Bar Harbor, Maine is one of New England’s most popular vacation destinations. My grandmother grew up here, so I was fortunate to be able to visit this beautiful outdoorsy locale every Summer and most school vacations.
Enjoying the great outdoors isn’t the only thing to do in Bar Harbor, Maine. It’s also a great spot for foodies, families, solo travelers, and couples. So…pretty much everyone!
Whatever your reason for visiting, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine. OK, I’ll stop yapping – onto a (sort-of) local’s guide on things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine.
1. Hang out at Acadia National Park
While in Bar Harbor, you must check out my absolute favorite US national park, Acadia National Park.
Take a scenic drive on Park Loop road, watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, hit up Sand Beach for some sun, or go for a hike. The outdoor activity options at Acadia National Park are nearly endless.
Lucky for you, I’ve written a guide on what to do in Acadia National Park if you need more ideas on what to do.
2. Send the family to Summer camp
A unique thing to do in Bar Harbor, Maine for families is the Family Nature Camp in Bar Harbor, Maine at the College of the Atlantic.
As the name suggests, the Family Nature Camp in Bar Harbor is a week-long Summer camp designed for families that love nature. At this camp, you’ll explore the great outdoors, guided by professionals.
Activities include classic Bar Harbor attractions, such as watching the sunrise over Cadillac Mountain, a fishing excursion, and exploring tide pools.
3. Watch a lumberjack competition
Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show showcases 4 lumberjacks in classic logging sports competitions, such as axe throwing, log-rolling, pole climbing, and more. They do a great job of getting the audience involved, such as letting kids help saw a log (supervised, of course).
Located in Trenton, just before you cross the bridge onto Mount Desert Island, it’s one of my family’s favorite things to do near Bar Harbor, Maine. When I was younger, we would go every time we were in Bar Harbor for a visit!
4. Let loose at Wild Acadia Fun Park
Wild Acadia Fun Park and Water Slides is a ton of fun. It features a variety of activities, such as water slides, a pool, go-karts, mini golf, a ropes course, zip lining, and more.
This park is a great option for a fun family day to let kids get their energy out. It’s located in Trenton, Maine, just before you cross over to Bar Harbor.
5. Go for a bike ride in Bar Harbor
The carriage roads in Acadia National Park are off-limits to cars, so they are great for bicycling. Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island overall are bike-friendly, so it’s pretty easy to find a stretch to take your bike for a spin.
6. Go hiking in Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island
Mount Desert Island is home to lots of hiking trails, from easy to super challenging. Most of the hiking trails range from 1-5 miles roundtrip.
The variety of hiking trails available in Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island is one of the reasons why hiking is one of my favorite things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine.
7. Challenge yourself with rock climbing in Bar Harbor
Acadia National Park has several good spots for rock climbing. If you’re new to the sport, check out Atlantic Climbing School for lessons or guided excursions.
Atlantic Climbing School also offers 1-time experiences if you’re not interested in continued lessons.
8. Try kayaking in Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island
Ocean kayaking is a popular activity in the Mount Desert Island area, especially Bar Harbor, as it sits on the beautiful Frenchman Bay.
Don’t own a kayak? There are tons of places on the island where you can rent one, as well as several options for guided kayaking tours in Bar Harbor, such as Coastal Kayaking Tours and Aquaterra Adventures.
9. Go on a whale watching tour in Bar Harbor
The Gulf of Maine is home to finback, humpback, and minke whales from roughly Spring to Fall, making Bar Harbor the best spot for whale watching in Maine. The timing is also perfect if you’re visiting Bar Harbor during the peak season of June, July, August, and September.
For great whale watching in Bar Harbor, check out the tours offered by Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. On Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company’s tours, you’ll likely see other fun sea animals, like seals and puffins, as well as whales.
10. Learn about ocean life at the Mount Desert Oceanarium
Recently rebuilt after the original facility was destroyed in a fire, the Mount Desert Island Oceanarium includes a lobster hatchery, marsh walk, museum, and other fun ocean themed activities.
