Acadia National Park

This article reviews the top things to do when visiting Acadia NP. The scenic drive has several stopping points, so read on to see which ones you should do first if time is limited!

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Bucket List Items for Acadia National Park!

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, look no further than Acadia National Park. This stunning park on the Atlantic coast has something for everyone, from hiking and biking trails to beautiful beaches and amazing views. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best things to do in Acadia National Park, including popular hikes, scenic drives, and dining options. So pack your camping gear or just your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable trip!

Where to Stay When Visiting Acadia NP

There are plenty of options when it comes to finding a place to stay in Acadia National Park. You can camp at one of the many campgrounds within the park, or stay at a hotel or inn in the nearby town of Bar Harbor. If you’re looking for something truly unique, consider staying at The Inn at Echo Lake. This historic lodge is located right on the water and offers stunning views of Mount Desert Island.

Entering Acadia National Park

Once you arrive at Acadia National Park, be sure to check in at the Visitor Center. Here you can grab a map of the park and chat with a ranger about the best things to do during your stay. The Visitor Center is also a great place to learn about the park’s history and get information on current conditions. Admission to Acadia National Park is $30 per vehicle or $25 for motorcycles. If you’re planning on visiting for more than a day, consider purchasing an annual pass for $50. This pass allows unlimited entry into the park for one year from the date of purchase.

Drive the Scenic "Park Loop Road"

After you have checked into Acadia National Park, gotten all your stamps, stickers, maps, parking pass, and souvenirs it’s now time to explore. Park Loop Road is a great place to start, as it is a 27 mile loop through Mount Desert.This very scenic road connects several of Acadia’s popular spots, such as Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, and the carriage roads.

Challenging Hiking Trails

For a more challenging hike, head to the Beehive Trail. This popular trail is only about a mile long, but it’s very steep and strenuous. If you’re up for even more of a challenge, continue to the Jordan Cliffs Trail. This trail is longer and more difficult, but the views are worth it. The Beech Cliff Trail is another great option for those looking for a challenge. This three-mile hike takes you to the top of Beech Mountain for some stunning views of Acadia National Park. If you’re looking for a hike with some incredible views, try the Precipice Trail. This short trail is only about a mile long, but it’s very steep and includes some ladder sections. The Precipice Trail is not for everyone, but those who are up for the challenge will be rewarded with some of the best views in Acadia National Park.

Easy Hiking Trails and Strolls

While Acadia National Park has plenty of challenging hikes, there are also plenty of easy trails and walks. The Bubbles Trail is a short, easy hike that takes you through some beautiful forest. Another great option is the Ship Harbor Trail. This trail is only about a mile long and takes you through some stunning coastline. For something even shorter, try the Ladder Trail. This short trail is only 01 long.

Casual Strolls

If you’re not looking for a strenuous hike, there are plenty of casual strolls you can take in Acadia National Park. One great option is the Ocean Path. This scenic trail follows the coastline for about two miles. Another great option is the Jordan Pond Nature Trail. This short trail takes you around Jordan Pond and is perfect for a stroll.

Cadillac Mountain

Have you ever seen a sunrise over the ocean? If not, add it to your bucket list and head up to Cadillac Mountain. It is one of the most popular attractions at Acadia National Park, and for good reason. This granite peak offers stunning views of the Atlantic coast and is the highest point on the U.S. East Coast. Cadillac Mountain is a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset, and it’s also a popular spot for hiking and picnicking. Several different trails lead to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, and the easiest option is the Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail. This moderate trail is just over two miles round trip and takes you through a beautiful stretch of coastline. For a more challenging hike, try the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail. This strenuous trail is four miles round trip and includes several steep sections. No matter which trail you choose, you’re sure to be rewarded with incredible views at the top. Cadillac Mountain is a must-visit during your stay in Acadia National Park.

Tip:

If you want to view the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, get here bright and early.  This is an extremely popular thing to do in Acadia.  Plan to get there 30 minutes to and hour before sunrise depending on if it is peak season or not.  We drove our Class B up a couple hours before the sunrise, set an alarm and gave ourselves 15 minutes to setup our cameras

Important Update Vehicle reservations are required to drive up Cadillac Mountain now, so be sure to get these when you check-in.  If your visit will be between late May and mid-October. Get the full details on the national park website. 

