During our unforgettable Canada and New England vacation, my friend Angie and I sailed into the breathtaking port of Bar Harbor, Maine, aboard a Holland America cruise. As our last stop, we couldn’t wait to explore all this charming destination had to offer— from exploring picturesque Acadia National Park to catching glimpses of celebrity homes. We crafted a meticulously planned itinerary that perfectly suited our desires. Here is the Bar Harbor cruise port itinerary we created that left us with perfect Maine memories.
First, Rent a Car
As we had arranged in advance, Angie and I were promptly picked up at the port by Enterprise rental cars. After a 30-minute drive, we arrived at the airport and collected our vehicle.
Although reaching our destination and completing the necessary paperwork took some time, the rental price was reasonable, and we were pleased to have control over our day’s itinerary.
With excellent fuel efficiency, the car proved cost-effective, resulting in a total price of $140, including refueling and the rental itself. While the roads were easily navigable, cellular service was intermittent in certain areas.
To see how the cruise played out, check out this article about the Canada and New England cruise.
Located just 30 minutes from the Bar Harbor cruise port, we decided to take the scenic route toward Acadia National Park and explore the highly recommended areas. One such area is Seal Harbor, renowned for its stunning mansions and celebrity residences, including Martha Stewart.
Navigating through the winding roads of these charming neighborhoods can be a challenge when trying to find specific addresses of the homes you wish to see. Nonetheless, we strolled along, marveling at the magnificent multi-million dollar properties that dotted the landscape.
Venturing out to MDI (Mount Desert Island) is an absolute delight, as it is home to Bar Harbor and a cluster of upscale Maine towns. These towns are favored summer destinations for affluent socialites and boast impressive art galleries, exquisite dining options, and unique accommodation.
The charming city of Ellsworth, nestled on the way to Acadia National Park, offers a picturesque gateway filled with delightful attractions. There is plenty to enjoy, from museums to birding hotspots and the captivating Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show that runs throughout the summer. Take advantage of the incredible telephone museum, an intriguing dive into our communication history.
Among the charming towns, my favorite is Northeast Harbor, reminiscent of serene hamlets in upstate New York. Its quaint village shops, captivating eateries, and an air of sophistication make it a playground for the affluent, including notable homeowners like the Rockefeller’s.
While exploring, visit Main Street Mercantile, a must-see shop brimming with souvenirs, glassware, household items, and delightful baby gifts. It’s truly a joy to uncover the hidden treasures of these enchanting small towns at your own pace.
Lunch at Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound
Angie and I share a love for food, and we were thrilled to indulge in some delectable fresh Maine lobster. I’m confident that you’ll feel the same way. After receiving a local recommendation, we eagerly went to Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound. This charming restaurant has been serving customers since 1956.
Here, you’ll discover some of the finest lobsters in the world, sourced from Mount Desert Island and sold within hours of being caught. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!
For our meal, we both opted for a Lobster Roll accompanied by sides of coleslaw and potato salad. The rolls were perfectly crispy on the outside and delightfully soft on the inside. What’s more, the rolls were generously filled with juicy lobster meat. A side of melted butter provided the ideal complement for dipping our lobster rolls, resulting in a truly divine bite.
Visit Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park, commonly known as the Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast, is the premier attraction in Bar Harbor. It is easily one of the key reasons the cruise ships tend to visit here on their Canada and New England itineraries. Our Holland America ship featured some fantastic Acadia National Park trips, but we wanted to see several other things in the area, hence curating our own itinerary.
Immerse yourself in the grandeur of this massive park, spanning across half of Mount Desert Island. Begin your exploration by traversing Park Loop Road’s winding 27 miles, where scenic overlooks and captivating photo opportunities await at every turnout.
Marvel at the breathtaking views the oceanside cliffs offer, granting you a splendid vantage point of the park’s pristine beauty. Encounter the serene beach setting of Thunder Hole and Sand Beach, starkly contrasting the lush, tree-covered mountains. The rhythmic force of the surf lapping against the rocky shore will surely mesmerize.
During our visit to Acadia National Park, we unfortunately couldn’t find the time to explore the renowned Jordan Pond House and its scenic trail or indulge in the famous popover restaurant. Instead, we decided to head to Frenchman Bay, where we captured breathtaking photos of the stunning beachfront and the majestic mountains in the background.
Keep an eye out for the picturesque Porcupine Islands, the charming mounds of land rising from the shimmering waters of Frenchman Bay.
The pinnacle of Acadia National Park awaits at Cadillac Mountain, its granite-topped peak towering at an elevation of 1532 feet. As the highest mountain along the North Atlantic seaboard, this awe-inspiring summit treats visitors to a panoramic 360-degree vista overlooking Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and the Cranberry Isles.
A close second in terms of natural beauty lies within Jordan Pond, an exquisite area framed by the majestic Penobscot Mountain and the iconic “The Bubbles.”
Watch for the wild blueberries that flourish in the area, adding a delightful touch to your journey. While witnessing the nation’s first sunrise may prove unlikely for cruising enthusiasts, Cadillac Mountain proudly holds this title. Trust me when I say the pictures depicting this remarkable spectacle are nothing short of magnificent.
Bass Harbor Head Light
Visiting Bass Harbor Head Light is a must for those passionate about lighthouses. Perched on the rugged granite shoreline of MDI, this historic beacon, dating back to 1855, stands as one of the most photographed lighthouses along the Eastern Seaboard.
While visitors can explore the impressive grounds, please note that the lighthouse is privately owned and not open for public entry.
Shop for Souvenirs in Bar Harbor
Downtown Bar Harbor, steps away from the cruise port, is the ultimate destination for all your souvenir needs. From unique and cheesy mementos to adorable and fantastic treasures, you’ll find practically every type of souvenir here. Spend your day leisurely browsing through the relaxed and fun offerings in this port.
Don’t miss out on visiting two must-see stores: Cool as a Moose and Fair Trade Winds. These stores are packed with goodies that will leave you spoiled for choice.
If you’re a jewelry enthusiast like myself, you’ll be thrilled to know that Maine is the source of the elusive watermelon tourmaline. The pieces available here are stunning. Additionally, upscale food products such as jams, jellies, sauces, syrups, and more are perfect for taking home as souvenirs.
No trip to this region of Maine would be complete without indulging in the flavors of blueberry. We highly recommend trying the blueberry soft-serve ice cream cone from CJ’s Big Dipper. Heavens to Betsy, it’s truly phenomenal!
As you stroll along the pedestrian-clad sidewalks and explore the immaculate stores, galleries, and wineries, it becomes evident why Bar Harbor has remained a beloved New England summer retreat for over a century.
Bar Harbor: A Visit to Remember
Upon completing our day tour, we returned the car to the airport. Angie and I were then chauffeured back to Bar Harbor, allowing us to explore the area near our cruise ship at our leisure. Opting for self-guided exploration in Bar Harbor proved to be an excellent decision. We avoided waiting for large groups to embark and disembark from buses, skipped unwanted destinations, and were not bound by rigid itineraries.
Planning your trip should be smooth. We hope that these recommended suggestions for the Bar Harbor cruise port mentioned above will enhance your experience in this remarkable destination.
**I was hosted on this cruise by Holland America, but our day on our own was at our own expense. As with all of our articles, opinions and reviews are 100% ours and unbiased.
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