Acadia National Park is often referred to as “The Crown Jewel of Maine,” and I happen to agree with that. Whenever anyone asks me, “what’s the top thing you suggest I see in New England?” I almost always say Acadia National Park before they can even finish asking the question!
If you’re planning your first ever visit, this post is all about the most perfect Acadia National Park itinerary, and I have options ranging from 3-5 days, plus bonus recommendations for day trips and 2-day visits. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s start planning together!
How Many Days Do You Need In Acadia National Park?
My favorite thing about Acadia National Park is that you can see a lot in a day, but I generally suggest 3 days as the optimal amount of time to explore the park. 3 days in Acadia really allows you see the best attractions, hike a few trails, spend some time in Bar Harbor, and enjoy everything without feeling too rushed.
But of course, the more time you have to explore a destination, the better. So if you have time to dedicate up to 5 days, that’s amazing! To really explore the park, I don’t think you need more than 5 days.
However, I’ve also done Acadia as a day trip, an overnight trip, and a 2-day trip, so I’m able to confirm that it can absolutely be done. You’ll just want to keep reading the bonus suggestions at the end if you’re short on time to see my recommendations on planning a day trip and 2-day visit to the park.
Acadia National Park Region Guide
Before you begin planning, it’s a good idea to understand the regions of Acadia National Park. It’s much bigger than people realize (it’s actually about 65 square miles!), and encompasses 3 main regions, as well as a few towns. Here’s a breakdown to help you get started:
Mount Desert Island – This is where most people will spend pretty much all their time inside the park, especially during their first visit. Mount Desert Island is home to the vast majority of the top attractions and hiking trails in Acadia.
Bar Harbor – Part of Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor is the gateway to the park, and where many people stay when visiting Acadia. The town is a charming little coastal destination with lots of shops, restaurants and hotels. While not technically part of the actual park, it’s a short drive away from many of the park’s top sites.
Schoodic Peninsula – One of the lesser-visited parts of Acadia, and the only part that’s actually on mainland Maine. For those who have hit the top spots in Acadia already, or have planned a longer stay, I highly suggest spending a day on Schoodic! It’s about 1 hour east from Mount Dessert Island by car, and can easily be explored as a day trip.
Isle Au Haut – Probably the least visited part of Acadia, but also one of the most quiet and remote parts of the park. This is an island, as you probably guessed by the name, and requires a 45-minute ferry ride from the mainland. To get to the ferry, it’s about a 90 minute drive west of Bar Harbor, and you’ll want to plan an entire day for this excursion. While this part of Acadia is stunning, for first-timers, I would rule this out unless you have 4 or more days to explore the park.
Best Time Of Year To Visit Acadia National Park
July and August are the most busy and crowded times to visit the park, but also the best months for weather with fewest rain days.
However, here are my personal favorite times to visit Acadia:
- Mid to late May, right before Memorial Day Weekend
- Early to mid June, before the July 4th holiday
- Late September, early October for fall foliage
May will bring increased chances of rain, but the weather is perfect for hiking (still a little chilly, but not cold), and not as many crowds. June is very similar, and has fewer chances of rain than May, and while it’s a bit more crowded than May, it’s definitely not as crowded as July and August. And, of course, it’s hard to beat fall foliage season, which also brings lovely weather for hiking and exploring outside.
3 Day Acadia National Park Itinerary
Okay! Now that you know the basics on visiting the park, let’s get into the itineraries! I’m going to start with the 3 Day Itinerary option since I think it’s the perfect sweet spot for most travelers.
3 Day Itinerary Overview
- Day 1 – Arrival. Explore downtown Bar Harbor, and if time allows, take a boat tour.
- Day 2 – Drive Park Loop Road inside Acadia. This includes lots of the top sites like Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond, Bubble Rock and lots of hiking trailheads.
- Day 3 – Bass Harbor Lighthouse and exploring the hiking trails.
- Departure day – Wake up for sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, and then grab a hearty breakfast in town before leaving.
3 Day Itinerary Breakdown
Day 1 – Arrival & Exploring Bar Harbor
This is the exciting day you arrive in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park! Since many of you will have been driving or flying to get here, this day is going to stay pretty simple, and can be tailored to your specific schedule.
✔️ Explore Downtown Bar Harbor
After settling into your accommodations, you’ll want to head to downtown Bar Harbor and get acquainted.
