SO EXCITED to share our travel guide. I decided to work on this as soon as we got home so everything would be fresh in my mind. I tried to break this up into categories – overall it’s a guide to the Acadia/MDI/Bar Harbor area and how we spent our time the past two weeks with a 3 year old and 8 month old. After our travel days we got into a nice groove of spending the mornings on our screen porch sipping coffee (or milk) and then going on an adventure or ‘field trip’ to Piper. Then we’d get home around 2 to get the girls down for their nap and have a relaxing afternoon at the house before our nightly wine time and then dinner. It was the perfect mix of relaxing, adventuring and family time. I miss it already!
We drove from Maryland to Kennebunkport, ME in one, long and exhausting day. It wouldn’t have been so bad had there not been terrible traffic most of the way! The girls were troopers and the promise of a swimming pool kept Piper going! You know were I was at 9:30pm on that Friday night, the motel swimming pool with my girl! We just love Kennebunkport and I wish we could have spent more time there. We checked in late Friday, Saturday morning we had breakfast at the hotel followed by a swim in the outdoor pool and then packed up and checked out. On our way out of town we stopped for smoothies and donuts downtown and then hit the beach for an hour. It was the perfect taste of Kennebunkport :) Day two of our trip we drove from Kennebunkport to Bar Harbor. We stayed in a cute little cottage and got really delicious lobster rolls from The Travelin’ Lobster. We picked up a bottle of wine from the wine shop down the street and sipped it on our porch after the girls went to bed. It was a lovely. The next morning we packed up again, went into Bar Harbor to walk around and then had lunch at Atlantic Brewery and then it was time to head to the house my parents rented!
My parents rented two cottages on the Schoodic Peninsula this year – it was beautiful and nice to be in a different area then our previous stays in Maine. The cottages were rented through Vacation Cottages and are called the Swedish Cottage and the Fiddlehead Cottage. They were recently bought and re-decorated so the photos are outdated on the site now! It’s worth noting that it takes 45mins to an hour to reach Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island from this location. It may not be ideal if you’re not OK spending a lot of time in the car :) We really enjoyed discovering Winter Harbor- the little working lobster harbor about 25 minutes away. They have a lovely, lively Farmer’s Market on Tuesday morning with tons of delicious produce, cheese and bread. Also beautiful flowers! An adorable cafe/diner/ice cream counter and a dime store!
Hiking with two kids was an experience. We quickly discovered that the ‘moderate’ trails were NOT for us this time! I wore Flora in our Lillé Baby carrier and then we always had Piper start off walking while Austin wore our hiking backpack. Once Piper did her fair share of using those legs, she went up into the backpack. This worked out perfectly and allowed Piper to experience the trails but not get over-tired and allowed us to go on longer hikes. We did a lot of easy to moderate hikes/walks the past two weeks and it was SO nice. I could also nurse Flora in the Lillé Baby carrier if she was facing me, and she could sleep this way – though she definietly loves to face out and see the world! We brought a few snacks on each hike and let Piper pick them out before we went, and they were rewards for reaching certain points. This worked out well and Piper rarely complained on our hikes!
Where to begin! Below are a few of our family favorite spots in Acadia National Park for young kids!
Jordan Pond: A must! We visit it every time we are in Maine. It’s so peaceful and there are the prettiest views. Jordan Pond gets VERY crowded. Arrive by 9am and you’ll most likely get a parking spot out front, by 12pm all spots will be full! While last year we wore Piper in our backpack and did the full loop around the pond (around 3 miles) this year we opted to only do half of the trail and avoid the big rocks you climb over and boardwalks. We started out towards the right and walked until we got to the bridge/arch that’s about halfway. Piper walked half of the time! Flora was happy in her carrier the whole time. Treat yourself after at Jordan Pond House for popovers and tea or a blueberry beer. This year we opted to get Donuts in Northeast Harbor instead (more on that below)!
