Non Touristy Things To Do In Bar Harbor

Aleena Mehmood2024-03-22

Table of Contents


Bar Harbor, nestled on Mount Desert Island, is a jewel of the Maine coast. While cruise ships and bustling streets might paint a picture of a tourist hotspot, this charming town offers a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered by those willing to veer off the well-trodden Park Loop Road. So, ditch the crowds and pack your sense of adventure, because Tripshepherd is here to guide you on an unforgettable journey through the hidden gems of Bar Harbor!

Pro Tip: Embrace Winter Harbor

Many visitors flock to Bar Harbor proper, overlooking the serene beauty of Winter Harbor. This postcard-perfect village boasts stunning views of Frenchman Bay, a haven for local artists and a launching point for idyllic kayaking adventures. Grab a locally roasted coffee and a pastry from a quaint cafe, then wander the harbor, soaking in the tranquil atmosphere. For a touch of history, visit the Bar Harbor Historical Society Museum and delve into the rich maritime heritage of the region.

Hike Less-Travelled Trails

Acadia National Park is a hiker's paradise, but the allure of Cadillac Mountain often overshadows the park's lesser-known trails. Explore the dramatic coastline on the Ocean Path, offering breathtaking vistas and a chance to spot marine life frolicking in the waves. Feeling adventurous? Tackle the Beehive Trail, a challenging climb rewarded with panoramic views of the island. For a leisurely stroll amidst fragrant pines, head to the Schoodic Peninsula and meander along the Alder Point Trail.

Craft Beer with a View

After a day of exploration, unwind at one of Bar Harbor's hidden gems – the craft brewery scene. Sample award-winning ales and lagers at the Atlantic Brewing Company, housed in a historic building overlooking the harbor. For a truly unique experience, head to the Bar Harbor Distillery and sip on handcrafted spirits made with locally sourced ingredients.

Embrace the Local Flavor: Beyond Lobster Rolls

While a classic Maine lobster roll is a must-try, Bar Harbor offers a culinary scene that caters to more than just seafood cravings. Indulge in fresh, seasonal fare at a charming cafe in Northeast Harbor, or savor delectable wood-fired pizzas at a local gastropub. For a taste of authentic Italian cuisine, head to a family-run trattoria in Bar Harbor and treat yourself to a plate of homemade pasta. Don't forget to explore the bounty of the sea at a local fish market, picking up fresh catches to cook back at your rental.

Stargazing at Jordan Pond

Escape the light pollution of downtown Bar Harbor and head to Jordan Pond for an unforgettable stargazing experience. Spread out a blanket on the shore of the crystal-clear lake and marvel at the dazzling tapestry of stars blanketing the night sky. Feeling peckish? Pack a picnic basket with local cheeses, artisan bread, and fresh fruit for a truly magical evening under the stars.

Experience Bar Harbor's hidden treasures on our "Best of Bar Harbor w/ Thunder Hole and Acadia National Park" tour!

Where Do the Locals Go in Bar Harbor?

While Bar Harbor thrives on tourism, there are spots frequented more by locals:

Southwest Harbor:

A working waterfront town boasting a vibrant arts scene and delicious seafood restaurants. Explore the shops and galleries, or grab a bite at a harborside eatery.

Northeast Harbor:

A picturesque village known for its historic harbor and lobster shacks serving the freshest catches. Take a boat tour, explore the shops, or simply relax on the harbor watching the world go by.

Agamont Park:

Located just outside of downtown Bar Harbor, this park offers a tranquil escape with walking paths, a spacious green space, and a historic bandstand that sometimes features free concerts in the summer.

Local Places to Eat in Bar Harbor

Peekytoe Provisions:

This gourmet market is a favorite among locals for its wide selection of fresh seafood, local produce, and prepared foods. Stock up on picnic supplies or grab a delicious sandwich to go.


A local institution serving up classic Maine fare in a casual atmosphere. Their lobster rolls are legendary but don't miss the opportunity to try other seafood specialties or hearty sandwiches.

The Thirsty Whale:

A gastropub is known for its delectable wood-fired pizzas and extensive craft beer selection. This spot is a favorite for a relaxed evening with friends.

