Maine - Acadia National Forest - Part 4 of 5
If you are just now joining us, please check out the beginning of our five part series on Maine here. It's been quite a journey so far involving bar hopping with a couple of strangers, a trip to the Portland Headlight and the best lobster roll on the planet! No Joke!
On the fourth day of our trip to Maine, we were headed to the nation's oldest national park, Acadia, established in 1929 and located primarily on Mount Desert Island. We made it to Bar Harbor (the main destination town) around 11:00 AM and found our way to Café This Way where we ate brunch. After the couple hour drive the coffee was very welcomed.
Michal and I checked in early to the Black Friar Inn & Pub, a quaint 1800s 'cottage’ right near the heart of town. We dropped our bags, rejoined the family and headed into the national park. Our first stop was a trail called The Ocean Path; we walked a couple of miles to Thunder Hole. This is the name of the natural cavity that formed in the coastline and when it’s high tide the waves crashing in sound like thunder claps. Luckily the weather was perfect for hiking and clear for us to take in the spectacular views of the tall pine trees, rocky coastline and endless blue ocean.
After Thunder Hole, we headed to Thuya Gardens, where we walked through beautifully kept rows of gardens full of indigenous flowers and shrubs. It was well cared for with gardeners working around the beds and available to chat with about the flowers, etc. It was a bit of a break from walking and a perfect segue way before lunch.
On the way to lunch, we made an executive decision to stop at a very short hike called Little Hunters Beach Trail which as it sounds led to the beach wound through dense Maine woods.
We followed along a creek, walked on wooden planks and passed by rock formations before opening up to a spectacular view. What was unique about this location is the isolation of this little rocky beach and the closeups of the rugged coastline. Short walk with a huge payoff, highly suggest.
Ok, back to lunch time. We wove through the dense forest on the island to a restaurant called Thurston's Lobster Pond. Thurston’s sits on a dock and looks like your classic lobster shack. Buoys lined the outside of the shack and the bay was full of little fishing boats. Great patio to sit out and enjoy the fresh air (and it didn’t smell like the fish which is always a plus). You can pick your own lobster right there on the counter if you’re getting boiled lobster. Though Red's Eats still takes the cake for the best lobster roll, Thurston's takes the cake for the freshest…I swear it was just caught and from the looks of my environment (on a dock) it more than likely just was! Amazing!
Before the day came to an end we had one more place to visit, the top of Cadillac Mountain. The view from Cadillac Mountain really wrapped it altogether. We could see the tiny town of Bar Harbor off in the distance surrounded by a thick forest in one direction, cruise ships drifting by in another and mountains in the other directions. It’s a fun winding drive up to the top with beautiful views the whole way up; another can’t miss location to check out. Plenty of trails too but we just took the drive up.
With little daylight left we headed back down to Bar Harbor for one last treat before Michal and I parted ways with her family.
That treat was ice cream at one of the family’s favorite stops on the island, Ben & Bill's Chocolate Emporium. They have all kinds of flavors of ice cream (lobster for instance…), fudge and various other candies. Neither of us tried the lobster ice cream though. Cones in hand, said our goodbyes to her family and walked down to the harbor just in time to catch the sunset.
The evening continued to be clear, the setting sun painting the sky and water purple, blue and orange, and lots of people out enjoying the evening with us.
After the sun set, we explored the streets of Bar Harbor, checking out the tourist shops before eventually landing at Bar Harbor Beer Works, where I got to sample (12 oz samples) some of the local IPAs. I had a New England Style Pale Ale in New England!
We hit up one more bar, The Thirsty Whale Tavern before calling it a night. We were beat from the day’s hiking and exploring.
The next morning, we wandered through the last of the gift shops in Bar Harbor before eating brunch at Two Cat's Bistro, named for the cats that live in the home the restaurant is built into. This was our favorite brunch location in town. Michal had the blueberry pancakes which were the best she had on the whole trip. We took in the last moments of Bar Harbor before heading out for the last stop of our trip, Old Orchard Beach.