Acadia National Park Itinerary: 1, 2 & 3 Day Travel Guide

North Bubble VIewpoint In Acadia NP
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Last Updated on November 12, 2021

Nestled on the Maine island of Mount Desert Island, you’ll find the sweeping coastlines of Acadia National Park. Whether you’re looking to visit for one day or three days, we have the perfect Acadia National Park itinerary for you just below.

Acadia is wild and often referred to as the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast.” Home to salty sea air, winding scenic roads, endless hiking trails, and rugged mountains, it’s easy to see why millions of visitors flock to Acadia National Park each year. With the park averaging about 47,000 acres in size, Acadia is one of the smallest National Parks in the U.S., but one of the most visited. Once you arrive, you’ll see why.

The Ultimate Acadia National Park Itinerary & Travel Guide

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Acadia National Park Facts + Planning Tips

  • Entrance Fee: $30 per vehicle, $25 per motorcycle, $15 per hiker/bicyclists, $0 for active Military
  • Hours of Operation: Open 24 hours, all year. However, the Park Loop Road is closed from December 1st through April 15th. Many in park restaurants and visitor centers are closed from mid-October through the end of April or even early May.
  • Cadillac Mountain Reservations: Vehicle reservations are required to drive up Cadillac Summit Road between the end of May and mid-October.
  • Established: July 1916 as Sieur de Monts, February 1919 as Layfette National Park and finally, January 1929 as Acadia National Park
  • Park Acres: 47,000
  • Avg. Annual Visitors: 3.5 million

TIP: If you are planning to explore other National Parks, you should consider buying a National Park Pass to save you a little money on Park Entrance fees. Also, be sure to visit the National Park Service website to stay up-to-date on road and trail conditions before you visit.

Where Is Acadia National Park Located?

Acadia National Park is located in Maine on Mount Desert Island (MDI). Mount Desert Island is where you will find Bar Harbor and the main and most popular Acadia National Park sights like Cadillac Mountain and the Park Loop Road.

However, Acadia National Park expands off Mount Desert Island as well. Portions of the National Park can be found on the Schoodic Peninsula and Isle au Haut. These are often less visited, take a little effort to get to but worth the time if you have it or are looking to escape the crowds.

The most popular place to stay in Acadia is the charming fishing town of Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor shares borders with the park making it about a 5-minute drive to the closest park entrance. To expand on the geography a bit as to where Acadia is located, it’s about 160 miles from Portland, Maine, and about 50 miles from Bangor, Maine. 

Acadia National Park Map + Geography

How To Get To & Around Acadia National Park

The closest airport to Acadia National Park is the regional Hancock County Airport, located about 10 miles from the Park. You can catch a direct flight into Hancock County Airport from Boston’s Logan Airport.

If you are looking to fly into a different airport, below are the closest major airports to Acadia National Park:

  • Bangor International Airport (BGR): 46 miles | About a 1 hour drive
  • Portland International Jetport (PWM): 170 miles | About a 3 hour drive
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS): 275 miles | About a 5 hour drive

Option 1: Rent A Car

Regardless of which airport you choose to fly into, renting a car is the easiest way to get to and from Bar Harbor, explore Acadia National Park and its surrounding areas You can plan to rent your car from whatever airport you arrive at. Seeing the park by your own vehicle is our recommended way to get around and explore Acadia National Park. Having the freedom to go where you want, when you want is a lovely thing.

Option 2: Reserve Bus Transportation & Book A Park Tour

Downeast Transportation and The Bar Harbor/Bangor Shuttle provide bus service between Bangor Airport to Bar Harbor. You look into their service timetables to coordinate any transportation from Bangor airport into Bar Harbor.

Once in Bar Harbor, you will need a means of transportation to explore the park. You can 1) book a guided tour of Acadia National Park 2) plan to rent a bike or 3) hop on the Island Explorer Bus

Acadia National Park Coastline

Where To Enter Acadia National Park

Acadia has four park entrances and exits for you to choose from. Three of which are located close to Bar Habor.

  1. Hulls Cove Entrance: Located north of Bar Harbor off Route 3
  2. Cadillac Mountain Entrance: Located west of Bar Harbor off Route 233
  3. Sieur de Monts Entrance: Located south of Bar Harbor off Route 3
  4. Stanley Brook Entrance: Located south of the Park in Seal Harbor off Route 3

How Many Days Do You Need For Acadia National Park?

If you are crunched on time, you can absolutely do the highlights of Acadia National Park in one day. However, Acadia is quite the place to explore so if you can plan to spend at least three days in Acadia National Park. From hiking to sailing and kayaking tours to scenic drives, you’ll have plenty of things to fill your days. Not to mention, plenty of lobster and fresh seafood (if that’s your thing) to eat!

