Popular Bar Harbor Shore Excursions
Acadia National Park: This park offers both active and more relaxed ways to enjoy its splendors, and it's accessible by a 27-mile loop road. You can hike, bike or even drive the 0.3-mile paved pathway that encircles Cadillac Mountain to a summit of 1,532 feet -- the highest point on the eastern seaboard of the United States. It is the first spot in the U.S. where the sunrise can be seen, but its 360-degree views can be enjoyed all day long.
Thunder Hole: Another natural highlight, accessible by the Island Explorer bus (Sand Beach/Blackwoods route). Watch water surge and spout as high as 40 feet with a thunderous boom as waves rush into a small inlet, naturally carved out of the rocks.
Abbe Museum: If you're interested in archeology, visit this collection, devoted to Maine's Native American heritage. More than 50,000 objects span 10,000 years of history. (26 Mount Desert Street)
Art: Walk through downtown, and poke into art and craft galleries and top-notch boutiques, showcasing the works of Maine artists, sculptors and photographers. Recommended stops include Eclipse Gallery (12 Mount Desert Street), featuring blown glass and ceramics; Alone Moose Fine Crafts (78 West Street), specializing in wildlife sculptures; Art and Soul Island Gallery (112 Main Street) for limited edition prints, original paintings and photography representing primarily Maine artists; and Argosy Gallery (110 Main Street), displaying art by 36 artists who reside or paint in Maine.
Bar Harbor Historical Society Museum: This museum is housed in a former convent, built in 1916, that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can view a collection of books, maps, antique clothing, photos and other memorabilia from Bar Harbor's past. An interesting exhibit includes photos of opulent summer estates prior to the 1947 fire. The museum is located a couple blocks from Main Street. (33 Ledgelawn Avenue; open from 1 p.m.)
Lobster Fishing and Seal-Watching: The Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company (1 West St., 207-288-2386) and Lulu Lobster Boat Ride (55 West St., 207-963-2341) are independent tour operators that take guests onboard a lobster boat for tours. Watch crew haul lobster traps from the ocean floor as the captain explains the lobster industry. The tour also passes an island where harbor seals bask on rocks.
Mount Desert Oceanarium: Visitors can tour the Maine Lobster Museum and a lobster hatchery for an up-close experience with lobsters, baby starfish and seals. To get there, take the Island Explorer free shuttle (Campground route). (Open mid-May to late October, Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Sailing: Enjoy a two-hour trip with Downeast Windjammer Cruises on the 151-foot, four-mast schooner Margaret Todd. A park ranger provides a narrative, while passengers can help crew hoist sails. (Purchase tickets at 27 Main Street; $37.50 adults; $35 seniors; $27.50 children ages 6 to 11; $5 children ages 2 to 5; free, children under 2)
Brewery Tours and Tastings: Bar Harbor Brewing Company offers tours of its downtown microbrewery with tastings (8 Mount Desert Street). Also, located about 10 miles from Bar Harbor in the village of Town Hill, Atlantic Brewing Company offers free tours of its brewhouse. Although it only brews 60 kegs per day, you will have an opportunity to taste award-winning ales. Mainely Meat BBQ offers food to enjoy with your brews. (15 Knox Road; daily tours at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. until Columbus Day)
Asticou Azalea Garden: Built in 1956, this public Japanese garden allows visitors to meander through pathways and breathe in the aroma of azaleas. It is located about 15 minutes from the tender pier, near the Northeast Harbor, accessible by the Jordan Pond bus route. (Open daily, May 1 to October 31; daylight areas)
Cooking Classes: Learn to recreate classic Maine dishes at home. Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Sharon Joyce offers cooking classes that focus on local specialties like lobster, blueberry muffins, chowder and popovers at her Ambrosia Cooking School. And there's lots of sampling involved. Classes last from one hour to two-and-a-half hours and cost about $30-$50 per person. (19 Rodick Street)