Bar Harbor: Day One
Once a summer hot spot for society's upper crust, Bar Harbor still sizzles, but it’s not at all crusty. An endearing mix of gritty seaside, New England charm, hip sophisticate and tourist kitsch, Bar Harbor’s grid of streets and alleys fairly brims with a dizzying array of restaurants, shops, inns and galleries running back from Frenchman Bay.
ONCE A SUMMER HOT SPOT FOR SOCIETY’S UPPER CRUST, Bar Harbor still sizzles, but it’s not at all crusty. An endearing mix of gritty seaside, New England charm, hip sophisticate and tourist kitsch, Bar Harbor’s grid of streets and alleys fairly brims with a dizzying array of restaurants, shops, inns and galleries running back from Frenchman Bay. Of course, with Acadia—the northeast’s gem of a national park where the mountains rise up from the sea—for a backdrop, they’ve got competition. For you, that means options, lots of them. Never fear; we’ve got your planning done. All that’s left for you to do is sample the broad range of delicious local fare, rack up some amazing adventures and soak up the knockout scenery. We think you’re up for the challenge.
You might as well start off with a taste of Maine, so the first order of the day is blueberry pancakes at Cafe This Way (141/2 Mt. Desert St., 207-288-4483, cafethisway.com), tucked off the Village Green. Nosh on the porch if the weather is fair, or inside, where the atmosphere is urban and hip. If you’re in the mood for something more elaborate, you can’t go wrong with choices such as the Harney (corned beef hash with poached eggs, toast and hollandaise sauce) or Kit’s Burrito (a tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs, peppers, onions, cheddar and sausage and topped with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and home fries).
Now that you’re properly fueled, lace up your hiking shoes and head for the height of land, Sargent and Penobscot mountains, in Acadia National Park. (True, Cadillac is slightly higher, but there’s something deflating about hiking up a mountain only to find cars and mobs of people awaiting you at the top.) Take a free Acadia shuttle from the Village Green (park entrance passes can be purchased at the Green) or drive to the Jordan Pond House Restaurant. From here, you can bag both summits in one 6.4-mile standout loop hike, characterized by plentiful open ledges that afford some of the most glorious views on Mount Desert Island. There are shorter hikes, and trail maps can be picked up at the Village Green.
Back at sea level, take time for tea on the lawn at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant (Park Loop Road, 207-276-3316, jordanpond.com)—a tradition for summer visitors that’s more than a century old—before you head back to town. Your reward is one part plump, steaming popovers, one part picturesque view of Jordan Pond and The Bubbles (sizable mounds, with one peak reaching 872 feet and the other 766 feet), and one part well-deserved rest.
When your appetite rebounds, cap off the day at McKays Public House (231 Main St., 207-288-2002, mckayspublichouse.com). Whatever you’re in the mood for, McKays has it, in terms of both setting and menu. Choose a secluded garden seat, or head inside the historic Victorian, once a bed-and-breakfast, where you can choose a table in the larger, copper bar downstairs, or the intimate wine bar upstairs. The menu features pub fare such as fish and chips and McKay burgers made of Maine-raised, grass-fed beef, as well as fancier entrees such as lemon truffle seafood risotto and Bordeaux-braised short rib.