13 Fantastic Day Trips to Take From Bar Harbor Maine

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Bar Harbor makes a great base when exploring some of Maine’s best beach townslighthouses and scenic coastline. While crowded in the touristy areas, Bar Harbor is a wonderful small-town community and the gateway to stunning Acadia National Park

There are plenty of things to do in Bar Harbor itself, from its lovely downtown and busy Main Street to sightseeing cruises, scenic harbor walks, and fresh seafood.

In this post, we’ll explore some fun locations from Bar Harbor that make wonderful day trip options that can be reached in two hours or less! My preferred max time for a day trip drive.

Enjoy Downtown Bar Harbor

First off, spend a day exploring downtown Bar Harbor, one of Maine’s most popular beach towns, the largest on Mt. Desert Island, and well known for its lively Main Street, whale watching tours, delicious fresh seafood, and the beautiful Bar Harbor Inn. Enjoy the local catch from one of the many seafood restaurants in town. Side Street Cafe is popular for casual dining, offering all of the Maine staples. If you are looking for a waterfront experience, try Stewman’s Lobster Pound located on West Street.

Bar Harbor offers a few wonderful areas for relaxing, people-watching, and enjoying nature. Enjoy harbor views from Agamont Park or head to the quaint Village Green, where a few memorials and the historic Bar Harbor Town Clock are located.

From the Village Green, you’ll be close to the Abbe Museum, a modern museum showcasing the culture of the native Wabanaki people.

If it is a beautiful day, you may want to spend a few hours hiking or, in this case, walking. There are plenty of trails in nearby Acadia National Park, but there are a few scenic walks right in Bar Harbor itself. 

The Bar Island Land Bridge is a fun walk at low tide. You’ll be walking across a sandbar to Bar Island, with views of the harbor and the chance to discover sea creatures living on the Bar. It is also a great spot to launch kayaks or paddle boards for a fun day on the water, just watch the tides. The bar is accessible 2 hours before and 2 hours after low tide.

Check out the Bar Harbor Shore Path for an even easier scenic stroll. It follows a paved walkway from Ells Pier to Wayman Lane along the shore of Frenchman Bay. You’ll pass the historic Bar Harbor Inn and other scenic cottages.

Head to a Scenic Island 

A scenic boat cruise is another great way to spend the day in Bar Harbor. Many cruises are offered from Bar Harbor and the surrounding areas, such as Bass Harbor, Deer Isle, and Northeast Harbor. You’ll be able to cruise around Acadia and the water of Frenchman Bay looking for marine life, including whales, seals, and Puffins while spotting Maine’s famous coastal lighthouses.

From Bar Harbor, LuLu Lobster Boat is a popular 2-hour cruise offering a detailed look into all things lobster. For a whale-watching tour, lighthouse tours and nature boat tours, check out Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company. They offer guided tours for seal watching and humpback whales, among others. 

Cap’n Fish’s Cruises offers tours of Bar Harbor and cruises around the islands of Frenchman Bay. Other ports nearby also have great day tour options. Sea Princess Cruises operates from Northeast Harbor and runs sightseeing tours up to 4 times a day in the summer months. Head to the town pier or the Village Green Information Center for updated information on available boat cruises.

Acadia National Park 

Located mainly on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park receives over 2 million visitors annually, and it’s one of the best day trips from Bar Harbor, Maine. 

This 47,000-acre Atlantic coast recreation area features woodland, rocky beaches, and granite peaks formed by glaciers – including Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the United States East Coast. Established in 1919 as Sieur de Monts National Monument, it was later renamed Acadia in 1929, making it the first national park in the eastern part of the country. 

While you’re here, plan some time to drive Park Loop Road. This 27-mile scenic drive is the main road within this park, so it’s a great way to see a lot in a short amount of time. On this route, you can access the top of Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and the Jordan Pond House. Sand Beach, with its fine grains and crystal-clear waters, starkly contrasts with the rugged coastline, inviting visitors to relax and enjoy the serene beauty of the Atlantic. 

Winter Harbor & Schoodic Peninsula (42 miles; 1 hour)

Acadia is quite large, so it’s hard to see everything in one day. That’s why Winter Harbor and the Schoodic Peninsula deserve a day trip of their own. While Acadia’s main section on Mount Desert Island attracts crowds, the Schoodic Peninsula offers a quieter, more secluded experience, inviting travelers to explore its cozy downtown main street, pristine landscapes, quaint fishing villages, and stunning vistas without hoards of tourists.

