A classic vacation destination, the town of Bar Harbor is situated on the northeastern shore of Mount Desert Island, bordering on Acadia National Park. The town includes the adjacent villages of Hulls Cove, Salisbury Cove, and Town Hill. The town sits on a gentle hill overlooking the harbor and islands of Frenchmen Bay. The grand mountains of Acadia, most notably Cadillac and Champlain, rise to the south. Initially incorporated in 1796 as the Town of Eden, after Sir Richard Eden, an English statesman, the town's name was changed to Bar Harbor in 1918.
The area's natural beauty began to attract artists from New York in the 1850s who did much to popularize Mount Desert Island through their paintings of the Acadia mountain and seascapes. These bucolic scenes attracted the attention of the wealthy residents of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, many of whom traveled by train and ferry to this faraway island on the Maine coast to see and experience it for themselves.
These early visitors, known as "rusticators," at first boarded with residents. But as their numbers grew, so did the need for more elaborate lodging, ushering in the era of the grand hotels on the island. The Agamont House was the first constructed by Tobias Roberts in 1855. By 1880, there were 30 hotels on the island, 17 in Bar Harbor alone.
Walking is a great way to see the sights of Bar Harbor. Stroll the famous Shore Path along the waterfront from the Town Pier to Wayman Lane, with lovely views of the Porcupine islands en route. (Very Easy hiking, 0.5 miles one-way). Another enjoyable walk is across the sand bar at low tide to Bar Island. Take in the majestic view of the town, its shoreline homes, and Acadia's mountains beyond.
Bar Harbor is home to a wide variety of specialty stores, antique shops, boutiques, outfitters, craft stores, and other retail shops and outlets. Take your time, breathe the fresh sea air, mingle with the summer crowds, and browse the stores to your heart's content.
Culture lovers will enjoy the many galleries, shows, and festivals in Bar Harbor during summertime. Discover paintings and prints of island landscapes, Native American art, Maine-made crafts, and much more. The Abbe Museum, on the village green, tells the fascinating story of the four tribes of the Wabanaki, the Micmac, Maliseet, Penobscot, and the Passamaquoddy, who lived in Maine for thousands of years.
Enjoy some laughs at a comedy club or watch a movie in the old-time theater. Check out the nightclubs and bars for live music and dancing. There's always something to celebrate in Bar Harbor with a variety of events, including the 4th of July and the Bar Harbor Music Festival.
Bar Harbor features a fantastic range of dining experiences. Visitors will find something to satisfy almost every taste and budget, from steaks and seafood to a variety of local favorites. Enjoy fine dining, casual eating, pubs, cafes, and breweries.
Lodging choices are many. Choose an oceanfront hotel, a cozy B&B, a family-run motel, or a historic inn. Stay in a private seaside or island cottage, a vacation rental property, or camp at a family campground.
Getting around Bar Harbor is easy. Park once and walk around town or ride the fare-free Island Explorer shuttle bus, which operates ten routes throughout the island.
Visitor Resources: Visit Bar Harbor | Abbe Museum | Acadia National Park