Posts tagged ‘Jordan Pond House’

June 27, 2011

5 Best Places to Eat with Kids in Bar Harbor During a Family Vacation to Acadia National Park

The most popular section of my Web site OUR ACADIA – which is devoted to exploring, eating, and relaxing in Maine – is restaurants.  Maybe it’s because lobster, blueberry pie, and chowder are so high up on everyone’s agenda of what to do in Maine!  If you are planning a family vacation to Mount Desert Island, here are the best spots to eat with kids.

Jordan Pond House

Enjoying tea and popovers on the lawn at Jordan Pond House has been a Mount Desert Island tradition since 1870.  Located on a hill overlooking Jordan Pond and the Bubble mountains, the restaurant serves lunch, tea, and dinner. At the cross roads of hiking, biking, and sightseeing trails, the lawn is a hub of activity, so let the kids run around while your waitress puts in your order for lobster stew, Maine crab cakes, popovers, lemonade, and homemade strawberry icecream.

Thurston’s Lobster Pound

Thurston’s Lobster Pound is the real thing, serving steamed lobster, chowder, and ales from local micro-breweries in a casual setting overlooking the working lobster boats of Bass Harbor.  The folks who own Thurston’s are smart.  They keep parents happy with steamers and lobster, kids thrilled with burgers, hot dogs, and peanut butter and jelly.  A sophisticated teen who scorns seafood?  How about a grilled chicken sandwich with Boursin cheese?  And everyone will love their special blueberry spice cake.

Pat’s Pizza

After days of seafood, some families want something different.  Pat’s is particularly kid-friendly because of its varied menu.  I love their deliciously crisp pizza, but it also comes in “double dough” and gluten-free styles.  Your teenager may want a chicken caesar salad, while the little kids go for a traditional Italian dinner of baked ziti or lasagna.  Nachos and burgers are options, too.  There are so many tempting options for pizza that you may end up coming back a second time to take out.

Café This Way

If it’s going to rain, schedule a day exploring Bar Harbor that starts with a special breakfast at Café This Way.  Parents can choose among six different ways to have their Eggs Benedict or create their own omelets.  Kids love the blueberry pancakes, French toast, waffles, and Big Breakfast Sandwiches.  My husband couldn’t decide between eggs or French toast so he chose the Monte Cristo, a French toast sandwich filled with a fried egg, ham, and cheddar cheese, served with home fries and maple syrup.

Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium

Summertime and candy shops just go together.  Taffy?  Lobster icecream?  From the traditional to the, well, innovative, Ben & Bill’s has it all.  You can get buttercrunch, chocolates, gummy candies, jelly beans, and homemade fudge made from a 100-year-old recipe.  If you prefer icecream, they stock 64 hard-serve flavors in summer, along with 12 flavors of gelato — all made at the shop on Main Street in Bar Harbor.  No  one leaves unhappy, including the family hound, who can get a Yellow Dog Special, a baby scoop of vanilla icecream with two dog bones.

For other ideas on what to do with kids – ranging from boat cruises to family-friendly hikes – visit OUR ACADIA’S “Kids’ Favorites.”  That’s the second most popular part of the site!

September 21, 2009

Top Ten Things to Do When You Visit Acadia National Park in Maine

Cadillac SunriseKen Burns’ series “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” may have piqued your interest about Acadia, the easternmost park in the system.  It’s where the mountains meet the sea, and a desire to “do everything” co-exists happily with a sense of calm contemplation.  

Acadia National Park is about three hours north of Portland, in relatively easy proximity to the metropolitan areas along the eastern seaboard.  It occupies about two-thirds of Mount Desert Island, the most well-known town of which is Bar Harbor.  The village where I live was founded in 1761.  Acadia’s boundaries are intermingled with the communities of this New England island. This adds considerably to the charm that captivates park visitors. 

Here are some favorite things to do both in and around the park. 

