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Jewels of the North
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Bar Harbor

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By Pat Mestern

When in Maine, don't be surprised if you hear Bar Harbor referred to as "Ba HaBa" The down-east accent as spoken on Mount Desert Island, is just one of the many things that makes this area of coastal Maine so unique.

To reach Bar Harbor, nestled in sheltered Frenchman Bay on the east side of Mount Desert Island, you must turn off popular, busy Highway #1 and travel along Route #3. A visual difference between the Maine shoreland and Isle is noticeable as soon as you pass the first lobster pound and cross the causeway that links the mainland to Mount Desert Island. Bar Harbor is the largest centre on Mount Desert Island. Other communities include Seal Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Manset.

It would be trite to call Bar Harbor a quanti-essential New England Seaport. There's too much unique about the place and something magical too especially if you visit during quieter times. Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor are tourist attractions and are most popular June through September. As one local fellow put it, "Thar's no need to visit Boston in summa'. Yuh can rub shoulder with all ‘em folks on the streets of Ba HaBa. Thar' all heah."

Cruise Liner in HarbourMount Desert Island has always been a popular resort for some of America's wealthiest families. Bar Harbor once was to the state of Maine what Newport was to the state of Rhode Island. During the Gilded Age, and until fire destroyed at least 67 palatial estates in 1947, the island was the fashionable seasonal home to some very wealthy people.
First on your agenda after arriving Mount Desert, is to find copies of local publications such as The Acadia Visitor, and Acadia Weekly. These free handouts have handy maps, lists of attractions, restaurants, accommodations and entertainments. The Acadia Weekly usually includes the names and arrival/departure times of well-known cruise ships that make Bar Harbor a port-of-call.

The town's harbour is its crown jewel and home to both pleasure and working craft. It is tradition to buy an ice cream cone then take a seat on the grass in the Square overlooking the busy port. The harbor area and Square are always bustling active places with lots to see. Be sure to set time aside to walk the Ocean Pathway with its gorgeous views of both harbour and Frenchman Bay. You can walk for an easy mile or so then take one of the access paths to pop out in the busy downtown area with its proliferation of shops and restaurants. A number of stores sell quality Maine arts and crafts. Others offer souvenirs of the usual and unusual kind. Of course, being a popular tourist destination, there are the omnipresent T-shirt shops.

        Ocean Path

Restaurants serve all manner of good food. People are drawn to Freddies Route 66 like flies to honey. This eclectic eatery is a must-see for auto buffs. From its crowning jewel, the front end of a Nash Rambler hung over the front entrance, to walls chock-a-block full of automotive memorabilia, the restaurant has great theming and excellent food. Be sure to order a gooey dessert. It's served in a cardboard car!

Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound      Freddie Route 66

You can't visit Ba HaBa and not eat lobsta'. Take advantage of early bird lobster specials that are advertised on sidewalk sandwich boards and in local papers. Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound on Route #3 at the causeway, is the place to buy "pick ‘em & eat ‘em" lobster - cheap. There's no fancy decoration at Trenton Bridge, just picnic tables, lobster and drawn butter. The Chart Room, also on Route #3, serves great seafood and offers a nightly lobster special. This restaurant is not cheap but service is friendly and the food well prepared.

It's rare to see a street clock but Bar Harbor's Main Street boasts a c1896 model. Funds for its purchase were donated by Mrs. Wm. Tucker of Boston in 1892. The clock stood for nine years in front of Albert Bee's store before being moved to its present location by the Village Green in 1905. In 1976 the timepiece was restored and electrified. Today it is a pleasant reminder of a more relaxed era when street clocks were part of a town's landscape.

Street Clock       

There's lots to do on Mount Desert Island. From Bar Harbor, you can catch a boat to the whale watching waters in the Gulf of Maine, book coastal kayaking tours, take a harbor cruise to see eagles and seal; enjoy a windjammer cruise, rent a bicycle for a tour the Island; take a self-guided walking tour. You can also enjoy live movies at the Real Pizza Cinerama and restored Criterion Theatre. There's a choice of six museums and two oceanariums to keep you busy.

No visit to Mount Desert Island is complete without visiting Acadia National Park. Stop at the park's Visitor Center for information on daily programs, a map and other useful pamphlets. Note that there is a fee to drive Acadia National Park's 27 miles of scenic Loop Road. At least five hours are recommended to do the drive justice. Stops should include Sieur de Mont Springs, Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs and a drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. It is tradition to drive to the summit, at dawn or dusk to enjoy magnificent 360 degree sunrises and sunsets. Legend has it that if you experience a sunrise from the summit of Cadillac, you'll return to the Island.

One of the interesting features of Bar Harbor and the island is the large number of gnarled old apple trees growing along highways, streets and private lawns. Ancient apple trees and blueberry fields are island signatures. Brier roses grow in profusion and you can even find secretive pockets of Giant Himalayan Balsam.

Coach Stop InnLooking for accommodation? Several come highly recommended. A number of old apple trees can be found on the property the Coach Stop Inn a lovely Bed & Breakfast accommodation. The Coach Stop Inn dates to c1804. At that time it was known as "Half-Way Tavern". Today the Inn has been completely restored and is filled with early American and Victorian antiques. Inn rooms are nicely decorated and very comfortable. A bonus! Windows can be opened for beautiful evening sea breezes. Great breakfasts are served and proprietors will pack a luscious picnic breakfast for people taking the early ferry to Nova Scotia. The Coast Stop Inn is located on Route #3 about five miles from downtown Bar Harbor. Its location allows guests to enjoy peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the town.

Mira Monte Inn & Suites makes a great home away from home too. Mira Monte meaning "Behold the Mountains," was built as one of Mount Desert's grand Victorian houses. The c1865 Inn has both rooms and su ites. It is situated on two acres of land, five minutes from downtown Bar Harbor. Mira Monte offers Victorian elegance, charming bedrooms and a luscious buffet breakfast.


  • Coach Stop Inn

  • Freddies Route 66
    • 21 Cottage Street
      Bar Harbor, ME

  • Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce

  • Mira Monte Inn & Suites

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