The perfect 3-day itinerary for a weekend trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park
As a Maine elopement photographer, it's my job to know the places I work in very well, Acadia is probably the location I know the best! When I'm not shooting elopements or adventure sessions I explore new areas of the park or revisit old favorites. Here is what I would consider the perfect 3-day itinerary for anyone coming to visit Acadia National Park for a weekend!
It's your first day of vacation, take it easy!
Start by checking in to your hotel, Airbnb, or campground to get things unpacked and settled in.
Then spend the afternoon driving around the 27-mile park loop road stopping at all the main attractions like Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, and Jordan Pond to explore and see the views. Parking is limited in all of these locations so be prepared to wait a few minutes at each one especially if you're visiting in the busy season.
After exploring the park you're probably going to be pretty hungry. Thankfully Maine is known for having good food! Spend the evening grabbing dinner at a local restaurant or bar downtown and then walk around exploring some downtown shops. Here are some highly-rated restaurants in Bar Harbor:
- Side Street Cafe
- The Barnacle
- Thirsty Whale Tavern
- Mainely Meat BBQ
- Stewman's Lobster Pound
- Downeast Deli and Boxed Lunch Co
- Bar Harbor Beer Works
One of the Maine attractions of Acadia National Park is sunrise on Cadillac Mountain. Acadia is the first place the sun rises in the US and Cadillac is the best spot in the park to watch it! Make reservations in advance for the Cadillac Summit road as spots are limited and reservations sell out extremely fast. Here is where you can buy reservations. I highly recommend packing breakfast foods and coffee with you to enjoy while watching the sunrise. Also, this is one of the most popular things to do meaning it will be very busy. If you walk all the way to the left of the parking lot near the bathrooms you'll find a small path that opens up to some incredible views away from other visitors!
Since you're already up this early, you might as well take advantage of the quiet trails and go for a morning hike! Hiking trails in Acadia can get busy fast especially on the weekend. But, if you start early enough in the morning you can get some trails nearly to yourself. The hikes I HIGHLY recommend starting early for are Beehive and Precipice. Both of those hikes require lots of ladder climbing which is not fun to do when you have a line of people above and behind you. Easier hikes I also recommend are North and South Bubble, Beech Mountain Trail, and Gorham Mountain.
WOW okay after waking up at sunrise and going for a morning hike you're going to be pretty tired. I would spend the rest of the afternoon very low-key. Head back to your hotel, Airbnb, or campsite for a shower, quick nap, and grab some takeout from a local restaurant. Check out Jordan Pond House and grab some food there if you want to stay in the park!
If you're visiting in the summer, it's going to be HOT! Spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out at Echo Lake Beach, Sand Beach, or one of the many ponds in Acadia open for swimming to cool off. If swimming isn't your thing there are so many other amazing options in Bar Harbor like a whale watching tour, scenic flight, lighthouse tour, or a short cruise around the islands!
A more adventurous option that I highly recommend is hiring a local guide for adventure actives like sea kayaking, rock climbing, biking, or evening sailing! There are amazing guides in Bar Harbor that know all the best spots and are guaranteed to take you on an epic adventure. Here are some businesses to check out:
- Acadia Mountain Guides (Rock Climbing)
- Climb Acadia
- Acadia Fun (Kayaking Tours)
- Acadia Kayak
- Acadia Bike
- Sail Acadia
This is your day to enjoy the rest of the park!
Check out other amazing hiking trails or visit other areas of the park you didn't have time to see the other days. Some popular locations are:
- Bass Harbor Headlight: one of the most photographed areas of the park. Just try to plan your visit around low-tide and be careful around wet rocks.
- Jordan Pond: if you didn't already check this out, walk the loop trail that runs around the entire pond.
- Carriage Roads: spend the day biking around the park on the carriage roads and take in the AMAZING views you can access from them.
- Schoodic Peninsula: About an hour from the main portion of the park but has breathtaking views and is much less busy.
If you need any hike recommendations, check out this blog post about my favorite hikes in Acadia!
There it is! My perfect itinerary for a weekend in Acadia National Park!
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