Kid-Friendly Activities in Bar Harbor and Acadia
Planning a vacation with kids is an adventure unto itself – from planning things to pack and where to eat – to figuring out how to work around (or give up on) that necessary, but ever-elusive nap time. Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor are excellent destinations for families of all ages, welcoming kids with a variety of outdoor activities, programs, indoor attractions and family-friendly restaurants and places to stay.
Acadia National Park Programs for Kids
The National Park Service offers a variety of activities for kids. If your little one is an aspiring park ranger, they offer a Junior Ranger Program where kids can participate in programs and complete an educational workbook to get sworn in and earn a real badge! There are also programs for the whole family, like the Acadia Quest, that offers team challenges and encourages the conservation of Acadia’s lands and waterways. There are prizes to be won, but we think everyone will win with all they are sure to learn. Park-designed scavenger hunts also offer a fun way to keep kids engaged on a hike as they keep their eyes peeled and ears listening. You can find a list of all the park programs available here.
Hiking/Walks for Kids in Acadia National Park
Many areas of Acadia are great for kids to hike and explore. As we recommend for anyone hiking Acadia, safety is paramount. Be sure to review the park’s safety tips so you can plan ahead of your visit. Also, be aware that summer is a popular time to visit. If the parking lot is full, don’t despair. Have a plan B or grab a snack before returning.
- Wonderland Trail: This flat trail leads to the ocean through strands of spruce and fir. Kids will love the miraculous worlds of tide pools there, but remind them to be gentle around the tiny creatures within.
- Jesup Path and Hemlock Road Route: An easy walk through the forest via a flat trail and wooden boardwalk, which is wide enough for a wheelchair. Kids can spot wetland animals and later, head to the connecting Gardens of Acadia, if desired.
Kid-Friendly Outdoor Activities in Bar Harbor
Some days, it may feel more manageable to stay close to town with your kids, rather than venturing into the park. No matter – a variety of downtown activities await that still get your family their dose of vitamin D.
- Shore Path: Stroll this flat trail that loops around the stunning Frenchman Bay. Stroller friendly, though it can get busy depending on the time of day. Also, a great place to witness the sunrise.
- Bar Island: Walk over to this island via a “magical” sand bar revealed at low tide. Take care that you time the tides correctly to avoid getting stuck!
- On the Water: Get out on the sparkling blue with your kids – whale watching, puffin watching and lobster-fishing are just a few of Bar Harbor’s guided water tours available. Browse a full list of water activities here.
Kid-Friendly Indoor/Rainy-Day Activities in Bar Harbor
Parents don’t need to worry about pent-up kids should rain threaten to ruin a day of fun. Bar Harbor offers a variety of kid-friendly indoor activities, from rock climbing to wood carving.
- Volta Climbing Gym: This climbing gym recently opened in the spring of 2022 and offers a variety of courses open to climbers of all ages.
- The Naturalist’s Notebook: This “shop’s” colorfully eclectic and interactive space feels almost like a museum, hence its second name as an exploratorium. Located in Seal Harbor next to Acadia, it houses hands-on, educational activities for kids of all ages that guide you through the 13.8-billion-year history of the universe, in addition to a variety of themed merchandise.
- Art Waves: The community arts center has a breadth of classes to take, many aimed at kids, like mosaic-making or felting. Check their calendar to see what’s coming up.
- Classes at the Wendell Gilley Museum: This celebrated wood carving and art museum often offers kids and family workshops. Past workshops have involved building bee houses and painting feathers. Check their calendar.
- Jesup Memorial Library: Cozy up at the local library with a good read.
- MDI YMCA: Offering family day passes, youth programs and summer camps, this is a great option for families. Their summer camp offers field trips to Acadia National Park.
- The Oceanarium and Education Center: Reopening this summer, don’t miss the opportunity to see this newly recreated organization dedicated to place-based education and conservation.
Planning Your Family Trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park
Like the rest of the world, Bar Harbor businesses are facing real challenges as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. With people excited to travel once again, particularly to outdoor areas like Bar Harbor and Acadia, we anticipate a busy summer ahead. Pair that with the nationwide hospitality workforce shortage the country is experiencing, and that makes for some busy workers! Bus and truck drivers, cooks, clerks, servers, housekeepers, tour guides and more are taking on extra responsibility to accommodate for the shortage of workers.
A little patience and kindness go a long way for the staff members of our area businesses. Every smile, ‘thank you’ and tip in the jar do not go unnoticed and brighten their busy day. We have also pulled together some tips for navigating Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park during the busy time. We thank you for being a supportive guest of the Bar Harbor community!
Photo by Juan Salamanca from Pexels