Separated from Mount Desert Island by Frenchman Bay, the Schoodic Peninsula encompasses approximately 2,366 acres of dramatic coastline, serene forests, and rolling hills. It was incorporated into Acadia National Park in 1929, expanding the park’s reach beyond Mount Desert Island and preserving the unique character of this coastal region.

Venture into this side of Acadia, where you can hike on eight different trails that are a bit quieter than the other side of the park. The longest and most challenging trail on the Schoodic Peninsula is Buck Cove Mountain Trail, showcasing three miles of Birch Harbor, then another path that leads to a summit 440 feet above this national park. 

Deer Isle & Stonington  (53 miles; 1 hour 15 mins)

Deer Isle, and its main town on the southernmost tip, Stonington, is another great day trip from Bar Harbor, Maine, during the summer months. This area caters to the outdoorsy types, but Stonington still has several inns and galleries to explore. 

During your day trip, take some time to visit Isle au Haut, which you can access via a 40-minute passenger ferry ride from Stonington. While in the area, you’ll see busy waters bustling with fishing and cruising boats. The island is underdeveloped, with only a single harbor village with a church, general store, and town hall. There are three ocean-hugging trails in this portion of Acadia National Park– Western Head Trail is a moderate 1.3-mile trek with stunning water views. There are no facilities along the trails. This area is off-the-beaten-path, perfect for anyone craving some solitude.

Northeast Harbor (11 miles; 20 mins)

This quaint town has long been the summer destination of the rich and famous, including the Rockefeller family. Naturally, it’s one of the best day trips from Bar Harbor, Maine!

Walking along the harbor, you’ll see several large yachts and exclusive sailing vessels parked on the bright blue water. As you stroll Main Street, two blocks from the yacht harbor, you’ll see several gift shops, boutiques, galleries, and bakeries. The Asticou Inn, a historic hotel with views of the harbor and beautifully landscaped gardens, adds a touch of refined hospitality to the area.

Two botanical gardens in this area are lovely in the summer, with Japanese-inspired landscaping, perennial gardens, and sculpted shrubbery. Thuya Gardens, created by landscape architect Charles K. Savage, provides a peaceful oasis for visitors to wander and appreciate the region’s natural beauty. The nearby Asticou Azalea Garden complements Thuya with its vibrant azalea and rhododendron displays.

A boat cruise is a great way to experience the beauty of the shoreline in this small town. Sea Princess Cruises or SAIL ACADIA are two great options. You might even see a seal or two in the water along the way!

Blue Hill (34 miles; 50 mins)

Upon arrival in Blue Hill, start your day by exploring its downtown area. Lined with historic buildings, art galleries, and unique boutiques, Blue Hill’s Main Street exudes small-town charm. Spend some time browsing the eclectic mix of shops, where you might discover local crafts, antiques, and artwork created by the town’s vibrant artistic community.

Check out the Blue Hill Bay Gallery, showcasing the work of local and regional artists. The town’s commitment to the arts is evident, and you may find a diverse range of paintings, sculptures, and crafts that capture the essence of coastal Maine.

For a dose of history, visit the Blue Hill Historical Society, housed in the Holt House Museum, a Federal-style home dating back to the early 19th century. Exhibits and artifacts provide insight into the town’s maritime history, its role in shipbuilding, and the lives of its early residents.

Bangor (48 miles; 1 hour)

Begin your day in Bangor with a visit to the Bangor Waterfront, a scenic area along the Penobscot River that has undergone revitalization in recent years. Stroll along the waterfront walkway, taking in views of the river and the historic architecture of Bangor. The area often hosts events and festivals, so check the local calendar to see if anything is happening during your visit.

History buffs can also check out the Bangor Historical Society. Housed in the historic Thomas A. Hill House, this museum offers insights into Bangor’s past, including its role in the timber and shipping industries. Exhibits showcase artifacts, photographs, and stories that bring the city’s history to life.

Downtown Bangor has a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries. Take some time to wander through the streets, exploring unique boutiques, art galleries, and bookshops. The downtown area is also home to several landmarks, such as the Penobscot Theatre Company and the Paul Bunyan statue.

If you love horror novels, you may want to drive by The Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation house in the famous author’s former residence. It is not open to the public, but the striking Victorian home with its intricate wrought-iron gates is a sight to see.

