 290-meter shoreline to search for shells and sand dollars.
There are a couple of fun trails that take off from this area too. One of the nearby trailheads is for the Great Head Loop Trail, which starts on the east side of Sand Beach. The shorter loop option is 1.6 miles around and offers spectacular panoramic views of the area, including a scenic overlook of Sand Beach.
If you want to add a more challenging hike to your Acadia itinerary on the first day, the trailhead for the Beehive Trail, a tough but rewarding 1.6-mile loop, is located right near Sand Beach.
Stroll Bar Harbor
After soaking up the sun and relaxing the afternoon away, it’s time to head into town and enjoy all the cool things to do in Bar Harbor.
Bar Harbor is a charming New England coastal community with quirky boutique shops and amazing seafood restaurants.
Before dinner, take a walk along the Shore Path, which begins at the Town Pier. This short path offers beautiful views of the boats anchored in the harbor for the evening.
Dinner at The Terrace Grille
Dine right on the water next to the Town Pier. The outdoor seating is decorated with beautiful yellow umbrellas and offers five-star views of Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands. Not only are the views great, but the food is too!
Keep it classic with a boiled Maine Lobster or indulge and order the Maine Lobster Bake, which comes with all the goods including New England clam chowder, steamed mussels and clams, over one pound of Maine Lobster, seasonal sides, and homemade blueberry pie!
Grab a cone at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream
Hope you saved room for dessert. Is any evening by the ocean complete without an ice cream cone? You already know the answer to that question!
The ice cream from Mount Desert Island Ice Cream is unlike any you’ve had before. Maybe it’s the premium flavors mixed with the ocean air, or maybe it’s the care that goes into every homemade batch. Yum!
Day 2 of your Acadia National Park itinerary
Drive the Park Loop Road
Roll the windows down and let in that warm sea breeze as you head out to tour Acadia’s Park Loop Road. Turn on your favorite playlist and enjoy the ride!
The 27-mile road that loops around Acadia National Park is the best scenic drive in the area, taking visitors from the ocean to the mountains and everywhere in between. Set aside at least 4 hours for the drive. There are lots of places to stop along the way, but here are some of the best sights:
First Stop: Hulls Cove Visitor Center
Begin your scenic drive around Acadia National Park at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
Here you can chat with a park ranger about your plans for the day, pick up a park map, buy souvenirs, and learn about the park’s natural and cultural history. The climb up the center’s 52 steps is sure to get your blood flowing!
Second Stop: Sieur de Monts
Sieur de Monts is the heart of Acadia National Park and one of the first attractions you’ll see when driving the scenic Park Loop Road.
This area is home to many sights, including the Sieur de Monts Spring, Acadia Nature Center, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Abbe Museum, and historic memorial paths.
Hiking around in this area is a great way to spot wildlife and a variety of native plants too!
Third Stop: Thunder Hole
Have your camera ready for this awesome feature!
Thunder Hole is appropriately named after the booming sound the ocean waves make as they slam against the rocky shore while pushing air and settled water to the surface.
The small rocky inlet at Thunder Hole may not be as wild at low tide, but wait for some choppy water to come in with the high tide, and you’re sure to hear what all the hype is about.
Fourth Stop: Otter Point
Less than a mile past Thunder Hole, there will be a parking area for Otter Point.
This rocky shoreline is named after Acadia National Park’s spunky river otters. The most impressive feature at this stop is Otter Cliff, which stands an impressive 110 ft high!
This is a great spot to hang out in the sun and watch the ocean waves crash over the rocks.
Fifth Stop: Lunch at Jordan Pond House Restaurant
After a morning of sightseeing, it’s time for a well-earned lunch break. Famous for their mouth-watering popovers, the Jordan Pond House Restaurant is every foodie’s dream come true.
In addition to the freshly made popovers, the menu is also loaded with fresh seafood options and entrees to satisfy every craving.
Last stop: Jordan Pond Loop Trail
It’s time to get a little hike in. Wouldn’t you agree?
The beautiful 3.5 loop trail around Jordan Pond is the perfect place. This scenic hike will take you along the shore of the pond. Sturdy shoes are recommended for this trail.
Although most of the terrain is level or boardwalk trail, there are a couple of sections of uneven rocky terrain.
Dinner at Leary’s Landing Irish Pub
After your drive around the Park Loop Road, take some time to relax at your campsite or hotel before heading out for an evening in Bar Harbor.
There’s nothing better than a meal from Leary’s Landing Irish Pub. Conveniently located right in town, this lively restaurant offers everything from bangers and mash to hardy Maine Lobster Rolls.
Don’t forget to add in one of their specialty cocktails!
Day 3 of your Acadia National Park itinerary
Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain
When you watch the sun come up from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, you’re watching the first sunrise in the entire country!
I hope you’re a morning person or can pretend to be one to experience this phenomenal sight.
Some folks choose to make the 3.5-mile hike to the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise, but you can drive to the lookout to sleep in a little longer.
From Bar Harbor, it only takes about 20 minutes to drive up to the lookout.
Hike the Cadillac Mountain Summit Trail Loop
If you chose to drive up to the Cadillac Mountain lookout, there’s still a nice hike waiting for you at the top.
The Summit Trail is an easy half-mile loop that offers amazing views of the ocean and rocky shoreline during the golden morning hours.
Hike down the trail before the sun makes its appearance to find a secluded viewing spot. Don’t forget warm clothes, blankets, and hot beverages!
Breakfast at the Lighthouse Inn & Restaurant
An early morning adventure must be rewarded by a filling breakfast! Pack in a morning meal that will have you energized for the next fun activity in Acadia National Park at the Lighthouse Inn & Restaurant.
Whether you choose homemade blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup or the Fisherman’s Delight specialty omelette, you won’t be leaving hungry!
Take a Scenic Cruise
Until this morning, you’ve been admiring the Atlantic Ocean from shore. It’s time to get a new perspective!
At Sea Princess Nature Cruises, passengers can get out on the water for a chance to spot seals, osprey, and other ocean wildlife. The morning cruise is typically 3 hours long, and fills up in advance, so book early!
The boat makes a stopover at Little Cranberry Island, where passengers can see the 200-year-old fishing village and briefly explore the area.
In the last three days, you’ve watched the first sunrise in the USA, splashed around in the Atlantic Ocean, tried some of Maine’s famous seafood, and taken a scenic morning cruise. Now, it’s time to discover your next adventure in Vacationland!