Previous Next

Photo above: Seamus Murray, Feature photo: Author

…Even If Your Sister-in-Law Is Offering Free Rent on Martha’s Vineyard.

You have to stay close to home this summer. For East Coasters, that often translates to vacation destinations like the Vineyard, Cape, or Hamptons.

Or, you could let I-95 carry you a little farther north for an exploration of Maine’s Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park. Here’s what awaits:

1. World-class scenery

Acadia has preserved two-thirds of Mount Desert Island, regularly ranked among the ten most beautiful islands in the world because of its rocky coastline, glacial lakes, boreal forests, and the only fjord on America’s Atlantic coast.

Add in lighthouses and fishing villages, and you’ll understand its unique appeal to travelers who love both the mountains and the sea.

Photo: Author

2. Maine’s adventure triathlon

Hiking, biking, and kayaking are the trio of Acadia sports that take advantage of the park’s 130 miles of trails and 57 miles of car-free carriage roads.

Rock climbing sites are first-class, including the 110-foot Otter Cliff, where you rappel down over the crashing Atlantic surf and then climb back up.

3. Budget campgrounds

The national park service offers two campgrounds for $10-$20/night. Or, for those not into roughing it, there are other options ranging from 50s-style motels in Bar Harbor to romantic B&Bs all over the island.

If your stay is a week or longer, try negotiating rates on a rental. (Even before the meltdown, an oversupply yielded some flexibility from owners.)

4. Car-free transport

L.L. Bean offers a free, ecofriendly bus service around the island that’ll save you money and make you feel even better for foregoing that cross-hemisphere plane trip this summer. Additionally, an Acadia website lists several options for getting to Bar Harbor without a car.

Photo: Author

5. Tasty microbreweries

Awarding-winning American microbrews are born on this island at Bar Harbor Brewing and Atlantic Brewery. You can skip the tour and just join the generous tastings to do your part to “save the ales.”

6. Maine lobster

The island abounds in lobster pounds featuring mussels, steamers, New England clam chowder, and lobster pulled straight from Maine’s icy waters, which makes it the sweetest, most delicious catch anywhere.

7. Your sister-in-law lies

Nothing’s free. She’ll guilt you into picking up the tab at one of the Vineyard’s $40-entrée restaurants that make you feel just like you’d stayed home anyway.

Community Connection:

For more Maine fun, read about Katahdin: Maine’s Mountain, The Best Hiking Trail in Maine, and Trips’ Green Guide to (the Other) Portland.

Matador members advenjunkie, Laisee, AbbyB, and aya all either hail from Maine or are currently in-state. Get your networking on!

About The Author

Lynn Fantom

Lynn Fantom is a Manhattan-based media executive who soothes her yearning for Maine by writing about it. Her website, OUR ACADIA, features tips on exploring, eating, and relaxing in Acadia National Park.

  • Claire

    Crazy, I just got back from there yesterday. Beautiful, beautiful place and I highly recommend.

  • Hal Amen

    Agreed. MDI is gorgeous, and there’s so much to do. Can’t wait till I make it back.

  • Tim Patterson

    MDI was far and away the highlight of my bike trip up the coast of Maine. I recommend the Nature Conservancy plot at Indian Point – quiet, peaceful, beautiful.

  • Stu

    8) Great golf course- Kebo Golf Club
    9) The Bar Harbor restaurants/bars (Rupinuni’s, that one with the bocce court, Reel pizza, et al).
    10) Quick launch off point to Nova Scotia on the Cat Ferry (Gambling is legal in international waters)
    11) Boating, swimming holes, cliff jumping, etc
    12) Mainers.

    Thanks for the posting! Love MDI. I’ve spent a good amount of time up in Southwest Harbor and Bar Harbor. So beautiful.
    Great place to rent a home and congregate with friends.. ( is a good vacation rental website)

    • Hal Amen

      Thanks for continuing the discussion, Stu, and for providing some valuable info. MDI certainly has a lot to offer, doesn’t it?

  • aya

    nice summary, lynn-fantom. though i’m originally from maine, i didn’t realize what awesome rock climbing opportunities there are on MDI until a couple years ago. …your article has me feeling a little homesick. :)

    ice cream fans, another reason to visit MDI is ben & bills (, where you can get lobster-flavored scoops.

  • Lynn

    Thank you, all, for the comments. This week I leave with my daughter to trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Very exciting! Still, I yearn for Maine and look forward to the Fourth there. Bar Harbor is planning old-fashioned blueberry pancake breakfasts, a parade, fireworks — and a huge initiative toward making all that red/white/blue as green as possible. Very impressive.

  • Russo

    This is great! I’m thinking about taking a trip to Maine for Spring Break during 2011 and found this information very useful! Definitely adding it to my itinerary!

Two bucks' worth of transport is all it takes to craft a weekend away in Santiago.
My plane hadn’t landed before I had my first red rock sighting.
It's not always towering height that makes the mountain.
Highlights from Alaska's many national park offerings.
Megan Hill lays down the trek to the Sahale Glacier.
A mini-documentary on the most beautiful mountain hike in the world.
There are still a handful of places in the US where it's possible to "unplug."
Where to hike with your dog within Philadelphia city limits.
Here's some weekend wanderlust inspiration for you. Get out and explore.
Leave the concrete jungle behind and visit a national park near you.
There's a lot of snow, and a lot of snow sports, in the world. Here are a few off-beat...
This one minute video will get you all kinds of excited to visit.