A few things I recommend checking out in Bar Harbor are:
- Strolling through the cute shops.
- Walking along Shore Path for ocean views.
- Head out onto the water for a whale watch, lobster boat tour or sailing tour.
If time allows on your first day, I would highly recommend booking a relaxing tour out on the water. The lobster boat tour is actually really fun and is only about 2 hours, so this is a great way to kick off your trip to Acadia.
Pro Tip: Most tour operators in Bar Harbor are seasonal, and typically run May – October. Be sure to plan accordingly.
To end your first night, grab dinner downtown. Here are my favorite places to eat in Bar Harbor:
- Side Street Cafe – Great cocktails and lots of variety (all of which is really good!)
- The Barnacle – Cozy little spot with a great oyster bar and seafood.
- Thirsty Whale Tavern – Great casual spot for comfort food favs.
- Mount Desert Island Ice Cream and Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium for dessert!
Day 2 – Drive & Explore Park Loop Road
Day 2 is packed with some of the most iconic things to do in Acadia National Park! Your drive along Park Loop Road is one of the best things you can do in the park, and passes by lots of the top sites to see.
Park Loop Road is about 27 miles long, and is incredibly scenic. Keep in mind that you’ll want to follow this order on how to do things because some of this road is one-way traffic only. Worst case scenario, if you miss a stop, you can always drive back (oh darn, we have to take the scenic drive again!), but if you’re short on time and want to see as much as possible, it’s good to follow this order.
✔️ Sand Beach, Ocean Path, Thunder Hole, Monument Cove & Otter Cliffs
You may be wondering why all of these sites are grouped together, and here’s why:
If you park at Sand Beach, you can walk along the very easy 2.2-mile (one-way) Ocean Path, which is incredible scenic. Along the walk on Ocean Path, you’ll pass right by Thunder Hole, Monument Cove, and end at the Otter Cliffs.
I recommend planning time to walk the entire path (which is about 4.4 miles round trip) simply because it will allow you the freedom to park at Sand Beach, and then not have to worry about parking at all the other sites.
This also allows you the freedom to really enjoy Ocean Path, which offers some of the most iconic views in the park. From Ocean Path, you’ll be able to walk out onto the rocks along the coastline and really capture some nice photos, and create awesome memories, of course.
Pro Tip: The other reason I recommend walking Ocean Path is because it’s very, very easy. It’s completely flat and well-marked, and is suitable for most everyone (unless you have mobility issues, then you may want to reconsider because you’ll walk through sections of wooded areas with tree roots and such).
You definitely don’t have to walk the whole thing if that doesn’t suit your preferences, and there are parking lots along Park Loop Road close to all these attractions.
Sand Beach is absolutely beautiful, and I think a must-see. This is also the only sandy beach inside the park if you’re looking to have a swim in the summer. The parking area here is pretty big, but still fills up fast during peak times, so I recommend an early start if you can to ensure a parking space.
✔️ Hiking Option & Sand Beach Pro Tip: If you walk across the entire beach from the parking lot, you can access the trailhead for the Great Head hike, which offers incredible views of the coastline and Sand Beach from a distance. This trail is easy-moderate, as there’s some rock scrambling involved, but I found it to be pretty easy. It’s also only a 1.6 mile loop trail, so it can be done in an hour or so.
After Sand Beach, follow signs for Ocean Path (it’s pretty easy to figure out). During your walk on Ocean Path before getting to Thunder Hole, you’ll find lots of little places to explore sea cliffs and such. Just keep looking left at the water, and you’ll find tons of scenic overlooks to explore!
Your next stop is Thunder Hole, and this is probably one of the most popular attractions inside the park. But, it’s good to level-set expectations before your arrival. I’ve been to Acadia several times, and have stopped here during every visit, and I’ve never once been able to fully experience Thunder Hole in all its glory.
Thunder Hole gained popularity as a small inlet where waves crashing can replicate the sound of thunder, and also spray as high as 40 feet in the air. But in order to have that experience, you really need to visit on a day when the ocean is very wavy and rough. On a calm day, you won’t get the full effect.
However, it’s still worth stopping at! Especially if you’re walking Ocean Path because you’ll walk right by it. The overlook offers amazing views of the coastline, so be sure to swing by and grab a photo (and hopefully you visit on a day when you can experience the thunder waves!).
