Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

What Moms Want for Family Vacations. Does Acadia National Park in Maine Fill the Bill?

Even a Tiger Mom shares something with all mothers: she wants the best for her kids.  And that includes a family vacation that is full of what makes great memories.

Last summer President Obama and the First Lady chose Acadia National Park for a summertime vacation.  Perhaps it was because it fulfilled on Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” agenda.

What’s on your wish list? More family time?  Beach time?  Somewhere you’ve never been?  No in-laws?  Well, Acadia National Park can’t promise everything, but here’s a sampling of what most moms want and what you can expect.

Things We Can Do Together – All year family members are rushing in different directions – to soccer, gymnastics, and the SAT tutor.  Summer vacation is the time to bring everyone together through activities everyone enjoys.  Acadia National Park offers 130 miles of hiking trails and 57 miles of car-free carriage roads for biking – with a family picnic to celebrate reaching the destination. 

But Everyone Needs to Go Separate Ways Sometimes – A little bit of freedom for family members to assert their individuality is necessary for peace and a shot at something memorable for all.  Don’t worry.  Teenagers can take the free Island Explorer bus to shop, go to the movies and explore Bar Harbor, while other family members go for miniature golf.

An Opportunity to Learn – The National Park Service in Acadia offers ranger-led programs that are fascinating for individuals of all ages.  You may want to explore the Stars over Sand Beach, Birds of Prey, or Sketching by the Sea.

The Beach! Sand Beach, a stunning sandy crescent enclosed by dramatic cliffs, offers a respite everyone can enjoy.  Whether the goal is building a sand castle or getting some rays, it’s fun for all.  There’s even a hiking trail overlooking the beach.

A Chance to Try Something New – Rock climbing outings for the entire family let you find out that you can do what you never thought possible – for example, rappelling off a 60-foot cliff over pounding surf and then climbing back up!  Acadia offers adventure that includes whale watching trips, sightseeing flights, and sea kayaking trips.

Plenty of Options for Where to Stay – Mount Desert Island has an array of accommodations that range from free campgrounds to luxurious historic inns.  A great option for families is to rent a house.  You can find well-priced, spic-and-span homes that make breakfast easy.  And there’s always a lobster pot.

Lots of Choices for Where to Eat – What’s your pleasure?  BBQ at picnic tables at a local micro-brewery?  A lobster pound overlooking a working harbor?  Relaxed, but refined dining featuring the best in seafood and local organic produce?  Click here to get specific restaurant recommendations near Acadia National Park for all of these categories!

A Little Indulgence for Mom  Everyone needs a break and that includes hardworking moms.  Even if you opted for camping, you can get a little luxury at a nearby spa.  Bar Harbor, for example, is home to spas that range from elegant to “crunchy-set” spiritual.  Sunsets and gardens (Asticous Azalea Garden or Thuya Garden) are equally serene.

If you’d like to see a sample 7-day itinerary for a vacation to Acadia National Park, consult OUR ACADIA.  It has more tips on what to do with kids and detailed listings for kayaking trips, rock climbing guides, the best miniature golf course, restaurants, realtors, and places to stay.



January 23, 2011

Looking Back at Acadia National Park’s Awards in 2010 to Help You Plan Your Vacation for 2011

Photograph by Raul Touzon

When it comes to picking a vacation destination, past results are indicative of future performance.  So, as we sit here sandwiched between the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards, let’s look back at the awards and recognition Maine’s Acadia National Park racked up in 2010.  

When you do, Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island will move up your “Bucket List” of where you want to go in 2011. 

Travel and Leisure’s “Best Island” in North America  Travel and Leisure readers chose Mount Desert Island as the #1 island in 2010, moving it from #2 in 2009.  This ranking wasn’t only based on natural beauty, which MDI, with 23 mountain peaks and a fiord, has in spades.  The survey also asked readers to take into account activities/sights, restaurants/food, people, and value.

Huffington Post “6 Best American National Parks”  The Huffington Post published their list of the “6 Best American National Parks,” but they added a tough criterion.  The park had to be within driving distance of a big city.  Acadia National Park, which occupies roughly two-thirds of Mount Desert Island, made the list of six.  Three hours north of up-and-coming Portland, five north of Boston, and almost nine from New York, it’s a treasure accessible to urban dwellers like me.

