Instead of asking where to stay in Acadia National Park, you should probably ask, “in which city near Acadia should I place my permanent residence” — if you visit even once, you’ll have a hard time leaving.
The 5 Best Places to Stay in Acadia National Park
There’s one important thing you have to know before you choose where to stay near Acadia National Park: staying close to it — on Mount Desert Island — is quite expensive. The further you go away from the park, and as soon as you leave the island, the prices are significantly lower.
We’ve listed the cities, starting with the one closest to the park, and as we delve deeper into our journey, we’ll get to the outskirts and the mainland.
Our favorite areas to stay include:
- Bar Harbor: Definitely the best choice for staying near Acadia, Bar Harbor is a city full of history and tasty restraints but with really expensive accommodation options.
- Southwest Harbor: Located on the western side of Mount Desert Island, it offers a lot of sea-related activities and a similar accommodation situation as Bar Harbor.
- Trenton: The first city on your way out of Mount Desert Island but also very close to the park, it is a perfect choice if you prefer something cheaper.
- Ellsworth: The biggest city in our guide and also the furthest from Acadia, it offers a bunch of accommodation options, a lot of museums, and a family-friendly atmosphere.
The Best Areas and Hotels by the Park
Acadia National Park has been a magnet for wealthy tourists since the 19th century. That means that there are a lot of hotels both inside and near the park.
The accommodations are very close to the park — the cities practically adjacent to it, like Bar Harbor and Southwest Harbor, are really expensive. You won’t find anything here with less than three stars.
As you leave Mount Desert Island, the accommodation options multiply, and the prices drop exponentially. Trenton and Ellsworth are both less than half an hour away from the park, and they are significantly more budget-oriented than the cities on the island.
If you prefer not to spend a lot of money but still be near the park, we recommend that you choose either of these two cities.
1. Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor is definitely your best choice if you want to stay close to Acadia National Park. A small city of around 5,000 people, it basically borders the park, and it can even be considered that it’s inside Acadia.
Regardless of the geographical technicality, we are talking about a lively city during the summer and the autumn months, when most of the tourists frequent the place.
It is no surprise then that the most interesting thing you could do while staying in the city is to visit the park itself. Both Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are located on Mount Desert Island, the second largest island on the Atlantic Coast.
Obviously, most of its attractions are nature-related, but not all. There are some cultural landmarks and museums, too, that are definitely worth your time.
Aside from visiting the park, we also recommend taking a walk along the Shore Path and the Ocean Trail, which are probably the two best hiking trails in the city.
Quite near to the city — but in Acadia — is another favorite lane for hikers, namely the beautiful Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail. Also, the Land Bridge to Bar Island (the Island opposite Bar Harbor) offers a chance for another interesting adventure.
As we said, nature is not the only interesting thing in Bar Harbor.
There are a bunch of museums you can visit to learn more about the history and the culture of this part of America (George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History); some interesting historic buildings (St. Saviour’s Church) and — surprisingly enough — not a small number of art galleries.
Bar Harbor offers the best accommodation options near Acadia National Park, but they come at a price, and a high one at that.
There are basically no budget options in this city, and no hotel, motel, or holiday home has less than three stars. Some people may even consider Bar Harbor an elite town, only offering its services to visitors looking for luxury.
Bar Harbor Budget Hotels
- The Elmhurst Inn is the cheapest accommodation in Bar Harbor and can be called a budget option only in a relative sense. It has three stars and is particularly suitable for couples: it offers a nice garden on the premises and a terrace, and it also serves fresh American breakfast to its guests every morning.
- Canterbury Cottage Bed & Breakfast is the second cheapest accommodation in Bar Harbor and, again, a budget option only in relation to its circumstances. A three-star bed and breakfast, it offers free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and parking, private bathrooms in every room, breakfast every morning, and a tennis court on the premises.
Bar Harbor Mid-Range Hotels
- Bar Harbor Grand Hotel is a great three-star hotel located in the central area of Bar Harbor. It boasts — among other things — an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center on the premises, free parking and Wi-Fi for every guest, coffee and tea makers in every room, and facilities for disabled people.
- Acadia Hotel – Downtown is another centrally located three-star hotel, which is a great option for those who want to spend their time in Bar Harbor around restaurants and shops. An old building dating back to 1884 with a library inside, it offers a bar, a fitness center, and tasty breakfast every morning.
Bar Harbor Luxury Hotels
- The Reminisce vacation home 5br/3bt,downtown BH is an upscale four-star holiday home located in the center of Bar Harbor. It offers free parking, free Wi-Fi, barbecue facilities on the premises, and a garden. It also has three bathrooms and five bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a flat-screen TV in the sitting area.
- Sand Bar Cottage Inn is another quite expensive and luxurious four-star accommodation located in the middle of Bar Harbor. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and a flat-screen TV — some of them even have terraces. There’s also a garden on the premises, and American breakfast is served every morning.
