Two Days in Maine: Portland, Acadia and Bar Harbor.
A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of exploring two sections of the Maine seacoast. What made it even better is that I shared this adventure with the company of four wonderful girlfriends. We squished what was probably four days worth of site-seeing into two.
This wasn't the first time I've been to Portland, but every time I do go, there is always something new to see. Nestled an hour and a half north from my home base, this small city offers excellent seafood, eclectic breweries, and a variety of quaint shops.
We began the afternoon walking around in the Old Port area after finding a metered parking spot off Commercial Street. It was an unusually warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, thus Downtown was bustling with lots of people and activity.
After exploring a few shops off Commercial Street, we took a stroll down Wharf Street. Wharf Street is one of those areas where you feel like you've gone back in time. A brick layered road and brick buildings bring back the charm of this quintessential New England city. Hungry for a bite to eat? No worries - there are plenty of restaurants and bars here. Be warned - if you're looking for family friendly, avoid Wharf Street at night on the weekends. I was previously here for a bachelorette weekend and it turns into a very "lively" street at night.
Taking a right off Wharf Street, we ventured into Mexicali Blues. The store certainly caught our (when I say "our" I mean MY) eyes with its funky and colorful merchandise. So much so that I obviously had to snap a photo.
Due to our arrival in the late afternoon, we quickly ventured to find a spot for dinner. We ended up choosing Scales because a few of the girls knew one of the chefs working there. What a fabulous choice! Dinner was exquisite. Three of us ordered the lobster salad (because when you're in Portland you must eat lobster) and although it's not for the hungriest of people, it was the freshest lobster I've ever had.
We were lucky enough to receive complimentary desserts from the chef, which included sweet potato cake and apple crisp. These were great fuel for our sunset conquest (more on that below). I kept telling the girls to wait until I took a photo of the dessert before they could eat it, hence the last picture with their eager spoons.
Immediately after dinner, we rushed to the car and drove off to the Portland Head Lighthouse. It was nearing sunset, and I had my mind set on taking photos there. We arrived JUST before closing and took a mad dash out of the car. It was a beautiful night for photo-taking and I am extremely grateful that everyone agreed to go (although they didn’t have much of a choice).
The four of us narrowed down to two, and we were off to Acadia and Bar Harbor the next day. From Portland, it's a little over two hours driving.
When we arrived, it was late afternoon, so we drove straight to the quaint town of Bar Harbor and walked around, grabbed dinner, and snacked on delicious ice cream. Bar Harbor overlooks (you guessed it) a harbor, and is full of a variety of restaurants and shops.
My friend Rachel, who is originally from Michigan, had never eaten lobster before. So guess what - she ended up trying it for the first time, because when in Maine....
She also discovered blueberry soda, which I think she would have taken home with her if she wasn't restricted by flying.
After dinner, we went back to our AirBnb, which was a 20 minute drive from Bar Harbor, nestled in Ellsworth. For $70 a night, this was a great find and certainly very cozy.
The next day was dedicated to Acadia National Park. Unfortunately for us, it was raining with no end in sight. However, this didn't stop us from exploring as much as we could. It is $30 per vehicle to enter the park, and we purchased our passes at the Thompson Island Visitor's Center. You can find passes at any of the nearby visitors centers, or purchase them online beforehand.
We began our day at 4:00 AM to start off by watching the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. Fun fact: Acadia National Park has the first sight of the sunrise in the United States. You can either hike or drive up the mountain, and we obviously chose the latter. We were told to be there at least 45 minutes before sunrise (6:30 AM) so that we could get a parking spot, since it's a very popular activity. It was a very cold, and unfortunately, cloudy morning, therefore the sunrise wasn't as jaw-dropping as I had hoped it would be. However, the sense of calm and quietness at the top of the mountain was an experience in itself. I have no regrets, but I hope poor Rachel feels the same since I dragged her up there!
After sunrise, we ate breakfast in Bar Harbor and then walked over to Bar Island. Another fun fact: Bar Island is only accessible by walking on the sand bar that connects it to Bar Harbor during low tide. We were warned to make sure that we made it back in time so to prevent getting stuck on the island, since the next low tide was in 9 hours. There are warning signs everywhere and as long as you stay vigilant, you will be fine. The first picture below is of the sandbar we walked on to get to the island. From Bar Island, you have a beautiful view of Bar Harbor right across the water.
With eagerness to see the beautiful Maine coastline and more amazing scenery, we drove off to Acadia National Park once again. We drove along Park Loop Road in a counterclockwise direction with map in hand, and made several stops along the water including: Bear Brook, Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Point, and Jordan Pond. Each stop had its own unique scenery and offered amazing views.
We hiked on the trail around Jordan pond, which offered gorgeous scenery and a variety of different plants and trees. It was a beautiful hike even during the rain. We visited right before peak foliage time but were not disappointed with the colors that we did see.
Although our adventure was a quick one, we think we nailed a great itinerary and saw a lot of beautiful sites. If you're thinking of visiting Maine and have any questions, send them my way, and I'd be glad to give you some tips. Until next time!