No one likes to think of rainy days on their vacation, especially when you’re looking for sunshine and outdoor adventures. But you don’t need to let a little wet, rain on your parade. If you are heading to Acadia, especially in fall, you may be wondering what are the best things to do in Acadia National Park when it rains? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor rainy day activities and places to explore in the park and surrounding area.
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WHAT TO DO IN ACADIA WHEN IT RAINS
The good thing about rain in Maine, particularly on the coast is it is often light, and fleeting. Often if it’s foggy or rainy in Bar Harbour area, taking a drive to the other side of the island to the Southwest Harbor, or vice versa will give you completely different weather. Flexibility is key.
Growing up on the west coast of Canada, it rained a lot in spring and winter. As the saying goes, there is no bad weather, just bad (or improper) gear.
If you are planning on heading out to Acadia during more rainy months, be sure to bring proper rain gear, and an extra change of clothes. That way you can experience the main highlights and attractions, no matter the weather.
The scenery can be quite dramatic and lovely in the rain. And well worth it to still get out an explore. Here is our best of list – What to do in Acadia National Park when it rains.
Rain Gear to Bring for Rainy Days in Acadia
If you are planning a trip to Acadia National Park and rain is in the forecast, you’ll want to bring some high quality rain gear. That way you and your family can still enjoy the outdoors, and stay dry (or mostly ;). Here are some of our top recommendations:
- Light weight rain jacket – Depending on the season a light weight raincoat or shell would be a good idea. Columbia and Eddie Bauer are our go-to brands as a family for affordable and quality outdoor gear. This Columbia Men’s jacket is one my partner has used for the last few years and loves it. Here’s a quality one for women.
- Fashionable Rain Jackets for Women – if you are looking for a bit more fashion & function, the Women’s Pardon My Trench Rain Jacket is a fun choice.
- Muddy Buddy for Toddlers – Full suit Muddy Buddies have saved many a rainy day in our family. Toddlers LOVE jumping in puddles and getting dirty. Wrap them all up, then rain becomes a fun activity, and less work for you.
- Rain Jackets for Kids – Again, Columbia gear is our go-to for our fast growing kids. Here’s one for girls and here’s a good option for boys.
- Waterproof Backpack / Cover – A Waterproof Backpack is essential for keeping your extra layers, cell phones, cameras and snacks dry. Sometimes we even use a dry bag inside our backpack or bring along a waterproof cell phone pouch for extra protection for our electronics.
Having rain gear on hand will make your trip more enjoyable in case of Acadia National Park rainy days. My family always teasingly calls me “safety first” as I try to be prepared for anything, including weather. It’s saved us hassles countless times. My Girl Guide leaders of my youth would be so proud.
ACADIA RAINY DAY ACTIVITIES
Walk on the Carriage Road
A walk on the carriage roads or trails is a great way to experience the beauty of Acadia National Park in the rain. The majority of paths are wide and gravel, so not as likely to be muddy or slippery.
With over 45 miles to choose from, you won’t lack for ideas. Some favorite carriage roads for visitors are:
- Eagle Lake Carriage Trail – This 6 mile trail winds its way around Eagle Lake and you can access it from Eagle Lake Road.
- Witch Hole Pond Carriage Trail – Access it from the Eagle Lake Road parking lot and go south. Or start at the Duck Brook Bridge.
- Jordan Pond – walk the west side of the pond along the carriage road, following the high route for fantastic views of the pond.
In spring, certain roads may be closed due to the “mud season” so just be sure to respect any closures.
Drive the Park Loop Road
When in doubt, road trip it out! Taking a scenic drive along the Park Loop Road is a great way to see the east side of Acadia National Park, and Mount Desert Island in the rain. This Loop should be at the top of everyone’s Acadia itinerary.
The full 27 mile (43km) road will take you about 3-4 hours to complete anyway. Best part….you can stop at gorgeous viewpoints, beaches and other attractions, as the rain lets up along the way. Or make a made dash in the rain for epic wind swept photos a top Cadillac Mountain.
Start at the Hulls Cove Vistor Centre and make your way south along Paradise Hill Road to you start the loop part.
Another option is to take in the rugged coastline and mountain views from the comfort of your car by bringing along a self-guided audio tour. Learn some history as you go.
Key highlights not to miss include:
- Cadillac Mountain (sunrise or sunset is spectacular) – you will need a vehicle reservation during peak months May to October.
- Sand Beach
- Ocean Path – take a leisurely stroll along this beach side path.
- Thunder Hole
- Otter Cliffs
- Jordan Pond & Jordan Pond House
You can also ride the free Island Explorer typically mid-June to mid-Oct during the busiest months, to avoid the car crowds.
Dance Barefoot in the Sand in the Rain
Sand Beach is the only truly sandy beach in Acadia. Bring your friends, family and dance barefoot in the rain, or dip your toes in the waves. The water is COLD so you won’t likely want to stay in too long. Be sure to bring a towel to wipe up those feet.
