Things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine
Updated: Sep 16, 2022
Planning for a trip to Mount Desert Island can be overwhelming! Our beautiful island offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking to just kick back and relax in the ocean breeze or hike as many trails in Acadia National Park as you can.
Whether you fly in to the Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton and rent a car or take a cab, come in on the CAT ferry, drive here from a faraway destination, or arrive here on a boat, Bar Harbor is a destination you’ll never forget and you can make it the trip of a lifetime, catered to your specific interests and needs.
Before coming to Bar Harbor, please familiarize yourself with parking. If you’re taking your own vehicle or a rental, parking can be a bit of a challenge, so prepare to plan your day in advance and avoid any headaches (and tickets!) Download the Parkmobile app on your phone to pay simply and easily without having to return to your vehicle or mess with coins or credit cards. Make sure you enter your plate number accurately and select the correct plate from the app to avoid issues!
Activities on the water include sea kayaking, lighthouse cruises, whale and puffin watching, stand up paddle boarding, sailing, boat tours, swimming, and more! Enjoy the beautiful splendor of the Atlantic Ocean up close and personal, or simply walk along the shore for stunning and scenic views. For a list of water-related activities provided by the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, click here.
If a boat ride isn’t for you, explore our vast and wonderful Acadia National Park- don’t forget your park pass! Beaches, hiking trails of all difficulties and skill levels, scenic drives, and beautiful views await you. Spend one day, or many, in just the park alone and never feel you’ve done the same thing twice! Watch the sunset from Cadillac Mountain (make sure to make reservations in advance through the Park), enjoy a horse-driven carriage ride through beautiful wooded trails, dip your toes into the ocean or spend the day swimming at Sand Beach, and enjoy the wonder of Thunder Hole.
Nobody knows the National Park better than those who protect and preserve it. Several guided ranger programs provide you with the best stories, views, and memories to take back with you after your vacation. To check the status of closed trails, find out how to purchase a pass, or to make reservations, please visit the website for Acadia National Park.
Downtown Bar Harbor is a wonderful place to walk, shop, eat, drink, or catch a movie or live music. Thrive restaurant in the center of town has live music nightly, all summer long. Great news for 2022- the Bar Harbor Town Band will be returning to the Village Green on Monday and Thursday nights later this summer!
Try famous, fresh Maine lobster your way- dipped in butter, in a roll, in mac and cheese, and even in ice cream! Walk the shore path or wait for low tide and cross over the “land bridge” to Bar Island and explore. (We strongly suggest not driving onto the bar- cars don’t like swimming and the tide comes in fast!) Take a short drive up State Highway 3 and play some mini golf, or rent a bike in town to explore at your leisure. Bus tours, trolley tours, nature tours, electric bike and vehicle rentals- we have it all! Travel freely without parking concerns- check out the Downeast Transportation Island Explorer site to plan your ride around Mount Desert Island and to keep up with information on the current mask mandates. Buses run from June 23 to October 10 this 2022 season.
There is no shortage of cultural and historical experiences in coastal New England, and Mount Desert Island and the surrounding towns are no exception. Guided tours, a museum dedicated to Maine’s Native American history and culture, theaters, historical buildings, and more are all available to explore and discover on your trip.
For the ultimate relaxation experience, enjoy a massage, yoga, sauna, or float tank at one of Bar Harbor’s many day spas.
There are always unique and exciting events throughout the summer to enjoy in Bar Harbor. The Chamber of Commerce has a great calendar that is updated regularly to include upcoming public events such as festivals, craft fairs, bake sales, and more.
The Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce has provided an app, available on Apple or Android, called “Visit Bar Harbor.” This app is a great way to plan a vacation or search for local activities easily from your smart phone or tablet.
As always, remember that your innkeeper is going to be the expert on anything new and exciting that’s local to the area. If you’re looking for a certain ambiance at dinner, a romantic evening, a quiet spot to relax, an exciting adventure, or a suggestion for the best place to grab unique cocktails or fun souvenirs, look no further than your host! Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island is an amazing adventure for people from all walks of life with any interest you can imagine- make the trip your own and explore your way!