So, you’ve decided to visit Acadia National Park. You’ve made a great choice. But you are probably now wondering what to do in Acadia National Park. With miles of coastline, wooded hills, hiking trails, historic carriage roads, and much more, there is a LOT to choose from.
Here is my comprehensive list of all the Acadia National Park attractions to help you decide which of them you want to include on your trip.
TOP TOUR: Book a 4 hour private tour now
TOP HOTEL PICK: Check availability now
FIND THE CHEAPEST CAR RENTAL: Search Discover Cars for the best deals
FIND THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS: Search Skyscanner for the best deals
GET TRAVEL INSURANCE: Get insured with Travelex before you go
No time right now to discover the best things to do in Acadia National Park? Pin It and save it for later:
Please note this post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at zero cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full Disclosure for more information. If you have any questions, please contact me.
If you have trouble deciding which of these things to do at Acadia National Park you can fit into your trip, you might want to consider getting one of my detailed itineraries for Acadia National Park.
There are 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-day options, all with detailed hour-by-hour schedules, including alternatives for different activity and fitness levels, plus trail maps and descriptions, driving instructions, important information, essential tips, and everything else you need to make the most of your time in Acadia National Park.
Best Things To Do in Acadia National Park
What is there to do at Acadia National Park? It turns out, lots! I’ve included activities on land and water, things to do for all interest and fitness levels, plus some seasonal activities.
Subscribe to regular updates with tips for planning, travel inspiration and trip ideas and get instant access to the free PDF of this
Best Things to Do in Acadia National Park
1. Catch the Sunset or Sunrise in Acadia National Park from the top of Cadillac Mountain
At 1,532 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard. From the summit, you can look out over mountains, islands and ocean. Enjoying these sensational views is one of the top things to do in Acadia National Park.
A 0.5-mile paved Cadillac Mountain Summit Trail winds in a loop around part of the summit.
Cadillac Mountain is famous for being the first place to see the sunrise in the U.S. from October 7 to March 6. At other times of the year, the sunrise is still beautiful, of course.
The sunset views are also great. The best place to watch the sunset is Blue Hill Overlook, which is 0.25 miles below the summit.
The road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain is closed from December 1 to April 14, though you can still hike to the summit.
READ MORE: If you want to drive up Cadillac Mountain from late May to late October, you will need to make a reservation. Read how to make a reservation for Cadillac Mountain here.
2. Drive the Park Loop Road
The 27-mile Park Loop Road is one of the most scenic drives in the U.S and driving this loop is one of the must do things in Acadia National Park. You can either drive it in your own vehicle or take the seasonal free Island Explorer Shuttle. Route 4 goes along the Park Loop Road.
Constructed between 1921 and 1958, the road loops around the southeastern corner of Mount Desert Island, passing by most of the national park’s main attractions, including Sand Beach, Otter Point, Jordan Pond and the road up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.
Drive slowly – both to enjoy the views and to be safe, as the road is generally crowded, especially in July and August.
Most of the road is one way, though the section between Wildwood Stables and Cadillac Mountain is two-way. The section of the Park Loop Road between the Sand Beach Entrance Station and Otter Cliff Road is open all year, but the rest of the road is closed in winter.
Download a self-guided audio driving tour of Acadia National Park here
READ MORE SCENIC DRIVES:
- Most Scenic Drives in US National Parks
- Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
- Grand Teton National Park Scenic Loop Drive
- 10 Scenic Drives in Yellowstone National Park
- The Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park
3. Go Hiking, Acadia National Park
The hikes in Acadia are legendary, and hiking on the trails is hands down one of the best things in Acadia National Park. The national park is famous for the ‘iron rung’ trails, which involve climbing up iron rungs that have been embedded into the sides of cliffs, as well as clambering over rocks and walking along narrow edges with steep drop offs. The most famous of these is The Beehive.
These and many other trails culminate in breathtaking views of the surrounding seas and islands.
If this sounds terrifying, the good news is that there are easier routes to many of the same lookouts as well as plenty of easier (and flatter) trails, like the Jordan Pond Path and the Ocean Path.
