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Bar Harbor, ME

Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, Maine, United States. Bar Harbor is a popular tourist destination in the Down East region of Maine and home to the College of the Atlantic, Jackson Laboratory, and MDI Biological Laboratory (Salisbury Cove village). Before a catastrophic 1947 fire, the town was a famous summer colony for the super-affluent elite. Bar Harbor is home to the largest parts of Acadia National Park, including Cadillac Mountain, the highest point within twenty-five miles (40 km) of the coastline of the Eastern United States. 

History

The town of Bar Harbor was founded on the northeast shore of Mount Desert Island, which the Wabanaki Indians knew as Pemetic, meaning... Read more

Bar Harbor, ME

Destination:

Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, Maine, United States. Bar Harbor is a popular tourist destination in the Down East region of Maine and home to the College of the Atlantic, Jackson Laboratory, and MDI Biological Laboratory (Salisbury Cove village). Before a catastrophic 1947 fire, the town was a famous summer colony for the super-affluent elite. Bar Harbor is home to the largest parts of Acadia National Park, including Cadillac Mountain, the highest point within twenty-five miles (40 km) of the coastline of the Eastern United States. 

History

The town of Bar Harbor was founded on the northeast shore of Mount Desert Island, which the Wabanaki Indians knew as Pemetic, meaning "range of mountains" or "mountains seen at a distance." The Wabanaki seasonally fished, hunted and gathered berries, clams, and other shellfish in the area. They spoke of Bar Harbor as Man-es-and'ik ("clam-gathering place") or Ah-bays'auk ("clambake place"), leaving great piles of shells as evidence of this abundance. In early September 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain ran aground on a rock ledge believed to be just off Otter Cliffs, and when he came ashore to repair his boat, he met local natives. Champlain named the island Isles des Monts Deserts, meaning "island of barren mountains"—now called Mount Desert Island, the largest in Maine.

The community was first settled by Europeans in 1763 by Israel Higgins and John Thomas and incorporated on February 23, 1796, as Eden, after Sir Richard Eden, an English statesman. Early industries included fishing, lumbering, and shipbuilding. With the best soil on Mount Desert Island, it also developed agriculture. In the 1840s, its rugged maritime scenery attracted the Hudson River School and Luminism artists Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, William Hart, and Fitz Henry Lane. Inspired by their paintings, journalists, sportsmen and "rusticators" followed. Agamont House, the first hotel in Eden, was established in 1855 by Tobias Roberts. Birch Point, the first summer estate, was built in 1868 by Alpheus Hardy.

By 1880, there were 30 hotels, including the Mira Monte Inn, a historic landmark that would later survive a massive fire, in 1947. Tourists were arriving by train and ferry to the Gilded Age resort that would rival Newport, Rhode Island. The rich and famous tried to outdo each other with entertaining and estates, often hiring landscape gardener and landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, a resident of local Reef Point Estate, to design their gardens. A glimpse of their lifestyles was available from the Shore Path, a walkway skirting waterfront lawn. Yachting, garden parties at the Pot & Kettle Club, and carriage ride up Cadillac Mountain were popular diversions. Others enjoyed horse-racing at Robin Hood Park-Morrell Park. President William Howard Taft played golf in 1910 at the Kebo Valley Golf Club. On March 3, 1918, Eden was renamed Bar Harbor, after the sand and gravel bar, visible at low tide, which leads across to Bar Island and forms the rear of the harbor. The name would become synonymous with elite wealth. It was the birthplace of vice-president Nelson Rockefeller on July 8, 1908.

Bar Harbor was also used for naval practices during World War II. More specifically, Bald Porcupine Island was used to fire live torpedoes. In October 1944, the submarine USS Piper fired 12 live torpedoes on the island. Of the 12 fired, one failed to explode on the first attempt but was later detonated by the 12th torpedo. In 1996, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers surveyed all 30 acres of Bald Porcupine Island for unexploded ordnance. Nine were found.

Many influential people have called Bar Harbor home for at least part of the year. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., son of John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil Co., donated about one-third of the land in Acadia National Park and built the carriage roads that are used for hiking and biking. J. P. Morgan owned a house that is adjacent to Bar Harbor. Cornelius Vanderbilt built cottages in Bar Harbor. The Astor family-owned hotels and cottages in Bar Harbor and the surrounding areas. William Howard Taft used to enjoy games of golf in Bar Harbor. The co-founder and CEO of Burt's Bees, Roxanne Quimby, has a home near Bar Harbor and is seen frequenting the downtown area. The star and creator of the TV show Martha Stewart have also been known to frequent Mount Desert Island and been seen in Bar Harbor. Architect Fred L. Savage started out on Mount Desert Island, moved, and then returned to design houses for many wealthy people in Bar Harbor.