Best Time To Visit Acadia National Park

While the park is open all year, the best months to visit Acadia National Park are from late spring to early fall – May to October. Peak Season is considered June through September and if you are looking to see amazing fall foliage, plan to come beginning to mid-October.

If you’re planning to visit during November – April, prepare for cold weather, park road closures, and limited to no tours or lobster pounds operating. Things slowly begin to shut down for the season after Columbus Day and towards the end of October.

Monument Cove in Acadia National Park

Where To Stay Near Acadia National Park

Bar Harbor Accommodations

Bar Harbor is the closest and most popular place to stay near Acadia National Park. With it being a 5-ish minute drive to the park entrance and home to bustling bars, tasty restaurants, and fun shops it’s a no-brainer why folks flock to Bar Harbor.

  • The Inn On Mount Desert: Located in downtown Bar Harbor and 1 mile from Acadia National Park, The Inn on Mount Desert is one of the quintesstials and staple accomodations. From its expecetptional location to it’s charming yet modern setting, this little bed and breakfast is a favorite amoung many.
  • Sand Bar Cottage Inn: Modern and trendy cottage is house is what we would call the Sand Bar. This 4-star hotel is a cozy retreat after your day of exploring the National Park and it’s surroudning areas.
  • Acadia Hotel Downtown: If you want to be right in the action, Acadia Hotel is for you. Nesteled among dining, shopping and entertainment options, the Acadia Hotel Downtown is a historic bulding from 1884 but udpated to have all the New England charm.
  • The Primrose: Recently rennovated and looking so stlyish and comfortable, The Primrose is a great little bed and breakfast situated right in Bar Harbor.
  • Seabury Escape: If you are looking to rent out a home for the family, the Seabury Escape is your pick. With three bedrooms and a full kitchen, the Seabury Escape is great for families or large groups of freinds.
  • Bar Harbor Villager Motel: Coming equipped with a seasonally heated outdoor pool and complimentary breakfast, the Villager Motel is a great little find for those of you wanting something convienent and a little bit on the more budget friendly side.

For more accommodations options in Bar Harbor, you check out the latest prices and availability here.

Nearby Places To Stay

While there are plenty of accommodations to choose from in Bar Harbor, there are other towns nearby that are viable options too!

Camping Locations

If you are looking to pitch a tent or roll up in your camper or RV, there are several places you can look into to reserve a spot. Making reservations well in advance is highly recommended.

  • Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA Holiday
  • Hadley’s Point Campground
  • Bar Harbor Campground
  • Mount Desert Campground
  • Blackwoods Campground
  • Smuggler’s Den Campground
  • Bass Harbor Camground

Acadia National Park Itinerary Map

One Day Acadia National Park Itinerary – Park Loop Road

Alrighty. So, if you only have one day in Acadia National Park, you’ll want to focus your sights on the Park Loop Road. The Park Loop Road is a 27-mile loop that circumnavigates Acadia National Park and will take you to Acadia’s most popular and iconic sights. Let’s get to it.

Stop 1: Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain

Set your alarm, it’s time to see Acadia at first light! Not only is Cadillac Mountain the highest point in Acadia National Park (1,528 ft.), it also happens to be the first place the light touches the United States from October 7th to March 6th.

You have two options when visiting Cadillac Mountain. 1) Hike via the North Ridge Trail or 2) Drive. If you drive, a PERMIT IS REQUIRED from May 26th through October 19th. Vehicles without a permit may not access Cadillac Mountain. You can make your permit reservation for $6 per vehicle online.

Regardless of which way you choose to get to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, you’ll be rewarded with vast views of the Maine coastline and Mount Desert’s surrounding islands.

Tip: If you drive on your way down from the summit, there are little pull-offs where you can park your vehicle and get some great photos of Acadia Park.

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain

Stop 2: Head To Sand Beach

Once you’ve had your fill of Cadillac Mountain, set your GPS for Sand Beach. Sand Beach is a nice little beach that is nestled in a cove of Acadia National Park. It’s also the only beach in Acadia. If the weather is nice (and if you dare), take a dip or just enjoy a stroll along the sand as you admire the coastline views.

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park

Stop 3: Take A Hike or Two

Ready for a hike? No Acadia National Park itinerary is complete without doing at least one hike. We have a few options that are all within a stone’s throw from Sand Beach. All decently short but vary enough so there is a fit for everyone.

