The Best 4 Day Itinerary Acadia National Park

Last Updated April 21, 2021

Acadia National Park Itinerary

Table of Contents

As one of the oldest and most visited National Parks in the US, Acadia National Park has it all. From rugged coastlines, to mountain top trails, and a multitude of activities to fill your days, it’s the perfect place to spend an extra long weekend.

The best 4 Day Itinerary in Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor, Maine that works for families, couples, and visitors from around the world includes:

Read on for an overview of all the things you need to know about the National Park and Bar Harbour before you go. Followed by a more in depth activity guide for the ideal 4 day family friendly itinerary, plus a 3 day option as well. We hope you stick around, there’s so much more to explore.

This is why Acadia is on our family’s East Coast bucket list. We were considering a road trip down to Maine while in Nova Scotia for a wedding this year, before travel restrictions hit. This itinerary is the one I planned for our family, that will work for yours too!

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of the links and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you! See full disclosure and disclaimer policy here 

Acadia National Park Tips – What You Need To Know

Acadia National Park is located on Mount Desert Island in northern Maine, across the water from Nova Scotia, Canada.

The majority of things to do are on the eastern side & in Bar Harbor. The western side is quieter and less visited, but has some great hikes, gardens and gorgeous views, so save some time for this section of the island.

There are no lodgings within the park itself, so for this trip we suggest your home base be Bar Harbor, Maine.

If you prefer camping, there are two campgrounds located in the park itself, one on the Schoodic Peninsula, and five lean-to shelters on Isle au Haut. More on lodgings later.

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Hulls Visitor Center

From May to October, make your first stop at the Hulls Visitor Centre, to pick up maps, and gather information for your day in the park. Hours are usually 8:30am to 4:30 pm daily. Holiday hours vary. The park rangers are super friendly and can give helpful advice for trails and parking.

If you visit in the winter season from Nov 1 – to mid April, park info is available from rangers at the Chamber of Commerce, located at 2 Cottage St. (the corner of Cottage and Main streets) in downtown Bar Harbor. Hours are 8am to 4pm daily, and holiday hours vary.

Visiting Acadia With Pets – Dog Friendly Trails and Campgrounds

Pets (including dogs) are allowed in some areas of Acadia National Park, but must be on a leash no longer than 6ft / 2m, including on the trails. Here are some dog friendly areas and rules:

  • Pets are permitted on 100 miles / 161 km of hiking trails and 45 miles / 72 km of the carriage roads
  • Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods campgrounds permit pets
  • Isle au Haut permits pets for day hiking only
  • Pets should not be left unattended. Pets left in vehicles in warm weather is especially dangerous
  • Owners are responsible for removing pet waste.
  • Service animals are allowed to accompany their owners to all areas of the park

Pet Restrictions in Acadia National Park

Areas that are off limits or restricted to pets:

  • Pets and humans are not allowed to swim in most lakes as they are water supplies
  • Sand Beach (June 15-Sept 8) and Echo Lake (May 15-Sept 15)
  • Ranger led programs and public buildings
  • Wild Gardens of Acadia (Sieur de Monts)
  • Duck Harbour Campground.

Acadia Hiking Trails that pets / dogs are NOT allowed on:

  • Beehive
  • Precipice
  • Beech Cliffs Trail
  • Ladder Trail to Dorr Mountain
  • Perpendicular Trail (Mansell Mountain)
  • Jordan Cliffs Trail between Penobscot East Trail and the carriage road

There are also a few areas where it is NOT recommended to bring your pet / dog:

  • Acadia Mountain
  • Bubble and Jordan Ponds Path (between the carriage road & Featherbed pond)
  • Bubbles-Pemetic Trail
  • Cadillac Mountain- west face
  • Flying Mountain
  • Giant Slide
  • Norembega Goat Trail
  • Penobscot Mountain (Spring) Trail
  • Upper Beachcroft Trail
  • Upper Gorge Trail

Winter in Acadia

Winter time in Acadia offers amazing cross country skiing, and snowshoeing on the carriage roads, as well as ice fishing. Safe winter hiking trails include Ship Harbor, Ocean Path and carriage roads.

Please note the Park Loop road is only open April 15 – December 1. Jordan Pond Road and parts of Ocean Drive are open and plowed in the winter.

COVID Measures in Acadia National Park

At this time masks are required in all National Park Services buildings and facilities, along with their managed lands where physical distancing is not possible, such as with narrow, popular trails, overlooks and historic homes. This includes Acadia National Park.

