A Family Affair: Vacationing in Acadia National Park

Maine's Acadia National Park invites even the littlest members of your crew to experience the great outdoors. Here's our guide for a seamless family trip to this accessible East Coast wilderness.
  |  Gorp.com
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Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Acadia National Park, Maine
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park, Maine (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

While other national parks wow you with their impressive towering peaks or voluminous canyons, Acadia National Park in coastal Maine is best known for its boulder-strewn coastline, short summits overlooking the ocean, and a network of former carriage-path trails that weave through the deep forest of pines and birches. This breathtaking coastal scenery, located primarily on Mount Desert Island, now composes one of America’s oldest national parks. Yet, it’s not just the serene locale, the lobster dinners, and the salty air that lure families back to this remote retreat. No, it’s the taste of the wilderness that’s easily accessible for all.

Make the short climb up 681-foot Acadia Mountain to instantly understand the enticement. Brown-bag a lunch and dine atop the rocky peak to watch three-masted schooners sail by the emerald islands below. Or stay close to the Atlantic waters, jumping from boulder to boulder, until you reach the site locals call Thunder Hole, where waves crash against the bedrock to create a deafening boom. Sea kayakers can glide atop the ocean to go eyeball to eyeball with harbor seals and search for sea glass on deserted Frenchman Bay islands. Bikers with small children in tow can avoid the stress of car traffic along the shores of Eagle Lake, where a relatively level carriage-path trail (packed gravel roads that crisscross the entire eastern half of Mount Desert Island) circles this large body of water under towering firs and over century-old stone bridges.

When you need a dose of civilization, drive into Acadia’s gateway community of Bar Harbor for dinner, a movie, souvenir shopping, and a scoop of blueberry ice cream. Pint-sized Acadia was created with the pint-sized visitor in mind.

Published: 23 Mar 2012 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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