French explorer Samuel de Champlain was one of the first to extol the charms of Mount Desert Island, off of Maine’s southern coast, but he was far from the last. A popular route among travelers today, the 40-mile-long Acadia All-American Road affords some of New England’s finest coastal views and quaint village appeal.
The lasso-shaped route begins on the mainland in Ellsworth and follows Maine State Route 3 onto Mount Desert Island, much of which is covered by Acadia National Park (20 McFarland Hill Dr., Bar Harbor; 207-288-3338; seven-day passes, $25 a vehicle). Skirt past Hulls Cove and continue south (about 35 minutes) to the cute town of Bar Harbor, where you can stroll the Shore Path, created in 1880. French toast and lobster Benedict are on the menu at Café This Way (14 Mt. Desert St., Bar Harbor; 207-288-4483; breakfast for two, $26*), while C-Ray Lobster (882 State Rte. 3, Bar Harbor; 207-288-4855; lunch for two, $52) is a family-owned seafood shack that opens at 11 a.m.
Next, follow signs along Maine State Route 233 for the Cadillac Mountain Entrance to Acadia National Park. Once inside, drive along Park Loop Road, detouring at Summit Road so that you can pause at the top for panoramic views, including of the Porcupine Islands, Eagle Lake and the Schoodic Peninsula to the east (if you get an early start, sunrise here can’t be beat).
Turn right back on Park Loop Road and head southeast along the coast toward Sand Beach—a great picnic spot—or stretch your legs on the four-mile Ocean Path trail. The hike twists toward Thunder Hole, a natural inlet where you can listen for the sound of waves, which clap like thunder as they crash into an underwater cave. Through mid-October, nearby Wildwood Stables (1 Dane Farm Rd., Seal Harbor; 877-276-3622; carriage rides, $38 a person) offers two-hour buggy rides on some 57 miles of the woodland Carriage Roads, constructed by John D. Rockefeller during the first half of the 20th century.
End your day with dinner or afternoon tea and popovers at the famed Jordan Pond House (2928 Park Loop Rd., Seal Harbor; 207-276-3316; dinner for two, $100), a tradition since the 1890s and Acadia National Park’s only full-service eatery. From the restaurant’s sprawling yard you can look out at the pond and the crimson fall leaves.
- *Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax, or tip.
- NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
- Published: October 2017