Adventure and comfort in Down East Maine.

Travel + Leisure
August 20, 2012

Traditional New England comes with a dose of privacy on Mount Desert Island and, just off Bar Harbor, the tiny Spectacle Island. Hand-in-hand, explore Acadia National Park, which has trails for most skill levels. In the evening, dine by the dock or in your own cottage. Summer is high season, but the area is equally lovely in the spring and early fall.

Harborside Hotel

A far cry from the quaint B&Bs for which New England is famous, this full-service seasonal resort in the coastal Maine town of Bar Harbor has 187 guest rooms and suites, most with semi-private balconies and waterfront views. The hotel features traditional, Tudor-style design elements like stone fireplaces, dark wood accents and plush armchairs. In addition to a full-service spa on the premises, the property is also home to the Bar Harbour Club, which has a large outdoor pool, hot tub, sundeck, and tennis courts. The hotel is only open between mid-May and late October.

Spectacle Island Estate

Book this three-bedroom cottage on this spruce-covered spot in Frenchman Bay, well ahead of time. The master suite has spectacular sea views, a four-poster bed, and a whirlpool. The wood-burning fireplace in the living room is cozy on foggy nights, while the wraparound porch makes for good afternoon bird-watching, when gulls and osprey swoop along the shoreline.

La Bella Vita

Dine on seafood cioppino with fresh-caught fish or jumbo baked lobsters at La Bella Vita, in the Harborside Hotel.

Acadia National Park

If any place typifies Maine’s great rugged outdoors, it’s Acadia, the state’s only national park (and the first crowned east of the Mississippi River). At 45,000 acres, it consumes some 65 percent of Mount Desert Island (plus two outlying islands), and is popular for many good reasons: 120 miles of pine-fringed trails on which moose-spotting is practically guaranteed; miles of sea cliffs formed from granite; a rocky coastal cleft called Thunder Hole (where the Atlantic dramatically roars and sprays); and 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the Eastern Seaboard—and the place to see the sunrise of a lifetime. Among the additions made to the park in the early 20th century under the direction (and financing) of John D. Rockefeller are 45 miles of carriage roads around Eagle Lake (today great for biking). Over the years, Acadia has become so popular that congestion and pollution are concerns; visitors are encouraged to hike, bike, or use the park’s propane-fueled buses for transport.

Admission: $10–$20 per vehicle or $5 per individual (pedestrian, bicycle, bus, etc.) for up to seven days. Open mid-April through October.
Note: If you plan to camp, be sure to reserve in advance for Blackwoods Campground. Check in is at the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center.

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