Bar Harbor Lobster Co-op:

Experience a true Maine lobster experience by purchasing fresh lobster straight from the source at the co-op. They also offer picnic tables where you can enjoy your meal with a view.

Unwind at Agamont Park

Located just outside of downtown Bar Harbor, Agamont Park offers a tranquil escape amidst towering trees and manicured lawns. Stroll along the scenic walking paths, have a picnic lunch on the spacious village green, or simply relax with a good book on a park bench. The park also features a historic bandstand, where you might catch a free concert during the summer months.

Frenchman Bay by Kayak

For a truly immersive experience, explore the hidden coves and inlets of Frenchman Bay by kayak. Paddle through crystal-clear waters, marveling at the dramatic coastline and spotting playful harbor seals basking on the rocks. Several local outfitters offer guided kayak tours, perfect for beginners and seasoned paddlers alike.

Bar Harbor's Artistic Soul: The Abbe Museum

While many flock to Acadia National Park for its natural beauty, Bar Harbor boasts a rich cultural scene. Delve into the fascinating history of the Wabanaki people at the renowned Abbe Museum. This award-winning museum showcases captivating exhibits on Native American art, culture, and history, offering a deeper understanding of the region's indigenous heritage.

Sand Between Your Toes: Secret Beaches

While Bar Harbor boasts some popular beaches, there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. For a secluded escape, head to Sand Beach on the southern tip of the island. This pristine beach offers soft sand, crystal-clear waters, and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Another hidden gem is Echo Lake Beach, a freshwater haven nestled amidst towering trees, perfect for a refreshing dip on a hot summer day.

Beyond Bar Harbor: Exploring Mount Desert Island

Mount Desert Island offers a plethora of charming villages beyond Bar Harbor. Head to Southwest Harbor, a working waterfront town with a vibrant arts scene and delicious seafood restaurants. For a glimpse into island life, explore NortheastHarbor, a picturesque village known for its historic harbor and lobster shacks serving the freshest catches. Don't forget to explore the charming shops and art galleries lining the streets, perfect for picking up unique souvenirs.

Making the Most of Your Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure

Embrace the shoulder seasons:

While summer offers undeniable beauty, consider visiting Bar Harbor during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) to avoid peak crowds and enjoy comfortable temperatures.

Cycling is a fantastic way to explore the island at your own pace. Many outfitters offer bike rentals, allowing you to navigate the car-free carriage roads of Acadia National Park or explore the charming villages of Mount Desert Island.

Embrace the local festivals:

Bar Harbor comes alive with vibrant festivals throughout the year. Immerse yourself in the Bar Harbor Folk Festival for a celebration of music and dance, or savor the fresh bounty of the sea during the annual Bar Harbor Seafood Festival.

Plan your visit around high tide:

Witnessing the dramatic power of the ocean is a must-do in Bar Harbor. Plan your visit to Thunder Hole around high tide to experience the full force of the waves crashing into the rocks, creating a thunderous boom.

Join us for a journey through Acadia National Park on our exclusive Bar Harbor tour!

Bar Harbor With Tripshepherd

Bar Harbor offers a world beyond the cruise ships and souvenir shops. With Tripshepherd as your guide, you can delve into the island's hidden gems, uncover its rich history, and savor its unique flavors. Browse our Bar Harbor Tours and choose the one you find most suitable. Whether you're a seasoned adventurer or a curious explorer, we have the perfect tour to ignite your wanderlust.


In conclusion, Bar Harbor is a destination that caters to all kinds of travelers. While the iconic sights of Acadia National Park and the charming downtown area are undeniable draws, venturing beyond the beaten path unlocks a whole new world of experiences. From tranquil escapes in hidden coves to vibrant artistic expression and delectable culinary delights, Bar Harbor's hidden gems offer something for everyone.

So, ditch the crowds, lace up your hiking boots, and embrace the spirit of adventure. Bar Harbor awaits, ready to surprise and delight you with its hidden magic. Let Tripshepherd be your guide on this unforgettable journey – contact us today and start planning your dream Bar Harbor escape!