Where To Visit
Mount Desert Island lies just off the rock bound coast of "Downeast" Maine and is the third largest island on the east coast of the United States. It is unique for many reasons, but especially because of its dramatic, glacially carved landscape that includes many mountains and fresh water lakes, all surrounded by a bold granite coastline and the cold ocean waters of the Gulf of Maine. Approximately one half of Mount Desert Island is protected by and comprises the major portion of Acadia National Park.
While ANP is primarily associated with MDI, there are two other scenic havens within the park to visit - Isle au Haut, accessible from Stonington by mail boat - and Schoodic Point which can be reached by car northeast of Ellsworth. However, visitation at Mount Desert Island is by far the greatest - to the villages of Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Somesville, Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor and the village of Tremont.
If hiking is your joy, we have 17 mountains and over 150 miles of trails. For walking we have 55 miles of carriage roads that are also used for bicycle and horseback riding. Or you can just plain stroll in the villages or in the public gardens. By car you can travel the scenic Park Loop Road and drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain. No vehicles are allowed on the trails. The view from the Park Loop Road is picture perfect (bring your camera and lots of film). You will visit Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, the Jordan Pond House (plan to have popovers and tea), and see scenic lakes, mountains, rugged shoreline, and an endless ocean view.
On the western half of the island you will find Echo Lake (sand beach - swimming - life guard in the summer), Flying Mountain, Beech Mountain, Wonderland (easy walking for young and old), Ship Harbor, Seawall picnic area and a natural seawall, Bass Harbor Lighthouse (the one now pictured on a U.S. postage stamp), Acadia Mountain, Long Pond, Seal Cove Pond and many other beautiful attractions.
We have four major villages on the island, the best known being Bar Harbor. Prior to a massive fire in 1947, Bar Harbor was "home away from home" for the rich and famous. Little by little after the fire, the town rebuilt itself and converted the few remaining mansions into hotels, bed and breakfasts, and inns. Newcomers to the island were the motels.
These are now primarily located in and along the road to Bar Harbor, but there are also some in Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor. All of the villages have other types of lodging accommodations - B&B's, Inns, cottages and campgrounds. Two large summer hotels remain from the early period around 1900 - the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor and the Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor. Except for two primitive campgrounds, there are no lodging facilities within Acadia National Park (See our listings on this web site for details on the many lodging choices available on MDI). Somesville is on Somes Sound, a natural fiord, and was the first settled community on the island.
Northeast Harbor is primarily a residential community with a deepwater harbor, well secluded for that "port in a storm". Many yachts from around the world anchor here for extended visits. Southwest Harbor is a year 'round harbor with an active fishing fleet and world renown boat building company - The Hinckley Boatyards. The U.S. Coast Guard base is located in Southwest Harbor and has become an integral part of the community. Also in Southwest Harbor, there is a thriving community of motels, hotels, B&B's, inns and campgrounds. In addition there are delis, lunch stands (indoors or out), restaurants, take-out picnics and parks for all to enjoy.
Beyond Southwest Harbor, we have several smaller communities, all worth your time to visit - Manset, Seawall, Bass Harbor, Bernard, Tremont and West Tremont. There is something to see and do in all of them.