Seasons in Bar Harbor and Acadia
Springtime in Bar Harbor is typified by Memorial Day Weekend at the end of May, a bustling couple of days which serve as the traditional ringing in of our warm weather season. Memorial Day is when things really start to pick up here, however early June is still relatively quiet, and very pretty! Late spring is the ideal time to visit Thuya Garden and see the flowers in bloom, or to enjoy the splendid scent of a lilac tree along the Shore Path. Everything is so intensely bright and colorful, the conditions are guaranteed to enhance your photography skills! Sometimes the weather can be a bit rainy, but you can always take advantage of indoor activities including the Abbe Museum or the Bar Harbor Historical Society, or simply relax in our common foyer or game room. Bar Harbor has a very rich and fascinating history incorporating prominent artisans, businesspeople, writers, architects, and many more. The Inn on Mount Desert features a library of books with a decidedly local flavor!
Summertime has been Bar Harbor’s claim to fame since the mid-1800s. Shortly thereafter cottages [read: incredibly large mansions] constructed by many of nation’s wealthiest began to populate the shoreline of Frenchman Bar, and they were soon accompanied by large hotels to accommodate the growing influx of tourists. It is not difficult to contemplate why people from all over have been flocking to Bar Harbor in the summertime for more than a century—the climate is fabulous, warm but typically not uncomfortably so, generally beneath blue skies. Some of Bar Harbor’s most popular summertime activities include Whale Watching, Lighthouse Tours, Sailing, Paddle Boarding, and my personal favorite: simply strolling along the Shore Path with an ice cream cone. Mornings and evenings are warm enough to enjoy the sunrise and sunset, though you may want to bring a jacket if you’re going to be on the water or atop a mountain.
At low tide, walk across the natural sand bar to Bar Island and look back at the Harbor. Most shops, galleries, theatres, and restaurants are open until at least 9 PM, with many open several hours later. Delightful breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in some of the most gorgeous settings imaginable are minutes from your doorstep. The free Island Explorer Shuttle runs regularly all summer if you don’t feel like driving—it can take you just about anywhere, most anytime! Bar Harbor’s 4th of July celebration has been voted best in the Country by the Today Show, and there’s no magic quite like that of watching fireworks light up the night sky over Frenchman bar. For those fond of the arts, July also features the Bar Harbor Music Festival and there are art walks on several occasions each summer. In short, you can’t beat Bar Harbor in the summertime so you may as well join it!
Photo via AcadiaMagic.com.
Traditionally the fall season in Bar Harbor begins Labor Day and extends through Columbus Day, however more recently exciting annual events including the MDI Marathon have been keeping the town lively through the end of October. The first frost generally doesn’t take place until closer to the end of October with peak foliage typically arriving around the middle part of the month, making the second half of October of the most beautiful times to experience Bar Harbor. Autumn, while still very active, is a little slower paced than the summertime and thus can be a particularly appealing time for couples, nature enthusiasts, photographers, and any travelers seeking a breath of fresh air and a particularly colorful landscape. Autumn is also peak season for cruise ships, which bring an eclectic variety of people from all over the world and make for interesting views from downtown and the mountains alike as they dot Frenchman Bay. Additionally, the popular Acadia Night Sky Festival takes place each September—it should be noted that Bar Harbor is an incredible place to stargaze as the town and surrounding areas offer some of the darkest skies on the Eastern Seaboard, and Acadia National Park does not close its gates at night so you are free to observe the moon and stars from any vantage point at all hours! On Mount Desert Island’s “quiet side,” the Oktoberfest Food & Crafts Festival takes place each autumn in Southwest Harbor, and the Asticou Azalea Garden in Northeast Harbor features a pond that reflects the colors of the foliage. While it is never a bad time to visit Bar Harbor, many who frequent the area claim the fall as their favorite!
Chart from Maine.gov.
Photo via Acadia National Park.
Wintertime in Bar Harbor is beautiful and can be more exciting than it is given credit for. Indeed it is quiet—Bar Harbor is a town of only 5,000, and of those 5,000 many flee to warmer conditions between November and May—however Acadia National Park remains open and the moderate amount of snow we tend to receive makes for some incredibly gorgeous conditions without rendering the area unpassable. Several restaurants and attractions generally remain open including Atlantic Brewing Midtown, Side Street Café, and the Criterion Theatre. Annual events including the Bar Harbor Winter Beer Fest offer opportunities to mix it up with the local crowd (and local food and craft beers!). The Great Harbor Shoot Out is always a fun weekend for those who enjoy taking in local high school basketball. And yes, it’s usually a bit chilly outside, but November and April tend to be plenty warm for hiking and general outdoor activity. Even in the crux of winter temperatures can be all over the place—for example, during January 2018 temperatures ranged from -9 degrees to 55 degrees, with an average high of 30 degrees. Stay a week in the winter and you’re likely to experience at least a couple vastly different combinations of weather conditions, but it can often be a win-win: snow is pretty, and warm is warm! One interesting aspect of the wintertime climate is the vistas that open up when the leaves fall from the trees—indeed, all the views take on a different character, and some entirely unique views open up. So if you’re looking for a quiet escape surrounded by a winter wonderland, Bar Harbor in the “off-season” just might be exactly what you’re looking for!