We spent about a week on Maine’s beautiful coast and Acadia National Park and could have easily spent a lot more. There are so many nooks and crannies to poke about in, rocky shores to hike, places to explore by bicycle and beaches to hang out at.
Ogunquit and Wells
While camping in Wells for a few nights, we took day trips north and south along the water’s edge. We started in Ogunquit with a plan to walk the Marginal Way from there to Perkins Cove and back. This is a very popular area with many hotels and loads of tourists, even in early September. It is not very large-van friendly, and even if we could find space, the sticker shock for parking (flat rate of $25-40 per day, regardless of how long you want to park) encouraged us to come up with plan B. We returned the next day on our bikes (Ogunquit was only about 3km away from our campground) and thoroughly enjoyed the walk.
South from Ogunquit, the highlights for us were Long Beach and York Harbour, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the little towns and beaches along this beautiful stretch of coast.
Before we left Wells, we just had to try the famous Congdon’s Donuts. We would normally not stand in line for almost anything, but we patiently waited and hoped that they lived up to their reputation. When we finally got to the counter, the people were great, despite the crowds (caused by staff shortages–they hadn’t been able to hire to replace the students who had just returned to school). We chose to try each of their fritters–blueberry, apple, and maple bacon. We tried the apple fresh and froze the other two. We just had the blueberry ones a few weeks later and we wouldn’t recommend them, but the apple and maple bacon were deliciously sinful.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park in northeastern Maine (and less than 100 miles from New Brunswick, Canada) takes up much of Mt. Desert Island and spills over into the island’s northern neighbour, Schoodic Peninsula. It is well set up for tourists–of which there were many–including a visitor’s center, well-thought-out driving routes and one-way roads, plenty of hikes, and a completely free shuttle bus system. You are supposed to have a National Park Pass to ride the bus, though if you park at the visitor’s center, you have to leave your pass displayed on your vehicle.
There are many sites of interest in the park. We started at the visitor’s center and found free parking, a shuttle bus loop, and staff to provide advice. With so many stops and wait times for buses to continue the journey we chose, on the first day, to drive one of the scenic loops ourselves. Not as eco-friendly, and we probably wouldn’t have wanted to do this in high season since it would be difficult to pull over and gawk, but it worked well for us to see many of the major sights. We even had time to explore other parts of the island before calling it a day.
On our second day, we were able to catch a bus right at our campsite and head into Bar Harbor. Our experience there would be quite different than if we had gone the day before–it was misty and foggy and we could almost not see out into the harbor. We still enjoyed walking around the town–there are plenty of tourist shops, bars, and restaurants if that interests you–and strolling along the shore path until we got a bit too soaked.
We have to give a shout-out to the shuttle bus staff. Our driver on the trip into Bar Harbor was just helping out and was terrific to chat with. And as many of us collected for the trip back, huddling under trees and umbrellas to keep out of the rain, the supervisor asked us all where we were headed, snagged a driver who was about to head off shift, and asked if he’d mind returning all of these wet folks to their campgrounds. The driver was happy to help and welcomed us all aboard, including someone for a stop outside of the route he was asked to drive–never mind, he said, I’ll take you there.
Acadia National Park: National Park Pass is $60 annual park pass (for two people) or $30 for an Acadia National Park vehicle pass valid for 7 days. More details here.
Stays (for camping program details, see CampingPrograms)
- Wells, ME: Moody Beach Campground Thousand Trails (member, $0)
- Bar Harbor, ME: Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort (member discount, $190.98 for 3 nights). Campsites near Acadia National Park are expensive, but there are cheaper options. We would have made a different choice had we not been having challenges with our electrical system. This provided an electric hookup, which gave us peace of mind. It was very convenient as one of the stops on the free Acadia National Park shuttle bus system.
- Pittsfield, ME: Eureka Farms Harvest Host (suggested $20 purchase for all Harvest Host locations)