Read my guide to the top hikes in Acadia National Park for more trail ideas.
If you’d rather go with a guide, who can share their knowledge of the park and local area, then a full day private tour of Acadia with hiking is a great option. Book the private tour + hiking here
4. Have Fun Swimming, Acadia National Park
You don’t need to look for beaches near Acadia National Park – there are two great options for swimming in Acadia National Park itself. You can choose from the ocean (Sand Beach) and a lake (Echo Lake).
Sand Beach is the only sandy beach in Acadia National Park. The sand is actually tiny fragments of broken shells, pounded by the surf over thousands of years. It’s a beautiful spot – the beach is surrounded by cliffs, and you can see the Beehive behind it. Be aware that the water is COLD, even in summer, and strong tides and rough waves are possible.
Echo Lake Beach is a small sandy beach in a cove at the southern end of a beautiful freshwater lake. Surrounded by cliffs and trees, it’s a beautiful spot to relax. Unlike the freezing cold ocean at Sand Beach, it’s a lovely temperature. The average summer water temperatures are 64 degrees in June, 72 degrees in July, and 73 degrees in August.
Another option for swimming in Echo Lake is the Echo Lake Ledges Trail, located near the Acadia Mountain Trailhead. It’s a short walk through the woods to an open rocky ledge that slopes down to Echo Lake.
If you’re looking to spend even more time on the beach, check out more great beaches in Maine.
5. Enjoy Sea Kayaking, Acadia National Park
Kayaking (or canoeing) in Acadia National Park is a great way to explore the coastline at your own pace. The seas are often calm and the shorelines are lined with pebbly beaches and woods to explore, making it hard to highlight one place for the best kayaking in Acadia National Park. In addition to the stunning scenery, it’s not uncommon to see porpoises, seals, bald eagles, and loons.
The weather is ideal from mid-May through mid-October for the best kayaking. Acadia National Park is too cold the rest of the year for it to be really enjoyable.
You can take a tour or bring your own kayak.
You can get an inflatable kayak for a very reasonable price and take it easily with you wherever you go on vacation. Read my guide to the best inflatable kayaks to help you decide which one to get.
There are also several kayaking tours available in season. These include a four-hour and a 2.5-hour guided tour around Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands from Bar Harbor. 2.5-hour sunset tours are also available. Coastal Kayaking Tours and Maine State Sea Kayak offer trips from Bar Harbor and/ or Southwest Harbor.
6. Try Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), Acadia National Park
If you enjoy – or want to try – Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP), you can either rent gear or take a guided tour. Acadia Stand Up Paddle Boarding offer two-hour lake trips on Echo Lake or Long Pond, and harbor trips in various calm bays around Mount Desert Island, depending on the tide and weather.
7. Go White Water Rafting, Acadia National Park
While there is no white water rafting in Acadia National Park itself, you can go white water rafting near Acadia National Park.
Northeast Whitewater offer 6.5-hour trips on the Kennebec River, suitable for the whole family and including a BBQ lunch, and 8.5-hour trips on the Penobscot River, a more adventurous option with Class V rapids.
8. Cycle the Historic Carriage Roads, Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park has over 45 miles of carriage roads, and these historic roads are one of the main Acadia attractions. Built between 1917 and 1940 at the behest of John D. Rockefeller Jr., they are available for hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and carriage rides.
Rockefeller also financed, designed, and supervised the construction of 16 majestic stone bridges that were built at several stream and gorge crossings throughout the carriage road system. Since each of the famous bridges of Acadia National Park is a unique work of art, it is fun to visit several of them.
Mountain biking in Acadia National Park on the carriage roads is one of the most unique things to do in Acadia and a wonderful way to enjoy them.
Note that some of the carriage roads extend outside the national park and bicycles aren’t permitted on those sections.
You can rent bicycles at several locations on Mount Desert Island. One option in Bar Harbor is Acadia Bike. Bicycle rentals are typically available from May to October.
Alternatively, you can rent an e-bike in Bar Harbor here. Note that only Class 1 e-Bikes Allowed on Acadia’s Carriage Roads
9. Take a Carriage Ride, Acadia National Park
The carriage trails in Acadia National Park were built for horse drawn carriages, so what better way to enjoy them than in a carriage ride? This is one of the most fun things to do in Acadia National Park.
