Vacation Travel Quick Tips              Acadia National Park, Maine


10 Great Reasons to Choose Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor in Maine for Your Next Family Vacation

If you're looking for an ideal family vacation spot, Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island is definitely worth considering.

This little gem of a park is located on the rugged east coast of Maine. The 47,000 acres that comprise it are diverse, ranging from rocky-topped mountain domes, to thick pine forests, to ocean shoreline, to creeks, lakes, and ponds.

Acadia is mostly contained on Mt. Desert Island, but it does extend to the nearby Schoodic Peninsula and even Isle au Haut out in Frenchman's Bay.

There are dozens and dozens of things to see and do at the park, and on the water, with boating excursions to Seal Island where you might see an occasional Eagle, learn about lobster fishing, view the Porcupine Islands, and so much more.
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More than 2 million people visit Acadia and many of them spend time in the quaint town of Bar Harbor each year, but you'll find most of them visit during July, August, and September. Pick a different month for your vacation and the park may almost be deserted. At any rate, even during the busy months, it's easy to get away from the crowds if you try.

   Here are 10 great reasons why Acadia is such a
     great choice for your next family vacation..

1. It's America's first national park east of the Mississippi. It is rich in history and heritage and well worth the time to learn about the history by visiting one of the visitor centers with your children. They have books, movies, and displays. Or, rent the audiotape auto tour... it provides a wonderful introduction to the park. Make sure you view the surrounding country from the top of Cadillac Mountain. You really don't want to leave Acadia Park without driving to the top of the central mountain on the island.

2. There are hiking trails to meet every level of outdoor enthusiast. If you are looking for thrills and chills, try the Precipice, West Face Cadillac/Jordan Cliffs, or Beehive Trails, which come complete with iron rungs, ladders, and sheer drop offs. If you want to experience varied terrain, including rolling creek side walking, tramping on boardwalks through marshland, and exploring tidal pools at the ocean's edge, then you and your family might enjoy the Jordan Creek Trail. If a leisurely stroll is more your style, take advantage of the nicely-groomed carriage roads that you'll find in every corner of the park or even the mostly flat Jordan Pond Trail.

3. You can try water sports. Rent a canoe on Long Pond on the western side of the island. Or join a sea kayaking group in Frenchman's Bay out of Bar Harbor. Or just play in the crystal clear waters of one of the many ponds or creeks. You can even spend a day at the beach...Sand Beach. The waters are always cold, (very, very cold), but the kids will love it and the sand is something you'll remember every time you think back on your Acadia and Mt. Desert family vacation.

4. Leave your car in the hotel or campground parking lot. Acadia has a terrific shuttle system. You can get off most anywhere in the park and re-board when you're ready. Save on gas and the aggravation of driving too.

5. Enjoy some local culture. If you happen to need a break from the great outdoors, head into Bar Harbor. You'll find lots of funky little shops, some great restaurants, and even a movie theater or two. If you're there for the 4th of July, take part in the annual pancake breakfast, town parade, lobster bake, and fantastic fireworks. They come highly recommended.

   The central park has a band stand and you may be lucky enough to enjoy one of the free concerts. Also, if your visit coincides with  the periodic artist's and crafts peoples displays, you'll see some exciting works. These shows are somewhat reminiscent of the art displays at Jackson Square in New Orleans.

6. Take a bike ride. Bring your own or you can rent them from one of several shops in Bar Harbor. Then head on over to the park and hit one of the carriage roads. A word of warning... they are all at least a bit hilly, so if you have small children or out of shape family members, don't bite off more than you can chew. Stick to a short ride around a single lake. Eagle Lake is a great solution.

7. If you have teens, try rock climbing. A couple of outfits in town will fit you with the right gear and then take you out to Otter Cliffs (on the ocean) or Bubble Rock and teach you rock climbing skills and techniques. Great fun! Check out Precipice Mountain, too.

8. Although when you're hiking the trails of Acadia, you may feel as though you're far from civilization, in reality, you're no more than an hour or two from Bangor, the nearest "big" city. And right outside the park boundaries is the town of Ellsworth, which has a movie theater and small mall, not to mention the local Wal-Mart if you need to restock your camping supplies.

9. Acadia has accommodations for every kind of family. There are many fine campgrounds on the island, including Bar Harbor Campground, where you can choose your own campsite, be it ocean view or in the woods. You can also camp right in the park, as long as you're comfortable with very few amenities. If you want something a bit less rustic, then one of the many cabin and cottage places may be more to your liking. But Acadia's surrounding towns offer a host of bed and breakfasts, motels, and hotels to suit nearly every budget and preference.

10. There is something for everyone in Acadia, no matter what age or ability. Outdoor activities abound, of course, but there are also opportunities to soak in Maine's rich history and modern-day culture. Kids might like to spend an evening at Pirate's Cove, a popular miniature golf venue. Hiking, walking, biking, boating, exploring... Acadia has it all!

So, for your next family vacation, you can't go wrong if you spend it in Acadia National Park. 

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