  1. The Great Head Trail: 1.6 mile easy to moderate hike around Great Head peninsula located on the east side of Sand Beach. Great for dogs and the family or those just looking to get views of the coastline and Sand Beach.
  2. The Bee Hive Trail: 1.4 miles and the most challenging of our set of three recommendations. This trail is not dog friendly and (errrr) up to you on if you want the kids to go. Essentially it’s a rung climb that hikes you along side of a cliff. This is one of our favorite trails in Acadia, but this is not recommended for those who are deathly afraid of heights.
  3. The Ocean Path Trail: The Ocean Trail can be as long or as short as you want it to be (0.7 or 2.2 miles one way). The trail will connect you to the next few stop on our list (Thunder Hole, Monument Cove and Otter Cliff), or you can just walk the coast line and once you have your fill, hop in the car and drive to the next set of locations.

For more hikes, check out ” 6 HIkes in Acadia National Park Everyone Should Do

Stop 4: Thunder Hole

Thunder Hole is a fun little stop to hear thunderous booms and see (not guaranteed) flying sea spray from a natural rock inlet. Essentially, waves have pounded the coastline surface and a small cave was formed. As the water comes rushing in, it hits the cave which causes the loud boom and flying sea spray. The best time to visit Thunder Hole is 2 hours before high tide. You can check the tide schedule here.

Stop 5, 6 & 7: Monument Cove, Boulder Beach and Otter Cliff

Nothing more to these three stops other than just great views of the Maine and Acadia coastline. The views are spectacular and well worth the stop for some photos or to just sit on the coastal rocks and take in the beauty of Acadia.

Boulder Beach with Otter Cliffs in Background

Stop 7: Have Tea and Popovers at Jordan Pond House

Finally, time for a little sit down with some food and tea. A staple of any Acadia Park visit is taking the time to partake in the park tradition of Tea and Popovers. Since 1893, guests have been dining at this site and devouring popovers (a roll), and washing it down with some tea. If the day is nice, grab a table on the lawn and enjoy the views and day!

OPTIONAL: After tea and popovers, you can head down to Jordan Pond where you can see great views of The Bubbles. You can also walk the perimeter of the pond to get even more amazing views of Jordan Pond. The entire loop is 3.5 miles, but you can do as much or as little as you like.

Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park

Stop 8: Dinner in Bar Harbor

After a full day in the park, it’s time to get some time in Bar Harbor. Head into town and plan to grab a meal at either Thirsty Whale, Stewman’s, Side Street Cafe, or The Barnacle Oyster Bar. If you’re looking to bar hop, FogTown Brewery, Cottage Street Pub, and The Annex are all great options.

ATL: If you are wanting to experience a true Maine Lobster Pound, plan to head to C-Ray’s or Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound for dinner instead. Both are located just outside of Bar Harbor.

Two Day Acadia National Park Itinerary

Are you ready for your second day in Acadia? Just to clear the air, if you have full two days in the park, you can pick and play with our day one Acadia National Park itinerary as you please. Our day one itinerary is the essential must-see list, so feel free to adjust as you would like to make your two days in Acadia National Park perfect for you.

Stop 1: Get Breakfast in Bar Harbor

Before you start exploring, grab a bite to eat at one of Bar Harbor’s tasty breakfast eateries like Cafe This Way, 2 Cats, or Mount Dessert Bakery.

Stop 2: Book a Morning Sailing Cruise or Kayaking Tour

We cannot recommend a tour enough, especially a sailing cruise. Sail Acadia is who we used and Captain Carl took our group on an 1899 sloop sailboat and it was spectacular. Whether you want a sailing tour or a kayaking tour or to climb aboard a lobster boat, we definitely recommend experiencing Acadia by water.

Sailing around Acadia National Park

Stop 3: Hike to North Bubble

After your tour is complete, it’s time to hit the trails to complete another classic Acadia park hike, the North Bubbles trail. This trail is an easy to moderate 0.9-mile trail that weaves you over rugged rocks and through forest trees. At the top, you are rewarded with amazing views of Jordan Pond, Pemetic and Sargent Mountains, and the Cranberry Isles. Well worth the hike and in our opinion, considered a must-do hike when visiting Acadia.

OPTIONAL: You can add to this hike by also doing the South Bubble or alternatively, you can just do the South Bubble. If you want better views, in our opinion, the North Bubble hike is better.

North Bubble VIewpoint In Acadia NP

Stop 4: Sunset at Bass Harbor Light House

No trip to Maine is complete without seeing a lighthouse. A popular spot for sunset is Bass Harbor Light House located in Bass Harbor Maine – about a 35-minute drive from Bar Harbor. It’s our recommendation to get to Bass Harbor Light House an hour to an hour and a half prior to sunset.

You can bring some snacks, a few drinks and find a spot on the rocks and just watch the sky change colors as the sun begins to set. It’s a fantastic way to end the day.

