After Scott & I got married in July (yes it’s been quite the year), we couldn’t do our honeymoon in Italy, and we didn’t feel comfortable doing our “Plan B Honeymoon” to Zion National Park in Utah, so then what could we do? A totally worthy (and socially distanced) vacation to Acadia National Park in Maine.
I’m so glad we went. I wouldn’t have considered it if it weren’t for the pandemic, but it quickly became high on the list of places we could drive to from NYC, and a place where we could spend the majority of our time outdoors and socially distanced from other people.
We snatched up this Airbnb about 30 minutes from Acadia National Park for three nights (ahem, download a stargazing app for dark and starry nights). Here’s what we did while we were there:
Three-Day Acadia National Park Itinerary
Day 1: Taking it slow
Arrive! Drive Park Loop Road to familiarize yourself with all the major sights like Jordan Pond, Sand Beach and Thunder Hole. Your first day is also an opportune time for an easy hike like Ocean Path Trail. We started the hike at Sand Beach because it was super scenic and there were bathrooms available!
Note that easier hikes are usually busier – masks are required in the park when passing other hikers.
Remember to reserve your space by purchasing a park pass, and printing it out before you arrive. Then, it’s smooth sailing! You can drive into the park, or check to see if the shuttle is running before you go.
Have dinner in Bar Harbor! It’s a cute little town near the park, with lots of restaurants. We noticed that in the summer, there was a long wait for tables (indoor and outdoor dining were both available). I know it’s a hassle, but I would recommend making reservations for dinner so you’re not hungry and searching for food after a long hike.
Takeout or cooking at home is also a great option. We made Spaghetti alle vongole with fresh clams from the Happy Clam Shack.
Day 2: Challenging Acadia Hikes
With our bags packed and filled with PB&Js, Rx Bars and liters of water, we ventured out early in the morning, ready for a big hike. No, we didn’t wake up early enough to see the sun rise on Cadillac Mountain, but apparently it’s beautiful (and it’s one of the earliest sunrises you see in the U.S.)
We wanted to start out with a challenging hike, and we ended up doing the top two most challenging hikes in one day by accident. First, we chose the Beehive Trail. The challenging part about it wasn’t that it was physically exhausting – it was the height. Don’t do this if you’re afraid of heights (we were behind some people that were very surprised about the hike, and took it a little too slowly – there was a big line behind them). The climb is vertical with some plateaus where you can rest, and it includes some iron rungs that you’ll have to use to pull yourself up.
Once we reached the top of the Beehive Trail, we kept walking the Beehive Trail which turned into the Champlain South Ridge Trail. It was a long hike, but then we found ourselves at the top of the Precipice Trail, one of the most challenging hikes in the park. To me, this was the hardest hike – and it wasn’t just because we were climbing DOWN the mountain instead of the preferred way of summitting the mountain.
I think this would be terrifying for people afraid of heights either way. The hike is short, but very steep and very vertical the entire time. There are parts where you have to walk across cliff ledges while holding onto rungs. You have to be in shape, and have good footwear due to the numerous ladders and rungs you’ll be pulling yourself up with. Last word to the wise: don’t look down.
After this day of hiking, we were wiped out. So we went to Boulder Beach to explore and relax. It was extremely picturesque and rugged – located right where the ocean touches the forest. Did I mention how picturesque the entire park is? Everywhere you look is majestic and beautiful.
Day 3: Last day of hiking and a breathtaking sunset
For our last day, we wanted to see a different side of the park. We ended up at Jordan Pond. The Jordan Pond Path is extremely easy (the path is mostly on raised wooden planks), but so beautiful.
For a more challenging hike, you could do Jordan Pond Cliffs, which we heard lots about. But, we of course found ourselves walking up another mountain. From Jordan Pond we hiked the Deer Brook Trail to the summit of Penobscot Peak – there was no one around and the view was amazing.
Our last stop in the park was to see the sunset at Bass Harbor Lighthouse. Get there early so you can park in the lot (it’s in very high demand). Then, walk down the dirt path at the end of the parking lot, and down the rocks to the ocean. You’ll turn around and see the lighthouse from there. You’ll want to take 1,000 photos already, but wait for the sunset for the best shot of all.
Food near Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor is the place to go for restaurants, just because there are many of them in one small walkable town. But don’t miss lobster at the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound. Reward yourself by bringing home a blueberry pie from Mount Dessert Bakery (it’s something the area is known for.) Here is my full list of Bar Harbor and area restaurant bookmarks; you’ll find everything from early morning coffee to lobster dinner.
Enjoy your time in Acadia National Park and remember to buy a pass and plan your hikes in advance then double check what is open during the off-season and because of COVID reasons.
DM me on Instagram @maryinmanhattan if you have any questions about your upcoming trip to Acadia National Park.
Mary, this is a fantastic guide. One day I want to replicate your hike ( and eating choices). You should parlay this in to a once a year trip somewhere say New England for Yankee Magazine, or the Ozarks for idk, Ozark Today Magazine ( made it up, but you get the idea). They pay, you and Scott write & hike. Anyway this was a fun read….especially for everyone stick at home!
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Thanks Chris! Great idea & thanks for reading. Hopefully the next trip will be mask-less.
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Beauty and adventure.
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