One Of America's Best Small Towns Is Right By The Iconic Acadia National Park

Maine has long been enjoyed for its nature: a rocky coastline, plenty of pine trees, wildlife big and small, and much more. Of course the state's biggest natural draw is Acadia National Park, widely considered as one of the best national parks on the east coast. However, Maine's small towns do not just offer convenient access to Acadia National Park. They have beautiful scenery and relaxing things to do as well, especially in Bar Harbor.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Bar Harbor as the best small town to visit in the United States in 2024. Its quaint views, culinary scene, history, and boat tours draw in tourists year-round. There is also public transportation. From the end of June through the middle of October, the free Island Traveler Blogr shuttle bus runs between Bar Harbor, points of interest in Acadia National Park, and the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport. Given that Bar Harbor also finds itself on one of Maine's most scenic drives, this town is a perfect destination for families and outdoor adventurers alike.

Enjoy Bar Harbor's colorful and historic buildings on foot

As a coastal town, Bar Harbor's oceanfront area makes for a lovely place in which to simply get lost. The colorful buildings along the water are reminiscent of Nyhavn, the stunning waterfront canal in Copenhagen. A stroll near the docks in Bar Harbor is sure to bring you to restaurants serving quintessential northeastern staples, especially lobster. Geddy's and Paddy's Irish Pub both offer lobster dishes in unique ways. These restaurants are across the street from Agamont Park. This green space has views of the ocean and is just a short walk from the Town Beach to the east of Town Pier.

Famous families in American history, like the Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Fords, began visiting Maine back in the 1800s. To learn about how these Gilded Age icons impacted the land, take a guided walking tour with Maine DayVentures. Over the course of 2 miles, this tour takes you inside the 1903 LaRochelle Mansion and along Bar Harbor's historic West Street. Book your spots online ahead of time, and keep in mind that the tour only operates from May to October.

Take educational boat tours to see marine life in Bar Harbor

To get close to Maine's nature and see Bar Harbor from a different point of view, check out Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. From May to October, this organization offers boat cruises focusing on whales, lighthouses, puffins, seals, and more. You can also do some lobster fishing while you're at it! Some of their tours venture into Acadia National Park, as well. Book online to choose the cruise option that best fits your interests.

Learn more about Bar Harbor's marine life with Diver Ed's family-friendly and interactive Dive-In Theater boat cruise. The Starfish Enterprise boat takes passengers from College Pier to a dive location at which Diver Ed goes underwater. Passengers can watch Ed on the boat's screen before he resurfaces with small ocean dwellers like starfish and crabs to show everyone on board. See these animals up close in the touch tank before Ed returns them to their homes in the ocean. If you do not want to go snorkeling yourself, this is a fun and hands-on alternative that inspires participants to love and protect the ocean and all of its inhabitants. Use the contact information online to book your spots in advance.