2. Southwest Harbor
On the opposite side of Mount Desert Island lies the small village-city called Southwest Harbor. It is even smaller than Bar Harbor (population of around 1,700 people) but just as charming, interesting, and beautiful as anything close to Acadia National Park.
It’s another obvious choice for travelers who prefer to stay next to the park but would like a more relaxed and forlorn atmosphere than in the much more popular Bar Harbor.
The sea is your biggest friend here, and most of the interesting activities are connected to either canyoning or boating, enjoying the view, the flora, and the fauna, or eating some tasty lobster, shrimp, or clam.
We recommend you test the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in some way: you can either rent a private boat or discover the beauties of Acadia National Park on a boat tour.
If you prefer something more specific, like learning where and how lobsters are harvested, you can choose the ultra-popular Acadia Lobster Cruise. For the more adventurous among you, you can try exploring nature on a kayak or enjoy the Acadian mountainous vistas while sailing.
If you’re more of a down-to-earth person (in a literal way), we recommend you go on some of the numerous hikes that are available in this area:
- Beech Cliff Loop
- Flying Mountain Hiking Trail
- Wonderland Trail
- Perpendicular Trail
If you want to relax and enjoy some city-tamed nature, there’s also the Charlotte Rhoades Garden and Butterfly Park, as well as the Wendell Gilley Museum, which tells of the unique magic of bird carving.
Considering the accommodations, the situation is practically the same with Bar Harbor. There’s literally nothing with less than three stars. As we said, staying close to Acadia comes at a high price.
Southwest HarborBudget Hotels
- Waterfront Southwest Harbor Cottage on Dock! is a nice two-bedroom holiday home located in Southwest Harbor. Similarly, like the budget accommodations in Bar Harbor, this holiday home is a budget option only in a relative sense. It also offers a living room with DVD, free Wi-Fi and free parking on-site.
- Loft Cabin with Outdoor Patio-Near Acadia Natl Park is another three-star holiday home, but this time located right in Southwest Harbor. It’s quite small (74 square meters), has one bedroom, one bathroom, a living room equipped with a flat-screen TV, and a kitchen.
Southwest Harbor Mid-Range Hotels
- Kenway Ranch is a great three-star holiday home located a few miles to the north of Southwest Harbor. It offers three bedrooms, one bathroom equipped with a shower, a kitchen with a fridge and oven, a barbecue on the premises, free Wi-Fi, and free parking for the residents.
- Manset Grotto is a beautiful holiday home with a perfect view. All of the rooms have a view of the sea and are equipped with a cable TV, a bathroom, and a small kitchen. There’s also free Wi-Fi throughout the premises and free parking.
Southwest Harbor Luxury Hotels
- Creek Cottage is a huge (around 90 square meters) three-star holiday home located to the north of Tremond. It offers two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a comfortable and large living room with a TV. There’s also free Wi-Fi throughout the premises and free parking.
- Acadia National Park Home with Deck and Ocean View is another very large (140 square meters) three-star holiday home. Located in the heart of Southwest Harbor, it offers a nice garden in front of the premises, free Wi-Fi and free parking, no less than three bedrooms and three bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a living room with a TV.
Trenton is the first city that you’ll meet after you leave Mount Desert and the nearest place to Acadia National Park on the continent. Just 7 miles from the park, you can reach it in less than 15 minutes by car — it’s basically like you are staying in the park.
This small city populated by around 1,500 people has one more important convenience. It is located less than a mile from the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport.
Plainly speaking, Trenton has a lot of the perks of being close to Acadia Park, but it’s not as expensive and elite as the places on Mount Desert, like Bar Harbor and North West Harbor.
It has a wider range of accommodation and a couple of budget options. It’s probably the most convenient choice for practical visitors who want to stay close to the Park but prefer not to spend all their savings on Mount Desert.
The main attraction near Trenton is, obviously, Acadia Park, and most of your time should be spent there. One special thing that the city has to offer is that they offer you to see the city from the air. Check the Scenic Flights of Acadia if you want to have this unforgettable experience.
Trenton has its own interesting, sui generis stuff. To the north of the city (on the opposite side of the park) there are interesting nature-related places that are worth your time.
Similarly, like other places near Acadia, Trenton is a town that thrives on tourism. It’s no surprise, then, that the city is full of different interesting shops that are more into providing memories than selling products.
Trenton Budget Hotels
- Isleview Motel & Cottages is a decent two-star motel located on Bar Harbor road, very close to the center of Trenton. It offers a nice garden with barbecue facilities, free Wi-Fi throughout the premises, and air-conditioned rooms. All the rooms are equipped with flat-screen cable TVs.