The next stop along Ocean Path is Monument Cove and Boulder Beach, which is a famous overlook that’s backdropped by the Otter Cliffs. You’ll have to walk through the woods a bit to find it, but Google Maps will bring you right to it.
Your walk on Ocean Path ends at the Otter Cliffs, which is one of the most breathtaking views in he park.
From here, you’ll just want to reverse-course and walk Ocean Path back to your car.
Once you’re back in your car at Sand Beach, you’ll continue to drive Park Loop Road. You’ll actually drive parallel to Ocean Path, and get to see some of the same views. Then Park Loop Road continues, and I would drive pretty slow while you’re hugging the coast because the views are really beautiful!
✔️ Lunch At Jordan Pond House Restaurant
Your next stop along Park Loop Road is Jordan Pond House Restaurant, where you’ll enjoy a scenic lunch! This is the only place inside the park where you can get food, and it’s actually worth the hype, in my opinion.
There are actually now two places you can get food at Jordan Pond House: the actual restaurant and a to-go place called Carriage Road Carry Out, which has soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. But if your plans allow for it, I recommend eating at the restaurant.
The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating, and if you’re lucky enough to snag a table outside, you’ll be treated with incredible mountain views at Jordan Pond. At the restaurant, their tea and popover service is very popular, and they also have great salads, soups and sandwiches! For dessert, you’ll definitely want to get the popover sundae.
Pro Tip: The Jordan Pond House Restaurant takes priority seating reservations, which you can make online here. I don’t believe this is a traditional reservation service, but just moves you to the front of the wait line at a certain time.
After lunch, be sure to take a walk over to Jordan Pond to really enjoy the views. If you’re up for it, you can also walk around the entire pond on an easy path, which is about 3.5 miles long.
✔️ See The Famous Bubble Rock
Your last stop along Park Loop Road is a hike to see the iconic Bubble Rock, which is definitely worth your time. The trailhead can be found around these coordinates: 44.338300262074355, -68.25039129691649, and it’s only a short, 5-minute drive from Jordan Pond House.
So, what is Bubble Rock? It’s a boulder that hangs off the side of a cliff close to the summit of South Bubble Mountain. The boulder’s position is a result of glacial erosion, and while the actual boulder is definitely a cool site to see, the views from the top are also amazing.
The hike itself is pretty short (about 1.5 miles round trip), and I would consider it easy to moderate. The incline is a bit steep going up with some rock scrambling, but I would say most people could tackle it.
Pro Tip: It works out that this is your last stop along Park Loop Road because the parking here is pretty limited, and it fills up fast. But, usually later in the afternoon, it’s much easier to get a spot. So perfect to go after a nice leisurely lunch at Jordan Pond House.
And that concludes your first day in Acadia! For the rest of the night, you can head back to your hotel to shower, and have a lovely dinner in Bar Harbor.
Day 3 – Bass Harbor Lighthouse & Hiking
The last full day of your Acadia National Park itinerary starts with a trip to Southwest Harbor to see Bass Harbor Lighthouse, and then the rest of the day, you’re free to explore some of the awesome hiking trails.
✔️ Bass Harbor Lighthouse
One of the most photographed scenes in Acadia is Bass Harbor Lighthouse, and I think it’s worth the 30-minute drive from Bar Harbor to see it for yourself. In fact, I think it’s one of the best New England lighthouses to see in the region! The parking lot here isn’t huge so I recommend doing this first thing in the morning (around sunrise is ideal, especially if you want to get some beautiful photos).
The lighthouse sits perched right on the cliffs, so you only get to see it from the side, back, and only from the front if you climb down onto the rocks at the coastline. But the overall view here is really beautiful. In early mornings, you’ll likely only see a few other people, as it tends to be a more popular spot around sunset.
Pro Tip: The rocks down by the coast are very slippery, so come prepared with shoes that have good grip (I was fine with my hiking boots and extra caution).
✔️ Pack Snacks And/Or Lunch, Or Stop For Lunch
Since you’ll spend the rest of your day hiking, you’ll want to make sure you’re fueled up and ready to hit the trails. Grab your water bottle, snacks and a packed lunch to make sure you’re good for the day.
Another option is planning to stop back at Jordan Pond House to get some grab and go lunch from their to-go area.
✔️ Hit Up The Hiking Trails
This is the part that you’ll want to customize to your skill level and preferences, as there are tons of hiking trails inside the park. I’ve already mentioned Great Head Trail, which starts at Sand Beach, and I do recommend doing this one if you weren’t able to tackle it the day prior. The views are just so beautiful.
