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Free Things To Do in Bar Harbor
- #2View all PhotosfreeShore Path#2 in Bar HarborFree, Parks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDFree, Parks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
The best introduction to Bar Harbor and its beautiful scenery is the town's 1 1/2-mile Shore Path. The Shore Path isn't necessarily a hiking trail, but more a leisurely pathway that wraps along Frenchman Bay. Start your journey at the beautiful Agamont Park, located right next to the town pier, where whale watching tours typically depart. Meander down and you'll bump into the Town Beach, a small shoreline perfect for those who want to quickly dip their toes in Maine's rich blue waters. Continue farther along and you'll be treated to beautiful views of Bar Island, Sheep Porcupine Island and Bald Porcupine Island, as well as the craggy coastline and forested landscapes that make up the region. Walk just one block up and you'll hit the town's Main Street.
Recent travelers loved the Shore Path and highly recommended everyone who visits Bar Harbor enjoy it, even more than once. A couple visitors went in the morning with the purpose of avoiding crowds, while others said that the waters are so calm you can hop over the path, onto the rocks and enjoy the view of the bay from there. Post up at one of the many benches, ogle at the waterfront resorts and estates, read the scattered signs that educate visitors on the history of the path (it's more than a century old) and simply enjoy the incredible scenery.
- #4View all PhotosfreeBar Island#4 in Bar HarborNatural Wonders, Free, HikingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Free, HikingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
This small island within eyeshot of the Shore Path is celebrated by travelers and locals alike for its unique accessibility. At low tide, the water recedes far enough to expose the bay's floor, creating a temporary walkable pathway from Bar Harbor to Bar Island. It's a pretty spectacular sight when it occurs, and being able to walk directly across the bay is an experience that doesn't come around often. If you happen to be around when this phenomenon occurs, know that time is limited. According to Bar Harbor local government, you've got up to two hours before low tide and two hours after low tide to access the sandbar. Keep in mind that the terrain will be different depending on the time you go. Once you reach Bar Island, you'll find a trail that leads to the top of the island's summit, which affords lovely views of Bar Harbor and the mountains that back it, including Acadia National Park's Cadillac Mountain.
Recent visitors who traversed the sandbar found the land bridge to be an incredible experience and highly recommended all future travelers take part in this natural phenomenon. Many loved the views, though they did note that the terrain is very rocky, muddy and wet, so consider bringing waterproof shoes. Visitors also warned to be mindful of the time, because if you don't, you could get stranded on the island and have to call a water taxi to pick you up. Low tide varies by day, so check NOAA before visiting Bar Island's land bridge. There is no fee to enter Bar Island. For more information, visit the Bar Harbor government's website.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Bar HarborFree, Cafes, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/Area, Recreation, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDFree, Cafes, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/Area, Recreation, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Considering Bar Harbor's small size, chances are you'll be hanging out in downtown Bar Harbor pretty often. And that certainly isn't a bad thing. Main Street and the thoroughfares surrounding it are downright charming thanks to the bevy of colorful, clapboard storefronts that house local restaurants and shops. Unique outlets combined with the Bar Harbor's proximity to the water and the darling city parks that dot the area make for a romantic atmosphere.
Start your tour of Bar Harbor at Agamont Park, where you can kick back and enjoy the views of Bar Island and Frenchman Bay. Then stroll down Main Street, where you'll find a variety of restaurants that serve local lobster (Galyn's and Stewman's Lobster Pound are two favorites) and plenty of blueberry-infused dishes (blueberries are the state's official fruit). One of the most popular stops is Mount Desert Island Ice Cream, which is favored by locals and visitors alike for its fresh ingredients and inventive flavors like fresh basil and chocolate pretzel toffee.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Bar HarborMuseums, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
If you're interested in learning more about Maine wildlife, pencil in a visit to the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History. Run by the College of the Atlantic, this little museum is dedicated to educating visitors about the creatures above and below Maine's waters. The museum is filled with dioramas that depict taxidermized local wildlife in their natural habitats. You'll see Atlantic puffins, North American beavers constructing their environment, as well as foxes and great horned owls eyeing prey. The museum also houses touch tanks where visitors can get up close and personal with marine life, such as sea stars, snails and hermit crabs, to name a few. For a more in-depth lesson, consider participating in one of the museum's education programs, which offer hands-on learning, including viewing the skeleton of a minke whale.
Recent visitors said this is an excellent place to take the kids. Those with little ones in tow said children were fascinated with the exhibits and loved interacting with the critters in the touch tanks. Adults were also impressed with the offerings, especially since it is a student-led museum. Travelers do remark that the museum is pretty small, so you don't need to reserve more than an hour or two to tour it.
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