Explore Bar Harbor, Maine, with The CAT High-Speed Car Ferry!

Welcome to Bar Harbor, Maine, the largest town within Mount Desert Island! This New England hotspot is filled with rich history and culture. Conveniently located close to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is a nature lover’s paradise. Thanks to The CAT high-speed car ferry, your journey here can transform into an Atlantic Ocean adventure, whisking you from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to your destination in just 3.5 hours!

Let us show you how to spend a perfect 72 hours exploring Bar Harbor and beyond:

Day 1: Arrival and Exploring the Town

A row of quaint shops at dusk
Location: Bar Harbor, Maine

As The CAT ferry docks in beautiful Bar Harbor, allow yourself to take a moment to breathe in the salty sea air. There are plenty of fantastic spots to stay in Bar Harbor, from quaint B&Bs like Sand Bar Cottage, Yellow House and Atlantean Cottage to hotels and motels such as the Bar Harbor Regency, The Inn on Mount Desert and Balance Rock Inn. For this itinerary, we’ve chosen one of our favourite spots to stay in Bar Harbor, the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel. Located on 12 acres of coastal property, Atlantic Oceanside is just one mile from Acadia National Park, as well as the shops and restaurants of historic downtown Bar Harbor. The hotel has stunning ocean views, access to Frenchman Bay and is outfitted with modern amenities, indoor and outdoor pools, a restaurant and a cafe, making it perfect for your idyllic Maine getaway.

After settling in and exploring your accommodations, head out for a stroll through the quaint streets of Bar Harbor, stopping at local shops and boutiques to discover unique souvenirs and artisanal goods. Find a good book to unwind during this long weekend at Sherman’s. Maine’s oldest bookstore has been in operation since 1886 and is one of the oldest independent bookstores in the country. Their expert staff will be more than happy to recommend a book based on your interests. While here, you’ll also find plenty of Maine-themed souvenirs to bring home for a loved one. Stop by for something delicious to drink and browse the Bar Harbor Tea Company selection, shop for something unique at Abby Alley or grab a few last-minute needs at The Acadia Shops.

After strolling and exploring downtown, indulge in a delicious dinner at one of Bar Harbor’s charming restaurants, where you can indulge in comforting classics. The town is known for its fresh seafood, from lobster, shrimp, scallops and crab to haddock, clams and famous oysters. Galyn’s has been a local favourite since 1986, featuring five pleasant dining rooms on the first and second floors, all decorated with original fine art and paintings. Tucked upstairs is the cozy Galley Lounge, a great place to unwind with a cocktail and toast to the beginning of your coastal retreat.

As the sun begins to set, treat yourself to a stroll along the waterfront and watch the boats come in, surrounded by the beauty of the Maine coast.

Day 2: Exploring Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park
Location: Acadia National Park, Maine

Make sure to fuel up with a hearty breakfast at the hotel or one of Bar Harbor’s amazing cafes, such as Coffee Hound Coffee Co. Start your journey with a scenic drive along Park Loop Road, stopping at iconic landmarks such as Thunder Hole and Sand Beach.

Since Acadia is so popular in the summer, it is best to plan ahead to avoid traffic and long waits. We suggest hiking, biking or walking to popular attractions in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds. Early risers will be among the first in the United States to see the dawning of a new day. Acadia National Park was initially established in 1916 with 6,000 acres. Today, the park covers more than 49,000 acres thanks to the remarkable dedication and philanthropy of the community.

The expansiveness of the park allows you to choose your own adventure. You can walk along the interlaced system of trails and carriage roads — with varied lengths and levels of difficulty, the 125 miles of trails appeal to everyone from casual walkers to seasoned hikers. You can also bike through Acadia or tour by horse-drawn carriage. Tours and kayak rentals are available if you’d like to explore the rocky coastline by kayak. Many lakes and ponds on Mount Desert Island permit boating, so plan and make reservations to explore Bar Harbor by way of the water!

After a full day exploring Acadia and hopefully reaching the summit of Cadillac Mountain, rest and relax with a cup of tea and a popover—a deliciously light and fluffy roll made from egg batter—on the picturesque Jordan Pond House Lawn. This restaurant and shop within Acadia National Park has been a staple of the area since 1893, so don’t miss the opportunity to taste the famous popovers while taking in the view of Jordan Pond.

After a day of hiking and taking in nature, reward yourself with a seafood feast at the Reading Room Restaurant and linger a bit over a glass of wine or regional brew at the Oasis Club Lounge balcony.

Day 3: A Bit of History

The exterior of the Abbe Museum
Location: The Abbe Museum, Maine

Enjoy your final full day in Bar Harbor by waking up slowly and having a relaxed breakfast as you look out over the water. When you’re ready, it’s time for your final day of exploration — one full of history and discovery.

Bar Harbor is home to the Abbe Museum. For nearly a century, this museum has been home to a wonderful collection highlighting the original inhabitants of Mount Desert Island, the Wabanaki. The Abbe has two locations, one in downtown Bar Harbor and one in Acadia National Park. The museum’s mission is to inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations and to share it through changing exhibits, special events and workshops for children and adults. It is a great spot to immerse yourself in a different aspect of the history of Maine.

If museums aren’t your cup of tea, why not delve into the chilling tales of Bar Harbor’s history on a spine-tingling Bar Harbor Ghost Tour? Follow the glow of the Blue Lantern and listen as they recount the mysteries of the Criterion Theatre, an Art Deco gem from 1932, rumoured to still house a caretaker who refuses to depart. With a focus on Maine’s rich tapestry of Wabanaki and American stories, this tour leads you through downtown Bar Harbor and its cemeteries, revealing a side of this coastal town you never knew existed.

Reminder: You can check-in for your return trip on The CAT ferry between 3-5pm the day before you leave and receive an express pass! Make sure you complete this process to ensure your journey home is a smooth one.

Day 4: Farewell

The CAT ferry navigates a narrow stretch of ocean near the land
Location: The CAT Ferry

As you wave goodbye to Bar Harbor, remember that the journey home can be as remarkable and exciting as the destination. Opting to travel on The CAT ferry adds an extra layer of adventure to your travels while giving you a chance to unwind in a way that driving or flying simply can’t match. The CAT ferry is equipped with comfortable amenities and features Sip@Sea Cafe and Forchu Lounge, plus you’ll be able to enjoy the salty wind in your hair and admire the rugged coastline along the way.

Ready to plan your Bar Harbor adventure with The CAT ferry? Start by checking out our fantastic special offers, including the Nova Scotia Resident Discount, where Nova Scotians can save 50% on passenger fares in 2024. There’s also our One, Two, Free offer, CAT Cash for AAA members and more! We look forward to seeing you on board The CAT ferry for an unforgettable experience this season.