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8 day itinerary - please comment

washington dc
posts: 415
reviews: 71
8 day itinerary - please comment

We are a family of 4 with college age kids who enjoy nature, long walks, wildlife, and famous lighthouses of Maine. We will be in the area Sep 1-8. Any advice greatly appreciated

So far following is the plan:

day 1: arrive Portland airport in the morning, rent car, drive coastal road to Camden - hike Mt Beattie, drive to Trenton for lumberjack show at 7 PM. overnight Trenton/Ellsworth

Q: which lighthouses worth visit on this section? is lumberjack show mainly geared to young children?

day 2: drive to Greenville,Moose safari in the evening - overnight greenville

Q any reco about moose safari? should it be boat or land?

day 3: Mt Kineo mossehead lake hike 1/2 day, overnight greenville

Q: any reco about what else is interesting in the area? best place and time to view mt katahdin?

day 4: drive to SW harbor, travel look rood overnight SW harbor

Q: worth seeing along the way?

day 5: Jordan pond hike and another (which one?) overnight SW harbor

Q should we use the island explorer? Is parking available at shuttle bus stops?

day 6: nature boat ride from bar harbor and another 1/2 day hike overnight SW harbor

Q: reco on which boat trip at this time of year, Is the one going into Somes fjord more scenic? reco another short scenic hike

day 7: Schoodic peninsula in the morning, Fort knox in the afternoon overnight SW harbor

day 8: drive to Portland airport for 2:30 PM flight back

Q: anything worthwhile on the way back?

Any reco about best family restaurants to enjoy lobster or any other seafood in the area?

Thank you so much in adavance for all your help

1. Re: 8 day itinerary - please comment

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Bar Harbor, Maine
Destination Expert
for Bar Harbor
posts: 1,159
reviews: 8
2. Re: 8 day itinerary - please comment

Not sure why you are coming out of the way to go to Trenton to the Lumberjack show and then driving to Greenville, and then back to SW Harbor. Do you know Trenton is only 15 minutes from SW Harbor? I would bypass that even though the lumberjack show is entertaining and just head up toward Greenville. Maybe you can catch the show another night?

If by Jordan Pond Hike you mean the three mile walk around Jordan Pond, the possible another hike that you would like would be the Canada Cliffs/Beech Cliffs hike from Beech Hill Road (rated easy to moderate and not very long). Also, it's close to SW Harbor where you will be staying. If you would like a hike that's a little more challenging than those, consider Gorham Mountain off the Park Loop Road or Beech Mountain. Some easier walks include Ship Harbor Trail and Wonderland Trail down in Bass Harbor which are both close to the Bass Harbor Lighthouse (and close to SW Harbor)

The nature cruise that goes up Somes Sound is the Sea Princess and that departs out of Northeast Harbor, not Bar Harbor. It's a great boat ride. The two boat rides I like the most from Bar Harbor are LuLu's Lobster Boat and Acadian Nature Cruise. Also, walk the Shore Path in Bar Harbor. There is also a lighthouse tour through the Bar Harbor Whale Watch.

Since you will already be down in SW Harbor, definitely travel to Bernard to Thurston's Lobster Pound. It's in a beautiful location only about 10 minutes or so from SW Harbor. There are more restaurants located in Bar Harbor, but there are 5-6 really good restaurants in the SW Harbor area so you won't need to travel far for dinner.

Central Maine
Destination Expert
for Maine
posts: 6,176
reviews: 135
3. Re: 8 day itinerary - please comment

TJ -- Unless there is a specific reason for staying the full week in Ellsworth-Trenton and/or Southwest Harbor (such as using a timeshare week or a promotional rate that requires a week's stay), it seems to me you may be doing some extra driving that may not be necessary.

The distances from Portland to Southwest Harbor and from Portland to Greenville are roughly the same.... with that in mind, you might want to consider:

Day 1 Portland to Greenville -- arriving in time for evening moose tour -- overnight Greenville.... land vs water moose tour will depend on where the moose are in the weeks-days prior to your arrival. Some of the guides adapt their trips to fit the conditions so they have the best chance of their guests actually seeing a moose -- better for them and for you when that happens....but neither land nor boat tours can guarantee you'll see moose every trip -- they're wild animals and go where they want to when they want.

