Bar Harbor vacation rentals
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Your guide to Bar Harbor
For generations, New Englanders have retreated to this craggy stretch of Maine’s coast, where lobster boats bob in the misty harbors of Frenchman Bay, and miles of pristine wilderness make this corner of the United States feel just as untamed as ever. Mount Desert Island is home to one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the country, and Bar Harbor is the gateway. More than three million visitors come through each year, many on their way to explore the wilds of Acadia National Park, others just to soak in the charm of New England village life, from Northeast Harbor to Southwest Harbor to Bass Harbor (are you sensing a theme?). Clearly, the water defines life in these parts, whether you’re planning a kayak or canoe trip around the Porcupine Islands, or a creamy lobster roll at a seaside eatery in Hulls Cove.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Bar Harbor?
There are several glorious weeks between July and Labor Day when Mainers can finally swap their long johns for T-shirts, and naturally that’s the time when the state is flooded with visitors who book up the area’s vacation rentals. Bar Harbor’s most popular locations are the most crowded in summer, when temperatures inch above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, peaking at around 73 degrees in mid-July. Fall is chillier, but you’re rewarded with sparser crowds and stunning foliage. By January, the mercury rarely gets above freezing, dipping to around 16 degrees overnight. These harsh winters and sublime summers mean that many Bar Harbor attractions are extremely seasonal. So if you’re planning to visit in the off-season, don’t expect much to be open — and definitely book a rental with a hot tub and fireplace.
What are the top things to do in Bar Harbor?
Acadia National Park
With environments ranging from rocky beaches to forests to granite mountain peaks, this 47,000-acre recreational area feels like a country in and of itself. You can explore more than 150 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads on foot, by bike, or on horseback, while possibly crossing paths with a moose, bear, or other local wildlife. Get up early to trek 1,530 feet to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard, and you’ll be rewarded with views of the earliest sunrise in the United States (between October and March).
Stop in at this Smithsonian-affiliated museum to learn about the history and culture of Maine’s indigenous Wabanaki people. The museum maintains its original location inside the national park from June through September, and operates a second branch in downtown Bar Harbor that is open all year (except January).
The Gulf of Maine is a playground for several species of whale, including humpbacks, finbacks, and minkes. It’s possible to spot them from shore, or you could get up closer with a wildlife cruise. Expert-led excursions depart from the Bar Harbor pier daily from May to October.