- Acadia Sunrise Motel is a three-star motel with an outdoor pool located north of the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport. There’s free Wi-Fi and free air conditioning on the premises, all the rooms have flat-screen cable TVs, and some of them even have small kitchenettes. Finally, there are barbecue facilities on the premises and a children’s playground.
Trenton Mid-Range Hotels
- Narrows Too Camping Resort Cabin 6 is a nice small house located in a resort in Trenton that has an outdoor swimming pool. The house has a patio, a dining and sitting room, free Wi-Fi, and free parking. The place is particularly suitable for couples.
- Narrows Too Camping Resort Cottage 11 is another decent accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool on the premises. There’s a patio and a terrace on the premises, and every room is equipped with a private bathroom, a small kitchen, a sitting area, and a sofa. There are also facilities for disabled guests.
Trenton Luxury Hotels
- Acadia Ocean Front Garden Cottages is a huge 280-square-meter house with three bedrooms. Located on the waterfront to the south of Trenton, it offers a house with a sea view and a private beach. It also has a beautiful botanical garden with all kinds of flowers and a guest house with one bedroom.
- Silver’s Log Cabin is another quite big holiday home (90 square meters) located to the west of Trenton. Just 12 miles from Acadia National Park, it offers three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room (with a TV), and a fully equipped kitchen. The house has a refrigerator, an oven, and a washing machine, so it is suitable for longer stays.
As we get further from Acadia National Park, the cities get bigger. Ellsworth is located around 15 miles to the north of the Park and is populated by no more than 8,500 people — that makes it the largest city in close proximity to Acadia.
Because of its size, it has the most accommodation options and the most areas in the area. We recommend Ellsworth for family-friendly tourists, who, aside from the proximity to the park, are looking for a bigger and more urbane city.
Like all the cities on the list, Ellsworth is old and full of museums and old buildings. The first reason to stay here is obviously Acadia, and you can reach the park in less than an hour by car. But, the city itself is quite interesting and offers plenty for history buffs.
First, there are three museums you just have to visit as soon as you can:
- Stanwood Homestead Museum and Bird Sanctuary: the perfect choice for bird and nature lovers.
- The Telephone Museum: an interactive museum where you can not only see the communication technology of the past but also experience it.
- Woodlawn Museum: an old and historical building, here you can learn about the house itself and stroll its beautiful gardens and trails.
We said that there’s some intricate connection between this part of America and books, and Ellsworth is not an exception.
The Ellsworth Public Library was built in early 1817 and was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Although it’s not a museum, it personifies the city in the best way.
Ellsworth has a wide range of restaurants and accommodation options. From two-star hotels and motels to huge expensive holiday homes — it has it all. As you go further away from the park, the prices drop lower, and the options multiply.
Ellsworth Budget Hotels
- Colonial Inn Ellsworth is a two-star hotel located half a mile from Ellsworth’s downtown, with an indoor pool. It also has a Thai sauna and on-site dining. The hotel offers free parking and free Wi-Fi to all of its guests and provides facilities for disabled people too.
- Atlantic Coast Inn is another very cheap two-star hotel, but this time located in the heart of Ellsworth. The rooms have a private bathroom, cable TV, and a sitting area with a sofa. There’s a restaurant on the premises, free Wi-Fi, free parking, and facilities for disabled guests.
Ellsworth Mid-Range Hotels
- Ramada by Wyndham Ellsworth – Bar Harbor is a great three-star hotel that offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, and is completely pet-friendly. Its most important assets are its outdoor pool and its fitness center. There’s a TV in every room, a desk, and a very comfortable private bathroom.
- Cute Ellsworth Home with Deck, 16 Mi to Acadia! Is a three-star holiday home that covers around 110 square meters. It offers free Wi-Fi throughout the premises, free parking, a nice garden in front of the house, and facilities for disabled guests.
Ellsworth Luxury Hotels
- Leonard Lake House is a marvelous pet-friendly holiday home with a great view of Leonard Lake, making it a top location near Ellsworth. It has free Wi-Fi throughout the premises, free parking in front of the home, two bedrooms and one bathroom, and a fully equipped kitchen.
- Ellsworth Holiday is a full holiday home located on the brink of Leonard Lake, offering a fantastic view. It offers two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, and a fully equipped kitchen with a refrigerator and an oven. There’s also free parking, free Wi-Fi, and a beautiful garden near the house.
So, Where Should You Stay in Acadia National Park?
It was hard writing about Acadia National Park and the cities near it because we had so much to tell! The area is full of history and culture and surrounded by beautiful nature, we always felt that we left something out.
Now that we’ve reached the end, let’s make a quick summary of the most important points of our guide:
|🏰 Most Historic Area||Bar Harbor|
|🛥️ Best Area for Watersports||Southwest Harbor|
|💸 Most Budget-Friendly area||Trenton|
|👪 Best for Families||Ellsworth|
So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Acadia National Park today and see all of its natural beauty for yourself!