Our First Family’s Choice for their Summer Vacation Just in case you don’t remember, the Obama’s headed up to Maine last summer to visit Acadia National Park.  They relaxed by hiking and biking in Acadia, visited the lighthouse in Bass Harbor, and played tennis in Bar Harbor.  (The restaurant choice for date night, Havana, is one of mine, too, although they missed the best lobster pound on Mount Desert Island, Thurston’s.) 

A Burst in Visitors, according to National Park Service Statistics  Whether because of the improving economy or the increase in its inherent appeal, visits to Acadia National Park grew 12 percent in 2010.  Over 2.5 million visitors took the opportunity to see “where the mountains meet the sea.”  And whether they focused on romantic sunset sailing trips or a lumberjack show with the kids, they enjoyed the most beautiful vistas in America.  

National Geographic Best Wallpapers of 2010  National Geographic remains our definitive source for adventure and natural beauty.  Among the spectacular photos selected as the “Best Wallpapers” this year was the photograph shown above by Raul Touzon of a solitary red maple leaf on the trunk of a downed birch tree in Maine’s Acadia National Park. If you go to Acadia, the rangers of the National Park Service lead programs that will teach you fascinating things not only about trees, but also birds of prey, tidal pools, and constellations.’s Best Cookbooks 2010 In recent years Maine has earned its seat at the national culinary table because of its close connection between fishermen, farmer, and table.  In 2010 a top pick among cookbooks was Fresh From Maine, Recipes and Stories from the State’s Best Chefs by Michael Sanders with photography by Russell French.  It featured three Mount Desert Island chefs who focus on local ingredients: Maureen Cosgrove of Town Hill Bistro, James Lindquist of Red Sky, and Kyle Yarborough of Mache Bistro.  Indulging in, say, a lobster risotto or blueberry cobbler at one of these restaurants is a just reward for a day of hiking or biking. 

Convinced?  To plan your trip to Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island, visit OUR ACADIA for tips on inns, restaurants, and kids’favorites.

January 2, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Gifts or Confessions of a Nerd

My favorite New Yorker cartoon shows a couple entertaining in their NYC apartment, which is decorated with fishing buoys.  Their guests realize they’re trapped when the host asks, “Did we mention that we spent last summer in Maine?” 

As someone similarly obsessed with Maine, I know that look of panic.  

That’s why I’m writing a public thank you note to my family who not only indulged my Maine obsession with great gifts this Christmas, but listened to me all year long. 

First of all is Fred, who hikes, bikes, and kayaks with me in Acadia when he’d probably rather be lying on a beach on Martha’s Vineyard.  He’s even become my partner in ensnaring people into conversations about Maine — especially about lobster, which is his passion!  He not only gave me a print of that favorite New Yorker cartoon, but a hatcam that will let me take videos while I’m doing those great rungs-and-ladders trails in Acadia.  Hiking with me with that cap on, now that’s true love. 

My daughter Luisa gave me The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors.  Encompassing plants, animals, and habitats, it provides substantive, entertaining answers to all kinds of things you may have wondered about:  Why are some pine cones tightly closed?  What are the large spherical growths on the trunks of some trees?  Why do geese waste energy honking when they fly?  Information enhances experience, and this book is going to make being outdoors so much more fulfilling for me.  Thank you, Luisa.

My sister Nancy, who is a professional dog trainer in New Hampshire, gave me a gourd bird house.  You can buy one or make your own.  The benefits of gourd-based houses for birds, particularly the purple martin, are that they are cooler in summer and warmer in winter than wooden bird houses and their slick surfaces tend to thwart predators.  Mine is on its way to my backyard in Somesville, Maine.

My other sister, Laurie, an officer of The Granite State Carriage Association, introduced me to Acadia National Park during a carriage-driving expedition in 2004.  For Christmas this year she gave me a doormat woven from recycled floating rope, which the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation has been buying back from lobstermen to help them comply with a new federal whale rule mandating the use of sinking groundlines to avoid entangling whales.  The “Bottom Line Project” has helped save whales, support lobstermen, and introduce a new artisanal craft.   As the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation says, you can join New England’s finest porches by buying your own mat made from the colorful rope used by Maine lobstermen.

I don’t have buoys hanging from the ceiling of my Manhattan apartment, but first chance I get, I’ll be ready to talk to you about more ways to appreciate and preserve all of the great things on our planet, including the generosity of indulgent family…

…and to tell you more about why I love Acadia National Park.