There are several carriage tours available. Check with Carriages of Acadia (also known as Wildwood Stables) to confirm times and tours and make reservations (well in advance).
10. Go Horse Riding, Acadia National Park
While there aren’t actually any horse rentals or horseback riding tours in Acadia National Park, you can ride on the carriage roads if you have your own horse.
11. Embrace Your Inner Foodie
This area of Maine is one of the premier lobster fisheries in the world, so this is a great place to get fresh lobster. Acadia National Park and the surrounding area is dotted with lobster pounds where you can buy super fresh lobster and eat it at casual tables on the water’s edge while watching the boats check lobster traps nearby.
For the best lobster near Acadia National Park, my top pick is Thurston’s Lobster Pound, open Memorial Day weekend to mid-October, but really it’s hard to go wrong with any of the lobster pounds in the area.
The area is also home to thousands of blueberry bushes, so the fruit features prominently in desserts. A personal favorite is blueberry ice cream in Bar Harbor. Delicious!
There are also plenty of wonderful places to eat in Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island. A top pick is the Reading Room at the Bar Harbor Inn. This fine dining restaurant has huge windows with ocean views and some of the best food in Acadia National Park/ Bar Harbor.
Another way to discover the culinary wonders of this area is to take a food tour. Book a walking food tour of Bar Harbor here
12. Enjoy Popovers at Jordan Pond House
Talking of food, one of the absolute best things to do at Acadia National Park is to eat popovers, a local specialty. Jordan Pond House is one of the best restaurants in Acadia National Park, Maine and it’s especially famous for its popovers. These slightly eggy and airy pastries are a distant cousin to a muffin and best eaten with loads of butter and jam.
In summer, tables are set up outside on the lawn overlooking the beautiful Jordan Pond with the Bubbles in the distance. Popovers at the Pond House is pure bliss. Get there early to avoid the long lines.
13. Go Sailing, Acadia National Park
With water all around, another of the best things to do near Acadia National Park has to be sailing.
Taking a cruise in a sailboat around the waters and islands is great fun. The winds tend to be strongest in the afternoons, so afternoon trips are generally livelier than morning or sunset sailings.
There are couple of different options.
Sail on a tall ship: Taking a sunset sail around the islands is the perfect way to end your day’s adventures. Book a 2-hour sunset tall ship cruise here. You can buy beer and wine onboard, and you are welcome to take snacks or a picnic. * Receommended*
Take a trip on a sloop: This is a much smaller boat (maximum 6 passengers). Sloops were Maine’s original lobster boats and have a very different feel from the larger Windjammer schooner. Excursions with Sail Acadia leave from Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor (both on the quiet side) several times a day (including a sunset sailing), and typically last for 2-3 hours. You’ll sail past Bear Island and around the Cranberry Isles.
14. Take Boat Cruise, Acadia National Park
Another way to get out on the water is to take one of the local boat tours. Acadia National Park is home to plentiful marine and birdlife, and, of course, the scenery is spectacular.
Boat tours in Acadia National Park include:
2-hour private cruise: Cruise around Frenchman’s Harbor past the beautiful Porcupine Islands with an expert geological oceanographer for a captain. Book a 2-hour private cruise here
2-hour group nature cruises: Bass Harbor Cruises offer two-hour nature cruises from Bass Harbor on the quiet side of Mount Desert Island.
Group cruises from Bar Harbor: Acadia Boat Tours offer several types of cruises from Bar Harbor of varying lengths and at different times of day. They include sightseeing and nature cruises; fishing trips; a sunset cruise; and a cruise to see lighthouses, puffins, and other seabirds.
15. Visit Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
You have probably seen stunning photos of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse at sunset. This small lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in New England and one of the famous attractions in Acadia National Park.
While sunset is the most popular time to visit – and photograph – the lighthouse, the area is also beautiful at sunrise, and in fact, is worth visiting at any time of the day.
