BAR HARBOR, MAINE VACATION
“Beautiful” Doesn’t Quite Cover It
SUNSET ON THE FIRST NIGHT IN BAR HARBOR
It’s been a challenging couple of years for us so planning, and then going on our Bar Harbor vacation was a much needed break. We had never planned a trip to Bar Harbor before (though we have been to Maine) and we didn’t know what to expect. Turns out it was more than we expected.
It was beautiful! It was rustic, laid back and outdoorsy. It was east-coast-chic, quaint and (very!) picturesque. (Did I mention we already booked for next year? Yes!) My husband is from Upper Michigan and I from New York – Bar Harbor seemed to be a mix of both of these places (never thought I’d find such a place) which made it perfect to feel at home and let go.
WEST STREET HOTEL
CHECK IN | HOTEL LOBBY
We splurged for a great hotel and it was amazing! It was in the middle of town on the corner of West & Main with breathtaking water views.
BALCONY VIEWS FROM OUR ROOM
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We booked an executive king corner room with two balconies and a clawfoot soaking bathtub in the West Street Hotel. I think I was overly stressed when I booked the room, I wanted it to be nice. :-)
Click on a picture above to expand & see captions | Pictures from theweststreethotel.com
(I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures of the lobby & room!! I was phone-free-happy in the moment & forgot. But trust me, these look exactly right!)
AERIAL VIEW OF THE WEST STREET HOTEL | PICTURE FROM THEWESTSTREETHOTEL.COM
The hotel was modern (newer than most of the hotels), comfy (each floor had a coffee station with nespresso & keurig machines, unlimited cold bottled water, ice cubes packed in convenient individual bags, fresh fruit and evening cookies) and stylish (think upscale nautical). I loved the Ocean Mist & Sea Salt Nest bath products in the room too. They had a candle burning in the lobby with the same scent and it made the whole area smell just like the ocean! Click on a picture below to expand.
COFFEE STATION ON EACH FLOOR | NEST PRODUCTS FROM NEST.COM
Breakfast was included and I had the Lobster Eggs Benedict every day. I don’t apologize for this.
Dan & I hid out at the adult-only rooftop pool whenever we got a chance. Our first time up here we managed to spend almost $40 for two (very small) glasses of wine served in tiny, plastic cups. (In fairness about the high price though, the amount also included the tip.) The plastic cups were more disappointing to me than the price. (Is it just me or does anyone else need to drink wine from a specific glass? Lol.
I don’t care about this when I go to someone’s house (I promise!) but at home or at a good restaurant, it needs to be in a glass. I think holding the glass is part of the experience of having a glass of wine. Do you agree?) Okay, I have digressed long enough. Basta! :-)
Dan & I were together starting our vacation and the view was spectacular! That is all that mattered.
THE BAR HARBOR CLUB
Included in our stay at the hotel was access to the Bar Harbor Club which was stunning.
A part of history…
“During the stock market crash of 1929 J.P. Morgan started construction on the exclusive waterfront oasis which opened to the grandest ball the island had ever seen on July 4th, 1930. The Bar Harbor Club was once a private playground for the town’s wealthiest summer residents such as Joseph Pulitzer, John D. Rockefeller Jr., Edward T. Stotesbury and other movers and shakers of the day.” Excerpt from barharborclub.com
The view from the pool (as well as the deck) was incredible. I could spend every day here. The club includes a spa, fitness center, tennis courts (with ocean views!), wedding & meeting rooms and the pool & pool house. Wow.
THE BAR HARBOR CLUB POOL NEXT TO THE OCEAN
THE BAR HARBOR INN
One Newport Drive | Bar Harbor
THE BAR HARBOR INN | FAMILY MEMBERS STAYED HERE
My sister, brother-in-law and other family members stayed at the Bar Harbor Inn (BHI) and it was lovely! The Reading Room in the BHI has the prettiest views of the boats in the harbor, as well as scrumptious food. This hotel is more traditional than the West Street Hotel if you prefer this style. I loved both hotels and I thought the Bar Harbor Inn was cozy and intimate. (BHI doesn’t allow dogs so that’s how I found the West Street Hotel which was just about next door.)
