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Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

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Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

Hello,

We are planning an Anniversary Trip to Bar Harbor area. This will be our first time visiting the area. We are also not sure what time of year we are going to visit - work schedule is an issue - the most likely time to visit will be off season, most likely from sometime in November to late March - early April.

We will be driving from Philadelphia, and hope to spend at least 10 days in the area. Can anyone give recommendations on lodgings - B&B are the first choice - ones open year round would be best since we are not sure of an exact time frame.

What activities/itineraries can anyone suggest - esp Acadia National Park as well as lighthouses? Historic sites, forts, etc are also good options. Activities in and around town, short day trips, etc.

One concern we have is weather, esp snow and ice, if we travel in winter.

Any suggestions would be deeply appreciated.

Thank You

Dee

Bar Harbor, Maine
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1. Re: Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

We definitely have snow, but not so often ice, between November and April. During an average year (of which there don't seem to be any), snow cover doesn't generally take hold until late December. Some of our heaviest, wettest snowfalls are often in March. By early April, if it snows, it melts fairly quickly. The roads are usually quite passable because we have a great system of plowing and salting. Even the sidewalks are plowed in Bar Harbor. In 18 winters of living here, there was only one day when I wasn't able to travel the two miles down to Sherman's to buy the daily newspaper.

Most of the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park is closed to car traffic from December 15th until April 15th, although it can close earlier if there is sticking snow. One part of the Loop Road, which goes past Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, is kept open for car traffic and the parking areas there are plowed. The only way to the top of Cadillac is to hike, which I've personally done three different winters.

Many, many businesses in Bar Harbor close down on November 1st and don't open again until some time in May. There are a few B&Bs that stay open in the winter, closing for a week or two here and there while the owners take a vacation and spend family time. There are a few restaurants that stay open as well, mostly on Thursdays through Saturdays. At any given time in the winter, it can be difficult to find an open place for breakfast or lunch, although there will always be some place open for dinner. Side Street Cafe has been staying open all winter and it is quite tasty.

It might be a very good idea to stay in a B&B during those months because at least you will get breakfast and you will get good local information about where to eat and how to access the Park. Atlantic Oceanside, a motel, usually stays open in the winter as well. They serve breakfast.

Given all that, winter can be a beautiful time to visit Acadia. Cadillac Mountain Sports in Bar Harbor rents both cross country skis and snow shoes. Usually, though, you can hike the carriage roads in just waterproof boots. You won't find anything like kayak tours or boat trips available and not too many souvenir shops. But you will find peace and tranquility and lots of wintry beauty.

Three B&Bs that stay open most of the winter are Saltair, Canterbury Cottage, and Aysgarth Station. You can contrast and compare at www.sleepbarharbor.com

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2. Re: Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

Bonniemaev,

Thank you for your response.

We are not really interested in kayaking or other water sports, do that is not a problem.

Of the B&B's you have listed, I like the Saltair, but I have not checked out the other two.

My time frame for traveling seems to be a bit of an issue. November through April is

When work slows to the point that I can actually get a vacation in. February would really be ideal

Since our Wedding Anniversay is a few days before Valentine's Day, but I may have to rethink

When to go.

Thanks again for your response, I appreciate yourbinput.

Dee

West Bloomfield...
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3. Re: Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

Hi ! Check out the Black Friar B&B. We traveled with my nephew and his wife and they stayed there. It was on one of the side streets and it was quaint. Ask for the room that has a spiral staircase going up to a reading room. So cool and there was a little heater up there to keep things cozy. The rate was $145 per night, but this was in July. I imagine it would be cheaper when you go.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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6,356 posts
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4. Re: Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

The Black Friar is not open in the winter.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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for Bar Harbor
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5. Re: Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

Check with the individual B&B's to make sure they will be open. All of the ones Bonnie mentioned should be open in February along with Graycote Inn and The Quimby House (does not serve breakfast but has a B&B feel to it). Aysgarth Station if often closed for the month of November and The Saltair Inn will be closed from Dec. 15 to February 1st.

During the winter it is very difficult to find restaurants that are open on Sunday and Monday nights. Your best bet will be to plan for a weekend or late week visit. The week after Valentine's Day is usually pretty busy up here because it's February vacation week for most of New England.

Depending on the amount of snow, you can snow shoe or cross country ski on the carriage roads, the hiking trails are open, and you can ice skate on Eagle Lake. There is scenic driving through Acadia and around the island as well as over at Schoodic Peninsula. There are enough shops open to spend a little time strolling around the downtown area one afternoon. Reel Pizza Cinema is also open during February (usually they take some time off in December and January).

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6. Re: Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

Hi Scott,

Thanks for your response. The Black Friar was originally on my list, but since their website did not state they were open all year, I took them off.

Thanks

Dee

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7. Re: Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

Hi Lovimngbarharbor,

Thanks for your response. The Saltair reopening on Feb 1st is not a problem, I have more leeway to shift dates in February than any other time of year. For me February is ideal but Hubby is not sure about it. He grew up down the Jersey Shore area and knows what it is like in coastal areas in winter. He is now saying he wants to do a Road Trip to several different places. So we will see what we come up with.

Thanks You again

Dee

Bar Harbor, Maine
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8. Re: Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

The Jersey Shore in winter is very, very different from Acadia in winter. The Jersey Shore can be very humid which makes for a miserable cold that cuts right through a person. On the other hand, the cold that far north in Maine is a crisp, dry cold that one can wear sufficient clothing to block. It's a much, much easier cold to deal with than the humid air of the Jersey Coast. Here in Acadia the air is so crisp and clean in February that it adds a clarity to your very thinking! I love winter here. The coldest I've even been in my life was during a Florida winter -- damp, damp, damp.

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9. Re: Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

Bonnimaeve,

I have to agree with you about the Jersey Shore, it gets so cold it just cuts through you. We head down there several times a year just to hang out with friends.

Dee

10. Re: Bar Harbor - First Time Visit

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