The lighthouse, which dates from 1858, sits atop a rocky cliff. From the parking lot, there’s a short walkway on the right side that takes you next to the tower and to a lighthouse viewing area where you can see a panoramic view of the harbor and the islands in the distance. There are some plaques with detailed information about the grounds, the lighthouse, and its history. This also provides a great close-up view of the lighthouse tower.
Another trail at the other end of the parking lot on the left side of the buildings goes through woods to the shoreline. It ends at a stairway that takes you down the front face of the cliff and ends at the place where you can take the classic photos. To get a photo of the famous view of the lighthouse, you’ll need to climb out on the rocks. (Be careful!)
If you plan to be there for the sunset, you’ll need to get there very early, as the parking area is small and it’s a very popular attraction. Buses, trailers, or RVs are not permitted due to the narrow road and small parking lot
16. Try Rock Climbing, Acadia National Park
Otter Cliff is one of the few true sea cliffs in the United States, so rock climbing in Acadia National Park
is a popular adventure activity. You can join the climbers on Otter Cliff whether you’re an experienced climber or an absolute beginner wanting to give it a try. Acadia Mountain Guides offer four-hour trips on Otter Cliff or South Otter, an extension of Otter Cliffs with easier terrain.
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, it is fun to watch others give this a go. You can watch the climbers on Otter Cliff from Ocean Path.
17. Go Tide Pooling, Acadia National Park
At low tides, much of the rocky areas along the shoreline expose pools of seawater that are teeming with intertidal wildlife. Exploring these tide pools is lots of fun – you can often find creatures like sea stars, anemones and crabs.
Tidepooling is best 1.5 hours either side of the low tide. Always stay on the rocks, not in the pools themselves, wear grippy shoes so you don’t slip, and keep an eye on the sea for rogue waves and incoming tides. Check the tide chart for your location:
One of the most popular places in Acadia for tidepooling is Bar Island. It’s best along the 0.5 mile stretch of sandy gravel land that becomes exposed as the tide goes out and connects Bar Harbor to Bar Island.
18. Go Fishing, Acadia National Park
There are several options for fishing in or fishing near Acadia National Park.
Fly fishing in Acadia National Park is a popular pastime. If you’re into (or want to try) trout fishing, Acadia National Park has several ponds and lakes that are teeming with trout and even landlocked salmon. Jordan Pond, Echo Lake, and Eagle Lake are all good places for fly fishing.
Acadia National Park is also a popular destination for ocean fishing, and Mount Desert Island is good place to find fishing charters. Acadia National Park and the surrounding waters are home to mackerel, striped bass and bluefish from mid-July to September.
From January through March, you can also enjoy ice fishing at many of the larger ponds and lakes in the park. And if you’re into surf fishing, Acadia National Park is also a great destination.
If you’re 16 or older, you’ll need a valid Maine fishing license in order to fish in the park.
To head out into the ocean, book a three-hour boat trip on a charter boat here. Fishing rods, bait and tackle are all provided and a fishing license is not needed.
19. Take Walking Tour of Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor is a classic New England fishing town, and a lovely place to walk around. Exploring the village is one of the fun things to do near Acadia National Park.
A nice way to see the town and learn more about its history is to take a walking tour. Two-hour guided tours leave from the village green and take you around the village, the cemetery, and the civil war monument. Discover Bar Harbor’s Gilded Age history, listen to tales of rum running, and learn about major events over the years.
If you prefer not to go on an organized group tour, another option is to download a self-guided audio tour. Get your self-guided audio tour of Bar Harbor
20. Enjoy the Puffins, Acadia National Park
If you are trying to decide what to do around Acadia National Park and like birds, and are there in season, then I’d put seeing puffins in Acadia National Park on top of your list.
Petit Manan is a small island featuring the picturesque 1857 Petit Manan Lighthouse, the second tallest lighthouse in Maine. It is also one of only seven islands in Maine where endangered Atlantic Puffins nest from mid-May through mid-August. There are two cruises available to see them – Acadia Puffin Cruise and Acadian Boat Tours.
One thing to keep in mind – puffins are about the size of crows, so to see them well, you will need a good pair of binoculars.