The Mount Desert Island Oceanarium is one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine with kids, especially on a rainy day.
11. Check out one of many Bar Harbor boat tours
Given that it’s on an island, there are plenty of Bar Harbor boat tours to choose from. From fishing tours to lighthouse tours and even birdwatching, you’ll likely find a Bar Harbor boat tour of interest to you.
I recommend Acadian Boat Tours, Downeast Windjammer Cruise Lines, or Lulu Lobster Boat Ride, all of which offer a few different options for boat tours. If you’re out in Bass Harbor for the day, I also recommend Bass Harbor Island Cruises.
12. Take an aerial tour of Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island
Airplane and helicopter tours are all the rage in the tourism industry lately. But Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island have had a few options for air tours for as long as I can remember!
Get a bird’s-eye view of Mount Desert Island with an airplane tour from Scenic Flights of Acadia or Acadia Air Tours.
Both companies offers several tour options, so you’re not stuck with seeing only Bar Harbor from up in the air. Acadia National Park, Schoodic Point, and other scenic areas are available, too.
13. Take a photo tour of Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island
Acadia Photo Safari offers several nature photography workshops, all led by professional photographer Howie Motenko.
Acadia Photo Safari offers 4 preset tours (Jordan Pond, Ocean Drive, Night Sky, and Sunset Cruise), as well as a private tour option. The photo tours generally last 3 hours and are capped at 6 people to make sure there is one-on-one help with your camera.
14. Learn about Maine’s Native American history at the Abbe Museum
Maine has a rich Native American history, and if you’re interested in learning more about it, the Abbe Museum is THE place to go. It’s also a great option if you’re looking for things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine in the rain.
The Abbe Museum is home to artifacts representing over 12,000 years of Native American life in what is now the state of Maine.
The Abbe Museum started off with a small building within Acadia National Park in 1926 and expanded to a second location in downtown Bar Harbor in 2001. In 2013, the Abbe Museum became the first museum in Maine to become a Smithsonian affiliate.
15. Visit a Bar Harbor brewery
One of my favorite craft beer breweries is Atlantic Brewing Company. Their Mount Desert Island Ginger wheat ale is one of my favorite craft beers.
The main brewery is located in Town Hill area of Bar Harbor, where they offer free tours, along with a post-tour beer and soda tasting, several times a day. Tours are open to all ages. This tour is a great option if you’re looking for things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine in the rain.
If you’re looking more for a craft beer tasting experience, check out their taproom located about a block back from Main St. and Cottage St. in downtown Bar Harbor.
16. Catch an improv comedy show in downtown Bar Harbor
One of my favorite things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine at night is to hit up ImprovAcadia for an improv comedy show.
ImprovAcadia runs 1-2 shows most nights. If you attend the first show of the night, they sometimes let you stay for the second show for no extra charge. Each time I’ve gone, I’ve pretty much laughed myself a six-pack!
17. Play a round or 2 of mini golf in Bar Harbor
There are a few places to mini golf in Bar Harbor, but the best is Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf. Whenever I visit, spending a night here is a must!
Pirate’s Cove mini golf offers two 18-hole courses with a dramatic pirate theme, such as waterfalls and a giant pirate ship that serves as one of the holes!
After you play, stop across the street for ice cream at Udder Heaven, which has delicious handmade ice cream, sundaes, and other cool treats.
18. Catch a flick at the quirkiest Bar Harbor movie theater
Reel Pizza Cinerama is a quirky movie theater in downtown Bar Harbor where you can order a delicious pizza, drink a brew, lounge on couches, and watch a great flick.
The movie selection isn’t as big as your typical movie theater, but that’d defeat the purpose. It’s the vibe you’re after: laid back. There’s usually 1-2 movies to pick from, with a mix of indie, classic, and recent releases.
Tip: If you’re dead set on snagging one of the couches, get there early!
19. Sample local food on a Bar Harbor food tour
Maine Foodie Tours offers 2 tours in Bar Harbor. The lunch and dinner tours are focused on food, while the happy hour tour includes beer, cocktails, and appetizers.