Climate
This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Bar Harbor has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps. Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island are located near the coastline and surrounded by the North American continent to the northeast and southwest. This location, combined with prevailing winds that are not from the Atlantic, gives Bar Harbor a continental climate with very cold winters for an island location at such a low latitude.

Climate change is affecting Bar Harbor and other Gulf of Maine localities faster than much of the rest of the United States. From 2012 to 2019, the Gulf of Maine has warmed faster than 99 percent of the rest of the world's oceans. Since 1895, average temperatures in Hancock County have climbed by 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit, almost double the average for the other Lower 48 states.


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Bar Harbor, ME: Port Information


Cruise ships anchor offshore, and passengers are transported to the Town Pier in the center by tenders.
There is an information center.
Take a trolley or a bus to get to the tourist attractions. Taxis are available.

Get around Bar Harbor, ME


Depending on the time of year you find yourself in town, and your intended goals, your visit may necessitate different modes of transportation. With many of the nearly 3 million annual visitors arriving in the summer months, getting around town by motor vehicle is a bad idea. Bar Harbor is much, much quieter between October and April.

  • Driving a large truck or SUV is ill-advised, as parking in Bar Harbor is not suited to such vehicles. On the bright side, bringing less stuff requires befriending of locals, improvisation, and overall a more fun Maine experience.
  • The central area of Bar Harbor is quite small and easily explored by foot. This includes the shopping and eating establishments on Main St. and Cottage St., as well as the activities at the town pier.
  • Bicycles can be rented in town and may be put on the front of the buses.

What to see in Bar Harbor, ME


  • Bar Harbor Historical Society,  Ledgelawn Ave, Phone: +1 207 288-3807 or +1 207 288-0000, 4. Open M-Sa 1-4 PM, June-October, open by appointment in the winter. Closed Sundays and holidays. Free admission.
  • Abbe Museum

     Mount Desert St, +1 207 288-3519, 5. Open to school groups and programs by appointment in the winter, shop, and galleries open for the public May 25.
  • Village Green. Right in the heart of town, the well-groomed park is a great place to take a break from walking, shopping, etc. Toss a frisbee, enjoy your ice cream, read a book, or just take a nap. The gazebo hosts the town band every Monday and Thursday night.
  • The Wild Gardens of Acadia

  • Sieur de Monts Spring Nature Center
  • Current Cruise Ship Schedule.
  • Asticou Azalea Garden

    , Northeast Harbor, Maine. It provides visitors with a stunning backdrop of trees and flowering plants that reflect its designer’s love of Japanese gardens and local plant life. Though only open part of the year, it is a peaceful and tranquil place where local wildlife adds to the ambiance that makes this garden a must-see local on the Maine coastline.

What to do in Bar Harbor, ME


On Foot

Those seeking real adventure on a budget in Bar Harbor may find the bar and restaurant prices cost-prohibitive, but the Hannaford Supermarket on Cottage Street offers no end of inexpensive food and drink including liquor. In general, Bar Harbor is more interesting from 9 PM-5 AM during the summertime, when the crowds are thinner and the air cooler, although be advised that the Police Department never sleeps.

Golfing

  • Kebo Valley Golf Course, State Highway 233 ("Eagle Lake Road"). Pro Shop: 207-288-3000 kebopro@kebovalleyclub.com, Club House: Phone: +1 207 288-5000, email: kebopro@kebovalleyclub.com, Superintendent: 207-288-5000 kebopro@kebovalleyclub.com 7. Challenge yourself at the 8th oldest golf course in America. 6,131 yards, par 70.
  • Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf Route 3, Phone: +1 207 288-2133 Open mid-April through October, 11 AM-9 PM every day. Two 18-hole courses, Original and Blackbeard's Challenge. 

Cinemas

  • Criterion Theater, 35 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-3441, email: info@criteriontheater.com. Enjoy a film or live performance at this beautiful, historic Art-Deco theater. 88 balcony seats, 781 downstairs.
  • Reel Pizza Cinerama 3 Kennebec Place, Phone: +1 207 288-3811. email: reelpizza@me.acadia.net. Take your pick of comfy seating and gourmet pizzas, beer and wine, in front of one of two screens. Disability accommodations.

Whale Watching

  • The Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. Cruise Frenchman Bay and get up close and personal with whales, dolphins, porpoises, sea birds and more.
  • Mount Desert Oceanarium and Lobster Hatchery 3829 Route 3, 207-288-5005.
  • Diver Ed's Dive-In Theater, Dive-In Theater is a family-friendly 2-hour interactive marine lifeboat cruise, Phone: +1 207 288-DIVE (3483).

