Complete Guide to Visiting Acadia National Park
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From rocky shorelines and bobbing lobster pots to lovely hiking trails that lead to mountaintops and lakes, Acadia National Park on Desert Island in Maine is one of the true highlights of New England. We love this beautiful National Park and have visited it multiple times over the years and put together this complete guide to visiting Acadia National Park to help you plan your next trip. Read more below about how to make the most of your visit to Acadia National Park!
Essential Guides to Visiting Acadia National Park
The Perfect Acadia National Park Itinerary For 1-4 Amazing Days
Highlights of Visiting Acadia National Park
The best way to explore Acadia National Park is by car. It’s just a short drive through the park to reach the best hikes in Acadia and catch the most sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the best things to do in Acadia National Park include:
- Drive the Park Loop Road – stop at the scenic overlooks along the coast
- Watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain
- Hike one of Acadia’s hiking Trails – like the Beehive, Great Head, the Coastal Trail, and more)
- Bike on the Carriage Roads
- Take a boat ride – see whales, puffins, seals, fish and more – or rent a kayak for the day
- Explore Bar Harbor and eat some seafood
- Visit one of the islands off the coast – Isle Au Haut is part of Acadia and makes an excellent day trip from Acadia
- Visit Sand Beach – one of Maine’s few sandy beaches, this is the perfect place to relax
- Stop at Jordon Pond House – make sure to get their popovers!
Things to Know About Visiting Acadia National Park
Best Time to Visit Acadia National Park
The best time to visit Acadia National Park is May-October. Our favorite month is Sept, when temperatures are still warm, the leaves are starting to change colors and the summer crowds have left. Fall weekends can still be busy, so make sure you book your lodging and any activities in advance. Winter in Acadia can also be an interesting time to visit as the park is quiet and often draped in ice and snow.
How to Get to Acadia National Park
The best way to get to Acadia National Park is by flying to a local airport and renting a car for your visit. The closest airport is Hancock County Airport about 10 min from the park. You can also look into flights from Bangor or Portland. Many people visit Acadia as part of a longer road trip, so you can also look into driving from Boston, MA.
Here are some common driving times to Acadia National Park:
- Boston to Acadia National Park: 5 hours
- Portland to Acadia National Park: 3.5 hours
- Bangor to Acadia National Park: 1 hour 20 minutes
Need to Know About Acadia
Acadia National Park is split up into several different sections that are not all connected, and some of the roads are one-way traffic only (this includes biking). While the main area just south of Bar Harbor has most of the popular hikes and sites, it is also the most crowded. Consider visiting Isle Au Haut or the eastern part of Acadia NP to avoid the crowds.
Acadia can get crowded and they recently added a reservation system to visit Cadillac Mountain. You can purchase a time slot at recreation.gov.
It is possible to use a shuttle service during the busy months to get around the park. The Island Explorer operates to most trailheads from late June-Oct.
Pets are allowed in most of the park as long as they are kept on a leash. Several of the hikes have restrictions on dogs (such as the Beehive Hike)
How Much Time do you Need in Acadia National Park?
You could easily spend a week exploring Acadia National Park, especially if you plan to do a boat ride or two and visit some of the nearby islands. You need at least 3 days to make the most of your visit since there are several sections of the park and plenty of things to see.
Lodging Near Acadia National Park
There are lots of options for places to stay in Acadia. If you are camping, there are a few campgrounds inside the park. Our favorite is Blackwoods as it is well located. You can book camping at Blackwoods 60 days before your visit.
There are also many other nearby campgrounds. We really loved camping at Mount Desert Campground. We stayed on a site right near the water.
If you don’t want to camp, there are plenty of options of places to stay in Bar Harbor. Below are a few options of places to stay that get excellent reviews and are also well located near Bar Harbor:
- Atlantic Oceanside Hotel
- Bar Harbor Villager Motel – located right in Bar Harbor
- Chiltern Inn
Looking for more information about planning a National Parks trip? See our National Park Planning Guide.