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Spanning 49,000 acres of coastline, forests, beaches, and mountains of Maine’s Mount Desert Island and nearby islets, Acadia National Park preserves some of the state’s most outstanding natural beauty. The park attracts over 3.5 million visitors per year, who relax in the tranquil surroundings and partake in the abundance of outdoor activities on offer. A network of trails pass under spreading conifers and deciduous trees to reach sandy beaches, rocky headlands, and glacial lakes, and can be explored by bicycle, horseback, or on foot.
More adventurous visitors can rock climb or ascend Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the East Coast, especially stunning at sunrise. On the waters, yachts sail past sheltered coves, kayaks tours enter dramatic fjords, and the pristine ocean water is littered only with fishing line, plunged several feet below its clear blue surface. Wildlife spotting opportunities are plentiful, with mammals such as black bears, moose, and a number of birds all residing within park limits. On the outskirts of Arcadia, you will find a collection of historic coastal towns, villages, and summer mansions, the latter of which are home to hospitable bed and breakfasts, grand hotel properties, and secluded country retreats.
Best Overall: Balance Rock Inn
Perched atop a rocky promontory with sweeping panoramic views of Frenchman’s Bay, Balance Rock Inn offers possibly the finest views to be found in the area. This historic waterfront property is set among three acres of bucolic wooded property, offering seclusion and privacy while also being conveniently located for visitors wishing to explore the town of Bar Harbor, just a short walk away.
Guestrooms and suites contain handcrafted, antique décor and furnishings. Some rooms even have fireplaces, saunas, whirlpool baths, or porches with oceanside views. The stylish Verandah Bar, with its French doors and antique ceiling fans, also presents stunning ocean vistas while serving up small plates, weekly communal dinners, and an extensive range of beverages.
Outside, a sundeck set amid lawns and flower gardens is furnished with a heated pool, shaded gazebo, and a fire pit for the evenings. A full breakfast buffet is provided in the dining room, followed by fresh cookies in the afternoon. A fitness room houses weights and aerobic machines, as well as yoga mats. In addition, the hotel offers a selection of sailing and outdoor packages designed to maximize enjoyment.
Best Budget: Highbrook Motel
Located in the seaside town of Bar Harbor, the Highbrook Motel is on a quiet wooded hillside just outside the center, providing a peaceful setting while still offering easy access to the entertainment and conveniences of the Main Street and downtown area. In addition, the location offers excellent access to Acadia National Park along the West Street Extension, found just behind the property.
Reminiscent of a classic motel, each of the 26 units come with upholstered armchairs, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom with a tub and shower. Hypoallergenic pillows ensure a good night’s sleep, and screen doors and windows allow refreshing sea breezes to enter the room.
Deluxe rooms and mini-suites come with extra space, double vanities, and secluded locations. Each has a furnished front porch, door-front parking and complimentary benefits such as in-room wireless Internet access, a grab-and-go continental breakfast with options including oatmeal and sandwiches, and hot beverages are available throughout the day.
Best Glamping: Acadia Yurts
Inhabiting five acres of private woodlands in the center of Mount Desert Island, Acadia Yurts offers visitors an undisturbed and unique accommodation experience with easy access to Acadia National Park and the nearby towns of Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and Tremont.
Each yurt is well-equipped for making the glamping experience as comfortable and convenient as possible, including both heating and air conditioning, bath and beach towels, a battery-operated lantern, and a welcome binder full of useful, local information.
A communal kitchen employs cooking utensils, a French-press coffee plunger, a stove and oven combo, and a refrigerator. The property also lends out complimentary items such as lobster pots, coffee bean grinders, wine glasses, board games, and beach toys. Guests will find picnic tables, hammocks, Weber barbeques, and a communal firepit scattered around the grounds. The wellness center contains an infrared sauna, float tank, massage room, and yoga studio.
Best for Families: Holiday Inn Resort Bar Harbor
With children staying and eating for free (subject to conditions), the Holiday Inn Resort Bar Harbor is one of the best hotels in the area to accommodate traveling families. Overlooking their private marina set in the waters of Frenchman’s Bay, you can admire stunning views from the oceanfront lounge, the large outdoor pool, or from the surrounding gardens. The resort also has an outdoor whirlpool and two tennis courts. Accommodations come in a variety of sizes, with spacious ocean-view suites comprising kitchen and living areas in addition to a private outdoor deck.
Free cribs or infant beds can be supplied for families with young children. Connecting or adjoining rooms allow for larger families to stay together. The hotel also provides on-site children's activities to keep young ones entertained. Dining options at the resort include casual snacks and refreshing drinks at the Splash pool bar, the Mediterranean-inspired fare at La Bella Vita and the trattoria-style dining at Encota. For a truly authentic regional seafood experience, the New England clam chowder and lobster bisque at the oceanfront Stewman’s Lobster Pound are must-haves.
Itching to go to Acadia National Park? Check out our guide to the best things to do at this national park.
