Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock/AeypixBubble pondIsle au Haut LighthouseTop of Cadillac MountainSchoodic PeninsulaSchoodic PeninsulaSchoodic PeninsulaSouth Harbor

Families will love:

  • Jaw-dropping scenery
  • Something for every age group and taste
  • Bar Harbor a resort town

Those who have been there know: the Acadia region of Maine is unlike anywhere else in New England -- or anywhere else in the country, really. The lobster claw of an island off the Downeast Maine coast has been beguiling visitors for hundreds of years with its jaw-dropping scenery -- a collision of mountainous islands and ocean that demands superlatives. Mount Desert ... more
Those who have been there know: the Acadia region of Maine is unlike anywhere else in New England -- or anywhere else in the country, really. The lobster claw of an island off the Downeast Maine coast has been beguiling visitors for hundreds of years with its jaw-dropping scenery -- a collision of mountainous islands and ocean that demands superlatives. Mount Desert Island (properly pronounced "Mount Dessert Island," a malapropism of the French "Ile des Monts Deserts," or "Island of the Bare Mountains") is dominated by Acadia National Park, encompassing 46,000 acres of cedar-fringed mountains, rocky cliffs and demanding hiking trails.

Unlike some national parks out west, this is no untamed wilderness. Some 100 years ago, a clutch of the country's richest captains of industry -- chief among them John D. Rockefeller Jr. -- adopted this area as their summer playground, building enormous mansions and a network of carriage roads and stone bridges throughout the landscape in an artful melding of civilization and wilderness. It was Rockefeller and his fellow philanthropists who spearheaded the creation of Acadia National Park in 1919, the first park east of the Mississippi. Most of the mansions, for better or worse, burned in the great fire of 1947; however, the carriage roads and bridges survived, and the park was conscientiously restored to its former natural glory.

Over the years, Acadia has developed into a family vacation land with something for every age group and taste. The center of action is Bar Harbor, a resort town full of T-shirt shops, motels, and ice cream parlors that metastasizes in population every summer. The town is ideally suited for families, with countless diversions and family-friendly restaurants and lodgings, as well as a downtown ready made for strolling on soft summer nights. It's a ready antidote for kids overwhelmed by too much of the great outdoors who need a little jolt of civilization or just good, unpretentious fun. The two other population centers on the island are much quieter -- Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor. They are yachting anchorages with a complement of upscale restaurants and boutiques, while Bass Harbor retains the character of a traditional lobstering village.

Written by Michael Blanding less

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