Bar Harbor Travel Guide

Bar Harbor, Maine, is a small town of 5,000 located on Mount Desert Island in Hancock County. The island lies along the north-central Maine coast and is the largest offshore island in the state. The main tourist draw to the area is the nearby Acadia National Park.


The Wabanaki tribe long hunted, berry-picked, fished, and gathered clams on Mount Desert Island, which they referred to as “Pemetic.” Piles of clam shells dating from that time still exist on the island today. The island was discovered by the Frenchman Samuel de Champlain in 1604, but it was the English who first settled it in 1763. Early industries included fishing, forestry, farming, and ship building. The town of Bar Harbor became a haven for artists in the 1840’s, and from the 1850’s on, it began to become a major tourist attraction to those who longed to “get back to nature.”

Things to see and do in Bar Harbor

Sand Beach – Bar Harbor, Maine

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park, Maine.

Go hiking on any number of trails leading to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Cadillac Mountain, at 1,528 feet, is the highest shoreline peak along the U.S. coast. You can also go on a scenic drive to the top of the mountain, and from its heights, it is possible to see 100 miles on a clear day. Many travel to the mountain top to see the sun rise over the Atlantic to the east.

Visit Sand Beach, also within Acadia National Park. The sandy strip sits between hovering mountains and the sea, and it is accessible via the Park Loop Road. Also in the are, look for Thunder Hole, a locally famous, rocky inlet where you can see crashing waves and dashing, foamy sea waters.

Visit the Sieur de Monts Spring and Nature Center. At the Wild Gardens of Acadia, you can see many native species alive, and at the nature center, you can peruse the 300-plus native species that are on display. You will learn of the role of forest fires in maintaining the health of the park, of the identity of the resident wildlife, and much more. Also, don’t neglect to see the historically important Sieur de Monts Spring and the Abbe Museum, where Native American cultures of Maine are the main subject.

In town in Bar Harbor, visit Reef Point Estate, a coastal “cottage” that incorporates garden greenery into its architectural appeal in unique ways.

Climate conditions

Bar Harbor is known for extreme differences is seasonal climate, its summers being rather hot and humid, while its winters are normally extremely cold. The mainland surrounds Mount Desert Island on three sides, and the prevailing winds come from inland, which give the island a more “continental” climate as described above.