Here are some other awesome trails to check out:
- Precipice – Experienced Hikers Only!
- Gorham Mountain
- Jordan Cliffs Trail
- Dorr Mountain
After your day of hiking, head back to your hotel to shower and grab dinner in Bar Harbor, and get to bed early. You’ll be setting an early alarm for the next day to do one of the most epic things in Acadia!
Departure Day – Cadillac Mountain Summit Sunrise
Since it’s your last day in Acadia, plan the perfect send-off by getting up early to catch the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain! Because of the location of the mountain, this is one of the first locations in the U.S. you can see the sunrise, and it also provides insanely beautiful views from the top.
Most people that catch a sunrise here drive the auto road to the summit, which is also how I’ve always done it. The drive is easy, even in the dark before sunrise! Just practice extra caution while heading up as the road is pretty narrow.
If you’re super adventurous, you can also hike up to the top.
Pro Tip: If this is something you absolutely want to experience on a perfectly clear morning on your trip, don’t save it for the last day, and squeeze it into either day 2 or 3 of your Acadia National Park itinerary.
I love ending my trips with a Cadillac Mountain sunrise on the day I leave because I can get an early start for my journey back home. But, if your last day is overcast, and you really want to watch the sunrise as clearly as possible, you want to check weather conditions for your whole trip and decide which day is best.
After sunrise, if you have time before you need to start your journey back home, I recommend grabbing a hearty New England breakfast in Bar Harbor. Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast is an awesome spot, and has delicious offerings like pancakes, omelettes and french toast. This is usually where I go for breakfast before a day of hiking, or right after sunrise.
4 Day Acadia National Park Itinerary
4 Day Itinerary Overview
- Day 1 – Arrival. Explore downtown Bar Harbor, and if time allows, take a boat tour.
- Day 2 – Drive Park Loop Road inside Acadia. Just like the 3 Day Itinerary option, this includes top sites like Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond, Bubble Rock, and lots of hiking.
- Day 3 – See Bass Harbor Lighthouse, and then explore some hiking trails.
- Day 4 – Drive to Schoodic Peninsula for the day.
- Departure day – Wake up for sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, and then grab a nice breakfast in town before leaving.
4 Day Itinerary Breakdown
For this 4 Day Acadia National Park Itinerary option, you’ll want to follow everything from the 3 Day Itinerary. The only difference is that on your fourth day, you’re going to explore Schoodic Peninsula.
As mentioned earlier, Schoodic Peninsula is about 1 hour east of Bar Harbor, and the only part of the park that’s on the mainland. And I think it’s most definitely worth the trek if you have more than 3 days in Acadia. It’s much smaller than Mount Desert Island, so you can easily see everything in a day.
Pro Tip: Schoodic Peninsula runs on a one-way loop road, so you’ll want to be sure you do everything in order, or you’ll have to complete the loop to return to a destination you missed. Since the loop road is only about 6 miles, it’s not a huge deal, but something to keep in mind.
Getting To Schoodic Peninsula
You can drive the 1 hour to Schoodic Peninsula, which will allow you the freedom to explore by car. Alternatively, you can also take the seasonal ferry from Bar Harbor to Winter Harbor. From Winter Harbor’s ferry terminal, you can hop onto the Island Explorer free shuttle, which will take you to some of the locations in Schoodic. With this option, I suggest you bring a bike to have some flexibility to explore the rest of the peninsula, as the shuttle only goes to certain places.
✔️ Raven’s Nest
The first stop you’ll want to make once you enter Schoodic Peninsula is Raven’s Nest. This is no longer a marked attraction inside the park for safety reasons, but it’s still pretty easy to find. I also didn’t find it to be any more dangerous than attractions inside Acadia’s Mount Desert Island region, but if you’re traveling with young children, safety here is something to absolutely consider.
Raven’s Nest is a very scenic overlook area along the ocean, and is only a short walk from the parking pull-off. To find it, you’ll want to look for the third pullover area on your left after entering the park. You can also use these GPS coordinates: 44.352005, -68.074934. Once you park, cross the road and you’ll see the trailhead. The walk is about 5 minutes or less to the overlook.