Echo Lake: The only swimming lake with a sandy beach in the park, Echo Lake also gets crowded! Arrive before noon to get a parking spot. We got there around 10am and packed a picnic lunch. Our girls last 2 hours at the beach so we planned accordingly. There are bathrooms and changing areas and if your kids like to swim they will love the clear lake waters. There is also a lifeguard on duty which is nice. If you’re more adventurous plan a hike on one of the trails near by and cool off at the beach after!
Ocean Trail: The Ocean Trail is not to miss. Again, I sound like a broken record but it gets very, very crowded almost to the point of it not being as enjoyable. It’s also along the one-way Park Loop and traffic can be a nightmare getting out, for that reason I’d say the earlier the better for sure on this one! I’d also suggest parking down near Thunder Hole vs. the popular Sand Beach lot. We wore Piper half of the way on this trail but she was a trooper. This is where you’ll get some stunning views and photo ops ! Sand Beach is definietly worth a visit too, though the water is cold!
Cadillac Mountain Summit: You may not be able to climb Cadillac Mountain but you’ll be able to enjoy the views after driving to the top of the summit. It’s truly breathtaking and definietly worth putting on your list!
Jordan Pond Nature Trail: This is a lovely wooded walk ( I wouldn’t go so fa as to call it a hike) and has boardwalks which are fun for the kids!
In the past we have camped at Blackwoods Campground. I grew up going here and it’s so nostalgic for me and in my eyes the perfect camping experience for a family! We LOVE it. We skipped it this year but hope to camp there next year when Flora will be walking :)
For the most part we cooked dinners at the house but ate out for lunch quite a bit. Here our our favorites around MDI. In the past we’ve tried all of the popular lobster roll joints (Trenton Lobster Pound, Thurston’s etc.) so we always like to try smaller, hole in the wall places.
Asticou Inn: Go for happy hour after walking the nearby gardens (more below). The popovers are just as good as those served at Jordan Pond House and they have great cocktails along with a beautiful view of the harbor! I want to stay at the Inn next year, it’s so charming.
Colonel’s: Located in the most adorable Northeast Harbor, The Colonel’s has the best blueberry donuts! We got them to go and drove down to the marina just down the street to enjoy them with a waterfront view and picnic lunch :)
Travelin’ Lobster: Really delicious lobster rolls!! There’s great seating but its right on the road and no water view, still worth it though on MDI.
Lunch On The Wharf, Corea: Located on the Schoodic Peninsula this was probably my favorite lobster roll of the trip. Such beautiful waterfront views, too!
Salt Box: Wonderful date night spot! We splurged on our first date night in months and ate here and it did not disappoint!
Atlantic Brewery: The best blueberry beer you’ll try! Not as sweet as Sea Dog. There’s a little playset for kids ( and corn hole which Piper loved) – you can taste their beers for free and then grab lunch and a pint in the adjoining BBQ joint. Laid back, casual atmosphere that’s family friendly!
Thrive Juice Bar: This newer spot has an incredible menu of healthy options. I got a chicken wrap and delicious smoothie for lunch.
Thuya Garden: Park at the base of the gardens and ‘hike’ your way up the stairs for an unbeatable view of Northeast Harbor. The gardens are so worth the trip up ! You can also drive and park at the top but it’s not near as much fun. Piper loved throwing pennies into the wishing well and running through the gardens to look at all the flowers. After pop over to Asticou Inn for popovers and tea (or cocktails)!
Winter Harbor Ferry: Take a trip on the ferry – if you’re staying in the Bar Harbor area it’s a fun visit over to Schoodic and if you’re staying in the Winter Harbor area like we were it’s a beautiful ride over to Bar Harbor for wandering along the shore path and getting a scoop of ice cream!
Seal Harbor: Not part of Acadia – but nestled right between, we discovered this beach last year and it’s a great spot for kids to splash and swim, especially when the tide is high. There is a floating dock and lots of rocks for throwing!