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Bar Harbor Winters

Woodstock, Vermont
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4 reviews
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Bar Harbor Winters

I'm planning to move to the Maine coast in the next six months and wondered if Bar Harbor is really the 'ghost town' I keep reading it is during the winter? It seems odd that such a popular place shuts down when so many others on the coast remain open, but I'm in the tourist business and not sure that a place shutting down for five months would be the best.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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for Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park
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1. Re: Bar Harbor Winters

From the standpoint of the average tourist, I'm sure that Bar Harbor would resemble a ghost town in the winter (today, it resembles something out of Dr. Zhivago).

The population of Mount Desert Island is approximately 10,000, of which about 2,500 reside in the village of Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor is home to Jackson Laboratory, an internationally known research institution, which is the town's largest employer. Another research institution, MDI Biological Laboratory, is in the town (=township) of Bar Harbor.

There is a thriving high school on the island and a college---College of the Atlantic---in Bar Harbor.

Even during the winter, we have a hospital, two drug stores, two hardware stores, and a grocery store in the village; other grocery stores exist in the other villages of the island. Ellsworth, about 20 minutes away on the mainland, has a variety of food stores, restaurants, and shops. It is true that most tourist-specific establishments shut down for part or most of the winter. However, a few B&Bs and motels remain open, as do a number of restaurants.

Moreover, there is Acadia National Park which is accessible in the winter.

The pace of life in the winter definitely is slower than in July and August (for which we are exceedingly grateful). We have lived here (year-around) for over 14 years now and still very much enjoy the life and the scenery of this area in the winter as in all other seasons.

If you haven't done so already, check out some of the other threads on this and the Acadia National Park forum that pertain to off-season and winter here.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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for Bar Harbor
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10 reviews
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2. Re: Bar Harbor Winters

When you first arrive in the winter, it can feel a bit isolated and like a ghost town until you figure out where all the people are! Join the YMCA (lots of great exercise classes for all levels and ages), visit the library, shop at the grocery store, go to church, buy the local paper and check out the weekly calendar for events that are happening. If you are opening a business, you could join the Chamber of Commerce or the Bar Harbor Merchant Association. Depending on the type of business you are opening, you may really come to love the slow winter months. I run a year round business in Bar Harbor. I make 80% of my living from May to October, but the winter months provide enough business to help out my cost of living. I also have three children that don't give me any time off in the winter so I don't really feel that isolated! :) I guess it all depends on what type of business you are opening and what your competition will be in the off and on season.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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3. Re: Bar Harbor Winters

What places are you thinking off on the coast that stay open? Most of Maine's coastal tourist towns are pretty much shut down to tourism in the winter. Old Orchard Beach, Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Camden -- all of them have very little tourism in the winter.

Tourists like to go some place warm in the winter. Or they like to ski and there is no downhill skiing on the Maine coast. It seemed funny to me at first too that 80 to 90% of the hotels, motels, and restaurants are closed from November 1 to April 1st. But that is indeed the way it is and I don't see it changing. Many business owners look forward to closing their doors on November 1st with great joy. Some go South or West where they have other businesses or look for other jobs. Some stay and enjoy the relative


Acadia National Park is always still here and is always still enjoyed. There were quite a few people out and about in the Park on Christmas Day. But most of them were not tourists and you could count them in the 10s rather than in the 1000s.

4. Re: Bar Harbor Winters

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