I have written a whole Guide to The Best Binoculars for The Money, which has more info on what to look for, plus my top picks. My overall top choice for the best binoculars for the money are the Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 Roof Prism Binoculars. Buy the Vortex Optics Room Prism Binoculars here.
Alternatively, you can use a spotting scope. For more information on spotting scopes, including what to look for and my top choices, read my Buying Guide to Spotting Scopes for Wildlife Viewing. My top pick is the Swarovski Optik HD-STS-80 HD Spotting Scope with 20×60 Eyepiece – get it here.
21. Birding, Acadia National Park
Roger Tory Peterson once referred to this area, as “the warbler capital of the world.” There are over 300 species of birds in Acadia, including over 20 species of warblers. Even if you’re not a serious ornithologist, taking some time to appreciate the birds of Acadia National Park is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Acadia, ME.
Popular places for birding in Acadia National Park include:
Cadillac Mountain: This is the highest point in the national park, so you’ll be up among the birds already. In late August-October, you can join the daily Cadillac Mountain Hawkwatch.
Otter Point: Good chances of seeing seabirds off the coast and hearing songbirds in the nearby woods.
The carriage roads: Combine birding with a ride on the carriage roads. You can find flocks of feeding songbirds just about everywhere you go. Popular choices include Eagle Lake, Witch Hole Pond Loop, Aunt Betty Pond, Jordan Pond, and Bubble Pond.
Thompson Island: A great place to see migratory shorebirds, terns, and gulls (August-October).
Schoodic Peninsula: The entire peninsula is a perfect for birdwatching.
Jordan Pond: A great spot to see loons and hear songbirds.
You will need a good pair of binoculars or spotting scope. For serious birding, I recommend a spotting scope, which generally has better quality images. For more information on spotting scopes, including what to look for and my top picks, read my Buying Guide to Spotting Scopes for Wildlife Viewing. My top pick is the Swarovski Optik HD-STS-80 HD Spotting Scope with 20×60 Eyepiece – get it here.
Or, you can use a good pair of binoculars. I have written a Guide to The Best Binoculars for The Money, which has more info on what to look for, plus my top picks. My overall top choice for the best binoculars for the money are the Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 Roof Prism Binoculars. Buy the Vortex Optics Room Prism Binoculars here.
22. Watch Wildlife, Acadia National Park
Acadia is more famous for its scenery and hiking than its wildlife, but in actual fact, there about 40 species of mammals in the park.
What animals live in Acadia National Park? In addition to bobcats, raccoons, porcupines and foxes, there are also marine animals like beavers, otters, porpoises and seals.
Are there bears in Acadia National Park?
Not many. If you want to see a bear in Acadia National Park, you should head to the Schoodic Peninsula section of the park, which is connected to the mainland and has more bears.
What about moose watching in Acadia National Park? You probably know Maine as being one of the best states in the US to see moose and are therefore wondering where to see moose in Acadia National Park. Well, unfortunately, due to its geography – and despite the misleading souvenirs in the shops – there is actually no sizable population of moose in Acadia. You should head inland and further north – Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is a good place to see moose in Maine.
If you want to get good views of the animals in Acadia National Park, it is worth investing in a spotting scope. For more information on spotting scopes, including what to look for and my top picks, read my Buying Guide to Spotting Scopes for Wildlife Viewing. My top pick is the Swarovski Optik HD-STS-80 HD Spotting Scope with 20×60 Eyepiece – get it here.
Spotting scopes will generally give you better quality images of the animals at Acadia National Park, but can be pricey. For a cheaper option, you can get by with a decent pair of binoculars. I’ve written a Guide to The Best Binoculars for The Money, which has details on what to look for, plus my top picks. My overall top choice for the best binoculars for the money are the Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 Roof Prism Binoculars. Buy the Vortex Optics Room Prism Binoculars here.
23. Go Whale Watching Near Acadia National Park
One of the cool things to do in Acadia National Park is to go whale watching. While you may see whales off shore, I recommend taking a cruise for the best whale watching. Acadia National Park has humpback, finback, and minke whales swimming along the coast from late-May to mid-October.
Bar Harbor Whales offer cruises from downtown Bar Harbor.
