Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine, originally incorporated as Eden on February 23, 1796, has a world renowned ambiance that blends seashore community, Downeast character, and the famous Maine Lobster. Part of Hancock County, it is the best known town on Mount Desert Island with an approximate population of 5,235 (per year 2010 census) and 28,800 scenic acres. Included within the municipality are the villages of Hulls Cove, Salisbury Cove, and Town Hill, as is a large portion of Acadia National Park. Because of this, people often refer to it all as being part of the same concept and place, as well as the same state of mind.

Bar Harbor sits in a particular coastal part of the State referred to as “Down East” Maine. This term has a long history dating back over two hundred years when large schooners, filled with goods on their way back to England or elsewhere in Europe, had to sail down wind to the east - hence, Down East. While visiting, you will often hear the tell-tail sound of a “Mainer” speaking with that special Down East accent. Bar Harbor is pronounced like “Bah-Hah-Bah” and lobster sounds like “lob-stah!” (You may want to begin practicing now.)

Unrivaled Beauty

Bar Harbor is known for its stunning coastal beauty, its many yachts and lobster boats, and its view of islands and ocean in settings that can range from glistening sunlight to thick fog and mist. It slows our lives down so we may appreciate nature and the relationships with those whom we love even more. This is a community where people live in harmony with the land in which they live. Bar Harbor is a lifestyle, an aspiration, and a very special place. It is the center of activity for many island visitors seeking a variety of shops, restaurants, taverns, hotels, or bed and breakfasts as well as easy access to the forests and shores of Acadia National Park.

Autumn in Bar Harbor, Maine
Foggy night next to fountain in Bar Harbor

Special Places

Bar Harbor, Maine is home to College of the Atlantic, a unique and inspired college whose primary focus is in the relationships between humans and the environment. The college is on the ocean side of Route 3 as you approach the town. Jackson Lab, the world's largest mammalian genetic research facility, is here as well. For those who are not familiar with its name, the Jackson Lab is at the forefront of the genetics revolution that is transforming contemporary medicine. Wild Gardens of Acadia (at Sieur de Monts Spring in Acadia National Park), features over 200 species of plants, trees and shrubs indigenous to the island. Abbe Museum, also at Sieur de Monts Spring, has a year-round location in Bar Harbor across the street from the Village Green, a park in the center of town. The focus of both museums is on the Native American culture and its history in Maine. Agamont Park sits next to the public pier overlooking the harbor, its activities, and islands.

Bar Harbor Shore Path

There is a picturesque and historic Shore Path you should walk on at least one morning during your visit or anytime during the day. The path, originally created about 1880, begins near the town pier and Agamont Park, and continues for about 1/2 a mile along the eastern shore of town. Off shore to the east are the four Porcupine Islands which are especially beautiful at sunrise. Be sure to select the link on this page to view the pictures taken from this Shore Path.

Directly north of the town pier is Bar Island. This island is accessible by foot at low tide and provides a spectacular view of the town of Bar Harbor with the mountains behind it. Be sure to plan ahead and allow enough time so that you do not get stranded or wet! See this fireworks picture for a view from there.

Schooner at sunrise
Schooner at sunrise

On the Water & More

Several cruise ships such as the majestic Queen Mary visit this Maine harbor town providing their passengers with one of the most unique visual experiences available on the east coast of North America. (see panoramic) For people wanting water related recreation, there is whale watching, kayaking, and some narrated tours of a few of the islands. The views from the ocean of the mountains of Mount Desert Island are striking.

For those wanting to leave the driving to someone else, the Free Island Explorer Shuttle Bus makes regular stops on the western side of The Village Green in the center of town. For area lodging, dining, activity, and Park information, please use the links at the top or bottom of this page. Be sure to click the smaller pictures to see larger versions and the larger ones to see the next in a series.

Helpful Information

  • Entrance Fees - Park Entrance Fees
  • Fire Department: (207) 288-5554
  • Golf Courses - Regional
  • GPS for Town Pier: Latitude 44.392087; Longitude -68.204052
  • GPS for Village Green: Latitude 44.387694; Longitude -68.205155
  • Hospital: (207) 288-5081  Emergencies: (207) 288-8439
  • Library, Jesup Memorial: (207) 288-4245
  • Municipal Phone Number: (207) 288-4098
  • Movie Theater: Reel Pizza Cinerama  (207) 288-3811
  • Street Map
  • Weddings - Info about having a wedding ceremony

Sound Advice

Greg A. Hartford, photographer, author, publisherThrough my travels, I have met many people who have told me that they have been to Maine. Perhaps it was just once just to say that they had. When I would ask them what they thought or what they saw, it soon became apparent that they just crossed into the southwestern flat part of the State, across the border with New Hampshire and stopped in York for instance. I might have made a little sound, something like a low level “chuckle.” Perhaps I used the word “Wow” immediately after. I would tell them that they have no idea how much they missed by stopping there. The coast gets noticeable rugged further north culminating in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. I would assure them that they owed it to themselves to make that trip. They would surely love it. My opinion about this has never wavered. Some advise is very sound advice. And this is the best of any advice. “Find the time. You owe it to yourselves!”