Hike The Jordan Pond Loop
The Jordan Pond Loop is an easy choice for inclement weather, and along the Park Loop Road. This Easy 3.4 mile roundtrip hike, is perfect for families, on flat well groomed trail and raised wooden boardwalk along the wetlands.
Plus you can warm up at the Jordan Pond House Cafe afterwards with a coffee, chowder and their infamous popovers. Make reservations as it does get busy.
Take a Boat Ride
Rainy days are the perfect time to hop aboard a sailing vessel, and ride the stormy seas. Ok, maybe not too stormy.
For the kids, Ed’s Dive In Theatre is always a blast. Board the “Starfish Enterprise,” and head out on the water to a special diving spot.
Grab a guided boat tour aboard Lulu’s Lobster Boat, and learn about local history, folklore, and the lobster industry, all while keeping an eye out for seals, and whales. Yes even lobsters.
Nearby Camden Harbor is considered one of the most beautiful harbors in New England. Their Windjammer Classic Day Sail and Windjammer Classic Sunset Sails are super popular. It’s about an hour and forty five minute drive from Bar Harbour, ME, but well worth it.
Wander the Acadia Wild Gardens
Explore the wilds of Acadia….gardens that is. See if you can spot some of the over 400 native plant species in the thirteen beautiful sections designed to represent natural plant communities found within Acadia National Park; mountains, heath, seaside, coniferous forest and more.
Entrance to the Wild Gardens is free with your park pass. New England at its finest.
Take Gorgeous Photos of Bass Harbor Lighthouse
When you think of Acadia National Park, the iconic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is likely to come to mind. Perched on the edge of the rocky shore, against the backdrop of ocean lit skies. Wonderful place to wander the shoreline path and take photos.
The path to the right takes you up close to the lighthouse.
For the best photos, take trail to the left of the lighthouse. Enjoy a quick walk through the woods and then to a cliff side where you’ll get a great view of the lighthouse and some gorgeous photos. Just watch your step and be careful on the rocky edge.
Explore Bar Harbor & Pop Into Shops
Bar Harbor is a quaint New England sea side town with a vibrant small downtown.
Here you will find everything from weekly Farmer’s Markets, to art galleries, delicious restaurants and the perennial kid favorite Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium. They offer 70+ flavours of ice cream and gelato, homemade fudge, chocolates and candy. Try the lobster ice cream, if you dare!
Then wander the lovely Shore Path along Frenchman Bay, winding its way along the shoreline, harbors full of sailboats, and sunrise in early morning. Bring an umbrella and a rain jacket.
Best Acadia Hikes in the Rain
A list of Acadia rainy day activities wouldn’t be complete without shouting out some safe and fun options for hiking in the rain.
You’ll likely want to stick with the relatively flat trails, as many of the more challenging and mountainous trails include stretches of going up, or down over bare granite rock, ladders and steep drop offs. This can become quite slippery & treacherous in the rain.
- Jesup Path & Hemlock Loop – One local all-season favorite is the Jesup Path, Hemlock Road (Hemlock Loop) & Wild Garden figure 8 route that runs from Loop Road through the edge of Great Meadow, past Sieur de Monts, and out to The Tarn and back. Many enjoy just the easy Jesup Path & Hemlock Loop (1.7-mile loop trail) itself.
- The Ocean Path is a family favourite path that follows the ocean starting at 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). From Sand Beach to Thunder Hole the trail is a mix of concrete and packed gravel surfaces. The rest of the trail is gravelly and rocky with uneven surfaces.
- Carriage Roads – As mentioned earlier, the Carriage Road are perfect for an all weather stroll. Try the 6 mile Eagle Lake Carriage Trail or the Witch Hole Pond Carriage Trail.
- Jordan Path Loop – Easy 3.4 mile roundtrip hike, that is doable all year round.
- Lower Hadlock Pond Loop – Family friendly 1.7 mile loop near Northeast Harbor. Pretty views, that follow the banks of the pond. Perfect for young kids.
- Gorham Mountain – experience rocky coastline, and panoramic ocean views, with Cadillac Mountain in the distance on the 3.5 mile round trip moderate hike. You’ll likely want to avoid the Cadillac Cliff Trail option / section, as there’s rungs and ladders to assist hikers over rock scrambles, finishing with a steep granite stair climb. Not the easiest in the rain.
- Wonderland – Another family friendly trail that meanders along an old gravel fire road to the coast. Only 1.4 miles round trip, with plenty of tidepools to explore on the beach. Located between Seawall Campground and the Ship Harbor Trail.
INDOOR THINGS TO DO IN ACADIA WHEN IT RAINS
Sit Back on a Bus Tour of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park
Letting someone else drive is a great way to relax and just enjoy the scenery, viewpoints and iconic Acadia sites.
A narrated bus tour of Acadia is a relaxingway to discover highlights like Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole (hear the ocean waves roar), Sieur De Mont’s Spring, Jordan Pond, and more. Avoid the stress of finding parking spots at the most popular spots.
Visit the Hull Visitor Center
Make the Hull Vistor Center your first stop to pick up maps, and get advice for your Acadia National Park Adventure. Certain hikes are not advisable in the rain, and there may be closures.