A food tour of Bar Harbor is a great way to try local dishes, ingredients, and restaurants.
20. Tour a local Bar Harbor farm
If you’re in Bar Harbor for a family vacation, a fun thing to do for families is a farm tour at Wild Iris Farm.
Wild Iris Farm offers a 45-minute tour, including a horse-drawn carriage ride, in June, July, and August. It’s a great activity for kids that are curious about farm life and animals. Tours have to be booked in advance.
21. Have afternoon tea and popovers at Jordan Pond House
Pop over to Jordan Pond House, located inside Acadia National Park, for afternoon tea from 3-5 pm daily.
Jordan Pond House is known for their delicious freshly baked Jordan Pond popovers and jam, which go perfectly with a tart glass of lemonade or a refreshing cup of tea.
If you’re not an afternoon tea kind of person, Jordan Pond House also serves lunch and dinner. Whichever mealtime you choose, I recommend getting a seat on the lawn for amazing views of Jordan Pond and Bubble Rock.
22. Sample the best ice cream in Bar Harbor
Downtown Bar Harbor is crawling with ice cream shops: Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, CJ’s Big Dipper, Jordan Pond Ice Cream & Fudge, and Mt. Desert Ice Cream. It’s hard to say which one is best because they are all delicious!
For a fun twist, gather a group and head downtown for an ice cream crawl. Order a few flavors at each shop for the group to share, moving on to each downtown Bar Harbor ice cream shop until you’ve visited them all. This is a great way to try each shop to find out which one is your favorite.
23. Gaze at the stars in Bar Harbor
With very little light pollution, Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor are great spots for stargazing. Acadia National Park can be accessed at night, making it a prime spot to peep shooting stars.
If you’re really into stargazing, be sure to plan your trip to Bar Harbor around the annual Acadia Night Sky Festival. The festival features events, hands-on learning, and even a stargazing party atop Cadillac Mountain.
In 2018, the Acadia Night Sky Festival takes place September 5-9. In 2019, it pushes back to September 25-29.
24. Wander through the Asticou Azalea Garden
If you’re looking to get out of Bar Harbor for the afternoon, take a scenic drive over to Northeast Harbor for an afternoon at the Asticou Azalea Garden. This Japanese-style garden is full of azaleas, Japanese iris, rhododendron, and other beautiful flowers and trees.
Round out your afternoon with lunch at the nearby Asticou Inn & Restaurant or 123 Main Street Restaurant.
25. Get centered at a Bar Harbor yoga class
If you’re into outdoor yoga sessions, check out Yoga in Your Park, where you can find classes that take place outside in beautiful Bar Harbor spots like Sand Beach, Jordan Pond, and Cadillac Mountain.
If you’d rather stick to indoor classes, check out Destination Health in downtown Bar Harbor. Aside from yoga classes, they also offer fitness classes, personal training, massages, and sauna time.
26. Spend an afternoon in Bar Harbor shopping for souvenirs
Looking for something to do in Bar Harbor on a rainy day? Head downtown for some shopping!
Shopping in Bar Harbor is a mix of typical touristy souvenirs, local crafts, and handmade goods, so you’re bound to find gifts for pretty much anyone.
A few of my favorite shops in downtown Bar Harbor are Bark Harbor, Cadillac Mountain Sports, and Cool as a Moose.
27. Take a day trip to Southwest Harbor, Maine
A day trip to Southwest Harbor is one of my family’s favorite things to do near Bar Harbor when we want a change of pace.
Downtown Southwest Harbor has plenty of adorable food shops and restaurants. While there, you can visit the natural seawall or take a light hike on the Wonderland trail. On your way back to Bar Harbor, swing through Bass Harbor to see the famous Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.
What are your favorite things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine?
Bar Harbor, Maine is packed with things to do for a variety of crowds, don’t you agree? Be sure to hit me up in the comments with your personal faves on what to do in Bar Harbor. Thanks for reading!
This post was originally published on Sept. 12, 2016. It was most recently updated on Sept. 4, 2018.