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itinerary help

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itinerary help

We're taking a family trip the last week in September and I wanted to see if the itinerary below is reasonable - we like to stay somewhat busy, but I want to still allow some flex time so we're not rushing from activity to activity. This is our first visit to this area. Parents are foodies and into sailing, kids (all adults) are into hiking and kayaking. We're staying in a rental home on the Somes Sound in the Hail Quarry area (just north of Acadia Mountain).

Does the below sound reasonable? I'm not sure how large the island is, so will we feel like we're schlepping around too much crossing the island each day? Any recommendations for things we have missed? Also, is the ferry to Cranberry Isles worth it, or would it be better if we tried to do the sea kayak tour out to one of the islands instead, since I know the main draw is the view? Any lunch recommendations for Wednesday and Friday? Once the plan is settled, I plan to call ahead for our restaurant reservations as I understand that is recommended.

Thanks very much for your help!


• Drive from Portland to Mount Desert Island (roughly 3 hrs?)

• Lunch – Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, Atlantic Brewing Co BBQ, or Mother’s Kitchen

• Settle in at rental home

• Bar Harbor: stop at Hull Cove Visitor Center for park info and to buy pass (open until 5), explore town, early dinner at Mache Bistro, get groceries (open until 9),

• OR: Hull Cove Visitor Center, groceries in Bar Harbor, then return to rental home and go out later for dinner at Red Sky in Southwest Harbor


• Morning: hike Acadia Mountain (all of us may not be up for this)– bring picnic lunch?

• Afternoon - Jordan Pond Shore Trail (not nature trail) and popovers at restaurant

• See Otter Cliff, Sand Beach, Thunder Hole?

• Around sunset: Ship Harbor Trail, see the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, then eat at Thurston Lobster Pound and watch fishing boats come in


• Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain (not everyone will be up for this)

• Kayak in the Sound (rental home has kayaks and dock - any suggestions for destinations?)

• Afternoon: Rent bike and bike the carriage trails (any particular recommendations?)

• Dinner: Cook at rental home or Town Hill Bistro


• Fishing excursion or Ferry to Cranberry Island, bike around and have lunch at Isleford Dock Restaurant? (ferry leaves from NE Harbor at 11am, returns 3:30 or 5pm)

• Dinner: Burning Tree, Mache Bistro/Red Sky, or Town Hill Bistro (whichever we haven't gone to yet)


• Half Day Sea Kayak tour?

• Sunset- charter sail out of Southwest Harbor with DownEast Friendship Sloop, bring picnic

Saturday - leave early morning to drive back to Portland

Bar Harbor, Maine
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for Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park
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1. Re: itinerary help

Nice, do-able itinerary. A few thoughts.


Portland-MDI is about 3.5 hours via I95, I395, 1A, and 3---three hours is pushing it a little.

I think I'd handle the vistor center/grocery stuff and get that out of the way.


Acadia Mountain can get a little strenuous---especially if you do the loop. The way back down can be slow going. Don't know about the picnic lunch (you might want to hike "light") but Clif bars or the equivalent and lots of water would be a good idea.

There is another easy trail on the south side, very near Ship Harbor---Wonderland. If you really are in the mood to walk, you can go out on Wonderland, then walk the cobbleston and granite beach around the small bay to Ship Harbor, then walk about a quarter mile along the road back to the Wonderland parking lot.


You will be on the right side of the sound to cruise along the foot of Acadia and Flying mountains---ought to be able to see mussels on the submerged slope of Acadia. It also could be interesting going up to the head of the sound, into Somes Harbor (past the other Bar Island). If you decide to cross the sound, be alert---there can be considerable boat traffic at times---in terms of crossing, I would try to cross at the narrowest point, which is just about off Acadia Mountain. If you do the Acadia Mountain hike, you'll have a great view from scoping out the kayak possibilities.

Bikes---if you will be renting in Bar Harbor, use the Island Explorer bike shuttle, which takes you to the Eagle Lake entrance to the carriage road system. Going north from there links you up the Witch Hole loop and the Duck Brook bridge.


Good dining choices. For everywhere but Thurston's, I recommmend reservations. Mache has ten tables, Town Hill maybe a few more than that.

Clearly, you have done a lot of research on this itinerary. You probably already have read the recommendations about hiking and carriage road maps/guides, so I won't repeat that.

Edited: 9:32 am, August 03, 2012
Bar Harbor, Maine
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2. Re: itinerary help

As to your question about how large the island is. It's only ten miles across. You won't get tired of driving it each day. The traffic isn't bad at all and it's pretty and wooded.

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3. Re: itinerary help

Thank you so much for your help! This is great input and I really appreciate it!

Do you have any thoughts on the ferry to Little Cranberry Isle? I was thinking we could take some bikes over to bike around a bit in addition to grabbing lunch at the restaurant over there, but would that be worth the hassle?

Again, thanks for your help.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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4. Re: itinerary help

I've done the ferry to Little Cranberry and it's sort of nice. You pass a lighthouse and a huge osprey nest on the way out there. The island itself is very different than I expected. It seems like every out-island in Maine has it's own character. Monhegan Island is an artist colony in the summer and a small fishing village in the winter. It has high cliffs and hiking trails. Isleboro is a summer colony for the wealthy with almost all of its shorefront taken up with luxury homes. Little Cranberry (also called Isleford) is a working community of lobstermen. Not much luxury out there. The roads are dirt and have lobster traps and ropes stacked here and there. There are three or four shops, a church, a library, and five or six roads to bike down. The restaurant is out on the pier, near the ferry landing. Martha Stewart has been known to eat there but that's because she can boat over and be away from the crowds.

That gives you an idea of what it is like. I don't know if it would be a fun thing for you to do or not. You could wait and see how you feel. Some days it is so foggy that it isn't worth doing. Play it by ear with an alternative thing to do if you just aren't in the mood.

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5. Re: itinerary help

Your plan is well thought out. I agree that Portland to the island is 3.5 hours via 95 or 4.5 via the more scenic US 1. US 1 does pass by Red's Eats.

Three thoughts:

1. Skip visitors center on Monday and buy pass when you enter park on Tuesday. No need to buy in advance.

2. You should try to time Thunder Hole with the high tide.

3. Breakfast at 2 Cats is amazing.

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6. Re: itinerary help

Thanks everyone for all of your help!!

7. Re: itinerary help

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