Please check Maine’s website, for the most up to date traveller’s information on COVID and entry requirements, before heading to Acadia National Park.

What is the best time to visit Acadia National Park?

The best time to visit Acadia National Park is from the end of May into the fall. After Labor Day until mid-September is less busy, with good weather, before the leaf peeping crowds arrive. Mid -September until mid October is best for fall colours. Visit early October for peak fall foliage in the park.

How many days do you need for Acadia National Park?

To make the most of Acadia National Park, you will need at least 3-4 days. If you are planning on exploring the Schoodic Peninsula section of the Park, or taking day trips from Bar Harbor, you could spend a week or more in the area.

We’ve planned out a 4 day itinerary in Acadia and around Bar Harbor, but if you have less time, days one and two hit the major highlights of the area. I’ve also provided a long weekend, 3 day option. Or just pick and choose whatever catches your fancy.

There are so many amazing sights, hiking trails and activities to do in this area, you can’t go wrong.

Sailboats, Bar Harbour, Maine
Sailboats in Bar Harbour, early morning
Photo: “rabbit_jake via canva.com”

Park Hours & Entrance Fees

Acadia National Park in Maine is open 24 hours year-round, and you will need a pass to enter and park from May to October. To avoid line ups, buy your park pass online. Vehicle and per person passes are good for seven days and cost:

  • Private Vehicle: $30
  • Motorcycle: $25
  • No Car: $15 per person
  • Youth 15 and under: Free
  • Annual Pass: $55

PRO TIP: Buy an annual America the Beautiful Park Pass to save money on National Park and Federal Rec Sites entrance fees.

Covers entrance fees for driver and passengers, which is especially useful if you are planning on a long road trip or visiting more than one park in a year.

The Hulls Visitor Center is open daily from mid April until October from 8:30 am – 4: 30 pm (new hours). Pick up your shuttle bus map and the required park pass here if you forgot to buy one online.

  • Visitors to the Cadillac Summit Road will require a vehicle reservation for the summer 2021 season, during sunrise and daylight hours. So be sure to plan ahead.
  • Other areas of the park, and entering by foot or bike do not require reservations.

As things are constantly changing, it is a good idea to check the National Park website for all the latest news and requirements, before you book your trip.

Insider Tip: The park offers free shuttle service with your park entrance fee that can take you most anywhere you want to go. So if you don’t want the hassle of trying to find a parking spot, which can be challenging during peak tourist season, the free seasonal Island Explorer shuttle is highly recommended.

NOTE: The shuttle typically runs June to October and is intending to run for the 2021 season.

Can you drive to Acadia National Park?

It is possible to drive to Acadia National Park from adjacent cities and states, and makes a great New England Fall Foliage Road Trip. Some common routes, distances and approximate driving times to the park include:

  • Portland, ME: 170 mi / 274 km, 3 hours
  • Bangor, ME: 50 mi / 80.5 km, 1 hour
  • Boston, MA: 264 mi / 425 km, 5 hours
  • New York City, NY: 482 mi / 775 km, 9 hours
  • Saint John, NB: 227 mi, / 291 km, 5 hours
  • Montreal, QU: 370 mi / 595 km, 8 hours
  • Halifax, NS: 437 mi / 703 km, 9 hours

How to get to Acadia National Park?

Most tourists fly into Bangor International Airport, then either rent a car, or take the bus or shuttle into Bar Harbor, Maine. Once in Bar Harbor, the entrance to Acadia National Park is only a 5-10 minute drive or shuttle ride away.

Travel Options from Bangor, MaineTransportationAvailabilityTimeCost
Rent A CarBook in advance onlineFlexible1 hour Varies
Take a BusDowneast TransportationMonday to Friday (limited schedule)1.5 hours$9
Take the ShuttleBar Harbor – Bangor ShuttleJune through October – by reservation1 hour 15 minstarts at $50 one way
Travel Options from Bangor to Bar Harbour, Maine

Where to Stay in Acadia National Park, Maine?

Now all you need is a cozy place to stay. As Acadia does not have lodgings in the park itself, we recommend a stay nearby in iconic Bar Harbor, or Southwest Harbor, on the other side of the island.

Campground in Acadia National Park

If you are set on staying inside the park, camping is the only option, which allows easy access to hiking, open night skies and fun. They are typically open mid May – mid October.

