Bar Harbor is situated on the mid-Maine coast, overlooking Frenchman’s Bay from its perch on the eastern shore of Mount Desert Island. In its 19th-century heyday, Bar Harbor was one of the premier resort areas on the East Coast, attracting Astors, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and other wealthy families looking for rustic summer getaways. Today, it’s a humbler place, with no shortage of T-shirt shops and ice-cream parlors, but still popular with tourists.
Top draw The lush fir-dotted islands of 35,000-acre Acadia National Park (www.acadiainfo.com ) are reachable via shore excursion, bicycle, horse-drawn carriage, or kayak.
Bonus Whale-watching excursions between April and October view the humpbacks, finbacks, minkes, and dolphins that gather in the waters off the island.
Taste of the sea Fresh Maine lobster boiled, baked, broiled, in rolls, in rich bisques and chowders, or any other number of ways is served at the town’s many waterfront restaurants.