Stop 5: Dinner at Local Maine Lobster Pound

After sunset, you can plan to have dinner at one of two places – 1) Seaside Dairy Bar and Lobster Pound or 2) Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound.

You’ll pass right by Seaside Dairy Bar and Lobster Pound, making it a very convenient place to stop for dinner. Charlotte’s is a little further and takes an interesting approach to cooking her lobsters. Charlotte is famous for feeding her Lobster CBD oil before they hit the steaming water.

Both roadside eateries are quintessential lobster pounds that you can easily hit on the way back to Bar Harbor or your accommodation.

Three Day Acadia National Park Itinerary

For those of you who have three full days to spend exploring Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, just like the above, feel free to pick and play with the previous two-day itineraries to fit your needs. But with three days in the area, you’ll get to experience a vast variety of amazing experiences and sights.

Book Another Tour!

If you booked a sailing tour the previous day, consider booking a kayaking tour, rock climbing, a culinary tour, or even a whale watching tour. There are loads of various types of tours offered in Bar Harbor, all offering a little something unique.

Bike The Carriage Roads

Rent a bike from Bar Harbor and head into Acadia National Park to cycle the historic park Carriage Roads. Gifted by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his family, the Acadia Carriage Roads is 45 miles of motor-free roads that were constructed from 1913 – 1940 to allow horses and carriages into the heart of Acadia Park. Today, these carriage trails can be used for walking or biking.

Go On Another Hike

If you haven’t realized, Acadia has some amazing hikes. If you looking to conquer another hike or two consider the below options (these are outside of the hikes we already listed above within the Day 1 and Day 2 sections).

  • Gorham Mountain Trail: 3 miles | Moderate
  • Pemetic Mountain: 1.2 miles | Moderate
  • Precipice Trail: 2.1 miles | Hard
  • Beech Cliff Trail: 1.2 miles | Moderate
  • Jordan Rung Trail: 3 miles | Hard
  • Dorr Mountain Ladder Trail: 2.7 miles | Hard

Explore Bar Harbor & Bar Island Land Bridge

If you haven’t already, wander the shops and streets of Bar Harbor. Whether you want to buy some souvenirs, eat some more around town, or just beep-and-bop in and out the local shops, Bar Harbor is well worth spending a couple of hours exploring.

Additionally, when in town, you can check out and walk the Bar Island Land Bridge. For 1.5 hours before and after low tide, a gravel bar is exposed connecting the town of Bar Harbor and Bar Island. Walk along the gravel trail and explore small tide pools. Fare warning, you need to be aware of tide times for when the tide comes back in, the Bar Island Land Bridge become submerged and we’d hate for you to be stranded on Bar Island for 9 hours (till the tide lowers again).

Essentials To Pack For Acadia National Park

It’s best to be prepared before entering into Acadia. To help maximize your time in the park and to make it as enjoyable as possible, consider the below list of our essential items to have with you when venturing into Acadia National Park.

  • Good Footwear: Meaning a good pair of boots, sneakers and of course socks. There is loads of walking and exploring to be done, so let’s be sure to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
  • Layers: The temps can change just as quick as the wind came pick up, so be sure to have layers with you! Ideally a windbreaker or rain jacket and a fleece for backup, especially if visiting during cooler months.
  • Day Bag: A comfortable day bay is must. Whether you are using it to carry your snacks and water for hiking or your Go Pro and Camera gear for pictures, a comfortable and durable day pack is a great sidekick to your time in Acadia.
  • Water Bottle: You’ll be in nature so please avoid using single-use plastics. Do right by Mother Earth and pack and use a reusable water bottle.
  • Sunscreen: Even on cloudy days, you’ll want to layer up on the sunscreen. We don’t want you to get sunburn during all your outdoor fun.
  • Snacks: Snacks are always a must for us. We never want to stop exploring because we are starving and need to get something to eat. Plan to pack some granola bars, fruit, trial mix or whatever you fancy and have it with you in your day pack or car. As a reminder, the only place to eat in the park is Jordan Pond House and it’s just popovers.

Is Acadia National Park Dog-Friendly?

Acadia National Park happens to be one of, if not THE most dog-friendly National Park within the United States. Your pup can go on loads of hiking trails (must be leashed), drive the Park Road Loop with you, and even run along Sand Beach after September 8th.

Go and bring your furry little friend, they are sure to have a blast. Our’s sure did!

WANT MORE INFORMATION?!

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For more travel tips, guides, and awesome travel shots, be sure to poke around our site, follow us on Instagram @wanderingstusPinterest, and Facebook. Oh and if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section. We’re happy to answer. Or, just leave us a positive note!

Happy Travels,

– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)

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