You may also like Camping gift ideas for kids to prepare for your Acadia trip.

Inn on Mount Desert – Bar Harbor

The Inn on Mount Desert, combines all the best things of a clean modern boutique hotel, with the coastal decor and nautical feel of a charming Bar Harbour bed and breakfast.

What guests love: Guests rave about the breakfast. The inn is conveniently located only a 10 minute walk to the waterfront, a 5 minute walk to the shops & restaurants in downtown Bar Harbor and 1 mile (1.6km) from the park itself.

The Bar Harbor Inn & Spa – Bar Harbor, ME

The sprawling 8 acre oceanside property of the Bar Harbor Inn, offers beautiful views, an infinity edge pool and two hot tubs, plus a spa.

What guests love: Convenient access to main street in 5 minutes, and a 10 minute drive to the park. Stunning sunset views, instant access to the shore path and a delicious continental breakfast. Enjoy freshly baked warm cookies in the afternoon. Family friendly accommodations.

Eden Village Motel & Cottages – Bar Harbor

The Eden Village Motel & Cottages are a sweet option for families, friends or couples looking for a more affordable option. Eden offers simple and comfortable motel rooms, some which have connecting units, as well as 11 cottages.

What guests love: The simple, clean accommodations, with kitchenettes, outside grills and cottages that sleep 6. For kids young and old, there is a playground, pedal boats and pond. Some units are pet / dog friendly. Minutes from Acadia and downtown Bar Harbor, ME.

Drydock Inn & Cafe – Southwest Harbor

For a quieter escape, the cozy Drydock Inn and Cafe is well regarded by families, and those looking to be close, but not too close to the action.

What guests love: Exceptional service, onsite restaurant. Museum and whale watching close by. The more relaxing atmosphere on the quieter side of the island while still being close to everything.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK ITINERARY

4 Day Acadia National Park Itinerary

Day One: Best of Acadia & Park Loop Road

It’s easy to see why Acadia National Park is one of the top National Parks in the US, between gorgeous sunrises, hiking trails, carriage roads, and beaches, there are so many fantastic activities to do.

For day one you will be heading out on the Park Loop Road which takes you to all the major highlights and attractions in Acadia National Park.

The 27 km Loop Road drive takes about 3-4 hours, if you stop and go while enjoying mountainous scenery, and rugged coastline.

What to Pack: You will be spending the day out here, so pack your camera, beach bag (towel, swimsuit, sunscreen, sunhat), water and snacks.

Don’t forget to bring along backpacks for the kids, so they can carry their own snacks, water and change of clothes for your daily adventures!

EARLY MORNING: Cadillac Mountain Sunrise (Optional)

Dawn Cadillac Mountain Maine
Acadia National Park, Maine: Sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain.
photo: “ultima_gaina / istock.com”

If you are a morning person, watching the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain will be your first order of business. This is the first place to view the sunrise in the United States from early October through March, and is a popular place early morning.

Arrive early to grab your parking spot (at least an hour before sunrise to be safe). Remember, you will also need a vehicle reservation for the summer season, if you are visiting Cadillac Mountain for sunrise, or during daylight hours.

If you can’t fathom getting up early on vacation, or are travelling with teenagers who aren’t pleasant before noon, visit Cadillac Mountain for sunset.

Then head out on the Park Loop Road to your next destination, Sand Beach & the Beehive Trail or Ocean Path.

MORNING: Sand Beach, Beehive Trail or Ocean Path Trail & Thunder Hole

You will find parking in the Sand Beach parking lot, or on the right lane of the Loop Road (watch the signs). From here you can hit the beach and both of the hiking trails.

Choose the Beehive Trail if you are looking for a hike of moderate difficulty.

The Ocean Path is rated an easy trail, so choose that one if you want an all-ages family friendly trail, or are looking for a more leisurely oceanside stroll.

Beehive Trail – Moderate Difficulty

Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park – Beehive Trail View
Photo:”istock.com / Douglas Rissing”

The Beehive Trail is a somewhat easier version of the Precipice Trail. However you will still need to be able to climb metal rungs & fearlessly walk cliff edges, so not recommended for very young children.

It’s a fairly strenous 0.8 mile (1.3 km) hike because of the steep grade and steady climb. Go early to avoid the crowds.

For a slightly longer hike (2 miles / 3.2 km), return via the Bowl Trail. You’ll be rewarded with more amazing views and a hike by a beautiful lake.

