Bar Harbor Travel Guide

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Despite considerable change throughout its history, Bar Harbor is today one of the premier "go to" vacation destinations in Maine. This is especially true in summer when Bar Harbor's scenic beauty and close proximity to famed Acadia National Park draw multitudes of tourists and visitors.

Bar Harbor has changed much since its early days as a port for Maine's busy fishing industry. In the late 19th century, this seaside community was discovered by an increasingly affluent American middle class. Empowered with more disposable income, these eager vacationers found Bar Harbor to be an ideal vacation spot - easily accessible by steam boat and less expensive than beach destinations further down the eastern seaboard in places like New York and New Jersey. A multitude of boarding houses, elegant hotels and attractions manifested themselves in response to the growing tourist economy. Bar Harbor has never looked back since.

While modest in size, Bar Harbor features a diverse offering of lodging accommodations and dining options. Visitors can choose from opulent, lush hotels that harken back to the Gilded Age or satisfying basic motels for the budget-conscious traveler. Similarly, restaurants range from bay front snack shops serving fried clams to multi-course gourmet meals as part of that special evening out in Bar Harbor. In recent years, more exotic cuisine has become part of the local dining scene with specialty restaurants serving Thai, Mexican and vegetarian dishes that are of admirable quality and taste. Several local restaurants also specialize in craft beers and seafood offerings that satisfy distinctive diners.

A variety of activities are available for visitors to this quaint community. In-town, private outfitters offer kayak and canoe rentals for those seeking to explore the picture perfect shoreline of Frenchman's Bay. Similarly, bike rentals are available for traversing the miles of superbly maintained carriage roads that course through Acadia National Park. The park also offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and, in the winter months, cross country skiing and snow shoeing. There are also museums, art galleries, and whale watch tours to add even further variety to your stay.

Shoppers will find much to like about Bar Harbor with its signature boutique shops, many of which feature distinctive hand-made crafts created by local artisans. Of course, there are plenty of stores that sell tourist merchandise from t-shirts and hats emblazoned with Bar Harbor logos to sundries such as sun block lotions and insect repellants.

Nightlife is defined by many small pubs and eateries that feature local talent -- intimate combos that perform everything from jazz to blues to bluegrass music. In nearby communities there are outstanding summer stock stage performances, as well.

If planning to visit in the summer, be prepared for certain amounts of traffic congestion.  Off-season, especially in the fall and winter, vacationers have the added charm of enjoying miles of open road as well as discounts on everything from lodging to restaurant meals. Off-season also means miles of open carriage roads for hiking and biking that are available to visitors.

Where to Go in Bar Harbor

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

TOWNE MOTEL

172 Madison Ave

Legacy of the Arts

expert pick

2 Cottage Street

The Legacy of the Arts showcases Bar Harbor's rich artistic and cultural offerings.

Poor Boy's Gourmet Restaurant

expert pick

300 Main Street

Poor Boy's Gourmet Restaurant features affordable, upscale dining.

King Eider's Pub and Restaurant

expert pick

12 Elm Street

King Eider's Pub has set a new standard for fine pub dining in central Maine.

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