To see whales, it’s a good idea to have binoculars. If you need to get some, I have written a whole Guide to The Best Binoculars for The Money, which has more info on what to look for, plus my top picks. My overall top choice for the best binoculars for the money are the Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 Roof Prism Binoculars. Buy the Vortex Optics Room Prism Binoculars here.
Alternatively, you can use a spotting scope. For more information on spotting scopes, including what to look for and my top picks, read my Buying Guide to Spotting Scopes for Wildlife Viewing. My top pick is the Swarovski Optik HD-STS-80 HD Spotting Scope with 20×60 Eyepiece – get it here.
If you’re into photographing, Acadia National Park is a dream. Many of the places listed here for other activities make ideal photography spots, including:
- Blue Hill Overlook on Cadillac Mountain
- Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
- The Carriage Roads
- Otter Cliff
- Sand Beach
- Echo Lake
- Jordan Pond
You will want to have a good camera with you. If you’re serious about photography, then you’ll need a good zoom lens and a tripod. For more active shots, I love the GoPro Hero 10. If you have a good spotting scope, you can actually use the GoPro in conjunction with the spotting scope, which acts like a zoom lens. You’ll want a tripod for the spotting scope, but it works surprisingly well.
If you visiting Acadia National Park for a special occasion, another option is to hire a professional photographer to take photos to commemorate the occasion. Book a photographer in Bar Harbor for your special occasion here
25. Go Camping, Acadia National Park
Another of the things to do in Acadia Park if you are OK skipping a hotel or inn, is to go camping. There are several campgrounds inside the national park and plenty of others in the surrounding area. With beautiful woods, shorelines and lakes, there are loads of great sites to choose from.
READ MORE: Read my complete guide to camping in and near Acadia for campground options.
26. Leaf Peeping, Acadia National Park
The fall foliage in Acadia National Park is some of the most spectacular in the entire country.
The best time to see fall colors in Acadia National Park is usually late-September to mid-October, though this can vary from year to year. At this time, the entire park is ablaze with gorgeous colors, so hit the trails, venture along the carriage roads or take a scenic drive and you will be surrounded by fall in all its glory.
27. Take Bus Tour, Acadia National Park
A guided tour is a great way to learn more about the park and the surrounding area, from its history to the local geology, geography and ecology. There are several guided tours of Acadia National Park:
* TOP PICK * 4-hour private tour: This private tour for up to five people gives you the best of both worlds – the flexibility of a private trip plus the knowledge and attention that a guide has. This trip includes Acadia National Park, the summit of Cadillac Mountain, and the beautiful Somes Sound. Book a private-4-hour trip in and around Acadia National Park here
Group bus tour of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park: Highlights on this bus tour include Bar Harbor, the summit of Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, Sieur de Monts Spring, and Thunder Hole. Book a 3.5-hour bus tour of Acadia and Bar Harbor here
28. Take a Ride on Oli’s Trolley, Acadia National Park
Riding on Oli’s Trolley is another of the fun things to do around Acadia National Park. They provide narrated tours around Bar Harbor and other parts of Mount Desert Island.
29. Go Stargazing, Acadia National Park
If you’re not sure what to do in Acadia Park at night, then this is your answer. On clear moonless nights, the skies above Acadia are ablaze with thousands of stars. The best stargazing in Acadia National Park is:
Cadillac Mountain: With expansive views, this is a great location for night sky photography. However, it’s only available from mid-April to when the reservation system starts in May, and from when the reservation system ends in October until the end of November. In winter (December – mid-April), the road is completely closed and in summer (May – October), a reservation system is in place and the road is closed after 10:00pm. If you’re there in summer, it is possible to cycle or hike to the summit (with a flashlight).
Seawall Picnic Area: Unobstructed night sky views over the ocean.
Jordan Pond: See the night sky from various viewpoints around the lake. Take the Jordan Pond Path around the east side of Jordan Pond for the best views.
Ocean Path: Multiple locations along this ocean-side path offer views to the east and large parts of the southern and northern skies as well.
Sand Beach: There are wonderful open sky views framed by the headlands on each side below. Keep an eye out for bioluminescent plankton in the crashing waves as well.
