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Visiting Idyllic Northeast Harbor, Maine Near Acadia National Park

Northeast Harbor, at Mt. Desert Island, MaineNortheast Harbor, Maine

by Eric Hurwitz. Page updated on 11/09/16

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Maine's Acadia National Park is truly one of the most spectacular parks in the United States, with its beyond scenic rocky coast, and forested valleys, lakes and mountains, carved by glacial force. It cannot be fully described, only joyfully visited.

Truly a visual treat, this 40,000 acre wonderland offers endless natural delights. Take, for example, the dramatic sunsets at 1,500 foot Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. From Cadillac, one can see amazing views of Penobscot, Frenchman and Blue Hill Bays. From the top of Gorham Mountain, you get an incredible view of the glacial blue Atlantic Ocean. Then there is Thunder Hole, with its waves creating a sonic boom. For those in touch witha more isolated nature, miles and miles of trails and bicycle paths will bring you in touch with beautiful wildflowers, a wonderful variety of trees and some great fresh and salt water swimming. The 27-mile loop at Mt. Desert Island offers endless ocean and mountain scenery, unlike anything you've seen before.

Many choose the commercial center of Bar Harbor to launch their Acadia National Park and Maine summer vacation. Bar Harbor is certainly pleasant enough with its tree-lined streets, fine captain's homes, harbor views, and refreshing breeze, but it can also be capable of traffic jams, unctious souvenir shops, unkempt flower children and flavor-of-the-week restaurants, changing hands every few years. In a way, Bar Harbor is not compatible with the untouched scenic beauty of the region, and can often come across as a bit too hectic.

We prefer Northeast Harbor, a splendid little village boasting the prettiest harbor you will ever see. Sunny even when it's cloudy, Northeast Harbor is quietly confident ,as it never panders to the tourist. In the little village, you will find an old-time market, the Colonels Restaurant and Bakery (recently reopened after a fire last summer), some antique stores and a few restaurants. One of them, the Docksider could be considered your classic Maine restaurant, with charming "Down East" waitresses, lobster to die for, unbelievable clam chowder, and in the summer, salt air flavored outdoor dining on the doorstep of the Harbor.

Kimball Terrace Inn, is your top lodging choice, with 52 of the 70 spacious rooms having a private balcony or patio with great views of the Harbor and marina. Kimball Terrace features a heated pool, tennis, a fine indoor/outdoor dining experience at the Main Sail, and all the modern amenities (telephone, cable television and meeting rooms). A short walk from Kimball Terrace is the downtown.

Clifton Dock, a five minute walk from the Kimball Terrace, will sooth your soul. Try walking there at night, sampling the tall pines, wide open sky, piercingly bright stars, the bucolic symphony of crickets, and the soothing sounds of the pristine Maine waters. Boats bob up and down, as if they were nodding approval at their owner's choice of location. Soon you become mesmerized by the peacefulness. You forget about the chill in the air, or the initial plans of getting back to a nice, warm room to watch the ball game or to the bakery to buy something sweet. Clifton Dock offers oceans of tranquility, the perfect place to end a day, or start a new one. The sea is indeed a great place to become new again.

Although you could spend your entire vacation in Northeast Harbor, with its rocky coastline, harbor, open fields, flower gardens, hiking trails, forests and lakes, you're best off having this village as your point of origin--the rest of Acadia is just too special to miss. However, if you put on the blinders and did spend your whole time at Northeast Harbor, you would not leave disappointed. It is an all-inclusive resort area that doesn't even know it. Perhaps that is the real appeal of this special little place, big on Maine atmosphere and short on tourist trappings. What a great place, indeed, to start your Acadia National Park and Maine summer vacation.


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