Located on Mt. Desert Island, just across the Bay of Fundy from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, is the city of Bar Harbor, Maine. The Bar Harbor area includes Trenton Bridge, Otter Creek, and Town Hill and is in close proximity to Bangor, Portland, Boston and Montreal. Bar Harbor, “Where the mountain meets the sea,” has become a major tourist area, attracting scores of visitors annually. Easily accessible by air, boat or automobile, Bar Harbor offers diverse and fascinating sites and activities for all ages and tastes.
Bar Harbor has a rich and intricate history as evidenced by the Native American encampments that have been found. However, it was in 1604 that the explorer Samuel de Champlain, one of the first European settlers, named the area Isle des Monts Deserts, Island of Barren Mountains. When word of the island’s beauty and appeal became more widely known, the area quickly became an absolute retreat that lured the more well-to-do Americans to the area and they decorated the landscape with extravagant and fantastic estates.
The eastern side of Mount Desert Island was given the name “Eden.” Although the name may seem poetic, it was given in recognition of an English Statesman, Sir Richard Eden. Little did the early settlers realize, though, how appropriate the name really was! Many view the area as a paradise and even though the name changed to Bar Harbor in 1918, the area is still considered ‘heavenly.’
A trip to the downtown area on Mount Desert Street showcases the fine homes that made the area the “Queen of the East Coast” and although some have remained private homes, others have become welcoming historical inns. Due to the vast number and exquisite beauty of these period homes, this area has been deemed a National Historic District. It is in this area that you will also find a trail of exquisite restaurants and pubs with menus to satisfy all tastes.
In addition to the outstanding scenery and landscape, many enjoy Bar Harbor’s historical attractions. The Bar Harbor Inn is a definite testament to the area’s rich and fascinating past. Originally the headquarters of the Oasis Club in 1887, the building has changed hands many times. It was purchased in 1987 and renamed the Bar Harbor Inn. Today the Inn has 153 guest rooms and is truly considered one of Maine’s finest oceanfront properties.
A trip to the area would not be complete without visiting Acadia National Park, which surrounds Bar Harbor on three sides. The majesty of the mountains and granite cliffs combined with the cobblestone beaches and comforting presence of the ocean make this park incredibly memorable. Park rangers, outfitters, instructors, and guides are on hand to assist you in exploring the park (walking, hiking, rock climbing or on horseback) as well as answer any questions you may have. With two life-guarded beaches, campgrounds and park museums, Acadia National Park is a stop worth making. With the closeness of the Atlantic Ocean, many take advantage of the opportunity to test their aquatic skills in kayaking, sailing or canoeing – either solo or with the help of an expert. During the winter months many winter sports enthusiasts enjoy the ski slopes found at the park.
You may also choose to go whale watching, nature- and lighthouse-seeing or take in a lobster and seal watch trip. These activities are offered by a number of companies, using fleets of boats ready to take you on the trip of your choice. Cruising past incredible scenery you will view the rugged landscape that has been etched by glaciers as well as catch glimpses of seals and porpoises that pop up for food or haul up onto ledges.
For the museum lover, Bar Harbor has one for every taste. The Isleford Historical Museum is a destination for many tourists as visitors can relive the history of life on the Cranberry Islands from the 1800s onward, detailing shipbuilding, woodworking and fishing items. The Robert Abbe Museum has a wonderful display of Native American Culture of the region. The Nature Center features the diversity of Acadia in terms of its natural resources – the study of resources and how they are being protected.
With something to offer all year round, Bar Harbor is a vacationer’s delight. Uncompromising hospitality combined with a wealth of attractions and magnificent scenery, diverse activities, fine lodging and dining, Bar Harbor and the surrounding area have been welcoming visitors for over one hundred years. Whether it’s for a weekend, a week, or even longer, a trip to Bar Harbor is truly an opportunity to experience your own little piece of paradise.