Columbus day weekend was a long weekend for us and decided to visit Acadia National Park over the holidays. Acadia is around five hours drive from Boston. It is an island on costal Maine and is famous for its coastal flora and fauna.
The best way to reach there directly is to take I95 North and keep going till Bangor where you take Rt 1A that leads to the park. Keep in mind that this is a single lane road for around 50 miles so be sure you check the traffic conditions before you start travelling on it. We wanted to enjoy the costal Maine beauty and hence decided to take the coastal route. Rt 1 branches off Portland, ME and takes the sea route to Acadia. It takes longer this way but you can stop at various places in between to enjoy the Atlantic views. We made a pit stop at Costal Maine Botanical Gardens. Situated in Boothbay, ME, this place has a wide variety of flowering plants and trees. It’s very scenic place and you can easily spend a few romantic hours within the gardens. Although there is internal bus transport to go to various parts of the garden, we opted to walk. A romantic walk in the woods, quality time on a secluded dock and the serene nature with chirping birds clearly were the highlights of the trip to the garden. I would definitely urge to keep aside three to four hours to visit this garden on the way to Acadia.
So by the time we reached Acadia, it was evening. There are lots of hotels on the island. Be sure you book your stay beforehand as it usually is very difficult to find availability on spot. We checked-in in our hotel and then headed to Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor is a sea side town on the island. It features some of the good sea food restaurants. If you are a vegetarian, good luck! But if you are a connoisseur of sea food, this place will not cease to amaze you. Bar Harbor is always crowded, but with some luck you can find street side parking. For us, it turned out to be a good idea to park and then walk on the streets to see the place, have food and shop. There are a lot of art stores in case you are fond of art work.
Visiting Acadia means getting up early to climb Mt Cadillac to see the sunrise. Mt Cadillac is the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast and the rays of the sun hit this place first before any other place in the entire US. It’s a must go. You won’t believe, but this place is shit crowded with people willing to watch sunrise so make sure you get a head start. You can climb as well as drive up the mountain where there is a parking lot. It was very cold on Columbus day and we could see people with blankets, winter wear and coffee mugs. Yes, we also were well dressed. The sun came up, skies cleared, we kissed and took a lot of photographs. It was amazing. Definitely worth getting up early when you are on a vacation!
As the day starts with Mt Cadillac, the next stop is again Bar Harbor for some continental breakfast. After having breakfast, we headed to the main park. The park has a loop road which covers almost all the vista points. There are cliffs, beaches, woods and hiking trails on the way. If you are pressed on time, driving down the loop road and stopping at the vista points is your way to go. Finally you can stop at the Jordan pond and have a bite. There is a trail which circles the pond and I loved walking on that. If you are into hiking, there are lots of hiking trails on the way. Hiking Mt Cadillac will be Numero Uno on my list. Rangers in Acadia National park usually arrange various informational shows which include bird watching, lighthouse visits etc. The show timing information is obtained at the visitor center.
Overall, I loved Acadia. It is a touristy location. The down side is there are tons of people so unless you are hiking, there is no way you can avoid crowds (that too on a long weekend). I would say it is two day trip to see Acadia, but three days would be nice to have a relaxed time