Acadia Harbors and Heights
Start this tour in Bangor, the gateway to the Bar Harbor Region. While here, you can visit the Mount Hope Cemetery. This spot is the second oldest garden cemetery in the nation and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stephen King found it so fascinating that he used it as a back-drop for the filming of his movie, Pet Sematary.
If you’re still in the mood for the unusual, swing by the Cole Land Transportation Museum, which displays just about every mode of transportation known to Mainers, from baby carriages to locomotives.
Travel south toward the coast along Route 1A to Ellsworth, where you can tour the amazing Georgian-style Colonel Black Mansion. Built in 1862, this grand home features fine period furniture, a wonderful spiral staircase and lovely gardens. Also in Ellsworth, the spectacular Stanwood Homestead Sanctuary is a 130-acre nature preserve that shouldn’t be missed. Ellsworth offers a lovely downtown area, several quaint hotels and inns, as well as some fine eateries.
From Ellsworth, head south on Route 3 to the Mount Desert Island bridge. From here, all roads lead to charming villages, wonderful antique shops, old sea captains’ houses and spectacular mountains-to-the-sea views; the route defined here is only a suggestion!
Route 3 takes you to the legendary vacation destination of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Opportunities for fabulous shopping, sightseeing and dining abound in Bar Harbor; in addition, the town offers a wonderful range of accommodations to suit any taste, from rustic to refined. Watch whales, seals & puffins; hike, bike, canoe; or just relax amid the beauty of nature. Explore shops, museums, and galleries. Enjoy live music, fine dining (especially lobster) and local microbrews. For a truly unique dessert, try the local lobster-flavored ice cream! Relax at a hotel, cottage, cabin, bed & breakfast or campsite.
If you’re interested in Bar Harbor’s roots as a vacation resort for American tycoons, the town’s guided Victorian walking tour reveals how the rich and famous lived and played at the turn of the century. Also, make sure to bike the lovely network of carriage paths (designed and built by John D. Rockefeller Jr.) in Acadia National Park, as well as hike the park’s scenic trails and enjoy an island tradition of tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond House. Locals will advise you to watch a sunrise from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, which is easily accessible by car.
If you’d like to do some exploring on the water, Bar Harbor offers opportunities for kayaking, windjammer day-sails and whale and puffin-watching cruises.
From Route 3, take 198 to 102 south to Bass Harbor, viewing the Bass Harbor Lighthouse, situated on a dramatic precipice 56 feet above sea level. Continue to beautiful Southwest Harbor, a seaside village featuring shops, cafes and charming inns and B&Bs.
Head to Somesville along Somes Sound, the only true fjord (a deep, narrow bay carved by a retreating glacier) on the U.S. Atlantic coast, then follow 102 up to 230, and back to Ellsworth. Head south on 172 to Blue Hill, where artists, musicians and crafts people have created an exciting arts center. Here, you can enjoy a range of galleries and pottery studios, as well as gourmet restaurants, eclectic cafes, bakeries and some exceptional mansions and grand old homes which now serve as inns—some with spectacular views of Blue Hill Bay.
Continue south on 172 to Sedgewick, then west on 175 to Deer Isle Bridge, an amazing suspension bridge over scenic Eggemoggin Reach. Head south on 15 to the quaint fishing villages of Deer Isle and Stonington—places which have lured (and, in many cases, kept) many yachtsmen, lobstermen and artists. The mixed character of these two communities is evidenced in streetscapes bearing everything from tackle shops to fine art galleries. Several local inns offer charming rooms and delicious local fare, as well as heart-stopping views of the sea.
Retrace your path up Route 15 to 175 through Bucksport, then continue along Route 15 to Bangor.
Continue up Route 1 to Prospect, where you will see the towers of the newly built Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory soaring above the treeline. The 440-foot high Observatory is open to the public via a swift elevator, providing a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding hills, river and bay.