Insider Tip: If you are looking for more adventure on an advanced trail, the well known Precipice Trail is a 5 minute drive up the road.

More New England fun: 20 Amazing Things To Do in Stowe, VT (That Families Love) You may also like our detailed guide to one day in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Ocean Path – Easy

Ocean Path, Acadia Park, Maine

The Ocean Path is a great family friendly alternative for those with young children, or anyone who wants an easy oceanside trail.

This path begins near Sand Beach and runs parallel to Park Loop Road and the ocean 0.7 miles past Thunder Hole all the way to Otter Cliff and Otter Point, (4miles or 6.4km one way).

Return the way you came, or flag down the Island Explorer shuttle when it is running, and bus back to your car or Bar Harbour.

Sand Beach

After your hike, head to the beach for some sand, sun and relaxation. Explore the tidal pools, build a sandcastle, then go for a cool dip in the ocean.

Sand Beach View, Acadia, ME
Sand Beach – Acadia National Park
Photo: ” EJJohnson Photography / canva.com”

You may also like: What To Pack For a Summer Beach Vacation (with Kids) and Road Trip Food List – Snacks!

Thunder Hole

After a relaxing beach morning, head out on the road again towards Jordan Pond House for lunch. Along the way be sure to stop at Thunder Hole if you chose the Bee Hive hiking trail this morning.

Thunder Hole is where the spectacular sight of crashing of waves meets thunderous booms, as water is forced through a rock crevice and into a small cave. The noise is loudest 1-2 hours before high tide, or just after a storm.

If you have time stop at Otter Point and walk the southern tip of Mount Desert Island.

AFTERNOON: Jordan Pond House & Hike

Jordan Pond House and Trail is a fun way to spend an afternoon. The Tea House is perched on a lawn overlooking the pond for which it is named, and glacier errants called “The Bubbles“.

Their menu spans everything from local lobster and scallops, to stews, chowders and sandwiches, and of course their famous popovers. Choose an outside table in warm weather.

The Jordan Pond Loop Trail is an easy 3.4 mile roundtrip hike, which takes you around the pond. An ideal family friendly hike, as you be walking on fairly flat well groomed surfaces. The last mile is over raised wooden boardwalk along the wetlands.

Jordan Pond and Bubble Mountains, Maine
Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park
Photo: “diane39 / canva.com”

For a more moderate hike, loop into the South Bubble Trail, which will take you to a balanced rock, Bubble Rock. Be sure to take the iconic photo of you trying to push the rock off the cliff edge. After a millenia, it’s still there, so good luck!

South Bubble Trail, Acadia Park
Bubble Rock, A Glacial Erratic Boulder, at Acadia National Park, Maine, USA
Photo: ” istock.com/DougLemke”

Insider Tip: As the only full service resturant in Acadia, Jordan Pond House can be overcrowded. Who doesn’t want to try one of their popovers? To avoid a long wait, reserve your lunch date online before you go. If you forgot to reserve, pick up a sandwich or snack at the shop and head out on the trail for a picnic. They are open usually from April to October.

Day Two: Explore Bar Harbour

Bar Harbour, Maine is a bustling coastal town, and a popular home base for visitors to nearby Acadia National Park. It is the shopping, dining, and nightlife centre of Mount Desert Island. Here you can also book tours of all sorts from boat & whale watching tours, to carriage rides in the park.

Bar Harbour has some of New England’s best restaurants. The seafood, craft beer and locally roasted coffee are highlights. Be sure to save room for dessert.

What to Pack: You’ll be walking on sand / gravel to Bar Harbour Island, so bring or wear beach shoes, camera, sun hat, sunscreen, water, snacks, and a light sweater or long sleeve shirt.

MORNING: Walk to Bar Island – Bar Harbor

Start your morning off by walking the land bridge to Bar Island, followed by a stroll out downtown Bar Harbor, and a visit to Abbe Museum.

Check the timing for low tide as Bar Harbour Island is only reachable along the sand bar for about the 1.5 hours before and up to 1.5 hours after low tide. Shift your plans accordingly. If you get stranded on the island, it’s an expensive water taxi ride back (but at least there are options).

If you are heading up West Street watch for the signpost that indicates where to turn onto Bridge Street to reach the Bar Island Path. Dogs are allowed on the island and its trails if leashed.

On the island you will find hiking trails, and picturesque views of Bar Harbor, and Frenchman Bay, but no washroom facitilies.

