Maine is famed for more than lobster rolls and an epic moose population; it’s also the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world, hence my “wild” for blueberries pun! The New England fishing village offers some of the worlds best culinary delights, an abundance of nature experiences, blueberry traditions, and a down to earth vibe that combines to create a peaceful escape, like something Ernest Hemingway would recount in one of his novels.
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Almost every travel guide you find online about Bar Harbor includes Acadia National Park. In my opinion, this doesn’t do the park or the quintessential New England town of Bar Harbor any justice! In no way, could I cover all the intricacies and quaint details of Bar Harbor and Acadia in one article. You wouldn’t even be able to get halfway through. For more info on my trip to Acadia, you can read my previous post September Travels: A Maine Escape at Acadia National Park.
This post is dedicated solely to Bar Harbor.
FIRST STOP: BAR ISLAND
Our walk started on West Street right on the edge of the water. The first interesting thing we came along was the low tide that accentuated Bar Island. Many don’t know how the town of Bar Harbor got its name. Interestingly enough, it drew its name from the sand bar that appears during low tide that connects Bar Island to Mount Desert Island. At sunset, as the ocean recedes inward, the sand bar appears. Cars flock to the sand bar and people take this opportunity to cross over to Bar Island. But be aware – low tide does not last for long and if you don’t come back in time, you will be stuck out on the island all night!
A couple of blocks down you begin to encounter the first signs of the bustling fishing village. A few restaurants and stores begin to appear here and there and one of the first you come across is Naked Blueberry. Before you even get to the heart of Bar Harbor, they prepare you in advance for the how wild they are for Wild blueberry-flavored foods and drinks.
Blueberry Ale, Wine, Margaritas, Pie, Muffins, Ice Cream, and Pancakes, you name it they make it! Although Lobster is the signature flavor in this vacation spot, blueberry is the true King. In fact, just 45 minutes from Bar Harbor stands the “Blueberry Capital of the World”—Cherryfield. Blueberry festivals that include pie-eating contests, bake-offs, road races and blueberry spitting contests (I kid you not!) are not an anomaly in this area. We all know the benefits of the superfood, but to the State of Maine, it is the State Fruit, Dessert and much more.
SECOND STOP: THE BIG HUMPBACK WHALE STATUE
Stewman’s Downtown Restaurant can’t be missed with its colorful buoys covering the outside of the restaurant and the smell of fresh lobster spilling out into the streets. Walk out to the back of their restaurant and it connects to a dock with a huge statue of a Humpback Whale. One of Maine’s many beauties, aside from its National Park, are its humpback, finback, Minke and right whales. If you are truly looking to connect with nature, take one of the many boat tours offered out to see some of the world’s largest living creatures from the months of April to October before they head South for warmer seas.
THIRD STOP: MAIN STREET
At the edge of the town is a small park on a hill, at the intersection of West Street and Main Street, where one can sit down and watch the sunset over the Porcupine Islands. One of the things I loved most about Bar Harbor’s North Eastern fishing village were the number of signs that hung outside every restaurant, shop, and hotel’s door on Main Street. Every time you would look up you would find these colorful and creative signs that would reel you in (no pun intended!) into the shops. Lobster signs, whale signs, car signs, pub signs, you name it – they had it. One of the main restaurants even has a lit up Moose on its rooftop! I was convinced it was a reindeer at first…but I found it quite odd since it was the end of September.
Main Street is when you get the chance to truly explore Bar Harbor’s many restaurants, Blueberry filled foods and drinks (I myself had Blueberry wine with dinner and Blueberry Pie for dessert!), coastal and preppy apparel shops, Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium (where people would stop to get Blueberry ice cream and take a picture with the lobster) and, of course, no town is complete without a Psychic shop.
FOURTH STOP: ROUTE 66 RESTAURANT
One of my favorite restaurants was just off Main Street on Cottage Street. Route 66 Restaurant had a small alleyway leading up to the door. The entrance was preceded by a number of road signs all with cute directions and sayings to the restaurant. The alleyway was paved to look like a road and at the end were an antique gas dispenser and a big yellow car sticking out of the restaurant! It was truly an experience.
There were so many other restaurants and food specialties to taste in Bar Harbor, but I unfortunately did not get the chance to indulge in them all. As always, my time in Bar Harbor was limited to 36 hours. I will definitely be going back and exploring more of Bar Harbor’s treats, take a Whale watching tour and maybe next time I’ll even get to see a Moose! But till then, all that remains is a lasting memory, one that I’ll want to recreate again and again.
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