Are you trying to decide where to stay in Bar Harbor, Maine? The resort town on Mount Desert Island is a popular destination with a variety of villages and places to explore.
Where to Stay in Bar Harbor, Maine
Located off the coast of Maine, Bar Harbor is a town known for its gorgeous coastline and quaint communities. The town has a population of just over 5,000, but several million people visit each year to enjoy the beauty of the region.
Bar Harbor offers access to Acadia National Park, which covers most of the midsection of the island. The park is home to the tallest mountain on the Atlantic Coast of the United States and numerous granite domes and rock formations.
The combination of mountains, streams, lakes, forests, wetlands, and rocky coastlines give Acadia National Park a unique beauty and diversity of plant life and animal life.
Outside of the park, Bar Harbor has a mixture of sleepy coastal villages and small communities. The downtown area has shops, restaurants, and even a vibrant art scene. The smaller villages each offer their own unique charms and reasons to visit.
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The Best Parts of Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor has over 60 square miles of land, which can make choosing the best place to stay a little challenging. Some of the most popular tourist areas in Bar Harbor include:
- Downtown Bar Harbor: Best for shopping and first-time visitors
- Eastern Bay: Best for families
- Seal Harbor: Best for hikers and outdoor lovers
- Northeast Harbor: Best for boaters and craft shops
- Southwest Harbor: Best for bird watchers and fewer tourists
- Tremont: Best for getting away from the crowds
Parts of Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor covers almost half of Mount Desert Island and has over half a dozen small villages and neighborhoods. Here’s a closer look at some of the most popular areas to stay in Bar Harbor.
1. Downtown Bar Harbor
The population of downtown Bar Harbor swells during the summer and fall, as it’s the main place to stay on Mount Desert Island. Visitors wanting to explore Acadia National Park often stay or pass through the downtown area.
The area was once the main vacation destination for society’s elite and still contains sprawling mansions and hotels that overlook the coast. You can easily walk the entire downtown area on foot and see everything the town has to offer.
Most of the touristy shops, galleries, and bars are on Main Street, which leads from the outskirts of town to the harbor and marina. Downtown Bar Harbor is best for shopping and first-time visitors.
No other spot on the island has as many tourist amenities and unique shops. You also have several access points for entering Acadia. However, downtown is also the most populated area, which may not appeal to everyone.
Things to Do
- Hike the scenic trails through Acadia National Park.
- Climb to the peak of Cadillac Mountain for a better view of the island.
- Browse the interesting shops, antique stores, and galleries on Main Street.
- Walk the Bar Island Land Bridge to neighboring Bar Island during low tide.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy beer and burgers at Paddy’s Food, Spirits, and Ale near the ocean.
- Fill up on grilled sandwiches stuffed with beef or seafood at Melt.
- Grab a filling seafood sandwich at Downeast Deli and Boxed Lunch Company.
Downtown Bar Harbor Budget Hotels
- Anchorage Motel: Affordable, comfortable accommodations in the center of downtown Bar Harbor. It’s just a one-minute walk to the beachfront.
- Bar Harbor Villager Motel: Budget motel with a clean pool and free breakfast. Each unit has a mini-fridge and a coffee maker.
Downtown Bar Harbor Mid-Range Hotels
- Bar Harbor Grand Hotel: One of the most popular hotels in Bar Harbor, yet still affordable. It’s just off the main street of the town, offering convenient access to the beachfront and the shops.
- Ivy Manor Inn Village Center: The exterior of this small hotel resembles an English inn, covered in moss and surrounded by lush vegetation. The rooms are comfy and furnished with traditional décor and furniture.
Downtown Bar Harbor Luxury Hotels
- Acadia Hotel: High-end hotel near the coast. The spacious rooms include terraces, luxurious furnishings, and small kitchenettes.
- Yellow House Inn: Bed and breakfast with a wraparound porch and large rooms. The home is a short walk from Bar Harbor Shore Path and has a wide selection of restaurants on the main streets of downtown Bar Harbor.
2. Eastern Bay
Eastern Bay is the northern region of Bar Harbor and includes several coastal villages. It’s one of the best areas to stay for families. The area has several large family-friendly hotels with pools and multiple attractions for kids of all ages, including a miniature golf course.
