Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park: Trip Report

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If you’ve been a fan on Instagram or YouTube, you have seen lots of pictures and videos of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. But if you ever wanted even MORE detail on how our day to day to life went, read on! If not, just stay tuned for my next Walt Disney World or Orlando local event post. 

Day 1: Depart at about 6 am. Watch the sunrise over Lake Monroe in Sanford on I4. After about 13 hours of driving, we arrive at our friends’ home in Virginia and have huge pizzas, donuts, and a wonderful visit! For my tips on how to have a successful road trip for 26 hours with five children and a dog, see this post!

Day 2: Depart at about 8 am. Drive through Manhattan, over the Brooklyn Bridge. We drive through four out of the five New York City boroughs, and have fun quizzing the kids on who can name them all. Even the 4 year old learns them! We see the Statue of Liberty from a distance, drive past One World Trade Center, Central Park, and then continue north. We stop in Newburryport, Massachusetts for the night at an adorable Airbnb right downtown, and walk to dinner for Father’s Day.

Day 3: Depart at about 9 am after a morning walk with the dog and Molly. We continue to drive and arrive in Kennebunkport, Maine to see the Bush family compound. When the family is in residence at the house, the Texas and Maine state flags are flying, and they were during our visit! We drove on the scenic Ocean Drive twice and stopped to take family pictures and climb on rocks at the overlook of the home. I had visited this same spot as a child, and it was so nostalgic for me to return and bring my five children.

We continued our drive and arrived at our VRBO rental home! From the pictures, we weren’t fully sure what to expect, but it was more than we had ever imagined! As soon as we drove down the dirt road, we could see the gorgeous view and the lush surroundings. The house was so full of light and had breathtaking views from every room. It was one of the happiest times of our whole trip; when everything was new and just beginning. 

Day 4: No departure! We spent the whole day enjoying the house, not being in the car after the 26 hour road trip, and exploring the beach. We played games, made food, collected sea glass, and just enjoyed the home and being together.

Day 5: First day in Acadia National Park! We went to the Visitor’s Center, bought our 7 day pass and a detailed hiking map, and were on our way. We really didn’t have a plan, but stopped at the first place that seemed convenient as we drove. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful hiking days of our trip. We hiked about seven miles, through the Bubbles Trails, to Balance Rock, and along the Jordan Pond Trail. All five kids were hiking all-stars, with our 7 year old leading the way most of the time. We saw so many incredible vistas and took lots of pictures, none of which did the majestic views justice.

We also went to the top of Cadillac Mountain and barely were able to stand from the wind gusts! The views were amazing! Afterwards, we went to Bar Harbor to Reel Pizza Cinerama to see Incredibles 2. The movie theater was adorable, and was a dine-in theater, where we enjoyed pizza and snacks. We loved the movie, and it will always be an incredible memory to have seen it in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine.

Day 6: Chad and Noah climb Mount Katahdin, the highest point in Maine. They have to leave at 3 am, drive 3 hours, climb for 9 hours, and then drive 3 hours back home! Noah was a champ, and never complained at all. It was quite a feat for a 13 year old!

Back at home, we had a picnic, I caught up on some work, and we went to the beach. We were all exhausted from our 7 days of hiking the day before, so we were happy to rest, do some yoga on the porch, and wait for the triumphant hikers to return.

Day 7: Back to Acadia National Park and the Southwest Harbor. We went to the Bass Harbor Lighthouse, which is one of the most photographed places in Acadia, but since the tide was high, we weren’t able to quite get the classic shot. 

We also went on the Ship Harbor Trail, which was absolutely incredible! We had a picture perfect lunch at Seawall Campground, the kids completed their Junior Ranger books and got their badges, and we climbed Flying Mountain. After the peak of the mountain, the trail lead around to Valley Cove Beach, which was one of my favorite spots we discovered in Acadia National Park. It almost had a tropical feel, with crystal clear water and lush cliffs.

