Visit the "Bar" of Bar Harbor
At low tide, kids can immediately see how Bar Harbor got its name—a large sand bar connects downtown Bar Harbor to Bar Island. Children love taking buckets and shovels onto the bar and exploring all the sealife uncovered at low tide. Across the sand bar to Bar Island, a nature trail rises to a summit, offering spectacular views of Mount Desert Island. If you go, don't forget to check the local tide schedule and leave plenty of time to get back before the tide rolls in —it comes fast!
Oceanarium and Lobster Hatchery
This hands-on nature experience lets kids play games as they tour the lobster museum. Propel wind-up boats in the boat tank, explore the water-cycle exhibit, tour the marsh, and visit lobster babies at the hatchery. Kids love to dress up like seals at the educational seal exhibit. Open mid-May to October, 9 am–5 pm (except Sundays). Special group rates available by reservation. 207-288-5005.
National Park Junior Ranger Program
Kids up to 18 can become Junior Rangers. First they complete activities in the Junior Ranger booklet. Then, after joining one or two ranger-led programs or walks and promising to take care of the park, they get their very own Junior Ranger patch. 207-288-3338.
Nature Center and Abbe Museum
The Sieur de Monts Nature Center of Acadia National Park features guidebooks and displays about park wildlife. Children get to record the animals they have seen in the center's logbook. Open daily from mid-June through September.
At the Abbe Museum, a short walk from the Nature Center, children learn about Acadia's earliest inhabitants. A rich variety of hands-on learning and arts activities teaches them about the culture and traditions of Maine Native Americans. The museum's collection includes prehistoric pottery, bone and stone tools, porcupine jewelry, trade beads, a large birch bark canoe, and a wigwam. 207-288-3519.
Children love playing in the salty ocean waves and the beautiful sand at Acadia's Sand Beach. Those preferring calmer, warmer waters may want to visit the freshwater beach at Echo Lake. Both swimming areas have lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Little ones can get their feet wet in the Glen Mary wading pool in downtown Bar Harbor.
Take a Nature Tour
Go by sea to watch seals, dolphins, porpoises, whales, and mysterious underwater creatures on a boat and underwater video tour. Or stay on land to spot bald eagles, ospreys, peregrine falcons, great blue herons, woodpeckers, warblers, and shorebirds on a beginning birdwatcher's tour.
Hiking and Biking
Hiking trails cover Acadia National Park. One, Gorham Mountain, is only 525 feet high, but it offers beautiful ocean views and wild blueberries (in July and August) along the trail. The carriage roads also offer 45 miles of groomed, auto-free roads for you to explore as a family—hiking or biking. Bar Harbor has a number of bike shops that rent everything from mountain bikes to touring models.
Mt. Desert Island Biological Laboratory's Public Tours
Kids get to see dogfish sharks, skates, and other marine animals up close. And they learn how marine biomedical research at the laboratory contributes to improvements in human health. Located in Salisbury Cove. 207-288-3147.
Park Street Playground
A favorite place for the young children of Bar Harbor, this playground has swingsets, sandboxes, teeter-totters, and slides. It's just down the street from Glen Mary Wading Pool in downtown Bar Harbor, next to the YMCA.
The YMCA keeps kids busy with a gym, track, indoor pool, fitness room, and rec room. Perfect fun for a rainy day. Open year-round, 7 days a week. 207-288-3511.
At Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf on Route 3, the legends of infamous pirates come to life. Enter the 18th century and see carousing buccaneers and an authentic, full-scale pirate ship. Putt your way through mountain caves, over footbridges, and under magical waterfalls. 207-288-2133.
NOTE: Listings here are in a rotating alphabetical sequence. That means each time you visit the page, you'll see the entire list beginning (and ending) with a different listing.
Under the guidance of experienced naturalists, you will delight in the wonder and adventure of the outdoors as you sight humpbacks and seals on your whale watch and nature cruises, hold sea creatures on the Starfish Enterprise, dip your hand in warm tide pools, hike the trails of Acadia National Park, be “amazed” by arthropods, put together the bones of a Minke Whale, and delight in the tales of the "Bug Man." You will share all this and more with other families, who will become your life-long friends, in one of the most beautiful vacation spots in America. Most suitable for children 5 years and older traveling with their parents, grandparents or friends.