Best for Couples: Ann’s Point Inn
Set at the tip of a peninsula jutting out from Bass Harbor, guests at Ann’s Point Inn find themselves surrounded on three sides by scenic ocean vistas, the perfect backdrop to a romantic stay. With only four guest rooms, a private and relaxed atmosphere is assured at this AAA four-diamond bed & breakfast. All rooms are adorned with a blend of the modern and antique. Each comes with a fireplace and wide windows overlooking the bay, which you can open to allow the sounds and breeze from the ocean to enter the room.
Little details, such as the freshly-baked cookies delivered to guest rooms, create a warm and welcoming homey ambiance. A lavish three-course breakfast is served each morning, with fresh produce from the inn’s garden often finding its way onto the table. A small spa lets couples lounge in a Finlandia sauna and a jetted hot tub, and exercise equipment is available for those looking to maintain a fitness regime. In the evenings, a pool and foosball table, as well as an extensive movie library, provide entertainment, and a well-stocked selection of guides and maps allow guests to plan their next day’s activities.
Best for Luxury: Cleftstone Manor
Established in 1881, Cleftstone Manor is an opulent summer mansion that recalls the glories of this bygone age, with a richly decorated, heavy timber-filled interior, ornately carved moldings, and elegant antique art. Overlooking the waters of Frenchman Bay, you can take in views from the outdoor pool, located at the adjacent Bluenose Inn or from the sunporch of Abbey’s Retreat, a relaxed social area with wicker furniture, board games, and local information. The 17 guest rooms are equally magnificent. All come with luxurious beds, private baths, and air conditioning. Guests can choose to stay in rooms with additional amenities such as a fireplace, whirlpool bath or balcony.
A delicious gourmet breakfast includes blueberry muffins, Belgian waffles coated in maple syrup, and a signature quiche, which is served daily in a beautiful dining room on a magnificent tiger oak table. Other areas of the building include a library with high-speed internet, computers, books and games and a parlor lodging an impressive rare amber collection. Next to the main building, the Eden Spa contains a steam room, hot tub, indoor pool and exercise room and offers services including massages, facial and body treatments, manicures and pedicures, and other beauty treatments.
Best Cottage: Acadia Cottages
Located just a short walk from the coastal village of Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Acadia Cottages comprises a collection of 15 cabins that blend effortlessly into the wooded landscape. The property takes care to appreciate and maintain the untouched atmosphere, with bathroom and cleaning products composed of all-natural, eco-friendly ingredients and an efficient recycling and water conservation strategy.
While all cabins have kitchens, bathrooms, and a private porch, suites offer extra amenities, that may include electric fireplaces, dining rooms, and living space. The outdoor common area has Adirondack chairs and picnic tables, and a granite fire ring with a complimentary supply of firewood is a relaxing place to kick back and socialize in the evenings. Charcoal grills are available for alfresco barbeques.
Other facilities include a coin-operated washing machine and an office with books, maps, and local field guides. Set in a secluded location on the quiet side of the island, the location provides superb access to the beaches, coves, and woodland trails of Acadia National Park.
Best Rustic Getaway: Shorefront Cabin
For visitors seeking rugged natural splendor and tranquil fishing communities seemingly untouched by time, a visit to Swan Island is essential. Six miles from Mount Desert Island, you can access the island by ferry, which departs from Bass Harbor. On this small island, population 350, visitors can find walking trails, deserted beaches, and a museum lighthouse, as well as plenty of opportunities for fishing and wildlife viewing.
Ostensibly camouflaged by quiet woodlands and just steps from the waters of Toothaker Cove, Shorefront Cabin complements rural atmosphere with charming, rustic sanctuary. Simply furnished, the cabin features comforts such as a propane cooking stove, composting toilets, and water provided by a rainfall capture system. In this isolated spot, while you are asked to bring your own bedding, cookware, dishes, and toilet essentials are supplied.
Outside, you will find an outdoor shower system and a barbeque grill. Set in the nearby harbor, a canoe with lifejackets is available for exploring the surrounding coastline. To access the cabin by car, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is required. Alternatively, it's but a short walk from a nearby parking area.
Best Bed and Breakfast: Yellow House B&B
Central to Bar Harbor, Yellow House B&B is located between the bustling main street, lined with shops, art galleries, and restaurants. A scenic coastal path follows the winding shoreline. Built in 1872, the manor is believed to be the second-oldest house in the area and retains much of its historical charm and local character. A comfortable, hardwood-floored sitting parlor clusters wicker furnishings around a gas-lit fireplace. Classic rocking chairs yield scenic views over the expansive grounds.
Within the garden, a series of free-standing metal sculptures, created by the famed local artist Melita Westerlund, are scattered around the lawns. The seven guest rooms are uniquely decorated with beautiful period furnishings as well as modern comforts including flatscreen TVs and air conditioning and facilitate a private bathroom with a claw-footed bathtub. Breakfast consists of gourmet coffee and teas, tasty muffins, and a selection of fresh fruits, with a savory entrée also in tow.
Plan a spontaneous trip to Acadia National Park with this day trip guide to the park.