Along with hotels, Eastern Bay has a great selection of rental apartments, bed and breakfasts, and guest houses. The region has a laid back atmosphere, making it a peaceful place to stay when visiting Bar Harbor.
The two main areas of Eastern Bay are Eden and Salsbury Cove. Eden is a village on the western side of the island. Visitors often come to the historic village. Neighboring Salsbury Cove is on the northern side of the island, directly across from the coast of mainland Maine.
Eastern Bay is perfect for families with young kids. Yet, if you want to spend time in Acadia National Park or see the southern end of Mount Desert Island, you may want to try staying further south.
Things to Do
- Spend the day avoiding obstacles at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf.
- Visit the Historic Village of Eden on the western side of the island.
- Tour the carefully cultivated gardens at historic Garland Farm east of Eden.
- View the sunrise or sunset from Hadley Point Beach on the northern tip of the island.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy family-style cooking with fresh clams and lobster at Happy Clam Shack.
- Visit Sweet Pea’s Café for seafood and pizza made with local, seasonal ingredients.
- Meat is on the menu at Mainely Meat BBQ on Dreamwood Hill.
Eastern Bay Budget Hotels
- High Seas Motel: Cozy accommodations across from the Pirate’s Cove Miniature Golf Course. The motel has a pool and a picnic area, making it a top choice for families.
- Eden Village Motel and Cottages: This motel is about halfway between Salsbury Cove and the center of Eden. It’s a secluded spot with a playground for children. Each room has a fridge and microwave while each cottage has a small kitchenette.
Eastern Bay Mid-Range Hotels
- Bar Harbor Cottages & Suites: Located in the center of Salsbury Cove, this set of cottages and suites offers a charming place to stay. Some of the units offer views of the sea.
- Best Western Acadia Park Inn: This hotel is part of the Best Western chain of hotels. The hotel includes a business center and a laundromat. The deluxe rooms are spacious and available with a king-size bed and a sofa bed.
Eastern Bay Luxury Hotels
- Heathwood Inn: Although this hotel doesn’t offer the largest rooms, the units are luxurious. Each unit has a seating area, a dining area, and a small kitchen.
- Seabury Escape: The Eastern Bay region doesn’t have luxury hotels, but it does offer premium cottages and rentals, such as Seabury Escape. This large vacation home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
3. Seal Harbor
Seal Harbor is a small village at the southern end of Acadia National Park. It’s a popular summer destination for boaters and seal watchers. You can sometimes spot seals sunning on the rocks near the bays.
Seal Harbor is within the town limits of Mount Desert, which borders Bar Harbor to the south. It’s a short drive from downtown Bar Harbor along Route 3. One of the main reasons to stay in Seal Harbor is for the beach.
It’s one of three beaches on Mount Desert Island. Seal Harbor is also near Otter Creek, which is a village split between the towns of Bar Harbor and Mount Desert. If you can’t find a hotel in Seal Harbor, Otter Creek is the next best option.
Both villages are an equal distance from Park Loop Road, which takes you through the national park and two of the island’s biggest lakes.
Hikers and those who love the outdoors should enjoy staying in Seal Harbor and the surrounding area, but the lack of tourist amenities may not appeal to families or those wanting to shop.
Things to Do
- Walk the coastline or relax near the water at Sand Beach or Seal Harbor Beach.
- Head over to the coastline to look for seals sunning on the rocks.
- Hike the Cadillac South Ridge Trailhead to view the region’s unique scenery.
- Catch the sunrise and stare out across the Atlantic Ocean at Otter Cliff Overlook.
Where to Eat
- Order tea, snacks, and jam at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant before hiking in the national park.
- Relax and eat at the laid back Burning Tree Restaurant in Otter Creek.
- Grab lunch, dinner, or drinks at the Lighthouse Inn & Restaurant near the harbor.
Seal Harbor Budget Hotels
- Otter Creek Inn: This is one of the only hotels in the area. It’s toward the south of Otter Creek and just a few minutes from the center of Sea Harbor. It offers mountain views and low prices.
- Carpenter’s Cottage: Enjoy a budget price on a cottage rental. This vacation home includes four bedrooms but costs less than the typical hotel.
Seal Harbor Mid-Range Hotels
- Ledgewood 11A: Small one-bedroom cottage rental just north of the center of Seal Harbor. The home has a small garden and is a short walk to the entrance of Acadia National Park.