✔️ Schoodic Point
The next stop you’ll want to make is Schoodic Point, which is a scenic, coastal area where you can enjoy water views, walk out onto the sea cliffs and marvel at the landscapes. There are signs that will tell you when you’re approaching Schoodic Point, and the parking area is pretty big. This is a great spot to have lunch, too.
✔️ Blueberry Hill
Next, you’ll want to stop at Blueberry Hill, which is another scenic coastline viewing area. This is a great place to visit at low tide (if you can time your visit just right!) to explore tidal pools and marine life on the ocean floor. This is the kind of place where it’s great to just wander, enjoy the views and see what you can find.
Blueberry Hill is also where you can find two trail heads for hiking. I’ve personally never done either of these hikes, but I’ve heard great things about them from other travelers. The trailheads will take you to the top of Schoodic Head, which offers awesome views of the surrounding areas from the top of the peninsula.
Planning For Food At Schoodic Peninsula
You’ll want to either pack a picnic for your day on Schoodic Peninsula, or plan your itinerary to exit the park to grab lunch, and re-enter after lunch.
The closest town to Schoodic is Winter Harbor, and here are a few places to check out for lunch if you prefer that option:
- The Hot Dog Cart – A super cute little stand that also serves lobster rolls!
- Fisherman’s Galley Restaurant
- J.M. Gerrish Cafe
Tips For Visiting Schoodic Peninsula
- Offline Google Maps and grab a paper copy of the park map before entering the park, as cell service is unreliable.
- Be sure to drive slow as there are so many beautiful places to pull off to enjoy the view – you won’t want to miss them!
- Practice Leave No Trace and carry out all your trash with you to keep the park clean and beautiful for everyone.
5 Day Acadia National Park Itinerary
5 Day Itinerary Overview
- Day 1 – Arrival. Explore downtown Bar Harbor, and if time allows, take a boat tour.
- Day 2 – Drive Park Loop Road inside Acadia. Like the previous itinerary options, this includes lots of the top sites like Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond, Bubble Rock and lots of hiking trailheads!
- Day 3 – Head back to the park to tackle a hike, and then spend the rest of the day relaxing in Bar Harbor. Option to take a boat tour if you didn’t on your first day (or take a different tour!) or drive to Cadillac Mountain’s summit for sunset.
- Day 4 – Drive to Schoodic Peninsula for the day.
- Day 5 – Drive to Bass Harbor Lighthouse, and then take a lobster boat cruise (includes lunch!). Explore downtown Southwest Harbor before heading back to Bar Harbor.
- Departure day – Wake up for sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, and then grab a nice breakfast in town before leaving.
5 Day Itinerary Breakdown
For this 5 Day Acadia National Park Itinerary, you’ll want to follow all the directions from the 3 Day options, as well as the breakdown from the 4 Day option for Schoodic Peninsula. The biggest difference between the 4 and 5 Day Itineraries is that the 5 Day option allows you one extra night of relaxation in Bar Harbor (and time for another tour) and flexibility to explore Southwest Harbor.
If you were able to do a tour on your first night, I would suggest taking another during your evening of day 3 that’s a bit different. For example, if you did a sunset sail tour on your first night, a culinary walking tour.
If you have some extra time on another night and a tour isn’t your preference, I suggest driving the auto road to the Cadillac Mountain summit for sunset. While sunrise is the top thing to do here, I think sunset is equally spectacular. This itinerary includes a sunrise trip here on departure day, but with 5 days, you can easily do both.
Okay, so it’s time to explore Southwest Harbor! With the extra day, you can spend more time in this lesser-visited part of the park, which is also absolutely beautiful. Southwest Harbor is home to Bass Harbor Lighthouse, so you’ll want to see that first to avoid as many crowds as possible before visiting the rest of the town. Be sure to scroll back up to my 3 Day Itinerary Breakdown to re-read my tips for visiting the lighthouse.
Pro Tip: If you would prefer to see the lighthouse at sunset, you can absolutely do that. I just must warn you that the parking lot fills up fast during peak season, and cars create a line to wait for a spot. If you encounter this, park rangers do not allow drivers to get out of line and turn around to leave, so you’ll have to wait for a parking spot. My suggestion is to arrive a minimum of 1.5-2 hours before sunset to allow yourself time to park and get settled to enjoy the view.