Sailing

  • Schooner Margaret Todd, Office located at 27 Main St., Tickets: Phone: +1 207 288-4585 or Phone: +1 207 288-2373 Sail through Frenchman's Bay on this beautiful, 151-foot, four-masted schooner and see the sunset over the harbor. Follow the shore path to the right of the town pier to the dock directly in front of the Bar Harbor Inn. (You'll see the boat before you get that close). Sails at 10 AM (morning sail), 2 PM (afternoon sail), and 6:30 PM (sunset sail). 
  • Acadia Sailing Company, Reservations & Rates: Phone: +1 207 669-5900 15 Enjoy an intimate 2 or 3-hour sail with a native captain on a 25-foot Crosby Catboat built in 1915. Six passenger maximum & nice dogs sail free. Trips depart from the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Conference Center dock (119 Eden St) daily.

Hiking

The following is a list of walks and hikes around the village of Bar Harbor. For a complete list of mountains on the island, please see the list on the Mount Desert Island page.

  • Cadillac Mtn. 1,530 ft.
    • North Ridge Trail
    • South Ridge Trail
  • Dorr Mtn. 1,270 ft.
  • Champlain Mtn. 1,058 ft.
    • Bear Brook Trail
    • The Precipice Trail - One of the most difficult hikes on the island, iron rungs, and ladders help you make the steep ascent. This trail is closed at times due to nesting peregrine falcons, which can be viewed from the parking area.
  • The Beehive 540 ft. - A short but steep hike up this mountain rewards you with some great views of Sand Beach, Great Head, Frenchman's Bay, and Champlain Mtn.
    • Iron rungs and ladders
  • Gorham Mtn. 525 ft.
  • The Shorepath - A relaxing stroll along the oceanfront, beginning at the town pier.
  • Ocean Trail - An easy walk along the dramatic, rocky coastline Maine is known for. See Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs.
  • Bar Island - This trail is accessible only at low tide.
  • Carriage Roads - Accessible by Eagle Lake
  • Great Head Trail

Tips for hiking in Bar Harbor

  • Avoid driving and use the free Island Explorer buses. These stop at most trailheads and afford an ideal means of taking hikes from one point to another without spotting cars.
  • Bring and drink at least one liter of water per person and use sun protection. The nearby mountains and shoreline afford little protection from the sun.
  • Dress in layers. Even on the hottest summer days the mountains and shoreline can be windy and cool.
  • Stay on the 160 km/100 miles of trails and 80km/50 miles of carriage roads.

Paddling

Here's how to explore Bar Harbor by canoe or kayak. For a complete list of ponds and lakes on the island, please see the list on the Mount Desert Island page.

Tours

  • Coastal Kayaking Tours, Toll-free: +1 800-526-8614. (email: abckt@acadia.com).
  • National Park Sea Kayak Tours, 39 Cottage St., Toll-free: +1 800-347-0950, email: info@acadiakayak.com. Reservations are suggested for these ecological tours, which cruise the quieter western side of Mount Desert Island.
  • Ardea EcoExpeditions Tours, 34 Hackmatack Rd. Gouldsboro, ME 04607, +1 207.460.9731, email: info@ardea-ecoexpeditions.com. World-class learning adventures and outdoor instruction led by Master Maine Guides who are trained naturalists with extensive experience as environmental educators. We use curriculum-based instruction, so participants connect more fully with the natural world and develop lifelong outdoor skills.
  • Aquaterra Adventures, 1 West Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, Phone: 207-288-0007. They offer several types of tours and instruction led by the best licensed Maine guides. They provide you with all of the equipment that you will need on the trip and have their dock located right behind the shop, so there is no need to shuttle anywhere or lug equipment.
  • Acadia Park Kayak Tours, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, Phone: (207) 266-1689. Offering sunrise, day, sunset, night, and private tours. They offer ecological tours of the coastal islands of Frenchman's bay the body of water off the shores of Bar Harbor. They limit their group sizes to a maximum of six people per group which is half or less than half the maximum group size set by any other outfitters on Mount Desert Island and most other outfitters in the state. They place a special emphasis on using eco-friendly business practices.