  1. Watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain.   At some 1500 feet, it is the first place from which to witness dawn in the United States, and it is breathtaking.  Make sure you wear a warm fleece even if it’s August.
  2. Drive the Park Loop Road.  You can get your best overview of Acadia by driving these 27 miles of unsurpassed beauty, created in part through the masterful collaboration of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.  There are many lookouts so have your camera ready for this drive.
  3. Eat lobster.  Whether you want a lobster roll, lobster stew, or a two-pounder steamed, you can find a wide range of topnotch restaurants, harbor-side lobster pounds, and quaint cafes to serve you.  Our favorite is Thurston’s in Bass Harbor.
  4. Go biking.  Thanks to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Acadia offers 57 miles of car-free carriage roads for cycling.  There is plenty of parking at Hull’s Cove Visitor Center.  Or, if you prefer, you can take a horse-drawn carriage drive from Wildwood Stables and see the park the way Mr. Rockefeller intended.
  5. Stroll, hike, or climb.  The park boasts 130 miles of well-maintained hiking trails that appeal to all levels of fitness.  The most exciting trails, such as the Precipice and Jordan Cliffs, feature rungs and ladders.  A beautiful moderately challenging hike is Acadia Mountain, overlooking Somes Sound, the only fiord in North America.  If you’re looking for easier strolls, consider Asticou Trail and Wonderland – they’re lovely.
  6. Have lemonade at Jordan Pond House.  Select a biking or hiking route that stems from behind Jordan Pond House so that you can conclude your afternoon with lemonade and popovers on the lawn looking towards the Bubbles, a sight that has mesmerized visitors at teatime since 1896.  It’s a favorite destination for everyone, but worth the wait.
  7. Visit Sand BeachThis sandy crescent has cliffs at each side and the Beehive Trail behind it.  The views won’t disappoint, even if the chilly water does.  Another option for a swim is the beach at Echo Lake on the island’s “Quietside.”
  8. Touch nature – literally.  There are several enterprises, including Mount Desert Biological Laboratories, The Dive-In Theatre, and the Mount Desert Oceanarium, that feature touch tanks full of lobsters, crabs, and sea cucumbers. I always end up liking this stuff just as much as the kids do.
  9. Learn from a park ranger.  The National Park Service offers very entertaining talks and walks on subjects ranging tidal pools to birds of prey to the stars over Sand Beach.  Scan The Beaver Log to figure out how you can fit in more than one.
  10. Get out on the water.  This great national park is on an island so you must see it from the vantage point of the sea.  Whether you’re powering yourself in a sea kayak or the wind is propelling you forward on a Downeast Friendship Sloop or the Margaret Todd, being on the water is a special part of a trip to Acadia National Park. 

Evenings will keep you on the run as well as you explore Mount Desert Island’s restaurant scene.  Many specialize in seafood and locally grown produce, but you’ll also find French bistro, authentic Mexican, tapas, and Cuban cuisine.  And what if it rains?  There are local breweries, bookstores, antique shops, movies, repertory companies, museums, and fashion purveyors that are sure to keep you entertained.  In fact, after a few days of hiking, biking, and kayaking, you might hope for a slight drizzle and an afternoon in the rocking chair of a local Maine library. 

For specific recommendations and contact information for guides, tours, restaurants, and inns, visit OUR ACADIA.  You can find special tips for when to visit, what to do on a rainy day, and how to pack.  It also features tips for fall trips and sample itineraries.

August 24, 2009

Bar Harbor Restaurants: On the Quest for the Best New England Clam Chowder

chowder and lemonadeIf you’re in New York ordering clam chowder, you’re thinking Manhattan red versus New England white. But if you’re in Maine, believe it or not, the dichotomy can be even more extreme.

(You have to find the real thing. And, in my opinion, the success of the clam chowder is almost as important as the lobster roll when I’m visiting a local lobster pound.)

It’s all about the flour.

In New York – and even in Maine – people break Maine’s cardinal rule of great New England chowder: no flour. The so-thick-it-stands-up-to-a-spoon stuff is not the real thing in Maine. Instead, Mainers count on thickening the “chowdah” with the starch of the potatoes. Evaporated milk adds a creaminess. And the flavor deepens by sitting in the pot for a day or so.

Another key element of a great New England clam chowder is the salt pork. My mother always used salt pork in both corn and clam chowders (as well as string beans). Although she was from Massachusetts, her roots were French-American (Bellevue), a heritage which she shared with many Mainers. Some of the really good Maine cooks (I like Martha Greenlaw’s recipes a lot) substitute bacon for salt pork in clam chowder.

So, there we have it: bacon or salt pork, along with onion, for base flavor, potatoes and evaporated milk for the creaminess, butter, pepper – and the fish! The fish?

Last week on Mount Desert Island – we were hiking, biking, and kayaking in Acadia — I had chowder with clams, haddock, lobster, and scallops. Somehow mussels were out of this particular cycle. Here’s some of the best we tasted.

Jordan Pond House (Park Loop Road, Seal Harbor, 207-276-3316) has both a lobster stew and a seafood chowder that features scallops, shrimp, haddock and potatoes in a creamy – but not flour-thickened! – broth. Big plus: it’s served with their popovers.

Thurston’s (1 Thurston Road, Bernard, 207-244-7600), our favorite lobster pound for dinner, rotates from scallop to haddock to mussel chowder, but all are aged at least a day.  You believe it when you taste it.

Down East Lobster Pound (1192 Bar Harbor Road, Trenton, 207-667-8589) is the sleeper here. We were amazed at the amount of clams and haddock in their chowders. Ounce for ounce, there’s more fish here. And the buttery, milkly flavor is wonderful.

For more information and opinion on eating, exploring, and relaxing on a visit to Acadia National Park, visit OUR ACADIA. There’s a long list of restaurant reviews, as well as itineraries, tips for kids, and ideas on what to do on a rainy day.