✔️ Southwest Harbor Lobster Boat & Feast Cruise
One of the coolest things to do in Southwest Harbor is to take a lobster boat & feast cruise! During the cruise, you’ll boat around the local waters, haul in lobster traps and then the boat captain will cook the freshly-hauled lobster right on the boat to serve you. This is a lunchtime only cruise, so you’ll want to plan accordingly, and it’s worth every penny.
✔️ Explore Downtown Southwest Harbor
After your cruise, you can walk to the charming little downtown area to visit the shops and grab an ice cream cone. Southwest Harbor’s downtown isn’t quite as big as Bar Harbor’s, but it’s definitely worth strolling through. There are some cute shops, and a great place for ice cream is the Quiet Side Cafe (which, hint hint, also has killer homemade blueberry pie).
✔️ Take A Ferry To The Cranberry Isles
If you have time and want to adventure off to another great area, you can take a ferry to the Cranberry Isles to explore. This is something I haven’t personally done (yet!), but everyone I’ve met that’s been has said it’s a lovely trip.
Once you’re done in Southwest Harbor, you can head back to Bar Harbor and end your trip. But don’t forget, you’ll want to set an early alarm to experience sunrise at the top of Cadillac Mountain before you make your way back home!
Bonus: 2 Day Acadia National Park Day Trip Itinerary
For a 2 Day Acadia National Park Itinerary, here’s what I suggest to make the most of your time:
- Arrive, and head straight to the park to drive Park Loop Road (depending on how much time you have). Refer to my 3 Day Itinerary option for tips. You may not have time for everything along Park Loop Road, but you can definitely see the best things even in just a few hours (Ocean Path, Sand Beach and Otter Cliffs). You may even be able to squeeze in the Great Head hike.
- Spend your evening in downtown Bar Harbor. Visit the shops and grab dinner.
- Tackle some of the hikes, and plan to do lunch at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant (or their to-go place). See my 3 Day Itinerary for great hiking suggestions!
- Head back to downtown Bar Harbor before sunset so you can either walk the Shore Path to admire the views, or maybe even catch a sunset sailing cruise before dinner.
Departure Day: Catch a sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain before you make your way home.
Bonus: Day Trip Itinerary For Acadia National Park
Day trips to Acadia are tough, but doable! I always suggest that an Acadia day trip should be done when the days are the longest (June is especially perfect) so you can really maximize your time. But any time in the late spring or summer will definitely work.
Acadia National Park Suggested Day Trip Itinerary:
- Plan to arrive as early as possible and head straight to Sand Beach to park. Enjoy the views from the beach.
- If you want to squeeze in a hike, the best way to maximize your time is to do the Great Head hike right from Sand Beach.
- Decide if your plans allow you to walk all of Ocean Path to see Thunder Hole, Monument Cove and the Otter Cliffs. If not, you can always drive and park at each destination (to see Monument Cove, you’ll want to park at Otter Cliffs and walk along Ocean Path for about .25 miles to get there).
- Grab lunch at Jordan Pond House Restaurant or their to-go area.
- Hike Bubble Rock after lunch.
- Drive the Cadillac Mountain Auto Road to the summit for sunset. While sunrise is famous here, sunset is also gorgeous.
- Head home!
How To Get To Acadia National Park
The best way to get to the park is to drive.
If you’re coming in by plane, you have a few options for airports. A lot of people will fly into Boston Logan International Airport, and then take a quick flight to Hancock County–Bar Harbor Airport, which is only about 10-15 minutes from the park. Airlines like JetBlue and United offer these flights from Boston.
Pro Tip: If you fly into Bar Harbor’s airport, you can take the free Island Explorer shuttle into Bar Harbor. Click here for more information!
Alternatively, if you’re looking to explore more of Maine’s coast and have extra time, you can also fly into Portland, ME, and then drive to Acadia from there. Without stops, it’s about 3 hours. But there are tons of incredible places to see during the drive.
FAQ’s For Visiting Acadia National Park
How To Purchase A Park Pass For Acadia?
Purchase your park pass online and print before arrival. You can purchase your pass at a park gate or kiosk, but depending on when you visit, it’s possible not all of them will be open or be a convenient location for you. It’s just so much easier to do this before you arrive. Click here for more information on purchasing park passes!
Can I Show My Acadia Park Pass On My Phone?
No, park passes must always be displayed on your windshield, so be sure to print it before you arrive. You cannot show your park pass on your phone. If you’re in a pinch, your hotel may also be willing to print your park pass for you before heading into the park (I’ve had to do this a couple of times!).
