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One Day in Acadia and Mount Desert Island

If you never get out of your car, you could drive this route in about three hours. Most of our guests prefer a more relaxed pace, usually enjoying this drive for about six to eight hours. If you have more than a day, this drive will help you decide where you might want to spend the rest of your time here on Mount Desert Island. Ask your innkeeper for a map of the island and explore!

Visitor’s Center: This is a great place to start if you have never been to Acadia National Park. There is a 15 minute orientation video and informative brochures about various park activities. It is open mid-April through the end of October. Park Headquarters, located on Eagle Lake Road (Rt. 233) three miles west of Bar Harbor, is open during the off-season.

Sieur de Monts Spring: Home to the Acadia Nature Center, the Jesup Path and the Wild Gardens of Acadia, Sieur de Monts Spring is a wonderful place for garden lovers and bird watchers.

Ocean Trail: This walk is classic Acadia – rocky coast, scented pines, and powerful surf. About two miles in length, it extends from the south end of the upper parking lot at Sand Beach, past Thunder Hole and Monument Cove, to the towering point of Otter Cliff. If you can only take one walk in Acadia, make it the Ocean Trail.

Jordan Pond House: Tea and popovers at Jordan Pond House has been a tradition for over a hundred years. Lunch and dinner are also served mid-May to mid-October. A beautiful 3-mile trail takes you around the perimeter of Jordan Pond. After your visit to Jordan Pond House, continue on the loop road or exit the loop road and head toward Northeast Harbor.

Northeast Harbor: Previously a summer hideout for the inconspicuous wealth of the Rockefellers, Astors and Fords, the modern-day affluence of Northeast Harbor has crept onto Main Street in the form of local art galleries and high-end shops. Following a walk through town, head for the roads skirting the perimeter of town and eventually to Sargent Drive.

Sargent Drive: Were it not for the presence of the Park Loop Road, Sargent Drive would be the prettiest road on Mount Desert Island. Sargent Drive flanks the eastern shore of Somes Sound, often described as the only fjord on the Atlantic coast of the United States, although it apparently lacks some of the properties of a true fjord coast like that of Norway.

Somesville: The first village established on Mount Desert Island in 1761, Somesville is the epitome of quaint. A few attractions in Somesville include the Port in a Storm Bookstore, a frequently photographed white arched footbridge next to the Mount Desert Island Historical Society, and Sound School House Museum.

Southwest Harbor: Smaller than Bar Harbor, but the largest village on the western side of the island, Southwest Harbor makes a nice base camp for exploring the “quiet side” of MDI.

Ship Harbor Trail: A pleasant walk on the way to Bass Harbor, the Ship Harbor Trail will take you through the woods and over a beautiful granite shelf along the ocean's edge.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse: Guarding the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay, the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse was constructed in 1858 and automated in 1974. Walk down the light-keeper’s driveway at the right end of the parking lot to learn more about the lighthouse. A trail at the left end of the parking lot leads to set of deck stairs and granite steps that bring you to the rocky shore where the view of the lighthouse is extraordinary, particularly at sunset.

Thurston’s Lobster Pound: Seven to eight minutes down the road from the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse (depending on traffic) is one of MDI’s most popular restaurants, Thurston’s. Situated on a two-level pier at the end of Steamboat Wharf Road, the lobster is rivaled only by the views of Blue Hill Bay at this quintessential Maine lobster pound.

Cadillac Mountain and the Summit Trail: The top of Cadillac Mountain is one of the most visited parts of Acadia, and for good reason. Views from several pull-offs, and of course from the summit, are spectacular. For some of the most sweeping vistas on Mount Desert Island, the half-mile walk around the Summit Trail is a must. You can start or end your day here. Be the first in the United States to see the sunrise from the top of Cadillac. Amazing sunsets can also be enjoyed from the Blue Hill Overlook, just before you get to the Cadillac Summit.

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