Belfast (59 miles; 1 hour 30 mins)

Start your day trip by exploring Belfast’s downtown area. Main Street is lined with historic brick buildings housing various shops, boutiques, and art galleries. Take a leisurely stroll and peruse local art, handmade crafts, and unique gifts. Belfast’s creative community is evident in the numerous galleries, like the Local Color Art Gallery, showcasing paintings and sculptures by local and regional artists.

For a historical perspective, visit the Belfast Historical Society and Museum, educating visitors about Belfast’s maritime heritage, industrial history, and the lives of its early settlers. Permanent exhibits include artifacts, photographs, and documents that tell the story of this coastal town.

Belfast is renowned for its commitment to local and sustainable living, reflected in its vibrant farmers’ market. If your day trip aligns with the opening hours of the farmers’ market, head to Waterfall Arts Center to browse fresh produce, artisanal goods, and locally crafted products – this is a fun place to browse and sample local goods!

Camden & Rockport (77 miles; 1 hour 45 mins)

In Maine’s Midcoast region (just north of Rockport), Camden showcases views of Penobscot Bay. Explore the High Street Historic District to marvel at the charming 19th-century homes and the landscaped amphitheater of the Camden Public Library. Stroll around the downtown area and stop into Uncle Willy’s Candy Shop for a sweet treat, or browse the Owl and Turtle Bookshop – this neighborhood has no shortage of cafes, general stores, and antique shops.

You can watch films, dance shows, and concerts at the beautifully restored Camden Opera House. Head over to Camden State Park to get a dose of nature – you can hike trails that climb the slopes and enjoy views of Camden Harbor. Within the harbor, visitors can also explore Curtis Island, which is home to an 1830s lighthouse.

Cutler (89 miles; 2 hours)

Cutler is renowned for its bold coastline, and a visit to Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land is a must. This state-owned preserve boasts a network of hiking trails that lead to jaw-dropping cliffside views. The Coastal Trail, in particular, is a moderate trek through spruce-fir forests, leading to overlooks where the vastness of the Gulf of Maine unfolds beneath you. The rugged beauty of the cliffs, crashing waves, and panoramic ocean views make it a hiker’s haven and a photographer’s paradise.

After immersing yourself in nature, head to Cutler Harbor, a working harbor where lobster boats bob gently in the water. Stroll along the harbor, engage with local fishermen, and breathe in the salty sea air as you observe the comings and goings of this quintessential coastal community.

Continue your exploration with a visit to the Little River Lighthouse, perched on an islet just off the coast. While the lighthouse is not currently open to the public, the shoreline views are breathtaking. 

Rockland (85 miles; 2 hours)

Another enticing day trip from Bar Harbor, Maine is Rockland, known as the Lobster Capital of the World. Along with its famous lobsters, it offers a delightful blend of coastal charm and maritime history. The iconic Rockland Breakwater Light beckons adventure seekers to stroll along the unique breakwater, it is about a 30 min walk to the historic lighthouse standing proudly at its end. For those fascinated by maritime heritage, the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland is a treasure trove of nautical artifacts and stories, providing insight into the region’s seafaring history. 

Lubec (100 miles; 2 hours 10 mins)

Begin your day trip by traversing scenic Route 1, which winds through coastal Maine, offering glimpses of blueberry fields, forests, and the rugged coastline. As you approach Lubec, the easternmost town in the United States, you’ll see clapboard houses, colorful storefronts, and breathtaking ocean views.

One of the highlights of a visit to Lubec is a stop at West Quoddy Head Light, the easternmost lighthouse in the United States. Perched atop dramatic cliffs, the red-and-white striped tower stands as a sentinel overlooking the Bay of Fundy. The surrounding state park provides hiking trails and panoramic views of the coastline, making it an ideal spot to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty – one of the best things to do for nature lovers!

Next, head to downtown Lubec, where Water Street invites exploration with its charming shops, art galleries, and local eateries. Take a beautiful walk along the waterfront, enjoying the salty sea breeze and the sight of colorful buoys adorning the town pier.

A must-visit in Lubec is the Lubec Brewing Company, a local microbrewery housed in a historic building. Savor a pint of craft beer on the outdoor deck while taking in views of Johnson Bay. The brewery often features live music, providing a taste of the community spirit that characterizes Lubec.

Lubec is also a great starting point if you’d like to venture into Canada. It’s just under an hour and a half to St. Andrews, New Brunswick. 

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With their proximity to Bar Harbor, these day trip destinations offer a perfect day retreat, allowing visitors to explore the best of coastal Maine and immerse themselves in the rich maritime legacy that defines the Maine coastline.

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