What’s The Best Way To Get Around Acadia?
The best way to explore the park is by car, so if you fly into the area, I would highly suggest renting a car from the airport and keeping it for the duration of your trip. This will allow you to stick to your own schedule, and have the freedom to come and go as you please.
If you don’t want to drive around the park, there is a free bus service that takes visitors from Bar Harbor to major attractions inside the park. This bus service is called Island Explorer, and is completely free. Click here for more information of the routes and schedules on the Island Explorer shuttle.
How Long Is The Acadia Park Pass Good For?
Park passes are good for 7 days, and cost $30 per vehicle (as of 2023). This will also allow you access to Schoodic Peninsula and Isle Au Haut (ferry to Isle Au Haut will cost extra).
Is There Cell Phone Service Inside Acadia National Park?
Yes and no, and I always suggest that you offline maps, and pick up a paper copy of the park’s map at a gatehouse before heading into the park. On some trails I’ve had 5G service, and on others, absolutely zero service. It’s best to be safe!
Is Google Maps Reliable To Get Around Acadia?
Yes! If you have service, or if you’ve offlined maps, Google Maps will get you where you need to go pretty well. Many trailheads and pretty much all the top attractions are easily found by typing in the name of the place you’re visiting.
Is Food Available In Acadia National Park?
The only place to get food inside the park is at Jordan Pond House Restaurant. Other than that, there are no places to purchase food or water inside the park. Be sure to plan ahead, and come prepared with snacks and reusable water bottles for the day!
Do I Need A Reservation To Drive Up Cadillac Mountain?
Yes! I wanted to mention this again just to make sure you make a note in your own itinerary because I would hate for you to miss out on this amazing thing to do. From mid to late May or sometimes June, through October, you’ll need a reservation to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain, regardless of the time of day. The exact dates this takes effect change from year to year, so be sure to click here to check the dates for the current year, and make your reservation!
Pro Tip: They begin to take reservations around March, and continue to release new reservations on a rolling basis. I usually set a calendar reminder in the winter to check the website for the latest information.
Where To Stay When Visiting Acadia National Park?
The best place to stay when visiting Acadia is Bar Harbor. I recommend Bar Harbor because you’ll have access to the beautiful downtown, and everything it has to offer, as well as be in an ideal location to access the park. As mentioned before, this is where most people stay when exploring the park.
The great thing about Bar Harbor, too, is that it’s small, so it’s pretty easy to get around on foot. I do recommend staying within downtown Bar Harbor for this reason because parking during peak season can be tough.
Here are a few places I love to recommend that are walkable to all the shops and restaurants in downtown Bar Harbor:
Bar Harbor Villager Motel is my all-around best pick for those that just want a clean, comfortable and convenient place to stay while you spend more of your time exploring the park. The rooms are recently updated and insanely clean, and very spacious (perfect if you’re bringing a lot of hiking gear)! There’s also a free continental breakfast and on-site parking. This is pretty much where I stay when my main focus is hiking and exploring the park.
The Little Fig Hotel is an awesome choice if you’re looking for a more boutique-style hotel. The rooms here are beautifully decorated and feel very special, and there’s also free parking on-site. They also have pet-friendly rooms! This is perfect for those who are looking to explore the park, but also enjoy Bar Harbor a lot more.
If you’re on a budget, or you love camping, you can also camp inside the park. My personal favorite place to camp in the park is Blackwoods because the location is perfect and accessible to the major sites and attractions. This is where I stayed my first two times to Acadia.
Seawall Campground is also really nice, but it’s located a bit further from the top sites (although, it’s closer to Bass Harbor Lighthouse).
Pro Tip 1: The campgrounds inside the park do not have showers – usually just bathrooms with toilets and sinks with cold water only. There is a hot shower facility just a few miles from Blackwoods campground that’s nice (be sure to bring quarters to use it!).
Pro Tip 2: Acadia campgrounds are only open seasonally from May through early to mid October, so be sure to plan accordingly.
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That’s A Wrap On The Best Acadia National Park Itinerary
Woo hoo! You’re now ready to plan your own perfect trip with this Acadia National Park itinerary! Regardless of how long you have for your visit, it’s pretty much guaranteed that it’ll be a memorable trip, and you’ll be able to check the top thing to do in the Northeast off your bucket list.