Food and Drink in Bar Harbor
Maine is the only state that certifies the quality and origin of its lobster, and restaurants throughout Bar Harbor serve it up fresh. From a classic lobster roll to a 20-ounce steamed lobster, there is no shortage of restaurants that offer the popular crustacean. If you're not a lobster fan, don't worry -- restaurants offer plenty of delicious options that don't involve the state's signature shellfish.
Side Street Cafe: Looking for vegan fare, gluten-free eats, or any combination of the above? This cafe has got you covered. At this friendly neighborhood joint, you can get your lobster mac and cheese with gluten-free pasta (or design your own mac and cheese with other add-ins). Lobster quesadillas and shepherd's pie are other popular options. (49 Rodick Street; open daily, 11 a.m. to midnight)
Galyn's: Built in the 1890s as a boarding house for local seafarers, this restaurant offers fresh, quality foods at affordable prices. Five dining rooms, throughout the two-story house, are adorned with original artwork and tin ceilings. It offers a simple menu, including veggie foccacia and lobster rolls (17 Main Street; open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.)
Stewman's Lobster Pound: Brazenly touristy, but lots of fun, this waterfront restaurant is just steps from the town pier. Nearly everybody springs for a lobster roll, but you'll find all the usual suspects on the menu, like clams, mussels and blueberry pie. (35 West Street; open mid-May to Columbus Day, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Route 66: Chock-full of 1950s nostalgia, this diner-style restaurant has an extensive menu, featuring everything from lobster to burgers. There's even a kids menu, cutely named Munchkin Land. Memorabilia is crammed into every inch of the restaurant, so you can't miss the large collection of metal toys, trains and neon signs that adorn the walls and shelves (21 Cottage Street; open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily)
La Bella Vita: Located at the Harborside Hotel, Spa and Marina, this Italian dining experience comes complete with an authentic wood-fired brick oven and the freshest ingredients. Spectacular harbor views complement menu selections, such as flatbread pizza, Mamma's Handcrafted Gnocchi and Maine lobster ravioli. (55 West Street; open daily 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.)
Jordan Pond House: About a 20-minute drive from Village Green in Bar Harbor, this restaurant at Acadia National Park traces its history from 1847 as a logging operation. Today, the restaurant serves lunch on its porch or in the dining room. Selections include chowder, lobster stew, crab cakes and pasta, all served with the establishment's famous baked popovers -- an American version of an English Yorkshire pudding. (Lunch and tea served daily, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dinner 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. end of June through end of August; 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., end of August through mid-October.)
Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound: Approximately 20 minutes from the cruise ship's tender pier, just after the bridge from Mount Desert Island, there is a no-frills lobster shack that's been in business for more than 50 years in Trenton. It's nothing fancy, but that's part of the charm. Select the lobster of your choice to be prepared in front of you, in seawater, over wood-fired cookers. Then, don a plastic bib while you squeeze your crackers, use a pick, and try to get more in you than on you. Don't worry -- they have lots of paper napkins, just in case. Kids may prefer the peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese sandwiches. (1237 Bar Harbor Road. Open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
Don't Miss in Bar Harbor
Acadia National Park: This park offers both active and more relaxed ways to enjoy its splendors, and it's accessible by a 27-mile loop road. You can hike, bike or even drive the 0.3-mile paved pathway that encircles Cadillac Mountain to a summit of 1,532 feet -- the highest point on the eastern seaboard of the United States. It is the first spot in the U.S. where the sunrise can be seen, but its 360-degree views can be enjoyed all day long.
Thunder Hole: Another natural highlight, accessible by the Island Explorer bus (Sand Beach/Blackwoods route). Watch water surge and spout as high as 40 feet with a thunderous boom as waves rush into a small inlet, naturally carved out of the rocks.
Abbe Museum: If you're interested in archeology, visit this collection, devoted to Maine's Native American heritage. More than 50,000 objects span 10,000 years of history. (26 Mount Desert Street)
Art: Walk through downtown, and poke into art and craft galleries and top-notch boutiques, showcasing the works of Maine artists, sculptors and photographers. Recommended stops include Eclipse Gallery (12 Mount Desert Street), featuring blown glass and ceramics; Alone Moose Fine Crafts (78 West Street), specializing in wildlife sculptures; Art and Soul Island Gallery (112 Main Street) for limited edition prints, original paintings and photography representing primarily Maine artists; and Argosy Gallery (110 Main Street), displaying art by 36 artists who reside or paint in Maine.
Bar Harbor Historical Society Museum: This museum is housed in a former convent, built in 1916, that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can view a collection of books, maps, antique clothing, photos and other memorabilia from Bar Harbor's past. An interesting exhibit includes photos of opulent summer estates prior to the 1947 fire. The museum is located a couple blocks from Main Street. (33 Ledgelawn Avenue; open from 1 p.m.)
Lobster Fishing and Seal-Watching: The Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company (1 West St., 207-288-2386) and Lulu Lobster Boat Ride (55 West St., 207-963-2341) are independent tour operators that take guests onboard a lobster boat for tours. Watch crew haul lobster traps from the ocean floor as the captain explains the lobster industry. The tour also passes an island where harbor seals bask on rocks.
Mount Desert Oceanarium: Visitors can tour the Maine Lobster Museum and a lobster hatchery for an up-close experience with lobsters, baby starfish and seals. To get there, take the Island Explorer free shuttle (Campground route). (Open mid-May to late October, Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Sailing: Enjoy a two-hour trip with Downeast Windjammer Cruises on the 151-foot, four-mast schooner Margaret Todd. A park ranger provides a narrative, while passengers can help crew hoist sails. (Purchase tickets at 27 Main Street; $37.50 adults; $35 seniors; $27.50 children ages 6 to 11; $5 children ages 2 to 5; free, children under 2)
Brewery Tours and Tastings: Bar Harbor Brewing Company offers tours of its downtown microbrewery with tastings (8 Mount Desert Street). Also, located about 10 miles from Bar Harbor in the village of Town Hill, Atlantic Brewing Company offers free tours of its brewhouse. Although it only brews 60 kegs per day, you will have an opportunity to taste award-winning ales. Mainely Meat BBQ offers food to enjoy with your brews. (15 Knox Road; daily tours at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. until Columbus Day)
Asticou Azalea Garden: Built in 1956, this public Japanese garden allows visitors to meander through pathways and breathe in the aroma of azaleas. It is located about 15 minutes from the tender pier, near the Northeast Harbor, accessible by the Jordan Pond bus route. (Open daily, May 1 to October 31; daylight areas)
Cooking Classes: Learn to recreate classic Maine dishes at home. Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Sharon Joyce offers cooking classes that focus on local specialties like lobster, blueberry muffins, chowder and popovers at her Ambrosia Cooking School. And there's lots of sampling involved. Classes last from one hour to two-and-a-half hours and cost about $30-$50 per person. (19 Rodick Street)