This main visitor station is located off of Route 3 in Bar Harbor, Maine (usually open seasonally, May to October).
Take a look at the informative exhibits and art works from the Acadia Artist-in-Residence program on display. Check to see what ranger led activities are happening in the park while you are there.
Get Back To Nature at the Sieur de Monts Nature Center
Visit the Sieur de Monts Nature Center, where you will find visitor services, hiking information, and interactive exhibits. Park rangers are there from spring to fall (May through mid-October usually), if you have any questions.
Learn more about the important work of park biologists and researchers to protect park resources through family-friendly exhibits and activities. You can access many trailheads here for the hiking trails starting in the Sieur de Monts area.
If you have kidlets with you, pick up a Junior Ranger Booklet for them to fill out, and learn more about the land they are walking on.
Plus it’s close to the Acadia Wild Gardens and Abbe Museum, also on our list of things to do in Acadia in the rain.
Learn Some Local History at the Abbe Museum
The Abbe Museum and it’s satellite branch in Acadia park is the only Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Maine. Abbe features permanent and changing exhibits, as well as special events throughout the year that showcase the history and cultures of the Wabanaki.
The Sieur de Monts location in the park is temporarily closed for maintenance. Check the NPS website to see when it will reopen.
Drive The Schoodic Peninsula
The Schoodic Peninsula is the gorgeous, less crowded Acadia National Park experience located on the mainland section, east of Mt. Desert Island. This park loop road goes around the rugged coastline and can be driven in about an hour or so if you don’t stop too many times.
Popular stopping points a long the way include the very pretty Frazer Point Picnic Area and fishing dock – perfect for Acadia rainy day activities. Keep an eye out for the Winter Harbor Lighthouse in the distance, if it’s not too foggy. Schoodic Point for it’s picture perfect rocky shoreline and crashing waves, and the scenic Blueberry Hill.
The easy scenic drive to Schoodic is about 90 minutes from Bar Harbour.
Be sure to stop at the Pickled Wrinkle on the way back, a great local spot with yummy food and good local craft beer. Fan favourites include the Frazier Point steak sandwich, burgers and the crab roll stuffed with local crab meat.
When in Maine, eat all the lobster! What better way than to visit a Lobster Pound, Open seasonally (usually May to October). It’s in my humble opinion the perfect activity for a rainy day Acadia style.
Best Places to eat lobster in and around Bar Harbour, Maine include:
- Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound – 1237 Bar Harbor Rd., Trenton, ME (open seasonally). Eat fresh lobster while enjoying a mountain and bay view outside in good weather, or eat-in or take out on rainy days. Fan favourites include the hard shell lobster dinner, lobster rolls and
- Thurston’s Lobster Pound – 9 Thurston Rd, Bernard, ME (open seasonally) – Close to Bass Harbor Lighthouse. Fantastic location on the water. Try the plump and juicy steamers, fresh u-pick lobster, mussels and lobster rolls.
- Rose Eden Lobster (former Travelin’ Lobster) – 864 State Highway 3- Road side lobster shack about 5 miles outside of town. Great for take out on rainy days or outside seatin gin better weather. Check out the fresh lobster dinner with mussels and the lobster rolls.
- Galyn’s – 17 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME. Check out their clam chowder, Haddock, crab cakes, and lpbster rolls. A reservation is recommended as it’s a popular restuarant.
Visit A Library
If you are looking for super cozy things to do in Acadia when it rains, than a visit to a local library will hit the spot. Cozy reading rooms, gorgeous views and programs let this be a great idea in the rain.
Seal Harbor Library
Not only will you find yourself enjoying spectacular views from the hilltop above Seal Harbor Beach, you can cozy up in some comfy chairs in the reading room. Catch up on your long book list you haven’t had time to read. Seal Harbor is also close to the Stanley Brook entrance to Acadia National Park, and Wildwood Stables.
Jesup Memorial Library
A meeting place, a library, a community resource. The Jesup Memorial Library is the public library in Bar Harbor. Check out their local history resources, or take part in one of their free book signings, concerts, slideshows or informative programs that happen throughout the year.
Watch a Show at the Historic Criterion Theater
Criterion is a beautiful old theater in the heart of Bar Harbor that puts on movies, live performances, music, dance, theatre, other events. The art deco is worth the price of admission alone. For the best views sit on the side aisle seats.
Fun fact – there used to be a speakeasy in the basement.
15 Fun Things to Do in Acadia National Park When It Rains
Don’t despair if you get a spot of bad weather. There are so many amazing things to do in Acadia National Park when it rains. Not to mention the weather forecast is often fickle, and the weather can change from one moment to the next. So put on your rain gear and head out to enjoy what the park has to offer anyway.
Related New England tips, destinations and resources:
- Fall fun in Stowe, Vermont, 3 Day Itinerary
- Kid-Friendly Fall activities in Rhode Island (that adults love too)
- 20+ Epic Activities in Stowe, Vermont for year round fun
- Maine in winter weather, tips and activities
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