- Eagle’s Crag: Eagle’s Crag is another vacation home in Seal Harbor. It’s just off Route 3, which takes you to downtown Bar Harbor. It has three bedrooms and a full kitchen.
Seal Harbor Luxury Hotels
- Ledgewood 7: Ledgewood 7 is one of many cottages available to rent in Seal Harbor. This unit has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and is just a nine-minute walk from the beach.
- Otter Creek Acadia House: This location stands out as the most luxurious rental property in Seal Harbor. Each room of the house has clean, modern décor and furnishings and lots of natural sunlight.
4. Northeast Harbor
Northeast Harbor is a village in the town of Mount Desert and a short drive from downtown Bar Harbor. It’s surrounded by large trees and lush vegetation instead of rocky coastlines, making it more secluded compared to some of the other villages.
Northeast Harbor is also a getaway for the rich and famous. Several notable celebrities have homes in the area due to its seclusion and privacy. Although the village is tiny, it has quite a few unique craft shops and antique stores.
Even if you stay elsewhere in Bar Harbor, you should stop by the village to browse some of the shops. It’s also one of the main harbors for boaters and yacht owners.
Whether you own a boat or just like looking at them, you may enjoy spending time by the marina. Staying in Northeast Harbor is likely to offer a quieter experience, but you’ll also need to deal with fewer amenities, such as available accommodations.
Things to Do
- View the vibrant azaleas and rhododendrons on display at the Azalea Garden.
- Browse the craft shops and markets on Main Street in the center of Northeast Harbor.
- Watch the boats, yachts, and ferries come in at the Northeast Harbor.
- Visit the historic Brown Mountain Gatehouse at the southern entrance to Acadia National Park.
Where to Eat
- Treat yourself to breakfast, lunch, or dessert at 123 Main Street Restaurant, if you plan on visiting during the summer.
- No trip to Maine is complete without eating fresh lobster, which you can order at the Docksider Restaurant near the harbor.
- Get clam chowder, lobster stew, or a pulled pork sandwich at Ted’s Take Out.
Northeast Harbor Budget Hotels
- Kimball Terrace Inn: If you want an affordable place to stay in Northeast Harbor, try Kimball Terrace Inn. As the name suggests, each room has a terrace.
- The Colonels Suites: Low-cost hotel with a variety of suites for singles, couples, and families. It’s in the center of Northeast Harbor, so you can easily reach nearby shops.
Northeast Harbor Mid-Range Hotels
- Cozy Apartment with Deck: Enjoy your solitude at this comfortable mid-range rental. It includes a cabin atmosphere with modern furnishings. However, each unit has one bedroom.
- Harbourside Inn: Located right off Route 3, this small inn has multiple guest rooms and offers convenient access to the national park and Bar Harbor.
Northeast Harbor Luxury Hotels
- The Colonels Suites #4 and #5: These are the only luxury accommodations available in Northeast Harbor. All guest rooms include a living room with a couch and a TV, along with access to a playground and outdoor activities.
5. Southwest Harbor
Southwest Harbor is across from Northeast Harbor and slightly larger. Yet, it’s still a quiet place to stay when visiting Bar Harbor. The population is less than 2,000 people.
Southwest Harbor is a favorite destination for bird watchers, as you can spot everything from seagulls and hawks to peregrine falcons and Atlantic puffins. It’s also home to the Wendell Gilley Museum, which celebrates the decorative bird carvings created by Wendell Gilley.
Reaching Southwest Harbor from downtown Bar Harbor requires you to drive around the main harbor that splits Mount Desert Island in two.
Luckily, it’s only a 14-mile trip and takes about 22 minutes when traveling by car. Although Southwest Harbor doesn’t have direct access to the main sites in Acadia National Park, you can easily reach any spot on the island
Bird watchers and those wanting to avoid larger crowds should enjoy a stay in Southwest Harbor. If you’re wanting to browse boutique shops and eat at fancy restaurants, stick with downtown Bar Harbor.
Things to Do
- Learn more about the bird carving industry at the Wendell Gilley Museum.
- Visit the historic Carroll Homestead to see how early settlers lived in the region.
- View the ocean and cove from the Causeway that connects the north and south sides of Southwest Harbor.
Where to Eat
- Start your day with breakfast or end it with ice cream at Quietside Café and Ice Cream Shop.
