My perfect vacation is some version of hiking, biking, and kayaking…coupled with the luxury of a stay in a beautiful inn. Throw in a massage, followed by a gin and tonic in an Adirondack chair, and that’s bliss.
My sister, on the other hand, loves to camp. Every year I offer her my house on Mount Desert Island, but she opts for one of the eight camp sites at Wildwood Stables, her home base for carriage driving in Acadia National.
Location, location, location
Regardless of your preference, the first decision you have to make when planning where to stay on a visit to Acadia is location. Location, location, location – it’s much more of a factor on Mount Desert Island than on some of our other favorite island resorts.
For example, both Mount Desert Island and Martha’s Vineyard are roughly 100 square miles and comprised of several towns and villages. However, Mount Desert Island has a fiord dividing the island and two-thirds of its area is national park. Circumnavigating these areas can take extra driving time. Therefore, if you choose a more remote area of the island for its solitude and views, the trade-off will be extra time in the car to get to hiking trails and restaurants. The villages of Mount Desert Island have very different personalities, so explore your options and look at some maps to make the best choice for your vacation.
Now you can think about your other options: camping, renting, or an inn.
The two primary park campgrounds within Acadia National Park are Blackwoods Campground, just south of Bar Harbor, and Seawall Campground, just south of Southwest Harbor. Only Blackwoods takes reservations.
The camping sites are wooded — not on the water, but within a 10-minute walk of the ocean. My sister, who went to Seawall “year after year” when her children were small, loved these walk-in campsites because they offer more solitude than what you find at a private campgrounds. The majority of sites are for tents. There are no hook-ups or utilities. The appeal lies in such amenities as evening campfire programs sponsored by the National Park Service.
If you’re looking for swimming pools and a hook-up for your TV, try out one of the dozen or so private campgrounds. They are found throughout the island in Bar Harbor, Bass Harbor, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor, and Trenton.
Among Mount Desert Island’s excellent real estate brokers, many have knowledgeable and efficient rental services, including The Davis Agency, Mount Desert Island Real Estate, and The Knowles Company.
There is a very large inventory of rental stock. For example, the Davis Agency is advertising a little yellow cottage with one bedroom and a private garden on a quiet street for $800 a week. If you want something right on the water, there’s a two-bedroom rustic cottage with 180 degree views of the islands, mountains and ocean activity. Featuring a small deck with a beach, it is available for $1450 a week.
Inns and B&B’s
There are also inns throughout the island. From Victorian to contemporary, they compete with décor, amenities, and luxurious breakfasts. For example, the Kingsleigh Inn, with a wraparound porch overlooking Southwest Harbor, has a signature sweet entrée – banana-stuffed French toast drizzled with chocolate. Their blueberry cream scones have been featured on Cooking.com.
A listing of some of my favorite inns and B&Bs on Mount Desert Island may give you some ideas of your own.
Once you’re set with your reservations, you can turn to planning your hikes, renting bicycles, scheduling a kayaking trips, and researching what to do if it rains when you’re visiting Acadia. (You’ll welcome an afternoon with a book on the porch!) All of this information, plus tips for local markets and reviews of restaurants, can be found at OUR ACADIA. Do a little planning now to make the most of your summer vacation in Maine!