In partnership with KOA

A beginner’s guide to Acadia National Park

This Maine road trip includes sandy beaches, rocky shores, boat tours, hiking trails, and pounds of fresh lobster

Acadia National Park is unlike any other park in the U.S. It’s not hard to see why so many people choose to spend the summer here: Eating fresh lobster and blueberries on the beach while enjoying ocean breezes and waves crashing against the dramatic rocky shoreline will make anyone understand why Maine is known as “Vacationland.” 

Here are 10 must-see stops in or near Acadia National Park.

a pink and orange sunset over the water and a rocky beach

1. Acadia National Park

Maine’s rugged coast and stunning waters attracted 4 million tourists to Acadia National Park in 2022, and for good reason: The park is brimming with history and spans more than 49,000 acres, over half of which consist of Mount Desert Island. Park-goers of all ages and skill levels will find activities in Acadia alongside the countless spectacular views; don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes and a camera.

2. Bar Harbor Historical Society

History is preserved for all to experience at the Bar Harbor Historical Society (BHHS), located in the resort town adjacent to the park. Once housed in a former convent, the BHHS moved to the 13,000-square-foot brick La Rochelle estate on West Street. Housing exhibits and telling stories, such as that of the town’s great fire in 1947, the BHHS is open seasonally, beginning in late May.

3. Bar Harbor KOA

Located close to the national park entrance, the Bar Harbor KOA is the only campground on the western side of Mount Desert Island. Perfect for watching the sun set, this pet-friendly KOA has RV and tent sites, deluxe and camping cabins, private oceanfront access, a shuttle bus, a dog park, and fresh lobster meals (a Maine staple).

View from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

4. Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the East Coast, rising nearly 1,530 feet above sea level. The mountain attracts tourists from around the globe, with a panoramic view that’s worth the drive (or hike) up. There are trails all around and atop the mountain for those wanting to stretch their legs and explore the grounds. During certain months, Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the continental U.S. to see the sun rise. Note that if you want to drive Cadillac Summit Road during peak season, a reservation may be required. Make sure to check the national park website before planning your trip.

5. Jordan’s Restaurant

Featuring Maine’s wild blueberries in its popular breakfasts and desserts, Jordan’s Restaurant is open seasonally and serves up fresh, local, and tasty diner staples. Known for the blueberry pancakes—slathered in house-made blueberry syrup—Jordan’s menu also features omelets, club sandwiches, and burgers. 

6. Lulu Lobster Boat

A 2-hour tour on a lobster boat will get you up close and personal with the waters—and famous crustaceans—of Maine. Experience the hauling of lobster traps, learn about the lobsters themselves, see a spectacular lighthouse, and get close to adorable seals on the ride through Bar Harbor. The Lulu‘s captain is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about lobsters, which provides for an entertaining and educational experience you’re sure to remember.

7. Stewman’s Lobster Pound

Authentic Maine lobster is served daily at Stewman’s Lobster Pound, a favorite stop among visitors of Bar Harbor. Known for its huge “Lobster Experience Meals,” Stewart’s also offers fresh lobster Cobb salads, lobster stew, and clam chowder. And don’t forget blueberry pie for dessert. Savor a full meal, or just enjoy a cocktail, taking in the friendly atmosphere on the deck seating for some more of those striking Maine views.

a rocky and sandy beach lined by pine trees under a blue sky with wispy white clouds

8. Sand Beach

At the beginning of the Park Loop Road’s coastal section is one of Acadia’s most popular attractions, and the park’s only sandy ocean beach: the aptly-named Sand Beach. Visitors can hike one of three popular trails (The Beehive, Great Head Trail, and Ocean Path), swim in the often-cold water (look for lifeguards from early June through Labor Day), or just relax on the 290-yard beach.

9. Thunder Hole

Experience just how incredible nature can really be by popping over to Thunder Hole. Waves crash against rock with all their might in this inlet. On a good day, water will spout up to 40 feet, getting anyone in its path wet. This is a perfect afternoon stop for anyone wanting to experience both the natural beauty and power of the ocean; pay attention to the weather and check online for tide times.

10. Jordan Pond

Spanning 187 acres, Jordan Pond is another favorite location within the park. A walking trail loops around the shore, perfect for a scenic stroll, especially after dining at the Jordan Pond House restaurant during tea time. The historic restaurant serves lunch and dinner and offers the unique experience of having afternoon tea with delicious popovers. It’s best enjoyed in the fresh air of late afternoon, embracing a classic 1800s tradition while you take in that gorgeous view of the pond.

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