Not only does our inn’s MidCoast Maine location offer wonderful access to Penobscot Bay, but we’re also within driving distance for a perfect day trip to Acadia National Park. It is one of the most visited parks in America – and for good reason! If you’re planning a getaway to Maine, then you should put this national treasure on your must-see list. Keep reading to see how you can have a perfect day at the park!
Start Your Day the Right Way
Breakfast service at Captain Nickels Inn starts at 7:30 a.m., and you’ll need every delicious bite to fuel you up for your big day experiencing all of the fun things to do in Acadia National Park! If you’re an early riser, we’re happy to have a breakfast ready to go so you can catch the magical sunrise in Acadia. Depending on the time of year, it’s the first place in the United States the daylight touches, and is a very popular bucket list item.
Enjoy the Short Drive to Acadia National Park
The beautiful national park on Mount Desert Island is about an hour’s drive from our romantic Searsport inn. On your journey you’ll see towering pines, beautiful beaches, and breathtaking views of the ocean and coastline. Just before you enter the park, you may want to stop in Ellsworth for any last-minute necessities, like sunscreen, ponchos, or snacks. To avoid the crowds, we suggest that you stop at Thompson Island Information Center to pay for your $30 car pass, and grab some good maps and park tips.
Begin Your Adventure at the Top
Upon entering the Park, head straight up Cadillac Mountain (vehicle reservations are required from May 24-October 23, 2023) for an easy jaunt around the tallest peak. There is parking at the top and paved trails to follow, so everyone can enjoy an Acadia National Park hiking experience. At over 1500 feet up, the views are breathtaking – especially for those who got there early enough to watch the sunrise. The Cadillac Summit Loop Trail only takes about 30 minutes to complete, but we could soak up the views for hours! There are of course several other hiking trails in the Park to discover, so keep your hiking shoes ready to go at all times.
Head into Southwest Harbor to Linger & Lunch
After your hike, you’ll likely notice that your stomach is starting to rumble. Make your way down the mountain, and to the other side of the island into Southwest Harbor to peruse the shops and grab some lunch – it’s a quaint town and less crowded than Bar Harbor. We recommend The Upper Deck at the Marina. They serve up local favorites, along with crowd-pleasers like burgers, salads, and flatbread pizzas – plus the views can’t be beat! If you would rather just grab a quick bite, or pick up something to-go, then pop into Eat-A-Pita Café. They offer delicious and healthy pita sandwiches stuffed with fresh veggies and hormone-free, house roasted chicken and turkey.
Let’s Get Back to Nature in the Park!
Now it’s time to continue your drive around the island to check out what’s important to you! There are so many places to explore, and things to do in Acadia National Park to fill up the rest of your day.
For Gardeners & Plant Lovers
For those who love plants and flowers, check out the gorgeous botanical gardens. Wild Gardens of Acadia, just south of Bar Harbor, showcases native plants, trees, wildflowers among picturesque streams and trails. Other gardens include Thuya Garden and Asticou Azalea Garden – they are not technically part of the Park, but worth a visit while you’re on the island.
Bike, Boat or Horse Around
Slow down and get a different viewpoint of the park. If you love the water, then you should explore the island by kayak. There are friendly outfitters to suit your needs, depending on whether you want to head out to the sea for an adventure with glimpses of harbor seals, porpoises, sea birds and more, or take a leisurely ride on fresh water to spot native birds, deer and other wildlife. Or opt to see the sights from the vast Carriage Road system, which is shared by cyclists, horseback riders and pedestrians. You’re able to rent bikes at several locations or bring your own, or schedule a horse-drawn carriage tour to gain access to this unique trail system, not accessible by car. Make sure you include Jordan Pond on your tour of the island. It’s a handy spot to park your car for access to many of these activities, plus it’s home to the only park-run restaurant, where you can indulge in the local tradition of enjoying tea and popovers in the afternoon.
Take a Dip or Relax on the Beach
If you would rather spend your time relaxing, then maybe you would like to discover some of the beautiful beaches in Acadia National Park. Just 5 miles south of Bar Harbor is pristine Sand Beach. It offers lots of soft sand tucked into walls of rock, along with views down to Thunder Hole and its crashing waves. Seal Harbor Public Beach isn’t part of the Park, but is very close by and offers southern views of a working harbor. While most of the fresh bodies of water don’t allow swimming, that’s luckily not the case at Echo Beach! Many guests of our historic Maine inn prefer this beach because the crowds are smaller and the water is warmer!
Don’t Worry Winter, We Didn’t Forget About You
While all of these fun outdoor activities sound great during spring, summer and fall, there is still so much to do during the winter in Acadia National Park. All of the trails, ponds and meadows turn into a magical winter wonderland once the snow falls. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, and so much more are all available during the winter months.
Crack Into Dinner at the End of Your Day
By now it’s time to decide whether you’re going to have dinner near Acadia National Park, or head back to Searsport to eat at one of the wonderful restaurants near our inn. For a classic Maine experience, you should treat yourselves to a lobster dinner. Lobster shacks are located throughout the area, though we recommend going to Union River Lobster Pot in Ellsworth, which is conveniently on your drive home! Their relaxing atmosphere and fresh seafood are only topped by their blueberry pie – which you must save room for!
Head Back to Your Comfy Accommodations
If the timing lines up, we recommend that you make a stop at Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory on your way home for a beautiful 360-degree view of the area from 420 feet up! It’s open from May 1st to October 31st until sunset. From there, you’re just about 15 minutes away from relaxing in your comfortable guest room at our authentic Maine bed and breakfast. Welcome home to one of the warmest and coziest hotels near Acadia National Park. Captain Nickels Inn serves as an ideal place from which to base all of your Maine adventures, and is a wonderful respite after your busy day exploring the coast!
Updated March 2023Book Now