Charming and serene, the town of Bar Harbor rests on Mount Desert Island off the coast of Frenchman Bay in Maine. It’s the perfect base for a family outing that includes the forested, watery landscape of nearby Acadia National Park.
History & Culture: Bar Harbor began as the town of Eden, hitting the radar of travelers after paintings of the island by artists Thomas Cole and Frederic Church — both illustrious members of the Hudson River Valley School of Painting — began to receive attention in the 1840s. By 1875, a number of grand, luxurious hotels sprung up to accommodate the new influx of visitors, which included Vanderbilts, Astors and Rockefellers. Today, the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel carries on the tradition from its central location on Main Street.
Culinary: Three words: Side Street Café. The menu of macaroni and cheese (with optional lobster, of course) is itself plenty of reason to stop by. The Live Like a Local slogan is taken seriously, and the awesome staff will make you feel like you’ve been invited to share a family meal (without the probing romance questions from Great Aunt May). Local favorites also include The Thirsty Whale for seafood and Choco-Latte for coffee, hot cocoa and cake.
Active: Whether your passion is rock climbing, sailing, hiking, cycling, kayaking or walking, Bar Harbor’s location next to Acadia National Park means you’ll never be bored. Hike the granite crags of Cadillac Mountain, the East Coast’s highest point.
Romance: Bar Harbor is host to regular music festivals perfect for date night and romantic getaways. Nightlife choices include basking in the sunset views from the deck at The Veranda Bar at Balance Rock Inn. Enjoy a romantic meal at Havana, located on Mount Desert Island. The seasonal restaurant has a new outdoor tapas bar and grill.
Family Fun: For a little pizza with your movie, take your crew to Reel Pizza Cinerama. The menu of more than a dozen 10- and 14-inch pies includes gourmet options, or the choice of building your own. Seasonal activities include winter snowmobile tours, and warmer weather whale watching boat tours to look for the finback, minke and right whales that swim the waters of the Gulf of Maine.