“How Much Time Do We Need to See Acadia National Park in Maine?”

Coast lineThis is a frequently asked question among first-time visitors to New England, especially those who fly into Boston and want a “representative sample” of the scenic villages and ports along the Maine Coast. 

Who can blame them for wanting to see it all? 

“Breadth” vs. “depth” becomes the issue. 

Depending upon what kind of vacation you want to create for yourself, here’s an activity log for three different levels of time availability.  Think about what activities you most enjoy, how much “down time” you need, and if you want to incorporate outdoor adventures or time at the beach (or for shopping).  The amount of time you need for Acadia should then become clear!  

Three Days 

  •  Drive the Park Loop Road, taking in the key sights such as Frenchman Bay, Ocean Trail, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, and Jordan Pond
  • Hike a trail from among the 130 miles of stunning, well-maintained routes on the island.  Consider Jordan Pond as a starting point so that you can efficiently include lunch or tea (popovers, lemonade, chowder) at Jordan Pond House
  • Visit the “Quietside,” being sure to see Somes Sound, Somesville, Echo Lake, Bass Harbor Headlight, and the fishing village of Bass Harbor
  • Have dinner at Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard on the “Quietside”  

One  Week

  •  Add in a sea kayaking tour – great from Bar Harbor in the morning, Southwest Harbor for sunset
  • Take a horse-drawn carriage drive from Wildwood Stables, an Acadia tradition
  • Shop in Bar Harbor and explore the waterfront 

Two Weeks

  • Bike along any of Acadia’s 57 miles of scenic carriage roads
  • Attend a ranger-led program, whether it’s to explore tidal pools or learn more about birds of prey
  • Take a boat ride with Diver Ed in the Starfish Enterprise  or in a romantic, historic Friendship Sloop
  • Work in a second hike on another part of the island – the views and terrain are so varied!
  • Visit the village of Southwest Harbor to shop and have a lobster roll and blueberry pie
  • Seek out a Maine public supper or flea market — and enjoy the company of locals
  • Schedule a family rock-climbing expedition
  • Visit an oceanarium with touch tanks to see marine life up close and personal
  • Attend a tour of one of Mount Desert Island’s award-winning local breweries
  • Take a nap on Sand Beach or at Echo Lake

Dining out is a big part of visiting Acadia.  The island’s eateries range from chic tapas bars to lobster pounds in the rough.  You may also want to picnic on a mountaintop or cook-out seaside.  Regardless, where to eat should be planned as part of your itinerary because you want to make getting around this 100-square-mile island most efficient.  Consult OUR ACADIA for reviews of the best places to eat.

OUR ACADIA also features recommendations for sea kayaking tours, kayaking rentals, bike rentals, and rock-climbing guides.  You may want to make reservations in advance, especially in the busiest vacation seasons.

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One Comment to ““How Much Time Do We Need to See Acadia National Park in Maine?””

  1. All I can tell you is that we started in 1999 with 3 days, have graduated to 2 weeks and it’s still not long enough. The more time you spend in Acadia/Mount Desert Island, the more you realize there is to see and do. I feel sorry for those “destination collectors” who come for a day or two and then check Acadia off their list with a “been there; done that.”

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