Day 2 Mt Kineo hiking -- overnight Greenville

Not sure about "seeing Mt Katahdin" from the Greenville area -- haven't ever looked for it from there... local innkeeper or moose guide would know about whether or not there are good spots....

Day 3 Greenville to Southwest Harbor -- arriving in time to take in Lumberjack Show in Trenton

Day 4 Park Loop Road -- overnight Southwest Harbor

Day 5: Jordan pond hike and another (which one?) overnight SW harbor As far as "which other hike", I'd take the time to stop at the Acadia National Park Visitors Center on Rt 3 in Hull's Cove (on your right as you climb a hill coming out of the village of Hull's Cove). Rangers there can help with maps and other info that will help you use your time in the Park productively and help identify hikes that match your skill levels and interests.

Q should we use the island explorer? Is parking available at shuttle bus stops? Depending on where you're staying, the Explorer may stop at or very near your inn/hotel/motel...

Day 6: nature boat ride from bar harbor and another 1/2 day hike overnight SW harbor

day 7: Schoodic peninsula in the morning, Fort knox in the afternoon. Continue on to Mt Battie auto road in Camden Hills Statea Park and overnight in Camden/Rockland area. (Giving you a head-start on your trip back to Portland the next day -- also eliminates the duplicaton of driving Ellsworth-to-Fort-Knox-back to Southwest Harbor just to spend the night there before heading to Portland the next day....

Day 8: drive to Portland airport for 2:30 PM flight back. With a good start in the morning you should have time to drive to Portland and over to nearby Cape Elizabeth to see Portland Head Light lighthouse (an iconic Maine lighthouse) -- a great last-impression of your visit to Maine.

Your original itinerary does work -- and if there are hidden reasons for some of the timing -- should give you a nice visit ... but at a casual glance, does appear to appear some unnecessary extra driving.... choice is really up to you...

Q: anything worthwhile on the way back?

Bar Harbor, Maine
posts: 4,116
reviews: 8
4. Re: 8 day itinerary - please comment

You've already gotten good advice. I'll just add that I don't think it's necessary at all for you to use the Island Explorer buses. The week you are coming is generally not a very busy one. You should be able to drive and park anywhere, even at Jordan Pond House, which sometimes gets crazy busy in July and August.

The only time the buses might come in handy is if your family wants to split up and do different hikes or activities. Then the easiest thing would be to leave the car in Bar Harbor and take the buses to a trailhead. For example, two of you could hike up the North Ridge of Cadillac Mountain and down the South Ridge. This is almost surely the most scenic hike in the Park. A fit person can make it up the mountain in about an hour and down the other side in about two more hours. A bus will take you to the trailhead for the North Ridge and a different bus, on a different route, will pick you up at the entrance to Blackwoods Campground, which is just a short way along the highway from the end of the South Ridge Trail.

While those two are doing that hike, two others might like to take the shuttle bus to Jordan Pond House to have a leisurely tea and popovers on the lawn. The other two might just want to cruise the shops of Bar Harbor.

The buses go much more infrequently to Southwest Harbor and do a full hour's route. It would be easier for everyone to start out at the Village Green in Bar Harbor, where all the buses on all the routes start and end.

washington dc
posts: 415
reviews: 71
5. Re: 8 day itinerary - please comment

Thank you, lovingbarharbor for your suggestions and many thanks to mainer for reworking the itinerary.

the lumberjack show ends the season on Sep 1, hence the stop in Trenton. However, if it is not such a big deal or mainly geared towards kids, we could give it a miss.

we wanted to stay in SW harbor since we read on the net that bar harbor is too touristy. Appreciate comment from you experts. we were looking at Seawall motel and they seem to have island hopper bus stop close by. However, if all attractions are around bar harbor, are we traveling too much by staying in SW harbor?

I had looked up 2 boat trips out of bar harbor, will also check out the one from NW harbor.

Are cranberry isles worth a trip? Appears to be a whole day expedition. Would we see the craggy maine coastlne and lighthouses on the ferry to the isles?

We had added Moosehead lake region so we sample a different region in maine, other than costal area. Is that a wise decision? Should we select any other region, given our interest in nature, and wildlife?


