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First visit to Acadia

Madison, New Jersey
posts: 17
reviews: 7
First visit to Acadia

We are a family of 4 visiting Maine for first time. We want to see Acadia, plus whale watch cruise (or something similar), and go on a lobster boat tour. Don't know best locations or boats for these excursions. We are on a tight budget. Is it best to rent a cottage (if so, where...off beaten tract), or would it be best to stay in 2 different locations in a hotel or B&B, closer to our chosen activities. We will be there week of August 17-24. Thanks for any advise!

Central Maine
Destination Expert
for Maine
posts: 5,965
reviews: 131
1. Re: First visit to Acadia

If you want to see Acadia, the whale watches operating out of Bar Harbor, and the Lulu Lobster Boat Tour, also out of Bar Harbor, will be the ones closest to you and should meet your needs very well. Not familiar enough with the various whale-watch operators to recommend one over another, but have heard numerous good reports about Ed and the Lulu Lobster tour from folks who've gone out with him. Acadia is day-trip territory for us, so will leave price comparisons between various types of lodging to folks more familiar that I am. Please keep in mind that August is the height of the summer tourism season anywhere on the Maine coast so true bargains may be hard to come by -- although what's an outrageous price to some is a bargain to others -- all depends on what our experiences and expectations are.... But, wherever you stay, if you're near Acadia, your best bet for whale watching and lobster boat experiences will be right there in Bar Harbor.

Madison, New Jersey
posts: 17
reviews: 7
2. Re: First visit to Acadia

Thank you...would you recommend a cottage or B&B as a more conservative price for 4 people? And what town might be a great "find" off the beaten tract for lodging? Lastly, do you know anything about sail Muscongus out of Boothbay?

Central Maine
Destination Expert
for Maine
posts: 5,965
reviews: 131
3. Re: First visit to Acadia

As noted already, we don't stay overnight in the Bar Harbor/Acadia region, so am not familiar with comparitive costs of B&B vs cottage. Would expect B&B might be more because you might need more than one room for four people. Hopefully, Bonniemaev or one of the other Trip Advisor folks who live in Bar Harbor will be able to help you more. For "off the beaten track" lodging, I'd look to places like Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor -- all offering fairly easy access to Acadia National Park with only a slightly longer drive to Bar Harbor itself. Would probably avoid any place not on Mt Desert Island, simply because traffic onto and off the island (via the only bridge connecting the two) can get backed up at times....

As far as Sail Muscongus goes -- if you're in the Bar Harbor/Acadia area, it's going to be a three-hour drive, one-way, to Boothbay Harbor.... if you were thinking of doing it as a day trip from Acadia. Suspect you can find comparable sailing out of Bar Harbor and save yourself the driving -- just Google "Day Sailing Bar Harbor Maine" and it should pop up possibilities for you.

Nashville, Tennessee
posts: 47
reviews: 15
4. Re: First visit to Acadia

my daughter and I went last year with really just info from this site. We had a fantastic time. Check out motel recs from this site. We stayed in a great place. Another note..I'm from the friendly South and expected reserved people in Maine. Nothing could be further from the truth....super helpful and friendly people. Really, the best I've ever met!

Bar Harbor, Maine
posts: 3,839
reviews: 7
5. Re: First visit to Acadia

As for you lodging question, it's really hard to say what would be least expensive, because cottages, B&Bs, rental homes, and motels come in all price ranges. If you are traveling with two children, under 12, then probably a B&B would not be the way to go. B&Bs in Maine are less like staying in someone's house and more like upscale, older homes, turned into quaint lodging filled with antiques. They don't usually take children.

If by "cottage" you mean a tiny place in a cluster of cottages, Maine has plenty of those. But they can be equally expensive for a two bedroom cottage. If by "cottage" you mean a private home that is rented by the week during the summer, then you might get a deal put probably only if it is not waterfront and not too close to tourist attractions, because those are, of course, very desireable and can demand high prices.

While in Acadia, I'd recommend an older motel as the most affordable option for a family of four. You might look at the Bar Harbor Motel, which gets high praise from families or Edenbrook, which has good prices, is clean, and is nicely located just a few miles north of the village of Bar Harbor.

http://www.barharbormotel.com/

http://www.edenbrookmotelbh.com/

Here's a place with little cottages near Bar Harbor http://www.edgewaterbarharbor.com/ Units rent by the day or the week and have varying prices.

It sounds from your posts like you might also want to stay some place that is "off the beaten track". In late August in Maine, that is fairly difficult to do. But you might just find that even Bar Harbor is a bit off the beaten track when compared to other much more crowded areas of the country, like New Jersey or Cape Cod. You could take a day trip from Bar Harbor one day and go north and east into rural Maine. The problem is there aren't many places to stay up there and not many places to eat and not much do other than hike, kayak, and look out over the stunning rocky shore at the ocean.

