I love the beauty of America’s National Parks. Situated on Mount Desert Island on the coast of Maine is Acadia National Park, 41,000 acres of glacier-carved granite and forests with gorgeous ocean views.
Any visit to Acadia should start at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, conveniently located at the entrance to the park. There is a relief map of the park showing you the different points of interest. You’ll want to talk to a park ranger to plan your stay. Your visit should be no less than than a half-day, but I’d recommend at least one full day or longer. Rangers can tell you about scheduled programs and make recommendations on hikes and sights to see. There is a 20-mile loop road through the park and you’ll need to decide where to stop along the way.
Before the start of the loop road, you’ll pass the town of Bar Harbor. It is a cute town with lots of restaurants and gift shops, exactly what parents with small children in tow might want to avoid. We arrived during low tide, when a natural land bridge connects Bar Harbor to Bar Island. If you decide to visit Bar Island, make sure you know the tide schedule so that you don’t get stranded on the island after the tide comes in. We didn’t go all the way to Bar Island, but did go exploring on the land bridge. My kids were fascinated by mussels and other sea life that normally lives beneath the surface.
Past Bar Harbor is the start of the loop road, much of which is one-way. There are overlooks and places to park while you get out and explore. The views are fantastic and there are lots of rocks for the kids to climb on and burn some energy.
There is even a Sand Beach where you can swim, but the water temperature rarely exceeds 55 degrees. Brrrrrr! We didn’t stop because we had some beach visits planned later in our trip. One of the points of interest recommended to us by a ranger was Thunder Hole. A small cavern just under the surface of the water results in a thunderous sound and a big splash when waves come crashing in.
We planned our day to include afternoon tea and popovers at Jordan Pond House. The tradition of having tea and popovers first began in the late 1800s to accommodate the sophisicated upper class park visitors who were accustomed to having tea each afternoon. Today you can dine indoors or outdoors on the lawn. You don’t need to dress up for tea and the views and the popovers are fantastic. I recommend dining on the lawn and consider this a must-do activity! There are other items on the menu if you’d like to have a full lunch. If you’d like to try their yummy popovers, but don’t plan to be in Maine anytime soon, you can find the recipe here.
Refreshed by our popovers, we ventured to Bubble Rock, a rock that looks precariously balanced on the side of a cliff. Don’t worry–you can push it all you want and it won’t fall off. It was a fun kid-friendly hike and we made it to the summit. It looks out over Jordan Pond and you can even see Jordan Pond House in the distance.
We ended our day at Cadillac Mountain, where we watched the sunset. My youngest wasn’t impressed. She said it looked just like the sunsets at home. The other two got caught up in the moment.
Don’t you just love the family bonding that comes from exploring new places together?
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