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Autumn on MDI - Things to do, places to see in the Fall

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

While Bar Harbor attracts most of its guests for summertime activities, many people find the calmer, cooler, more laid-back fall season the most desirable time to visit the island. And it’s no wonder- more comfortable weather for hiking and biking, stunning views for leaf peepers, and less foot traffic at popular locations can provide a more relaxing and simplistic trip.

With 155 miles of trails, fall hikers of any persuasion and skill set can enjoy Acadia National Park’s views without the taxing humidity and heat. Additionally, more trails are open in the off season due to wildlife preservation methods easing up (nesting and fledgling peregrine falcons, for example, may close an entire trail during the summer season.) Prime foliage opportunities are typically between mid-September and mid-October, with comfortable days and cooler nights that are perfect for a peaceful night’s sleep after a day of exploring. Many of the park’s trails are perfect for cyclists, as well, so pack up or rent a bike and hit the woods- without all the bugs!

A beautiful way to experience the foliage from the water is, of course, on the sea! LuLu Lobster Boat, Acadian Nature Cruises, and Sea Princess Cruises are some of the local businesses that provide lobster fishing demonstrations, nature tours, seal and whale watching, sunset happy hour cruises, lighthouse cruises, and more through the end of October (weather permitting.) Pack a sweater or jacket and enjoy the ride.

Atlantic Climbing School runs through the end of October, providing opportunities for climbing expeditions whether you’re a novice or experienced climber. Enjoy surreal views and an undeniably unique experience that’s sure to be memorable.

Maine’s Open Lighthouse Day features several lighthouses open to the public for viewing and observation from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This year’s event falls on September 10, and while it may be too late to check it out this year, keep your eyes peeled for information for future events.

The second round of the Bar Harbor Fine Arts Festival is a yearly fall event that features quality art from crafters and artists all over the United States. Hosted around Labor Day, these shows run for a weekend and are a wonderful way to experience local craftsmanship. Make sure to check out August’s festival, as well, if you’re around!

The Acadia Night Sky Festival is a great way to enjoy the clear, open skies of rural Maine. With stargazing outings, workshops, lectures, and a “star party” held at the summit of picturesque Cadillac Mountain, you can learn something new, share your knowledge, or just enjoy a view you may not have anywhere else.

The Oktoberfest Craft Fair hits the lawn of the Bar Harbor Atlantic Oceanside in early October with tons of locally crafted Maine gifts, just in time for your Christmas shopping needs. Bring home the beauty of Maine with a painting, carving, quilt, or jewelry, and enjoy local music while you’re there. Venture to the “quiet side” of the island for Southwest Harbor’s Acadia Oktoberfest with beer, food, music, and more.

The MDI Marathon is a staple in this small community, providing runners from all over the country a scenic and beautiful landscape for the ultimate competition. Beginning in Bar Harbor, this race runs 26.2 miles of stunning views through the park and along the coastline to Southwest Harbor. Whether you want to cheer people along or join in on the fun, there’s no shortage of celebratory activities and fellow athletes to share this experience with!

For people looking for a spooky addition to their stay, Red Cloak Tours and the Bar Harbor Ghost Tours both provide a walk through the town that guides you to places rumored to be haunted. And even if you don’t believe in ghosts or goblins, you will enjoy the ambiance and the storytelling about our historic oceanside town.

In November, Bar Harbor hosts a pajama sale and bed race (it’s exactly what it sounds like!) Come into town early morning dressed in your most fabulous cozy pjs and save big at local retailers who are looking to round out their season with a lot of fun and savings. Then enjoy a hilarious and highly competitive bed race through town as local businesses, organizations, and teams race to the finish line in their most creative (and lightweight) bed on wheels creation yet!

As always, local restaurants provide delicious favorites. Stop in at local bars for meals, desserts, and drinks that feature seasonal flavors.

No matter the season, Mount Desert Island has so much to offer, and fall may be your favorite visit yet! Let us know what your fall trip to Bar Harbor was like, and why you loved your stay.

Photo credit to the Yellow House B&B, Saltair Waterfront B&B and The Holbrook House. Please visit their websites to learn more.

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