Have you ever had the unfortunate feeling of being super disappointed when you realize a destination isn’t everything you hoped it would be? Well, this was definitely not the case on our recent visit to Bar Harbor, Maine. 

When hurricane Florence threw a wrench in our plans to head to North Carolina to visit Andy’s parents, we decided to meet them in Maine instead. Andy and the kids had never been there, neither had his parents, and I hadn’t been since I was a child so we were all really excited for our visit.

I was especially thrilled because Bar Harbor was a place that I had always wanted to visit and I knew that by going, I had the opportunity to cross an item off of my bucket-list! So as we made the 8 hour drive out there, I daydreamed about all the Victorian shingled houses, the harbor filled with fishing boats, the cute restaurants that overlook the water and the insane views from Acadia National Park. 

Well, we found all of that and more! I was shocked to see how big Bar Harbor is. For some reason, I pictured one road filled with restaurants and shops so I was surprised when we walked down side streets to find that those were filled with businesses as well. There is definitely no shortage of things to do and see in the downtown area. 

We ended up parking several blocks away and making our way down to the water. Our initial plan was to do a whale watching tour, but when we realized that it was 4 hours long, we decided against it. Instead we booked a 2 hour nature and sightseeing boat tour. Once we got our tickets we had a little over an hour to kill so we headed to Stewman’s Lobster Pound. I can’t really speak to how good their food is because we only got an appetizer, which was decent, but the atmosphere was perfect. 

In fact, when most people think of Maine, they think of lobster. Prior to our trip, everyone who gave me suggestions on what to do in the area said something along the lines of “make sure you eat as much lobster as you can handle”. I don’t eat seafood but there is something about being surrounded by people in bibs, barbarically dissecting lobster, drowning it in butter and shoving it down their throats without ever touching a fork or knife that kind of excites me. I feel like if we didn’t at least immerse ourselves into that situation, can we even say we went to Maine?

Anyway, after sipping on a Bloody Mary or two we made our way down to the boat. We were able to bring our stroller on board, which was a life-saver because Murphy was beyond ready for a nap. Once we boarded, the 6 of us headed straight for the enclosed section to make sure we were able to get seats. Well everyone else must have brought their parkas because we were literally the only ones that weren’t upstairs on the deck getting blasted by the frigid wind. Luckily there was a walkway right outside so we could go in and out as we pleased. 

Bar Harbor Whale Watching Company

The tour was really nice. It was cool to go around and see some of the sights from the water but it wasn’t exactly a thrilling ride so if that is what you are looking for, I would suggest maybe going on the whale watch instead. That being said, we did see a few seals, a couple bald eagles and we saw what some say is the ugliest lighthouse in the area (I disagree) which was pretty exciting! The company we went through is called Bar Harbor Whale Watching Company and I would definitely recommend them. The crew was friendly, they went out of their way to help us get set up for Murphy and the guide was very knowledgeable.

The “ugliest” lighthouse?

The next day was spent exploring Acadia National Park. We started off the day by waking up at 4:30 AM to make it to the top of Cadillac Mountain to be one of the first people in the United States to witness the sunrise. This event made its way onto my bucket-list a few years ago and I was so excited to be able to cross it off! 

Luckily, you don’t have to hike at that ungodly hour to get to the top of the mountain, you’re able to drive all the way up.  We arrived just as the sky started to change color, which was beautiful in and of itself. As I was looking down, adjusting my camera settings, I heard a few gasps and some people start to cheer as they caught the first glimpse. I looked up and felt this wave of emotion go through me. It may have been exhaustion or the fact that I am a sappy mess after having kids but I got a little teary watching it rise knowing that Andy and I (along with about a hundred other onlookers) were able to witness something so beautiful before anyone else.

Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain

We ended up sticking around for about 30 minutes, taking it all in before we headed back to the house to take a nap. 

After some much needed rest, we went back into the park. The entrance fee was $30 per car so after that was paid for, we grabbed a map and drove around, stopping at each site along the way. Being that Murphy doesn’t particularly enjoy being in his carseat, we only spent a few hours exploring. In those hours we went back up the mountain to see the view during the day (amazing), we went to the gardens (something I could have done without), then headed to Sand Beach so that Rowan could go swimming. 

The beautiful beach sits between the mountains and rocky shores and was packed full of other tourists. The water rarely gets above 55 degrees so we warned Rowan that it would probably be too cold to swim but does that ever matter to a 4 year old? She jumped right in and when it was time to leave, we had to drag her out. 

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park

The last stop we made was to Thunder Hole, which is right down the road from the beach. This is the spot where you are supposed to hear the thunder from the waves crashing into the cliffs. Unfortunately it must have been calm when we visited because we couldn’t hear anything but it was still a really pretty site and we were happy we stopped. 

The next day we headed home but along the way we decided to stop in Portland to get something to eat. Portland is absolutely adorable. We had no idea what to expect from it but we were amazed at how much was going on and the artsy vibe of the city. We ended up eating at Liquid Riot Bottling Company, a super cool place on the water that makes its own beer and spirits. There we had one of the best burgers we have had in a longggg time, it’s called the Kahuna Burger and you should get it. Right now. It is that good. 

Downtown Portland

If you have the opportunity to go to Maine, go! Not only is Bar Harbor picturesque, Acadia beautiful and Portland cool, we also passed so many other towns near the coast that we would have loved to spend time in.

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We are your typical American family who decided life is too short to live in one place.

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