We had dinner in Bar Harbor on the water, did some souvenir shopping, and visited the cutest retro candy shop! We were all in heaven! We went back to the house tired and happy.

Day 8: My brother came to visit! He happened to be filming in Maine at the same time we were in Bar Harbor, so he extended his time in the state to be able to visit with us. Be sure to check out his website to learn about his next film!

We mostly stayed around the house, played games, and then went to the Great Maine Lumberjack Show. It was pouring in the evening, but the show went on, rain or shine. Those lumberjacks threw axes, climbed poles, and amazed us with log rolling, all in the pouring rain! This was a very memorable part of the trip for the kids, and they all named it as one of their favorite experiences.

Day 9: We went to Schoodic Peninsula in Acadia National Park. This is on the less visited side of the national park, and it was certainly much quieter. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center to make a plan and chatted with the park rangers. Talking with park rangers is always one of my favorite aspects of going to visitor’s centers. They are a wealth of information, and have so many helpful things to share! 

Our next stop was Schoodic Institute, which was formerly a top secret Navy base. There were interactive exhibits, displays, and more helpful personnel. We walked the Sundew Trail and saw more gorgeous views. We then had a picnic at Blueberry Hill and climbed Schoodic Head. To end the night, my brother got take-out lobster, and mesmerized the children by eating it at the table.

Day 10: Diver’s Ed! For my full post on this, see this previous entry. Also one of the highlights of our trip, and certainly memorable for the kids!

We had lunch in Bar Harbor, went back to the retro candy store, and then ventured back into Acadia National Park. We drove Loop Road, which is a 27 mile one-way road along some of the most beautiful views we’ve ever seen. We stopped at Thunder Hole and went to Cadillac Mountain again for my brother’s benefit! 

We came home happy and tired, and played some games before going to bed. 

Day 11: We stayed around the house, went to the beach, found starfish, and skipped rocks in the water. We played tag in the yard and made dinner for friends. Our dear friends also happened to be in Bar Harbor for vacation, which was such a joy because we hadn’t seen them in years! We had a wonderful meal, the children played, we reminisced, and watched the sunset. It was a definite highlight of the trip!

Day 12: Spent another day at the house. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave the beauty of the property when we knew our time was winding down. We worked on puzzles, had more beach time, read on the porch, played War in the window seat, and ate lots of food. A perfect day!

Day 13: It was raining, which was unusual during our trip. Our 7 day pass to Acadia National Park had expired, so we decided to find some other trails outside of the park. We found a nearby trail that led to Tucker Mountain! So of course we had to climb that for our little buddy, even in the rain!

Afterwards, we stopped by Tidal Falls and saw some seals playing in the water! We then did some antiquing in Ellsworth and bought some amazing Disney vintage items.

Day 14: Our last day in Maine. We played epic tag games, finished up our food, and packed. We tried to relish every minute. We went down to the beach after dinner, and watched the sunset, as our children skipped rocks, sang songs, collected sea glass, and we talked about our trip. We wished the moment could last forever. We reluctantly went back up to the house as the sun set on our last night in Maine. 

Day 15: Depart at 6 am. Drive to Virginia to stay with our wonderful and gracious friends again, who are waiting with dinner and dessert. We catch fireflies outside, laugh and talk, and fall into bed exhausted.

Day 16: Depart at 8:30 am. Drive home to Orlando! We arrive home at about 8:30 pm, overwhelmingly thankful for the safe journey, amazing traveling children, and a very special vacation.

If you made it to the end, thank you for making it! We were so happy to mark off another National Park from our list, and can’t wait for our next adventures. And don’t worry; most of my posts will be about a third of this length. Look forward to seeing you on InstagramFacebook, or Youtube!


  • Jill Kelly

    Great post and suggestions! We visited many of the same places on our trip and have an awesome time. The park was amazing – the whole family loved it. Schoodic was also a fav. We checked out the Great Maine Lumberjack Show and thought it was very entertaining. I’m glad I read your post before visiting – super helpful.

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