My first glimpse of the coast of Maine was flying direct from Boston on Cape Air over its islands with their bays, massive mansions, fisherman boats, and rocky coast. There are over 4,600 islands that surround Maine and each one has a story. Today there are still summer communities on a few of the islands that don’t have electricity, bringing a whole new meaning to the word “remote”.
One of the most lively towns on Maine’s largest island, Mount Desert Island, is Bar Harbor. I spent a week here with my family exploring its food and drink scene and its misty and mysterious landscape. Most of this island is part of Acadia National Park which is known for its sharp oceanfront cliffs and countless hiking paths complete with breathtaking views and wild blueberry bushes. It was here that I hiked the most interesting trail of my life called Beehive. This trail features several cliffside ladders and even one mini iron bridge. It is the ideal hike for adventure travelers or thrill seekers. Plus the view of the Sand Beach and neighboring rocky mountains is marvelous.
The culinary scene in Mount Desert Island is as New England as it gets. Each morning fisherman sail out before sunrise to pull up their lobster catches. According to locals, the wait list to become a lobster fisherman is over 50 years long. This type of career is extremely sought after and rewarding. At your first bite of lobster it becomes clear why; the lobster is simply outstanding. For iconic lobster, head to Thurston’s Lobster Pound. This family run seaside hut has been serving up tasty dishes and bangin’ Lobster Claw bloody Mary’s since 1991. However, the family has been working with lobster since 1946 when Fred Thurston started his wholesale lobster business.
What I found most unique about Mount Desert Island was its rocky, mossy and mysterious landscape. Frequently the weather would shift suddenly bringing with it a shroud of fog that would be so thick it could be difficult to drive on roads. The forests had trees of all shapes and sizes with gnarly roots. Bright green velvety moss covered its floor making it tempting to walk deep into the forest and explore. On the cab ride back to the airport the taxi driver informed me that many of Stephen Kings books were inspired by the area because he used to work there in the summer months growing up. Though I didn’t find the landscape scary I could see how it would inspire epic storytelling.
The islands of Maine are a place of unbelievable natural beauty and mouthwatering seafood. It is a foggy and mystical land that brings wonder to anyone that visits. Below are a few of my recommendations for those that are visiting. Enjoy your trip to Maine!
WHERE TO EAT:
Lompoc Cafe – Unpretentious backstreet hangout with a leafy patio & bocce serves up an inventive bar menu
Jordan Pond House – Historic stop for tea with popovers & jam or larger meals offers a view of the pond & mountains.
Side Street Café – Warm, welcoming eatery/bar provides burgers & other bar fare plus a variety of lobster dishes.
West Street Café – Bright & airy cafe for seafood & American comfort fare is known for its early-bird specials.
Thrive Juice Bar – Cozy nook serving pressed juices, smoothies & breakfast bowls in bright digs with outside tables.
Geddy’s – Family-friendly spot dishing out pub grub, seafood & beer amid kitschy signage & nautical decor.
Thurston’s Lobster Pound – Seasonal, family-run restaurant serving locally caught lobster & crab dishes amid harbor views.
Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium – Sweet shop with salt water taffy, ice cream & ample selection of treats.
Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream – Homemade ice cream shop
Milk and Honey – Cafe serving up Northeast Harbors best coffee, pastries, & sandwiches
Terrace Grill at the Bar Harbor Inn. This casual spot to grab lunch or dinner overlooks Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands
Blaze – Hip locale with a patio serves pizza, burgers, creative New American dishes & lots of craft beers.
HIKES IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK:
The Great Head Trail
EXPLORE THE SHORE:
Little Hunters Beach
Isle Au Haut
IDEAL PADDLE SPOTS:
Echo Lake Beach
Coastal Kayaking Tours
Seal Harbor Beach