Once on Bar Island, the trail (an old road) heads up through the forest. At the first junction, right will take you to an old home site, the left will take you up to the highest point of the island. Both offer gorgeous views of Bar Harbor.

Bar Harbor, Maine: Visit Downtown, Abbe Museum & Walk the Shore Path

Bar Harbor is best explored by foot. Stroll along Main Street for cute shops, restaurants and a sweet treat.

Bar Harbour Downtown
Downtown Bar Harbor, Maine: Shops and restaurants with an ocean view.
photo: “istock.com / paulaandreaonline”

If you are feeling particularly brave, try the lobster ice cream at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium on Main Street. If that doesn’t satisy your sweet tooth, they also offer 70+ other flavours of ice cream and gelato, as well as homemade fudge, chocolates and candy.

End your morning with a promenade along the Shore Path. Follow the half-mile walkway, from Ells Pier to Wayman Lane, down the east shore. Along the way, you’ll be delighted by many iconic sights; the Bar Harbor Inn, Porcupine Islands, Balance Rock and Egg Rock Light.

Now that you’ve enjoyed the incredible scenery, it is time to learn about the history and culture of the Wabanaki, the original people of Maine.

The Abbe Museum and it’s satellite branch in the park is the only Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Maine. Abbe features permanent and changing exhibits, as well as special events throughout the year.

Abbe Museum Historic Building Maine
Bar Harbour, Maine, USA: The Abbe Museum
Photo: “istock.com / carso80”

AFTERNOON: Boat Tour

This pick is for the kids. Diver Ed’s Dive-in Theater Boat Cruise is a unique and fun way to spend two hours. Board the “Starfish Enterprise,” and head out on the water to a special diving spot.

Watch a live video as Diver Ed descends to the bottom of Frenchman Bay. Then enjoy the interactive part of the show as he brings back a touch tank full of sea creatures you can observe and handle.

If touching sea cucumbers and star fish are not your cup o’ sea (har har), there are plentiful tour options to head out on the water; whale watching, lobster boats, kayaks, stand up paddle boarding, sailing and more.

Acadia National Park also offers 2 – 4.5 hour ranger guided boat tours. Here kids can also touch sea life, look out for seals, porpoises, and sea birds, as well as explore island life and learn some maritime history of the area. Check out all their ranger programs here.

Lobster Dinner

Lobster Sign Restaurant Bar Harbour, ME
A wooden sign in front of a lobster at a restaurant in Bar Harbor (Maine, USA)
Photo: “istock.com / carso80”

If you love lobster as much as my partner does, then you definitely want to make sure to plan a special lobster dinner or two. The grocery stores will even cook one up for you if you want a cheaper option to take back to your hotel, or for a fancy picnic by the sea.

If seafood doesn’t appeal, there are retaurants and cuisine to suit everyone’s palate. Below is just a taste of what Bar Harbor has to offer. Many restaurants and cafes are seasonal, and open only May to October.

A few places we were interested in trying for Breakfast:

  • Cafe This Way: Locally sourced foods, eggs benny, blueberry pancakes, breakfast fare – 14 Mt. Desert St, Bar Harbor, ME (open seasonally)
  • Chocco-Latte: Homemade bagels, coffee & hot chocolate, breakfast sandwiches – 240 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME
  • Coffee Hound Coffee Bar: Crepes & fancy coffees – 27 Main St B, Bar Harbor, ME (open seasonally)

A few restaurants we were interested in trying for Lunch & Dinner:

  • Side Street Cafe: Soups & Sandwiches, Lobster rolls & stew – 49 Rodick St, Bar Harbor, ME
  • Thrive Juice Bar & Kitchen: Smoothies, fresh juice, salads, wraps – 51 Rodick Street, Bar Harbor, ME (open seasonally)
  • Geddy’s: “Wood-fired” Pizza, Burgers – 9 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME
  • Galyn’s: fish, seafood, steak, prime rib – 17 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME
  • Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound Lobster & Seafood – 1237 Bar Harbor Rd., Trenton, ME (open seasonally)
  • Thurston’s Lobster Pound – 9 Thurston Rd, Bernard, ME (open seasonally) – Close to Bass Harbor Lighthouse

Day Three: Acadia Carriage Roads & Asticou Gardens

For day three we will be returning to Acadia Park to explore the Carriage Road system by bike, foot or horse drawn carriage and the Japanese / Azalea Gardens within Asticou Gardens.