Boat tours

  • Lulu Lobster Boat Ride, 55 West Street Bar Harbor, ME, +1 207-963-2341, email: info@lululobsterboat.com. The only lobster boat and seal watch tour in Bar Harbor hosted on a traditional Downeast-style lobster boat. After fourteen successful seasons delighting passengers in the Hancock area and Bar Harbor, Lulu sails out of downtown Bar Harbor. The Harborside Hotel & Marina is Lulu’s base of operations. Lulu takes you on a two-hour tour offering the most exclusive, personal and unique cruise in Bar Harbor.
  • Sea Princess Scenic Nature Cruises, +1 (207) 276-5352, email: resortmaps@gmail.com. A Maine Coast tradition since 1968. Take a scenic nature cruise from Northeast Harbor (20-minute drive from Bar Harbor). View Bear Island Lighthouse, Osprey, Eagles, Harbor Porpoise, Harbor Seals, visit the Cranberry Islands and the Islesford Historical Museum, and cruise into majestic Somes Sound Fjord.

Flying

  • Acadia Air Tours offer scenic flights with both gliders and old-fashioned biplanes that allow you to see Acadia National Park from a unique perspective.

What to eat and drink in Bar Harbor, ME


Eat

French

  • Mache Bistro, 135 Cottage Street, Bar Harbor, ☎ 207 288-0447. French food with local flair from acclaimed chef Kyle Yarborough, formerly of Havana. An intimate setting and perfect portions make this a must-do on any Bar Harbor trip. Open year-round. 

American

  • Bar Harbor Lobster Bakes, Phone: +1 207 288-5031.
  • Cafe This Way, 14 1/2 Mt. Desert St., Phone: +1 207 288-4483. Known locally for a great place for a Sunday hangover brunch. 
  • EPI's Pizza, 8 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 801-2516 (http://epispizza.com). Pizza, subs, calzones, soups sandwiches and salads. Two arcade games and a pinball machine in the back. A busy place in the summer, but the wait in line is worth it.
  • Freddie's Route 66, 21 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-3708.
  • Galyn's Restaurant and Galley Lounge, 17 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-9706. Open daily, March to November. lunch served 11:30-2:30, dinner 4-10 PM. Head to the Galley Lounge for happy hour between 4-6 each afternoon. Reservations are accepted.
  • Geddy's, 19 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-5077. Serving lunch and dinner seven days a week, all year-round. Burgers, steaks, grilled chicken, seafood, and gourmet pizza all provided by cisco systems. Have fun pointing out all of the fake Mount Desert Island memorabilia on the walls while you enjoy the great food and service.
  • Havana, 318 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-2822. "American fine dining with a Latin flair."
  • Jordan's Restaurant, 80 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-3586.
  • Michelle's Fine Dining, 194 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-0048.
  • Poor Boy's Gourmet Restaurant, 300 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-4148, email: cfield@acadia.net.
  • Pancho Villa's Tex-Mex Restaurant, 116 Cottage St., 207-288-0048.
  • Rosalie's, For some of the best pizza in town. A seat upstairs at the windows gives a nice view down to Cottage St.
  • Rupununi - An American Bar and Grill, 119 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-2886.
  • The Parkside Restaurant, 185 Main St., 207-288-3700.
  • The Pier Restaurant, 55 West St., Phone: +1 207 288-2110.
  • The Quarterdeck, 1 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-1161
  • Mache Bistro, 135 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-0447.
  • Town Hill Bistro, 1317 state highway 102, Phone +1 207 288-1011

Italian

  • Mama DiMatteo's, 34 Kennebec St.Phone: +1 207 288-366652.

Mexican

  • Gringo's 30 Rodick St., Phone: +1 207 288-2326
  • Pancho Villa's 116 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-0048

Deli Sandwiches

  • Not Quite the Corner Deli, 65 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-1006.
  • Michelle's Brown Bag Cafe, 164 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-5858.

Ice Cream

  • Mount Desert Island Ice Cream, Phone: +1 207 460-5515. Right next to the Village Green, serving the best homemade ice cream in Bar Harbor if not the region.
  • Ben & Bills Chocolate Emporium, 164 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-3281. Ben & Bills may have long lines in the summer. Known for their lobster ice cream and hand made chocolate.
  • CJ's Big Dipper, 150 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-2128. The big dipper refers to CJ's "Magic Wand," which he dips in each batch of ice cream.
  • Udder Heaven Ice Cream Retreat, 369 Route 3, Phone: +1 207 288-2233. Right across from Pirate's Cove Minigolf and Mainely Meats BBQ, known for their 40+ homemade flavors and generous portions.

