Visit the "Bar" of Bar Harbor
At low tide, kids can immediately see how Bar Harbor got its name—a large sand bar connects downtown Bar Harbor to Bar Island. Children love taking buckets and shovels onto the bar and exploring all the sealife uncovered at low tide. Across the sand bar to Bar Island, a nature trail rises to a summit, offering spectacular views of Mount Desert Island. If you go, don't forget to check the local tide schedule and leave plenty of time to get back before the tide rolls in —it comes fast!
Oceanarium and Lobster Hatchery
This hands-on nature experience lets kids play games as they tour the lobster museum. Propel wind-up boats in the boat tank, explore the water-cycle exhibit, tour the marsh, and visit lobster babies at the hatchery. Kids love to dress up like seals at the educational seal exhibit. Open mid-May to October, 9 am–5 pm (except Sundays). Special group rates available by reservation. 207-288-5005/207-244-7330.
National Park Junior Ranger Program
Kids up to 18 can become Junior Rangers. First they complete activities in the Junior Ranger booklet. Then, after joining one or two ranger-led programs or walks and promising to take care of the park, they get their very own Junior Ranger patch. 207-288-3338.
Nature Center and Abbe Museum
The Sieur de Monts Nature Center of Acadia National Park features guidebooks and displays about park wildlife. Children get to record the animals they have seen in the center's logbook. Open daily from mid-June through September.
At the Abbe Museum, a short walk from the Nature Center, children learn about Acadia's earliest inhabitants. A rich variety of hands-on learning and arts activities teaches them about the culture and traditions of Maine Native Americans. The museum's collection includes prehistoric pottery, bone and stone tools, porcupine jewelry, trade beads, a large birch bark canoe, and a wigwam. 207-288-3519.
Children love playing in the salty ocean waves and the beautiful sand at Acadia's Sand Beach. Those preferring calmer, warmer waters may want to visit the freshwater beach at Echo Lake. Both swimming areas have lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Little ones can get their feet wet in the Glen Mary wading pool in downtown Bar Harbor.
Take a Nature Tour
Go by sea to watch seals, dolphins, porpoises, whales, and mysterious underwater creatures on a boat and underwater video tour. Or stay on land to spot bald eagles, ospreys, peregrine falcons, great blue herons, woodpeckers, warblers, and shorebirds on a beginning birdwatcher's tour.
Hiking and Biking
Hiking trails cover Acadia National Park. One, Gorham Mountain, is only 525 feet high, but it offers beautiful ocean views and wild blueberries (in July and August) along the trail. The carriage roads also offer 45 miles of groomed, auto-free roads for you to explore as a family—hiking or biking. Mount Desert Island has a number of bike shops that rent everything from mountain bikes to touring models.
Biological Laboratory's Public Tours
Kids get to see dogfish sharks, skates, and other marine animals up close. And they learn how marine biomedical research at the laboratory contributes to improvements in human health. Located in Salisbury Cove. 207-288-3605.
Harbor House keeps kids busy with child care and rec room. Perfect fun for a rainy day. Open year-round, 5 days a week. 207-244-3713.
Park Street Playground
A favorite place for the young children of Bar Harbor, this playground has swingsets, sandboxes, teeter-totters, and slides. It's just down the street from Glen Mary Wading Pool in downtown Bar Harbor, next to the YMCA.
The YMCA keeps kids busy with a gym, track, indoor pool, fitness room, and rec room. Perfect fun for a rainy day. Open year-round, 7 days a week. 207-288-3511.
At Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf on Route 3, the legends of infamous pirates come to life. Enter the 18th century and see carousing buccaneers and an authentic, full-scale pirate ship. Putt your way through mountain caves, over footbridges, and under magical waterfalls. 207-288-2133.
Mount Desert Island is covered with Maine low-bush blueberries. From about mid-July through the month of August, the berries ripen and can be found along many of the trails in Acadia National Park. The best places to look are on the open, sunny slopes of mountains such as Champlain and Cadillac. Sitting in the sun with a great ocean view, picking and eating blueberries - what more can life offer?
Pack a Picnic
There are any number of wonderful spots to take a picnic lunch or dinner. While the park maintains several picnic areas around the island, you don't have to be restricted to them. Some of the best places are the ones where you or your children decide to stop and sit awhile. Later, finish it off with some yummy homemade ice cream from one of the many shops in Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, or at the Jordan Pond House.
Horse Carriage Rides
During the season, a variety of horse carriage rides are available from Wildwood Stables along the Park Loop Road a couple of miles before you reach Jordan Pond. These rides are of varying lengths, start at various times of the day, and all are along the beautiful park carriage roads.
NOTE: Listings here are in a rotating alphabetical sequence. That means each time you visit the page, you'll see the entire list beginning (and ending) with a different listing.
Cruises is a family owned business in our 22nd year. We focus on
quality and creating an experience that many people say is the
highlight of their visit to Maine, making us the local favorite that
annual visitors never miss. Join us for our Lunch Cruise to
Frenchboro, a 120 year old island fishing village, one of the last on
the coast, or our Afternoon Nature Cruise. Both trips feature
wildlife that will simply astound you, coupled with an award winning,
interactive narrative of the history and current culture of the island
communities of Blue Hill Bay and the Maine lobster fishery. We always
haul a few lobster traps, see how they work and what's been caught.
The Notebook is just a short drive from Bar Harbor or Northeast Harbor. It's a great rainy-day (or sunny day) place for families or anyone who's even slightly curious about the world and the universe.
Every Harbor House program and activity springs from our common ideas, ideals and individual contributions. Boys and girls, young and old, Harbor House welcomes all.
With six key program areas and a roster of more than 60 health, fitness, educational, sports, community-based and youth-focused classes and activities, Harbor House serves every age group and every economic level -- and, has done so for forty-three years and counting.