THE READING ROOM | BAR HARBOR INN
BAR HARBOR INN DURING SUNSET
SUNSET SAILING CRUISE
Downtown Windjammer Boat Tours
We brought our fury baby Bella with us so we decided not to do the whale watch cruise and instead went on the 2 hour sunset sail cruise that allowed pups on board. We loved being together in this quiet, peaceful setting.
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SUNSET FROM THE SAILING CRUISE
So you know what to expect, the cruise doesn’t go very fast and it is a bit crowded, making it hard to move around. Dan had to go find the beverages that were available on the boat – not intuitively easy to find.
The slower speed was nice for a sunset cruise though – it made it very relaxing and contemplative. (It is a romantic place too if your significant other is not as interested as Dan was in the porpoises & other animals swimming or flying around. I guess once an outdoorsman, always an outdoorsman, right?)
There is live music on the boat but the way it is set up, it is not always easy to hear the music. Most people aboard preferred it to be a bit louder.
One of the best things was they allowed dogs aboard and Bella loved every minute! She was a big hit with the other passengers too.
THIS IS AN ORIGINAL SAILBOAT FROM 1910 SAILING NEXT TO US
Place to Go and See in Bar Harbor | Mount Desert Island
Since this was our first time going to Bar Harbor, I researched before we left. I read online reviews and blogs and narrowed down places to go – included on the list were coffee shops, ice cream shops, places to buy sweatshirts or souvenirs, boat tour options, acadia national park destinations, best lobster roll places and bakeries with the best blueberry pies. I even researched the perfect cocktail to have at the hotel.
I love grapefruit drinks so I picked Indian Summer from the hotel restaurant menu (Paddy’s…and I forgot to take a pic, again!). It was delicious with muddled grapefruit and sparkling soda (yum!). Here are the full ingredients…Bombay Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh-squeezed lime, splash of cranberry juice, muddled grapefruit, and sparkling soda. Now to make it at home.
We had a great salad, also from Paddy’s, that paired wonderfully with this drink. The salad is called the Coastal Maine Lobster Salad with hardwood smoked bacon, spring dug potatoes, avocado, backyard tomatoes, grilled vidalia onions, goat cheese, field greens, sherry mustard vinaigrette. I could eat this right now. Something else to try at home.
JORDAN’S BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM | ACADIA SHOPS | THE TRAVELIN’ LOBSTER
So, here is the original researched list (now with a few updates). The purpose of putting this together was to organize places Dan & I wanted to go, or places I thought our family would want to go. It helped us save time while we were on vacation having fun (and it worked, yay!).
We ended up going to many of the places – not really on purpose, though when we passed a place on the list we went in. Jordan Pond Ice Cream was delicious (and yes, please get the blueberry ice cream but all the flavors were great!) and the Travelin Lobster had excellent hot lobster rolls (my vote for the best on the island). Thrive Juice Bar & Kitchen and the Coffee Matter Coffee Shop are in the same building on Rodick St. and were so fun to explore. I ordered the Summer Berry smoothie at Thrive and an iced Americano with a splash of almond milk at Coffee Matter. Mmmm!
Feel free to use the list for yourself when you travel to the area. (Make sure to let me know where you went and what you liked best!) Some of the information may be different when you go but it’ll still give you a feel of what’s around.
I would add Penelope’s Gift Shop and the Acadia on West shop to the original list. (Acadia on West is technically already on the list as part of the many Acadia shops. It wasn’t highlighted on the original list though and it’s very convenient located in the West Street Hotel.)
I stumbled on Penelope’s Gift Shop because it was near our hotel (sort of below the hotel, on the street level). It had these dark, wooden front doors welcoming visitors, just like a perfect little shop would have.