Coffee

  • Morning Glory Bakery, 39 Rodick Street, Phone: +1 207 288-3041. Open year-round. Free wireless internet. Coffee, Pastries, Quiches, Sandwiches, and Soups. Eat in or take out.
  • Trailhead Cafe, 37 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-9592. Not only the best coffee but the best place to enjoy a coffee in Bar Harbor.
  • Opera House Internet Cafe, 27 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-3509. Open May-October. Offering Fee-based Internet Access (wired and wireless), Coffee & Pastry, Come in and Go Online or simply hang out and play Scrabble, Chess, Checkers or many other games.

Drink

  • Rupununi: An American Bar and Grill, 119 Main St., 207-288-2886. Crowded with young partiers during summer evenings. Friendly crowd and great bartenders.
  • Lompoc Cafe and Brew Pub, 36 Rodick St., Phone: +1 207 288-9392, email: info@lompoccafe.com.
  • Carmen Verandah's, 119 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-2766, email: info@carmenverandah.com.
  • Little Anthony's Sports Bar and Pizzeria, 131 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-4700.
  • Fish House Grill, May-October: 207-288-3070, October-May: 941-458-2607, Email: FHGBHME@aol.com.
  • The Thirsty Whale Tavern, 40 Cottage Street, 207-288-9335, 63. Open year-round.

Microbreweries

There are three breweries within Bar Harbor town limits and a year-round population of only about 3,000. This is perhaps the most breweries per capita in the US.

  • Bar Harbor Brewing Company, 135 Otter Creek Dr., Phone: +1 207 288-4592, e-mail: orders@barharborbrewing.com.
  • Atlantic Brewing Company, 15 Knox Road, Toll free: +1 800-475-5417, Phone: +1 207 288-2337, realale@atlanticbrewing.com.
  • Maine Coast Brewing Co., 102 Eden St, Phone: +1 207 288-4914.

Shopping in Bar Harbor, ME


  • Sherman's Books and Stationary, 24 56 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-3161. For books and postcards. Open year-round.
  • Bark Harbor, 200 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-0404.
  • Get Clocked, 119 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-1149.

Gear

  • Acadia Bike, 48 Cottage St., 800-526-8615.
  • Cadillac Mountain Sports, 26 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-4532. Open daily 10 AM-5:30 PM.

Art

  • Argosy Gallery, 110 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-9226.
  • Island Artisans, 99 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-4214.
  • William Bracken watercolors, Phone: +1 207 288-9560.

Clothing and Apparel

  • Cadillac's Patagonia, 39 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-0682 . Open daily 11:30 AM-5 PM.
  • Cadillac's The North Face, 23 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-9600. Open daily 11:30 AM-5 PM.
  • Cadillac's Nike, 29 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-9798. Open daily 11:30 AM-5 PM.
  • Cool as a Moose, 118 Main St., Phone: +1 207 288-3904.
  • Geddy's Down Under, 19 Main St. Entrance to the right of the restaurant entrance, by the license plates.
  • Village Emporium 14 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-9584.
  • Eden Rising, 39 Cottage St., Phone: +1 207 288-1124.
  • Celtic Rainbow Gifts, 56 West Street (down by the waterfront, near the Harborside Hotel), ☎ 207-288-3860. Offers jewelry, clothing, music, and other gifts from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. 

Safety in Bar Harbor, ME


Crime is essentially non-existent in Bar Harbor. Most locals don't lock their front doors overnight, and many even leave their car keys in the ignition. Even during the height of the tourist season, one shouldn't have to worry about any theft, though you should always take common-sense precautions and be aware of your surroundings.
The only real danger in Bar Harbor and on Mount Desert Island is from the environment. While not common, It isn't unheard of for kayakers to become stranded or even drown in coastal waters, especially given the cold ocean temperature year-round and dense fogs that can roll in without much warning. Anyone wishing to go out on their own should do so with proper equipment (PFD, compasses) and the knowledge and experience to safely navigate in ocean waters. There are also many companies which offer guided kayak and sailing tours of the surrounding islands.
Several people have suffered severe injuries in recent years while out hiking, particularly on the technical and physically demanding Beehive and Precipice trails, some requiring emergency evacuation by helicopter. While the majority of hiking trails on Mount Desert Island are comparatively easy, it's always important to come prepared.

Language spoken in Bar Harbor, ME


English is the main language.

LOCAL TIME

3:21 am
November 15, 2019
America/New_York

CURRENT WEATHER

3.78 °C / 38.804 °F
light rain
Sat

-3.69 °C/25 °F
sky is clear
Sun

-1.19 °C/30 °F
sky is clear
Mon

3.52 °C/38 °F
moderate rain
Tue

3.06 °C/38 °F
heavy intensity rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

USD

1 EUR = 0 USD
1 GBP = 0 USD
1 AUD = 0 USD
1 CAD = 0 USD

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