Whether you’re looking for relaxation, adventure or good food, Acadia’s got it all! Here are our picks for the top 10 things to do near Acadia National Park.
Are you planning a trip Acadia?
Along with the Smoky Mountain National Park, Acadia is one of the most popular national parks on the east coast.
Even if you plan on leaving some things to chance, it’s a good idea to know what your options are.
Here are some of our favorite things to do at Acadia National Park.
1) Walk the Ocean Path Trail to Sand Beach + Thunder Hole
Ocean Path Trail is a 2.2-mile easy stroll along a picturesque section of Maine coastline. It will take you from Sand Beach to Thunder Hole to Otter Point.
Acadia is known more for its rocky shorelines than its inviting, sandy beaches. That said, the park does have one sandy beach area called, appropriately, Sand Beach. The water’s chilly but the view is lovely!
Thunder Hole, a sea cave, is an easy 0.7 miles from Sand Beach. The path is concrete and packed gravel.
If you get the timing right and arrive at Thunder Hole about two hours before high tide, you may get to hear the thunderous crashes that give this feature its name.
We weren’t there at the right time to hear the “thunder”, but this spot was still crowded.
The trail continues with a bit of unevenness and some staircases as you gradually climb up to Otter Cliffs (110 feet high!) and down to Otter Point, offering more great views of the ocean.
The views on this trail are probably what you’re looking for when you come to Acadia!
2) Go for a Bike Ride
Acadia is known for its fantastic bicycling opportunities.
For a challenging workout, try biking one of the carriage roads within the park.
These multi-use roads, built in the early 20th century, amount to 45 miles of crushed rock surfaces and are closed to motorized vehicles. So pedestrians, cyclists, and horseback riders can explore the park safely.
These hilly roads will get your heart pumping!
Need some gear recommendations? Check out our post on mountain biking gear for beginners, which will help you out with ideas like half-finger biking gloves, the Rupumpack daypack, or the higher-end Osprey daypack.
For a (somewhat) easier biking experience, head to the Schoodic Peninsula. The Schoodic Loop Road is a little more beginner-friendly.
3) Explore the Shops + Restaurants in Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor has all the charm of a quaint harbor town mixed in with the shops and restaurants you’d find at an ocean boardwalk.
We loved exploring the artisan shops, gift shops and bookstores. And we especially loved the food!
Our favorite coffee shop was Choco Latte for both breakfast and coffee. We loved their signature Choco-Latte (a slightly sweet chocolate latte) so much that we had it four times!
We also enjoyed their bagels, and I loved the breakfast croissant with veggie sausage.
Looking for a spot for lunch or dinner?
Try the Atlantic Brewing Company. We enjoyed beer-braised mussels and panko-crusted fish and chips (with haddock), plus a flight of their home brews.
I was so inspired by their food that I came back and made beer mussels at home!
4) Eat at a Lobster Pound
Want the true Maine lobster experience? Head to a lobster pound!
5) Watch the Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain
One of the most popular things to do in Acadia National Park is to watch the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain.
You can either hike (4.4 miles round trip) or drive to the summit of the mountain.
The official summit can be a bit crowded, but another lookout just before the summit offers the same breathtaking view without the extra people.
6) Visit the Wild Gardens of Acadia
The Wild Gardens of Acadia offers easy walking and a great opportunity to check out the native plant life of Acadia.
When we visited in early September, the autumn colors were fantastic and it wasn’t very crowded.
The nearby Jesup Path was an easy loop trail with a boardwalk running through a forest of white birches.
Perfect for a relaxing day out!
7) Walk Around Jordan Pond
The Jordan Pond Path is a popular trail that skirts the edge of the deepest lake in Acadia.
It’s one of the most accessible trails in the park, and offers plenty of chances to enjoy birds, plant life, and views of the pond and mountains.
There’s a restaurant near the pond that draws crowds. And it’s the access point for some other popular and scenic trails, including the route to the two mountains nicknamed “the Bubbles“.
8) Hike (or Climb) a Rung and Ladder Trail
Rung and ladder trails are famous within Acadia. The views are incredible!
Does that mean they’re for everyone?
Well – no. You shouldn’t attempt some of these trails if you’re afraid of heights! Be prepared for quite a bit of rock scrambling along cliff edges.
But if that sounds like your idea of a great time, you’re in for a treat. The Beehive Trail promises you gorgeous ocean views — and a pretty big jolt of adrenaline.
The Precipice and Jordan Cliffs, also rung and ladder trails, are closed part of the year for peregrine falcon nesting.
9) Visit the Schoodic Peninsula
The Schoodic Peninsula is the only part of Acadia National Park that is on the mainland.
It’s about an hour away from the main part of the park, but that means there are noticeably fewer people!
The peninsula has a loop road that is perfect for biking. It leads you along a dramatic stretch of rocky coastline where the waves crash and the seagulls wander.
10) Take a Ferry to Another Island
Ferry service is available to several islands within or near Acadia. Not only is it a convenient way to get around, but it’s also pretty scenic!
You can ferry between Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula, both within Acadia National Park.
Or you might decide to hike, bike or picnic at some of the smaller islands in the area, like Great Cranberry Island or Little Cranberry. The Cranberry Cove ferry will carry you to both of those.
You could also ferry out to Isle au Haut off the coast of Stonington, Maine. This island, part of which is managed by Acadia National Park, is a truly remote but beautiful spot with a tiny village, plenty of hiking trails, and a campground.
Clearly, there is no shortage of things to do in and around Acadia. This list might get you started, but there’s no question you’ll find more opportunities the farther you explore this beautiful corner of Maine!