August 17, 2008

Four Hikes in Maine’s Acadia National Park You and Your Kids Will Love

kids hiking acadia national park

“How much longer?” is not what you want to hear as you take in your first refreshing breaths of spruce-scented air.  “Can we do this again tomorrow?” is more like it.

However, that’s a sentiment that, frankly, takes some planning.  In addition to your kids’ safety and fortitude, you also have to take into account how to keep them interested for sustained periods of walking.

Choosing the right hike for your family is often the most challenging part of the experience.

I have surveyed online postings and hiking guidebooks to get recommendations for the most kid-friendly treks, then I hiked all of these trails myself.  In addition, I have the experience of a daughter who thought hiking was “boring” unless a hike offered special features or rewards.

If hiking with your kids is one of the things you want to do when you visit Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, I’m happy to offer up these four alternatives.

Ship Harbor

Roundtrip Distance: 1.3 miles

Draw a map of a figure 8, tell your kids that’s the shape of this trail, and then ask them if they want to do the woods or harbor shoreline loop first.  Whatever the course, your outermost point is a scenic picnic spot where you can contemplate the wreck of a schooner that ran aground there in the early 1600s.  We loved the shoreline along Ship Harbor where we collected some beautiful sun-bleached shells. 

Bonus:  Nearby is Bass Harbor Lighthouse.  The kids will enjoy climbing on the rocks at its base with the headlight above and the pounding surf below.  Great photo opps.


South Bubble

Roundtrip Distance: Approximately 1.2 miles

You’ll encounter many families taking advantage of the terrain of this hike: it has some exciting elevation, yet the trail’s series of crib box surfaces make it much easier than hiking over rocks or roots.  The summit of South Bubble, at 768 feet, provides a dramatic vista southward over Jordan Pond.  Many families will be there with willing hands to take a great family shot for you.

Bonus:  Tell the kids they’ll have a chance to try and push over the famous Bubble Rock glacially transported to the top of South Bubble.


Jordan Pond

Total Distance:  3.2 miles

This longer hike will let you and your family walk all the way around scenic Jordan Pond.  Just about all of the circuit is close to the water, which can be 100 feet deep near the shoreline.  Although the terrain is flat, this hike engages my imagination because there are a bridge of flat stones, rock-to-rock hiking, a birch suspension foot-bridge, a section to tiptoe over extensive root systems, and bogwalks. 

Bonus:  At the end of your hike, pick blueberries below the tea lawn in front of Jordan Pond House.  Then have lemonade, popovers, and strawberry ice cream at the restaurant.  There’s a gift shop, too.


Flying Mountain

Total Loop:  1.5 miles

hiking acadia national parkOf all of the hikes listed here, this one probably feels the most like a “real hike.”  It’s relatively short, but there is a bit of climbing and elevation at the beginning that’s fun for energetic kids.  The views of Somes Sound, Sargent Drive, and Norumbega and Sargent Mountains are stunning.  (And mom may be intrigued by the spacious homes and lawns across the sound in Northeast Harbor.)  The return back to the car is easy along a fire road, where you can collect some dried cedar branches for the kids to make into cedar pillows. 

Bonus:The hike’s midpoint is at Valley Cove. The rock beach there is a great spot for the kids to skip rocks and play.  You may even see a peregrine soaring above Valley Cove.



It’s smart to hike with a map.  I highly recommend you pick up one of the good topographic maps published by Map Adventures  in one of the local shops.  While you’re there, look for Tom St. Germain’s A Walk in the Park, now the most dog-eared volume on my Maine bookshelf.  It provides detailed route descriptions and maps of 59 different hikes and was the source for the walking distances here.  A pair of inexpensive binoculars from WalMart or Amazon is also a great investment. Don’t forget plenty of water and some snacks, and these walks may become a mainstay of your family vacations. 


After expending all of that energy, where are you going to eat?  Mount Desert Island offers everything from ice cream shops with delicious blueberry pie to casual wine bars that will welcome your kids.  There’s even a lobster pound that serves PB&J.  So, rest assured, there are lots of restaurants to eat with kids when visiting Acadia National Park.  If you’re renting, you can also tap local markets on Mount Desert Island for superb local crabmeat, local goat cheese, organic vegetables — and lobster.  Many of the local markets also have very good wine selections. 


What’s on the agenda for tomorrow?  A ride on a lobster boat?  What if it rains?  How about an oceanarium?  Click here for 22 great things to do with your kids in Acadia – one of which is to plan another hike!


Tips for Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Bar Harbor

Which Carriage Roads Are the Best Bike Routes for Kids in Maine’s Acadia National Park?

The Best Ice Cream in Bar Harbor Tops Lists of the Best Ice Cream in America

Best Easy Hikes in Acadia National Park