- Catch the game on a big-screen TV at Joey’s Place Sports Lounge.
- Enjoy wood-fired pizza and beer or cocktails at the rustic Hearth and Harbor.
Southwest Harbor Budget Hotels
- Harbor Ridge: Harbor Ridge is a collection of townhouses and apartments with multi-day rentals. Most units sleep four to six adults. Although rentals are sometimes costly, Harbor Ridge offers budget accommodations for longer stays.
- Drydock Café & Inn: Grab a bite without having to travel. This small inn has an onsite café with hot and cold food.
Southwest Harbor Mid-Range Hotels
- Acadia National Park Home with Deck and Ocean View: As the name describes, this small home has a deck and an ocean view. The interior combines rustic and modern furnishings for a unique look.
- Renovated Southwest Harbor Cottage: If you want an ocean view, try this cottage. It sits on the edge of the harbor and includes a sprawling living room with views of the surrounding harbor and ocean.
Southwest Harbor Luxury Hotels
- Kenway Ranch: Kenway Ranch may not offer the most luxurious furnishings, but it’s a large rental with three bedrooms and a bathroom. It’s also a secluded property with convenient access to several hiking trails.
- Southwest Harbor Home: This is another vacation home and one of the classiest properties in the region. You may not want to leave the carefully decorated interior, which includes four bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen.
Tremont is a town found just south of Southwest Harbor. It was previously part of Southwest Harbor before becoming an independent town in 1905. It includes the villages of Bass Harbor, Seal Cove, West Tremont, and Bernard.
The collection of small communities doesn’t have a lot of attractions for tourists, but it’s a quiet place to stay. One site worth visiting is the Bass Harbor Lighthouse, located just south of town. The 1858 lighthouse sits on a sea cliff and connects to several paths with vantage points for taking unforgettable pictures.
The harbor also offers access to a ferry with trips to nearby Swans Island. The small island town is a great day trip from Tremont and contains a few interesting shops and museums.
Tremont is the town furthest from Acadia, which may not work well for those who plan on spending their vacation hiking and exploring the outdoors. This town is best for those who want to get away from the crowds.
Things to Do
- Get a better view of Maine’s coastline from Bass Harbor Lighthouse.
- Take a ferry trip and spend the day exploring nearby Swans Island.
- Hike the Wonderland Trail to reach a secluded spot on the coast.
- Take a day cruise around Sawyers Island, Johns Island, and the other tiny islands in the region.
Where to Eat
- Watch the ships roll in as you dine on lobster at Seafood Ketch.
- Order pizza, cookies, or sandwiches at the charming Salt Meadow Farm Restaurant.
- Whether you want ice cream or lobster, Seaside Dairy Bar & Lobster Bar has you covered.
Tremont Budget Hotels
- Loft Cabin with Outdoor Patio: This small cabin sits in the hills just southwest of Acadia National Park. It’s a private spot with a single bedroom but is one of the least expensive options.
- Jody’s Acre Hideaway: This quaint little retreat is technically in Southwest Harbor but is just down the street from the center of Tremont. It’s a comfortable, affordable place to stay.
Tremont Mid-Range Hotels
- Seasons in Seal Cove: Get away from the busy streets with a stay at Seasons in Seal Cover. This small, reasonably priced hotel is just a short walk north of the center of Tremont.
- Quiet Coastal Getaway. This is another secluded rental. It includes two bedrooms and is about 20 miles from downtown Bar Harbor.
Tremont Luxury Hotels
- Compass Rose: Compass Rose is a vacation home rental in Seal Cove, which is a short drive north of Tremont. As the area doesn’t have many hotels, renting a nearby home is a great alternative.
- Creek Cottage: Soak up the sun in this cozy cottage in Bass Harbor, just east of Tremont. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with large floor-to-ceiling windows.
Where Should You Stay in Bar Harbor, Maine?
Bar Harbor has a rugged coastline with views of nearby islands, lobster boats, and yachts. It’s also the largest town on Mount Desert Island, offering access to shops and restaurants. Yet, Bar Harbor and the surrounding area have many different places to stay.
No matter where you stay in Bar Harbor, you can easily reach Acadia National Park and other scenic attractions. Before you book a flight, pick a place to stay and arrange your accommodations.