Acadia National Park is the most visited national park in the country and the majority of that onslaught is to Mount Desert Island. Winter Harbor is a smaller seaside community across the bay from Bar Harbor with the only section of ANP on the mainland. Fortunately we don't experience the sheer daily volume of people, traffic or cruise ships that MDI sees.
Although the park is flat out gorgeous and there's no denying that. There's more to the area than just the park. Less
commercialized than the other tourist hotspots we offer visitors a lot to do. Especially those guests who desire a more relaxed, less crowded atmosphere. But even those desiring days of crowds, shopping and non stop activities can have the needs easily met here. That's one of the beauties of a vacation or living here. You can have remote, secluded, quiet or crowds anytime you want, it's your call.
During the tourist season L.L. Bean helps sponsor a free shuttle bus starts in Winter Harbor and makes tours of Schoodic Point, the park and area.
There are many shops and businesses to wander through. Places to rent kayaks and bikes. Grindstone Neck has a nine hole golf
course that is one of the oldest courses in the country, with views of the ocean from every hole. There are a lot of places to buy your dinner but Bob's prices are tough to beat and you'd be hard pressed to find lobster cheaper anywhere else. Plus his sons bring them in daily so they couldn't be fresher. If you are here while they are shedding you should try them. They are what most locals prefer and because they are so tender and delicate they don't ship well so you can't get them anywhere else but here.
Throughout the year Schoodic Arts puts on programs, theaters, concerts, dances and many other cultural events. Then during the summer they host an arts festival for two weeks which usually starts around the middle of July. But still overall it's generally quiet here except for the lobster festival and a few other things. Once a year the entire town goes on holiday. Usually the second Saturday in August. The only time of year there's more people than lobsters around here. The day starts off with a 5k road race, a childrens race in the morning then there are boat races and a craft fair. Finally the day ends with a parade in the evening. Of course there are lobster dinners, barbecues and a lot of other
things. It's always a good time.
And of course, a few hundred yards down Main Street in Winter Harbor is the entrance road to the park. The first thing you will come are the miles of new hiking trails and biking paths that start right after the turn but if that doesn't interest you then comes the turnoff to Frazer Point picnic area where the views around the harbor are magnificent. There are picnic tables and fire pits for barbecues. There is a long wharf from which to fish. There is also a tide pool that the children wade in and a small sand beach next to that. On any given day you'll see lobster boats pulling in the days catch and eagles soaring about the harbor. On other days you can watch the the porpoises playing in the harbor or the
sail boats from the yacht racing. You can wander out on the
rocks and picnic or bring back mussels for dinner. Have a cook out or lobster bake and relax into the evening around the campfire if you like listening to the loons after dark. Life does not get any better than here.
From this point on there are turnouts along the way for you to park and hike more trails, pause, relax or spend the day and take in the spectacular views of the islands, sea and wildlife. The natural seawalls on the east side of the park are another favorite place to explore an enjoy the day. Several islands of various sizes, also part of the park, are close to shore including Little Moose Island, Schoodic Island, Pond Island, and Rolling Island. A couple of which you can walk to at low tide.
If you don't want to hike up to the summit, on the left side of the park road near West Pond Cove there is a narrow gravel road that winds its way to the top of Schoodic Head the highest point on the peninsula. Its 440 foot peak offers panoramic views north of the penininsula and mountains and south straight out into the open Atlantic Ocean, and Frenchmans Bay to the west. On a clear day you can see east to the Petit Manan lighthouse and preserve on the next peninsula over.
Schoodic Point, at the most southern tip of the peninsula, has granite outcroppings and surf. People come from all over to watch the surf as storms or hurricanes passing by sometimes hundreds of miles away break against the rocks and throw spray fifty feet or more in the air. It really is something to see. There is ample parking space for visitors and it is well worth the trip any day.
And finally, to see the coast of Maine as it should be seen. Book a cruise out to see the puffins on Petit Manan Island. They are a beautifully colored yet odd looking bird that to me look more like a painted porcelain collectable than a real bird. In the summer they breed on just a few islands off the coast of northern Maine. Or go out on the ferry. Combined both legs of the trip are a 14 mile leisurely 1 hour trip. First out by Mark Island Light, then around Grindstone point and then either through the narrows between Turtle and Spectacle Islands or through the halibut hole and into Frenchmens Bay to the docks downtown Bar Harbor and back. Along the way you'll round many beautiful islands with the occasional cabin and see vistas that will last a lifetime. Whatever you desire, sightseeing, shopping, hiking, biking, , swimming, canoeing a lake or pond, fishing, golf, sailing, bird watching, cross country skiing, the list goes on and as I said before, you can have remote, secluded, quiet or crowds anytime you want, it's your call. You can have it or get to it from here.
I met someone at the docks a few years ago from NJ and he said it better than I can "its like being in heaven". Do yourself a favor this year, come see!