If meandering through colourful gardens doesn’t appeal, the drive to Northeast Harbor is a beautiful alternative. There you will find a quaint village, at the entrance to Somes Sound, and waters dotted with yachts and sailing vessels.

What to pack: Bike, bike helmet, camera, sweater or jacket, water, snacks.

MORNING: Acadia National Park Carriage System

Rent a bike and tour around some of the forty-five miles (72 km) of rustic carriage roads, a gift from John D. Rockefeller Jr. and family.

The Acadia National Park Carriage system was built between 1913 and 1940 and weaves through the beautiful mountains, valleys and woodland roads of the park and over 17 stone bridges.

Stone Bridge Carriage Roads, Maine
Carriage Roads: One of the famous stone bridges in Acadia National Park
photo: “istock.com/Bkamprath”

For a more relaxing way to see the carriage roads, take a horse drawn carriage ride & tour. Hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and horse-drawn carriages share these roads, as no motor vehicles are allowed.

Eagle Lake and Bubble Pond access points are wheelchair accessible. Both have parking and wheelchair accessible washrooms. Other access points on Mount Desert Island include Jordan Pond, and the Hulls Cove Visitor Cente. Check out the map to plan your adventure

AFTERNOON: Asticou Gardens

The Asticou Gardens were created in 1956 by John Savage and financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. A colourful delight, these gardens are influenced by Japanese stroll garden design, with coastal Maine influences.

Stroll the trails through the azalea garden encircling Asticou Pond, as well as the mountainscape, lawn and sand gardens to name a few.

The gardens are free to enter, but the suggested donation is $5 to help support this volunteer run place.

If you love gardens, gorgeous parks, and seaside adventures, add Victoria, BC Canada to your bucket list: 25 Free and Cheap Things to do in Victoria and my top 5 favourite parks in Victoria, BC

Day 4: Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Wonderland Trail & Ship Harbor Trail

The western side of Acadia National Park is quieter, and less frequented. Our day four itinerary will take you past Southwest Harbor to the Bass Harbor Lighthouse and two family friendly hiking trails; the Wonderland Trail & Ship Harbor Trail.

What to pack: Picnic lunch, camera, sun hat, sunscreen, sweater or jacket, tide pool identification guide.

MORNING: Wonderland Trail & Ship Harbor Trail

The Wonderland and Ship Harbor Trails are located near the town of Bass Harbor on the southern tip of Mount Desert Island. Both of these trails are easy, family friendly strolls, with mostly level terrain through pine forests, ending oceanside.

Wonderland is a short, very easy trail that follows an old gravel road to rocky shoreline. This 1.5 mile hike roundtrip will take about an hour. Add more time in for tide pool exploration.

Ship Harbor Trail is also an easy 1.5 miles roundtrip hike to the ocean shore. Bring a picnic lunch or head back to Southwest Harbor for lunch, before heading back out to the lighthouse in the afternoon.

AFTERNOON: Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

The Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is one of the most famous and photographed landmarks of Acadia National Park. Constructed in 1876, the lighthouse is located at the southernmost tip of Mount Desert Island, south of Bass Harbor.

Lighthouse Bass Harbour Head, Maine
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Summer
photo: “zrfphoto / canva.com”

While you can’t go into the lighthouse itself, you can explore around the lighthouse and trails which will take you to a viewing platform. The perfect place to take that iconic rugged coastline with lighthouse in the background photo.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse is also a popular place to visit at sunset.

Other national parks to visit in the USA: Zion National Park and Tips for Zion with Kids in Utah

3 Day Itinerary Acadia National Park

If you don’t have four full days to spend in the park, here’s an outline of our suggested 3 Day Itinerary for Acadia. Perfect for a long weekend getaway.

As always, feel free to mix and match depending on interests, desired activity levels, and ages of your group. It’s a vacation, relaxation and napping are always ok!

Day One: Best of Acadia & Park Loop Road

Morning

  • Hike the Beehive Trail or Ocean Path
  • Spend time at Sand Beach, don’t forget a snack and sunscreen
  • Visit Thunderhole (If you didn’t see it on the Ocean Path Trail)

Afternoon

  • Lunch at Jordan Pond House (Be sure to try their famous popovers)
  • Hike the Jordan Pond Loop Trail

Day Two: Explore Bar Harbour

Depending on when low tide is, you may want to switch around your morning and afternoon Bar Harbour activities.