30. Visit the Cranberry Isles
If you’re looking for things to do near Acadia National Park, then look no further than the Cranberry Islands. Great Cranberry Isles, Little Cranberry Island and Sutton Island lie off the quiet side of Mount Desert Island.
Islesford is a quintessential 200-year-old lobster fishing village on Little Cranberry Island that is easy to explore on foot. Stop in at the free Islesford Historical Museum to learn about island life during the 19th and early 20th centuries; visit the Islesford Artists Fine Art Gallery; and have a lobster meal at the Islesford Dock Restaurant, which is right on the water near the ferry dock.
On Great Cranberry Island, you can take a short hike on the Whistler Cove Trail to a picturesque pebbled beach and, of course, find fresh lobster aplenty.
You can take the Beal and Bunker Ferry from Northeast Harbor (year-round) or the Cranberry Cove Ferry from Southwest Harbor (summer only).
31. Listen to Thunder Hole
Thunder Hole is an underwater sea cave. When a storm or the turning tide forces waves into this narrow channel, the air escapes with a reverberation that sounds like thunder.
You have the best chance of hearing this effect two hours before high tide.
Stay aware when visiting Thunder Hole. Even in calm weather, rogue waves can suddenly wash over the area. In storms, sections of the walkway may be closed.
32. Explore Bar Island
Bar Island is a small island just north of Bar Harbor and separated from the town by a gravel bar that is submerged most of the time. However, for 1.5 hours before and after low tide, the gravel bar between Bar Harbor and Bar Island is exposed and you can walk across it to the island, which is officially part of Acadia National Park.
As you cross the land bridge, there are plenty of small tide pools to explore along the way. When you get on the island, you’ll see a sign welcoming you to Acadia National Park, and a sign for the trailhead for the Bar Island Trail. This trail takes you to the highest point of the island, where there is a nice view of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and the nearby peaks of Acadia.
Check the tide chart for Bar Island.
33. Attend a Ranger Program
Ranger-guided programs are a great way to learn more about Acadia’s history and ecology. Programs include informative talks and guided walks along popular trails and carriage roads. Most programs are offered from May to October, but some are offered throughout the year. Visit the Park Calendar to see what’s on during your visit.
Subscribe to regular updates with tips for planning, travel inspiration and trip ideas and get instant access to the free PDF of this
Best Things to Do in Acadia National Park
Travel Insurance for Acadia National Park
In addition to discovering the answer to the question “What is there to do in Acadia National Park?”, you will also need get travel insurance for your trip. Whether it is for unexpected trip cancelation, emergency repatriation or medial help, or to replace something lost or stolen, having travel insurance will give you piece of mind and help you when you need it.
A great insurance option is Travelex. It has coverage for all you’ll need. You can compare Travel Insurance plans here or get a quote right now:
Which of these top things to do – Acadia National Park – did you choose to do? I’d love to hear. Join my private Facebook group National Parks Collectors and comment and let me know (you can also pick up extra planning tips, share your photos and stories with other national park lovers and more).
If you liked this post about Acadia National Park (things to do), please share the love and Pin It to your Acadia National Park board!
Are you just starting to think about taking a national parks trip? Get Inspiration
Are you starting to plan a trip to Acadia National Park? Read my Guide to Acadia National Park and Get an Itinerary for Acadia National Park
Are you looking for a place to stay near Acadia National Park? Find a vacation rental near Acadia National Park or Find a place to stay in Bar Harbor
Are you ready to book your trip? Use these Planning and Booking Resources
Do you want to read a book about Acadia National Park? Check out my Recommended Reading List for Acadia National Park
About the Author
James Ian has traveled to 82 countries and all 7 continents. He has visited all of the main national parks in the United States, as well as many national monuments and state parks.
He has rafted through the Grand Canyon; rappelled down slot canyons near Zion and Arches; hiked among the hoodoos in Bryce and the enormous trees in Sequoia; admired the waterfalls in Yosemite and the colored hot springs in Yellowstone; seen moose in Grand Tetons and seals in the Channel Islands, and much more.
Parks Collecting is a participant in the Amazon.com Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.