Written by 6:30 pm Hot Spots, Travel

Islands and Hamlet’s of Maine’s Acadia Region

Islands, hamlets, and the incomparable Acadia National Park make this region a treasure for campers. Head to Maine’s “Down East” area and wander the rocky and sandy beaches, touring the islands, mountains, and lakes. You can shop for antiques in the coastal villages or take a ferry to a scenic island. This area is known for its amazing wildlife, so don’t forget to watch for moose, foxes, beavers, and shorebirds like puffins, eiders, gulls, and terns.

Begin your visit by setting out on Highway 1, a route that traces the coastline of Penobscot Bay. The Highway is easily accessible from Portland or from Interstate 95 cities like Augusta and Bangor. You’ll trace along the craggy outcroppings that Maine is so famous for, admiring views of rocky islands in the distance. Head north through Rockport, Belfast, and Bucksport to beautiful Bar Harbor, a town that sits adjacent to Acadia National Park.

In the 19th century, picturesque Bar Harbor was new England’s premier summer resort destination. It was home to Millionaires’ Row, a line of opulent summer estates that belonged to America’s most powerful families: the Rockefellers, the Fords, Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Astors, and Morgans. With its stunning fall foliage and charming old-fashioned inns, Bar Harbor is a popular romantic get-away spot. Take a stroll through town and admire the remarkable architecture of these historic buildings.

Bar Harbor has plenty of family activities, from the oceanarium and zoo to the family nature camp. You can take in a lumberjack show or head to the newly-expanded Abbe Museum to admire artifacts from the Wabenaki Indians. The town features of a number of top-notch boutiques and galleries that showcase works by Maine artists and sculptors.

The Bar Harbor area is also known for its great outdoors activities. Aside from hiking the Mount Desert Island forests, you can head to the Holbrook Island Sanctuary on Penobscot Bay for a day of fishing, bird watching, beach combing, and cross-country skiing in the winter. Throughout the area you’ll find places to go snow-shoeing and skiing in the snowy months or horseback riding and rock climbing in the spring and summer.

Just south of Bar Harbor lies Acadia National Park, home to 1,532-foot Mount Cadillac. The summit of this peak is the first part of the United States to greet the sun each day. That’s a fitting theme for Acadia National Park, since special views abound here. You can hike the sea cliffs, taking in the mountains, lakes, and islands, or take the scenic auto loop. 125 miles of trails in the park are closed to cars, making them perfect for walks and hikes. The park also offers rock climbing, sailing, and canoeing.

Farther northeast on Highway 1 is the pretty town of Calais, a perfect place to escape the crowds. Calais lies just across the St. Croix River from new Brunswick, close enough for side trips to Nova Scotia highlights like Halifax, Moncton, and the Cape Breton Highlands Park. In the 1800s, Calais was a major shipping port for the U.S. Today it’s the home of historic sites like Whitlock’s Mill Lighthouse, the northernmost lighthouse in Maine. This lighthouse is still in operation, guiding ships in from Passamaquoddy Bay.

Calais has a charming waterfront and walkway to explore. Natural attractions abound in this area that boasts the greatest tidal change in the continental U.S. There are 40 lakes in the Calais area, a region that’s known as one of the best fly-fishing spots for land-locked salmon. You’ll find plenty of fishing camps, outfitters, and guide services in Calais. Not far away, the 23,000-acre Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to head for a day of wildlife viewing. Watch for moose, deer, bear, eagles, beaver, mink, goose, and woodcocks.

With its craggy coast, lively tidepools, and dramatic views, Maine truly has something for everyone. So pack your hiking boots, your camera, and your fishing pole and come to Arcadia! You’ll go home with a knapsack full of great memories.

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