Bar Harbor, Maine
posts: 4,116
reviews: 8
6. Re: 8 day itinerary - please comment

I personally don't think the Cranberry Islands are worth devoting a day too, unless you take bikes along. Yes, you'll see lighthouses, a huge osprey nest, and the shoreline on the ferry or mail boat to the Cranberry Islands. But once you are out there, there really isn't anything to see or do. I was disappointed the time I went out to Isleford (Little Cranberry).

I don't necessarily think you are traveling too much by staying in Southwest Harbor and taking excursions from Bar Harbor. There are also hikes and things to do in SWH. On the other hand, I wouldn't put too much credit to the people who say Bar Harbor is "too touristy". That description brings to mind a place like Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, Tennesee which has a haunted house, go-karts, big wave pools, blocks of stop and go traffic, and junk like that. Bar Harbor is not that way. It's essentially a small village with tourist amenities like a few coffee shops, a few ice cream shops, some shops that sell t-shirts, some shops that sell hand-crafted items, some restaurants, some old mansions turned into Bed and Breakfasts, three nice waterfront hotels, and a few motels. It's very much a walking village with two town parks that are landscaped, each with a fountain, park benches, and flowers. I find it a very pleasant place to visit and to live.

washington dc
posts: 415
reviews: 71
7. Re: 8 day itinerary - please comment

Thanks, Bonniemaev

Yes, we stayed in gatlinburg when visiting the wonderful smokey mountains and do not want to repeat that experience (also niagara on canadian side). Bar harbor has more lodging and restaurants so we might consider it. We a re traveling right at end of season so hopefully it is less crowded.

Sea pricesss sunset cruise seems really nice so we might do that 1 evening. We are looking for the iconic maine craggy coastlines seen in photos - which would be the best cruise to capture that?

Bar Harbor, Maine
posts: 4,116
reviews: 8
8. Re: 8 day itinerary - please comment

I was thinking about this thread as I walked down to the village in the bright Spring sunshine this morning for my dentist appointment. The more I think about it, the more I think that your family might well enjoy staying in Bar Harbor. I'm sure there will be lots of togetherness for the four of you on this rather long vacation together. Staying some place in town would allow you to easily get away from each other. Your college age children might enjoy a movie or a drink on their own in the evening. One of the family might enjoy an early morning walk on the Shore Path in town and a coffee all by yourself. That would be so much easier to do in Bar Harbor than if you were staying at Seawall.

You will be able to see the iconic rockbound coast of Maine from your car tours and hikes in Acadia. Any and all of the boat tours will also give you good views. You can easily wait until you get here to decide on what boat tour you would like. One doesn't have to make reservations until the day before or even the morning of.

Trust me, I used to live an hour away from Gatlinburg and I can assure you that Bar Harbor is NOT AT ALL like that.

Also don't get discouraged as you drive through Ellsworth to get here. There is more traffic in Ellsworth than here on Mount Desert Island. Sometimes the drive through Southwest Harbor is actually more crowded than the streets of Bar Harbor, because the main highway is also the main street of Ellsworth, which isn't true in Bar Harbor.

Bar Harbor, Maine
Destination Expert
for Bar Harbor
posts: 1,159
reviews: 8
9. Re: 8 day itinerary - please comment

Since you might have to pass on the lumberjack show, there is a great comedy show in Bar Harbor called Improvacadia. It's a group of improv comedians and sometimes the shows are really fun and they involve the audience. There is an early "family" show and a later show with more adult humor.

washington dc
posts: 415
reviews: 71
10. Re: 8 day itinerary - please comment

Great, that sounds lovely. Maybe the improv show would be more fun than lumberjack show

We have now reworked our itinerary to drive to Greenville after our morning flight reaching. However, on further research, I found Millinocket is about the same driving distance.

If we are interested in scenery and wildlife, is it better to head to Moosehead lake region or baxster state park?

In general, if we want to observe nature/wildlife other than what we find in acadia, which area would you recommend?

What spots in acadia would be best for surise and sunset? I would think cadillac mtn summit / schoodic point but there must be many. That would help us determine at least 1 day accommodation closer to the spot.

Thanks all