Who could possibly improve on this shop’s description of itself: “An Exploratorium and interactive shop for everyone who’s even a little curious about the last 13.8 billion years (give or take).” The Naturalist’s Notebook at 115 Main Street in Northeast Harbor is a melding of science, art, and nature learning and activities zone (not to mention its fantastic gift shop). The Notebook offers 13.8-billion-year art workshops, book signings, talks and other special events. Fun for science lovers and all the rest of us, too. Phone: 207-276-4120.
Aqua-Terrestrial? Nah! That's Diver Ed!
Diver Ed’s Dive-In Theater is a 2-hour scenic boat ride out into Frenchman Bay in Acadia National Park, where Diver Ed and his sidekick, Mini Ed, dive down to the ocean floor with real-time video and sound equipment, allowing you to see and hear the ocean floor from the comfort of the deck. Captain Evil remains topside to interpret and explain, until Diver Ed resurfaces… with critters in tow! Touch tanks allow you to see, feel, and even kiss the actual animals themselves before returning them to their habitat and returning home. Dive departs from 105 Eden Street in Bar Harbor. Phone: 207-288-DIVE
Eco-Photography Workshops in Acadia
Professional photographer and Nikon expert Gary Monteux leads guided nature photography shoots in the Schoodic Peninsula in Downeast Maine. Small groups of no more than six people leads to one-on-one attention during days that open with shooting morning light, lunch break for a presentation by a local conservation group, then late afternoon shooting. Subjects are puffins, seascapes, harbor seals, foliage, lighthouses, brilliant sunsets, crashing ocean waves, gray seals, and more. Four workshops in 2019 are Puffin Cruise & Landscapes, July 28-August 1 and August 16-20; and Birding with Seth Benz & Landscapes, September 22-26 and October 10-14. Fee of $1500 per person includes lodging on Schoodic Institute campus, meals, Acadia Puffin Cruises, birding hikes, photo instruction.
Bring Your Own Lobster Pot
Get primitive with nature and its lobsters. Go camping in Acadia National Park at either the Blackwoods campground off Route 3 or the Seawall campground off Route 102A, both in Bar Harbor. Take a huge lobster pot and buy lobster and clams off the boats if you can. Throw some sea salt into the boiling water and steam your clams, then cook your lobster. Melt butter, buy some potato salad and rolls; throw some corn on the cob in the pot, and you have a lobster feast. Throw old newspaper on the table and don't be neat. Primitive camping and basic sea food. Sounds good!
Fine Wine and Intriguing Rum
Bartlett Maine Estate Winery at 161 Chicken Mill Pond Road in Gouldsboro is a small detour off the fabled road to Acadia National Park. At Bartlett’s, prize-winning wines are pressed onsite from native fruits. A relatively new offering is Rusticator rum, with flavors of vanilla, toffee, lime and banana. The tasting room, halfway between Ellsworth and the Petit Manon Wildlife Refuge, is housed in a hand-wrought stone building. Tasting room is from June to October or by appointment. 207- 546-2408.
Off, Off, Off the Beaten Path
If you love the outdoors, quiet, and little to no commerce, plan a day trip to Swan’s Island, a half-hour ferry ride from Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island. The island has three tiny villages, a very small population, and no amenities. Day visitors can enjoy walking or bicycling, swimming in a quarry, and exploring the rocky shore. Remote and restful.
Bike Riding Around the Eagle
Eagle Lake , just outside Bar Harbor, is a large freshwater lake in Acadia National Park and, for all appearances, a small piece of paradise. Visitors can park at either of two lots off of Route 233 and then ride bikes or walk all the way around the lake, using a six-mile portion of the park’s Carriage Road. It is also easy to place your own canoe or kayak into the lake from these parking locations. The Island Explorer free shuttle bus provides pick-up and drop-off service to the lakeside access points from late June through Columbus Day. With all this support, how can you not go?
See Down East Like the Old “Rusticators” Did
Down East Scenic Railroad
at 245 Main Street in Ellsworth can take you on a 90-minute train ride that travels the route used by vacationers from New York and Philadelphia who fled to the northern woods for the summer back in the 1880s. These “rusticators” – an early word for tourists -- were treated to the finest the Pennsylvania and Maine Central Railroads had to offer. Today’s 10-mile excursion happens twice daily on Saturdays and Sundays from May 28 to mid-October. While jostling along and enjoying the Maine woodlands, watch for osprey, blue herons, bald eagles, moose, deer, snapping turtles, fox, beavers…and bears! 866-449-RAIL (7245).
A cruise to visit the whales’ flapping grounds is almost de rigueur on a vacation in Bar Harbor and Acadia. The Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company can get you on the water and into the whales’ neighborhood in a jiffy. It’s a fantastic view for people of all ages. the company also offers trips that focus on puffin and seal sightings, lobster fishing and lighthouses. All Maine, from the water. Phone: 207-288-9800.
Acadia Beauty Along a Loopy Drive
Acadia Byway travels through Acadia National Park and the historic villages of Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island. Along this route, the rugged Maine coast and old-growth forests remain much as they were when the island was described by Samuel de Champlain in 1604. Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park are among the most beautiful places in New England. Travelers can bike on miles of interconnected carriage roads. This byway follows Route 3 into Bar Harbor, then follows the park loop road thereafter.
Starry Nights at Acadia
Spend a night under the stars at Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, and everything will come into perspective. The night sky is an endless source of entertainment and beauty, and the clear, dark Maine sky allows stargazers a breathtaking view of constellations. The Seawall Campground picnic area near Manset is an almost magically scenic stargazing spot: See the Milky Way and ocean meet. Discover the brightest stars in the sky, the "hidden" location of hundreds of black holes, and Messier 13, the famous faraway destination of a human attempt at intergalactic contact. Bring your best telescope, or get a rotating star map from the Acadia gift shop.
Meet a Wolf! Meet a Bear!!
Kisma Preserve in Trenton is a home for wild animals. A basic visit involves a tour of about one hour with a knowledgeable guide. The preserve also offer special opportunities for personal animal encounters, private behind the scenes tours, group visits, photography, camping and more. You may be about to meet a wolf during daily socializing or exercising routines. (Reservations required.) Or, come and meet a black bear and make his or her day by bringing a favorite treat. 207-667-3244
Explore the Island, Then Explore the Park
There is much beauty to see at Acadia Nation Park. A good way to start is to get an overview of the whole landscape by jumping aboard the Island Explorer bus. This is not a tour – it is public transportation for the park and neighboring villages that runs from late May to Columbus Day. Take a bit of time to ride the bus with others going about their daily lives or on vacation. You’ll get a glimpse of what you may want to see more deeply, and know exactly how to get back there later. "A wonderful service. Best way to get around. Fun to ride," said a visitor from Texas. 207-667-5796