I enjoyed so many things inside (some of my favorites are listed below)! I purchased several cube-shaped votive candles that have a vanilla-based scent created just for Penelope’s shop (which you can buy online here). Love! Right now their website doesn’t have a lot on it (boo!) but they are working on it so check back.
At Acadia on West, I love the blue & greenish light scarf I got with a map of Mount Desert Island on it. It’s so pretty and reminds me of one of my new favorite places.
As a side note, I bought an Under Armour Bar Harbor sweatshirt (in a perfect shade of red, btw) & a lobster ‘pinch of this and a pinch of that’ apron (after being here, I felt I needed this) at a store that I can’t remember the name of. It was also on the strip by the West Street Hotel – I think it was the “Best of Bar Harbor” or something simple like that. I wasn’t able to find a website or anything so I’ll have to wait until our next visit to confirm. Great little shop and I love both items I bought there.
Click on the pictures below to expand.
1st picture: I wanted all the bags, lol. They were all beautiful and whimsical! | 2nd picture: Penelope’s original blend candles, so good! | 3rd picture: What a fun water or wine bag! Perfect to take on a picnic or really anywhere. | 4th picture: Those welcoming front doors! | 5th picture: I love these bracelets – and there are so many other varieties in the store! Got to get me some.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK | MOUNT DESERT ISLAND
Acadia National Park is beyond. So much natural beauty! Every spot was perfect and the views extraordinary. We took the Park Loop Road to Cadillac Mountain and it was breathtaking!
ON TOP OF CADILLAC MOUNTAIN | Click on a picture below to expand
JORDAN POND HOUSE | North and South Bubbles
JORDAN POND HOUSE IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MOUNT DESERT ISLAND AND THE NORTH (ON THE LEFT) AND SOUTH BUBBLES
Next, we hiked the Jordan Pond Trail and had the famous popovers at Jordan Pond House and they were amazing! (As many people recommended, make sure to use the butter and strawberry jam too.)
Jordan Pond House has been serving popovers and tea since the 1890s when Nellie McIntire began the tradition.
The Jordan Pond House traces its history from 1847. The first settlers conducted a logging operation, establishing a small mill near the foot of the pond. The original farm house was built by the Jordan family of Seal Harbor, for whom the pond and house were named.
Toward the end of the 19th century, the location became a popular recreational area for summer vacationers. As a result, the Jordan Pond House was turned into a small restaurant. The first popovers and tea were served here by Mr. and Mrs. ‘Thomas and Nellie McIntire around 1895. They were responsible for the character and atmosphere of the original Jordan Pond House, with its birch bark dining rooms and massive fieldstone fireplaces.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased the property in 1928, and donated it to the National Park Service in 1940, but the McIntires continued to operate the restaurant until their retirement in 1945, after 50 continuous seasons of operation.
In 1946, Rockefeller began a company to run the Jordan Pond House restaurant and ensure that the tradition of luncheon, tea and popovers would continue. In 1979, a fire destroyed the original building. The current building was constructed through the fundraising efforts of the local, non-profit Island Foundation. It re-opened in 1982 and continues the traditions started more than a century ago.
JORDAN POND FULL LOOP TRAIL
We viewed Bubble Rock from the road (how is this just teetering there?). Next time we’ll hike to see it. We weren’t able to get to the Ocean Path this time but it is a must for next time. I heard it’s a fun and pretty path that will take us past Thunder Hole and the Otter Cliffs. Awesome!
BUBBLE ROCK | THUNDER HOLE | OTTER CLIFFS
I’d like to take the Beehive Trail to the top but I have to get a bit more brave to accomplish this. We’re also going to bike the carriage trails and take a Maine lighthouse cruise to see the Bass Harbor Lighthouse (they say from the water is the best way to see this beauty!).
So in the end, we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to but it didn’t matter. Our only objective was to relax, and that we did! Every sunset, lobster roll, walk or hike (& everything in between) was perfect!
Until next time Bar Harbor, xo!
BASS HARBOR LIGHTHOUSE
“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 in our lives 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.”