Morning

  • Walk the landbridge, across the beach to Bar Island, and wander the trails
  • Sightsee in downtown Bar Harbor: try a treat or ice cream at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, visit Abbe Museum and stroll the Harbour Pathway

Afternoon

  • Boat Tour: Many options ( Diver Ed’s, Ranger-Led Tour, whale watching, fishing and more)
  • Lobster Dinner – Yum!!

Day Three: Sunrise, Carriage Roads & Lighthouse

Morning

  • Watch the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain
  • Tour the Carriage Road system by bike or horse drawn carriage
  • Lunch Options: Bring a picnic, or pick a restaurant close to the Lighthouse (Maine-ly Delights, Seafood Ketch) or the iconic Thurston’s Lobster Pound a 10 minute drive from the Lighthouse.

Afternoon

  • Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
  • If you are up for more adventure add either the Asticou Gardens or hike along the Ship Harbor Trail

Did I miss anything you would recommend, for a 3 Day Itinerary to Acadia National Park? Let me know in the comments.

What Should You Not Miss In Acadia National Park?

So now you have a fun Acadia National Park Itinerary to inspire your next adventure. I’ll put all our suggestions in a handy list below, in case you want to create your own itinerary.

The top 21 things to do in Acadia National Park, you, your family and friends definitely should not miss:

  • Park Loop Road
  • Riding the Carriage Roads
  • Cadillac Mountain Sunrise or Sunset
  • Sand Beach
  • Beehive Trail
  • Ocean Path
  • Thunder Hole
  • Otter Cliff
  • Otter Cove
  • Jordan Pond House & Hike
  • South Bubble Trail & Bubble Rock
  • Downtown Bar Harbor
  • Abbe Museum
  • Bar Harbor Island
  • Lobster Dinner
  • Boat Tour
  • Wonderland Trail
  • Ship Harbor Trail
  • Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
  • Asticou Gardens
  • Northeast Harbor

Related travel articles:

If there are sights or things to do in Acadia National Park we’ve missed, let us know in the comments below, or connect with us on social media. We’d love to hear from you.

42 thoughts on “The Best 4 Day Itinerary Acadia National Park”

  1. Pingback: 20 Things to Do In Stowe, VT (That Families Will Love) | Packed for Life

  2. Acadia is so high on our bucket list! Your pictures are absolutely beautiful! We would love to catch the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain and see all the lighthouses. Thanks for all the information!

    1. Yay for bucket lists. Glad to help out with the dreaming. Can’t take credit for the photos, they are by wonderful artists off of Canca.com. One day I hope to be able to take pictures like that.

  3. Pingback: Frugal Family Road Trips: 13 Easy Money Saving Tips | Packed for Life

  4. We have been looking at visiting Acadia National Park but I was overwhelmed by everything to see and do. Thank you for putting this together as it has helped a lot!

    1. It does look so enticing. Apparently the sand is made of tiny fragments of seashells that have been ground into sand over time.

    1. I am not a huge fan of lobster, but I feel you can’t visit Acadia and Maine without trying one of their lobster dinners!

  5. Thank you for sharing all of this information! Acadia is on our list of places to visit, so this is very helpful. I hope that you get to visit it some time!

  6. This looks like a great plan! The area is so beautiful. We were hoping to go east this summer also, but we had to change plans like everyone else in the world. I still hope to head this direction one day. Hopefully I can get there in the next couple of years.

  7. We love Acadia and have been many times. We generally take a slower approach to the park. We love to spend the afternoon enjoying Sand Beach. It takes us a whole day just to do the loop trail and that doesn’t include a lot of time at any given spot except Sand Beach. We like to hike around Jordan Pond and then bike the carriage roads as well. Super great park.

    1. Sounds like a great approach, especially an afternoon at the beach. There are so many benefits to taking your time and really enjoying each place rather than rushing around to see it all.

  8. Thank you so much for such a thorough overview of this beautiful place! I’ve been wanting to visit Acadia National Park for a long time and your post is so helpful for planning.

  9. Wow Acadia National Park is absolutely breathtaking, I would love to see the Cadillac Mountain Sunrise. I might not be a morning person but even I would love to see the sunrise. Absolutely gorgeous and a fantastic itinerary as well.

  10. Pingback: Essentials To Pack For A Summer Beach Vacation (With Kids) | Packed for Life

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