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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.