Travel Guide: The Best Things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor is located on Mount Desert Island in Maine. It’s best known for being the ideal home base for exploring Arcadia National Park, making it a favorite tourist destination on the East Coast. Its beautiful coastline, however, is what drew Baggallini to this bustling coastal town.

This summer, Baggallini used Bar Harbor as a backdrop for a photoshoot and, well, we fell in love with it. Even if Arcadia National Park is your main reason for visiting – make sure you allow a couple days to experience the best of what Bar Harbor has to offer. You’ll realize there’s much more to it than you think.

What are the best things to do in Bar Harbor?

Outside of visiting Arcadia National Park, there are a number of things you need to experience in Bar Harbor. Here is a quick list of places and things to do while you’re there.

Window Panes and Swallowfield shops in Bar Harbor.
Window Panes and Swallowfield shops in Bar Harbor
  • Go on a whale-watching adventure. This should be on every Bar Harbor visitor’s list of must-dos. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. has taken more than a million guests out into the Gulf of Maine to observe humpback, finback, and minke whales.
  • Dive underwater without getting wet. Spend a couple hours aboard the Starfish Enterprise and get the opportunity to touch a variety of creatures from the ocean, including crabs, starfish, and sea cucumbers.
  • Head to the Abbe Museum in downtown Bar Harbor for a thought-provoking look at the region’s Native American population, the Wabanaki. Founded in 1928, the Abbe is the only Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Maine.
  • Try lobster ice cream. That’s right – lobster ice cream. This may seem strange, but, where else can you get vanilla ice cream with chucks of lobster in it? Give it a go.
  • Shop at local spots, like Window Panes and Swallowfield.
  • And, of course, you have to visit Arcadia National Park.

Things to do in Arcadia National Park

Arcadia National Park is all about enjoying the outdoors. Adventurous activities, like hiking Cadillac Mountain or driving along Park Loop Road, are numerous. Here are just a few things you can do there.

Cadillac Mountain at Arcadia National Park.
Arcadia National Park – Cadillac Mountain
  • For a more leisurely traveler, head to Otter Cliff and Thunder Hole and take in the picturesque views of Jordan Pond. This provides the backdrop for an idyllic afternoon.
  • Take a boat to Isle Au Haut. Here you’ll find 18 miles of trails that cover the southern half of the island.
  • Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain. This is a challenging hike taking you to the highest point in Arcadia, but at the top awaits incredible coastal views.
  • Take a kayak tour. Paddle through the western bay and all along the coast taking in the views from different vantage points.

What are the best restaurants in Bar Harbor?

When in Bar Harbor you must have lobster. Maine lobster is not something most people get to eat everyday, so you’d be remiss if you didn’t partake while in Bar Harbor. Here are a few spots we recommend getting fresh lobster in Bar Harbor.

Where to get lobster in Bar Harbor

Stewman’s Lobster Pound
  • One of the best places to get lobster in Bar Harbor is at Thurston’s. According to Trip Savvy, you should go to Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard for the ultimate “lobster in the rough” experience.
  • Also try Stewman’s Lobster Pound in 2 locations. According to Stewman’s they’re the only authentic oceanfront lobster pound in Bar Harbor.
  • And, if after all that, you’re still hungry, stop by Bar Harbor Lobster Bakes. This family-run business has been preparing traditional downeast lobster bakes for more than 30 years.

Other great restaurants and bars in Bar Harbor

Project Social
  • After all of the lobster you can eat, head to Atlantic Brewing Company where you can experience classically brewed beers. They have 4 locations in the area, so they’re hard to miss!
  • Need a pick me up? Coffee Hound Coffee Co. is the place for you. They’re located in the heart of Bar Harbor and serve handcrafted coffee, lattes, mochas, pastries, and more.
  • Project Social is a newer restaurant in Bar Harbor. Go for the breakfast, but stay for their hand-crafted cocktails.