You could also simply go to the other side of Mount Desert Island from Bar Harbor. That is much less "touisty". Here's a nice motel on what we call The Quiet Side : http://seawallmotel.com/ You would be away from it all but still a 15 minute drive from restaurants and Acadia hiking.

Clarence Center...
posts: 38
reviews: 15
6. Re: First visit to Acadia

Check out VRBO.com to rent a house . We have found this much more economical and better suited for our family with children. You can search by area too. I would do some research on tripadvisor and online and then narrow down a few areas. We have found renting a house works because we can make breakfast ourselves, pack up snacks/drinks for the day and then head out at night for a nice dinner. Many houses come with a pool or are close to the beach too. Good luck!

Maine
posts: 225
reviews: 20
7. Re: First visit to Acadia

Mt. Desert and Acadia are beautiful, no doubt about it, but in August the place is overrun with tourists--all the people drive me insane since the whole point of vacation (for me at least) is to get away and relax. If I were planning this trip, I'd right a cottage off island (consider Hancock Point, Blue Hill or Deer Isle). Renting a cottage has the advantage of a kitchen which means you don't have to eat every meal in a restaurant and thus save $$ (you said you were on a tight budget). Also, having a set location to venture from makes day trips fun and feasible and then you come back to your cozy little hideaway for sunset and dinner. I always recommend that people make the effort to get to Schoodic Point, the mainland part of Acadia Park--it's about 30 miles from Mt. Desert. Beautiful views and the point sticks out into the North Atlantic so you really get to see the ocean (as opposed to seeing Frenchman's Bay or Penobscot Bay). Plus, Schoodic Point tends to be deserted while everyone else is in a traffic jam on the road up Cadillac Mountain. Don't get me wrong, a day trip to Mt. Desert and Acadia is definitely worth a visit--I just wouldn't want to spend a whole week there, at least not in August.

As for a lobster boat ride--in a smaller town, you'll find the entrepreneurial Downeaster who will take you out on a tour. Just ask around town (the lobster co-op is a good place to start). We did a boat ride out of Stonington a few years ago which was great. We saw a bazillion seals and got an interesting history of the granite quarries of the area, plus a demonstration of lobster fishing. It was great and much more interesting than the touristy whale watch that we took out of Bar Harbor.

Have fun and enjoy Maine. We're glad to have you visit.

Madison, New Jersey
posts: 17
reviews: 7
8. Re: First visit to Acadia

Thank you so much for your suggestion! We are looking forward to this vacation...just havent had enough time to plan it!!

Madison, New Jersey
posts: 17
reviews: 7
9. Re: First visit to Acadia

Thank you so much for your input. I agree with you regarding the crowds! I never go anywhere "peak season" for that reason. But Maine has just not happened for us yet, and our youngest son returns to college the last week in August, so it's then or never! We have also toyed with staying on a lake, but I think Acadia is far from any lakes? Also, do you know anything about Sail Muscongus out of Booth Bay for a lobster sailing? It's hard to narrow our ideas down. Lobster or wildlife boat, Acadia, fishing (fresh or salt) and possibly canoeing or kayaking on gentle waters are our main priorities, and off the beaten path. Any more suggestions are greatly appreciated, and thanks for the input so far!

Maine
posts: 225
reviews: 20
10. Re: First visit to Acadia

If you are interested in off the beaten path, please investigate Deer Isle. I went there for the first time (for a summer job as a camp counselor) in 1974 and I have been back dozens of times since. The island is beautiful and it seems to be a kayakers paradise. From Deer Isle you can easily take a day trip up to Acadia NP. If you want, it's also manageable to get to Schoodic Point and have a nice time visiting there (the mainland part of Acadia NP) in a day from Deer Isle. From Stonington, you can get a ferry to Isle au Haut, also part of Acadia--beautiful and remote.

http://www.deerisle.com/

Links from this site will take you to boat tours and various other attractions that the island offers. There is plenty on offer and it is going to be a minimum number of people with personalized service as opposed to the more "popular" options out of Boothbay, Bar Harbor, etc.

Posting on this forum has *me* thinking about a downeast vacation so I spent lots of time today researching rental cottages on Deer Isle. Like you, we have our youngest going back to college at the end of August so it would be a one week vacation between the end of her summer job and returning to school. I found lots of nice cottages that have availability so everything is not booked up yet.

If you want to investigate lakes, Lake Phillips, "Lucerne in Maine" is supposed to be nice. I've never stayed on the lake (driven by though) so I don't have a first hand recommendation, but it looks lovely. But given a choice, I'd head for the ocean with tides, salt air, and beautiful sunsets (or sunrises, depending on which way you are facing).