Sand Beach

Sand Beach is one of the most popular attractions in Acadia National Park. This beautiful beach is situated at the base of granite cliffs, and it offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Sand Beach is a great place to relax and enjoy the incredible scenery. It’s also a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking

Tip:

The parking lot at Sand Beach is one of the largest in the park. If you want to explore Sand Beach, hike the Beehive Trail, walk Ocean Path to Thunder Hole, or walk Great Head Trail, this is the best place to park. Just get here early (before 10 am, even earlier in July and August) because it does fill up fast.

Thunder Hole

Thunder Hole is one of the most popular attractions in Acadia National Park. This unique geological formation is located on the coast of Maine and is known for its thunderous sound,  and the water can spray up to 50 feet in the air.  The best time to visit Thunder Hole is during the summer months when the weather is warm and the waves are high. We recommend parking at Sand Beach and walking here during the peak season, as the walk from Sand Beach is only 1 mile each way. Thunder Hole is a must-visit during your stay in Acadia National Park, and remeber locals say the best time to visit Thunder Hole is two hours before high tide, to hear the thunderclap that the waves create.  If you visit Thunder Hole on a calm day or during low tide, you will not get the full experience.  Click here for high tide information.

Thunder Hole is in the middle of the coastline on Park Loop Drive and has very beautiful coastline scenes that intersect with the Atlantic Ocean.  It is not the only scenic coastline stop along the drive, as you can see from the photos below.  If you have extra time, explore some of the other scenic rocky coastline.

Jordan Pond House

The Jordan Pond House is a historic building in Acadia National Park. This popular spot is known for its stunning views of Jordan Pond and the surrounding mountains. The Jordan Pond House is also a popular spot for dining. The restaurant at Jordan Pond House is open daily from 11:30 am- sunset, and it offers a variety of menu items, including their famous “Popovers”. The Jordan Pond House is also a popular spot for hiking, picnicking, and swimming, so expect big crowds, especially during peak season.

Echo Lake

Echo Lake is another popular attraction in Acadia National Park. This beautiful lake is situated at the base of Cadillac Mountain, and it offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Echo Lake is a great place to relax and enjoy the incredible scenery. It’s also a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. Echo Lake is a must-visit during your stay in Acadia National Park.

Dining Outside the Park

 After a long day of hiking, you’ll probably be ready for some dinner. If you’re staying in Bar Harbor, there are plenty of great restaurants to choose from. If you’re looking for something casual, try The Side Street Cafe or Primo’s Pizzeria. For something a little nicer, check out The Burning Tree or Havana. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of great places to eat in Bar Harbor. Check out Fish House Grill for some delicious seafood, or head to Millers’ for a great burger. For something a little different, try out The Left Bank, which serves French-American cuisine. And of course, no visit to Maine would be complete without trying lobster. You can find lobster rolls all over town, but one of the best places to get them is at the lobster shack. So there you have it, a few of our favorite places to eat in Bar Harbor. Bon appetit!

Plan Your Visit To Acadia National Park

So there you have it, a few of the most popular attractions in Acadia National Park. Echo Lake, Cadillac Mountain, and Thunder Hole are just a few of the many reasons why this park is so popular. So what are you waiting for? Cadillac Mountain is calling your name! Acadia National Park is the perfect place to get away from it all and explore the great outdoors. With its stunning scenery and endless activities, Acadia is sure to please everyone in the family, no matter what your interests are.  So pack your bags and head to Maine for an unforgettable vacation. Thanks for reading and happy travels!

Important Park Information:

Cost:$30, valid for 7 days
Hours: Acadia National Park is open year round, however, roads and visitor centers close from late fall to spring. Click here for updated hours.

There is a park shuttle that runs during peak season. The shuttle includes stops in Bar Harbor, Hulls Cove Visitor Center, and various places in the park. If you are struggling to find a parking space, or you are traveling without a car, you can get around by shuttle. Click here to learn more.

Important!! Vehicle reservations are required to drive up Cadillac Mountain between late May and mid-October. Get the full details on the national park website.

Peak season is July and August. Expect big crowds, full parking lots, and lots of hikers on the most popular trails.

Autumn is another popular season, since this is a gorgeous place to see fall colors. For coastal Maine, including Acadia National Park, early to mid-October is generally when fall colors are at their peak. However, this does vary from year to year, based on weather conditions. For the past five years, fall colors were at their peak anywhere from October 8 to October 21.

We visited Acadia National Park in September 2019. Dorie and I spent three full days in the park, from September 13 to 16.  During our visit, the fall colors were considered to be “medium,” with 25 to 40% of the trees displaying fall colors. This is based on the fall foliage report on the Maine Foliage website.

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