Nothing soothes the soul like nature. Earlier this month we ran away to Maine, which is quickly becoming one of our favorite states. The region reminds me so much of the Pacific Northwest, it hurts. Maine is beautiful and scenic, lush and vibrant, with mild temperatures and zero humidity. In mid-October, the road to Maine was paved in shades of gold, orange, red, green, and magenta.
Acadia National Park is known as the “crown jewel of the North Atlantic Coast” and it takes roughly five minutes spent in the park for you to agree. The park had it all – stormy ocean beaches, hidden lakes, lush forests, islands and 125 miles of hikes for everyone. And, unlike many national parks, Acadia allows dogs! Sorry, Lady. We missed that memo.
If you ever visit, here are some of our takeaways:
Visit the park in the fall.
Honestly, if you’re going to come all the way out to Maine, do yourself a favor and come in the fall. We visited in early October, and the fall foliage colors lit the park on fire. Every turn we were in awe. But I can’t imagine there ever being a bad season to go. Just go!
Combine trails for a longer loop.
We were surprised to find most trails were less than four miles. To lengthen our day, we combined the Beehive Loop and Gorman Mountain trails. We started with the Beehive Loop, as the trail led us through the woods and up the rocky cliffs. We followed light blue trail markers as we scaled the cliffs with iron rungs, bridges and hand and foot holds. It sounds intense, but it was very doable. The trail leads you up to Gorman Mountain, with sweeping views of the entire park. We loved every second of it.
Hit the coastal trails.
If you’re drawn to the water, opt for the Ocean Path Trail. This 4 mile round-trip hike hugs the coastline and weaves in and around boulders. Explore seaweed-covered tidal pools at low tide and watch for seals, dolphins and whales. The trail reminded us of our time in Central California. We miss you, Monterey!
Watch the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain.
OK, if you do anything at Acadia National Park, it has to be this. Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the Eastern Seaboard, gets the first sight of the sunrise in the U.S. For us, we didn’t get a magnificent sunrise. But it was an extraordinary feeling to know we were among the first to see it. I mean, it gave me goosebumps.
Explore Bar Harbor.
Or, as we like to call it: Baaaa Ha Baaaa. Just outside of Acadia is the adorable small town, population just over 5,000. The charming downtown is home to unique storefronts, independent boutiques, restaurants and bars. We had some great food at Blaze and the Thirsty Whale. We drank coffee at Coffee Hound Coffee Bar. We loved the wood craftsman finds at In The Woods, and local art at Katahdin Photo Gallery.
Try Blueberry Beer.
The state of Maine is all about blueberries. It makes sense, since the state produces 99% of all the blueberries in the country. On almost every menu in Bar Harbor, you’ll find Sea Dog Blueberry Draft Beer, or Atlantic Brewing Company’s Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale.
Eat a popover.
Another unique Maine thing – popovers. On almost every menu in Bar Harbor, you’ll find popovers. Popovers are rolls baked in muffin tins and they are all the rage in Maine. The top pops up over the top of the muffin pan, making them look hollow in the middle. Restaurants offer popovers as appetizers with butter and jam, or baked desserts.
Stay at a sweet, bed and breakfast.
When in Maine, opt for a sweet bed and breakfast. Tucked away from the park and a few distant miles from downtown Bar Harbor, Asticou Inn was perfect for us. The charming (and historic) bed and breakfast is perched above Northeast Harbor, and offers thoughtful amenities for hikers like free, hot breakfast and overnight laundry.
Once again, I feel like we hardly scratched the surface! To learn more about Acadia National Park, visit www.nps.gov/acad.