What to Do in Bar Harbor This Summer

05/05/2011 06:42 pm ET | Updated Jul 05, 2011

Bass Harbor Head Light
You will find Bass Harbor Head Light in the southwestern reach of Acadia National Park. The light warns against the Bar Harbor Bar and guards the southern entrance of Blue Hill Bay. Still fully operational, it was built in 1858 high atop a rugged granite shoreline. The US Coast Guard mans the station, listed on the National Historic Register. Visitors can explore the grounds but not the lighthouse. Photo tip: Take the path leading to a stairway and follow it down the cliff.

Carriage Roads
Between 1913 and 1940, John D. Rockefeller built 45 miles of crushed stone roads that wander through Acadia National Park. Although known as trails, the intricate network of roads are 16 feet wide. Local workers quarried granite from the island and used stone cutters to build 17 rustic-looking stone bridges. Rockefeller took great care to preserve trees and landscape with native ferns and blueberry bushes, so that the roads blend naturally with their surroundings. You can walk, hike or bike along the trails.

Park Loop Road
The Park Loop Road is an absolute must-do excursion. Get behind the wheel and enjoy a 27-mile drive along ocean-side cliffs and through mountain forests. Stop along the way at Thunder Hole where the surf races into the naturally carved inlet before high tide. It explodes with a thunderous roar as high as 40 feet. Afterwards, head north to cozy Sand Beach, only 290 yards wide. Be brave and jump in the rarely-warmer-than-55-degrees Atlantic.

Bar Island and Bar Harbor Walk
Check the tide charts for a Bar Island jaunt across the shell-covered sand bar. Less than one mile long and within shouting distance of Bar Harbor, you'll see oceanside views of West Street's Millionaire's Row. Back in town, take a walk on the Shore Path along Frenchman Bay. Start at the town pier near Agamont Park. This narrow path, bordered by beach roses, is less than a mile long and follows the seawall, with views of the Porcupine Islands.

Whale Watching
Each summer whales travel to the cool waters in Maine to feed for the season. Take a whale-watching boat tour and observe playful humpbacks who will delight you with their antics. They're known for slapping their tails against the water and showing off by leaping out of the water and crashing with a colossal splash. You'll also see asymmetrically colored finbacks, curious minkes and endangered right whales. A shark, dolphin or seal may be spotted, too.
For more of my tips on what to do, where to stay and where to eat in Bar Harbor, click here.

Tip: For the finest Maine craftmanship, check out the Maine Crafts Guild show, which takes place in August on Frenchman's Bay in Bar Harbor.

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