Bangor is a good place to stay if you get in late at the airport and do not want to make the drive to Bar Harbor. There is a downtown area that has some cute shops and restaurants. If you do head downtown to eat or shop do not park in the local garage if you think you will be there later than 9pm. They lock the gate and your care will be stuck in there. Just drive around and find a side street to park on. I did this and found parking in a few minutes. I ate at Blaze, which was fantastic and I highly recommend. On my last day in town I actually went to the local theater to see Jurassic World. It was a cute theater and tickets were cheap! The guy behind the counter was looking at me like I was crazy because I was so happy to only be paying seven dollars to see a movie. I also drove by Stephen Kings house. It is really easy to find and if you are lucky maybe there will be some crows in the driveway to spice up your photo.
I stopped in Ellsworth on the way to Bar Harbor. The weather was pretty bad and it was supposed to continue raining all day so I checked out some of the sports shops, L.L. Bean Outlet and TJ Maxx. I love checking out different TJ Maxx stores in different states; each one has something unique to the area. I found some Patagonia clothes in this one that will be put to good use on the next trip. As I came out of my last shop I saw this lobster truck in the parking lot and instantly knew I was officially in Maine!
Things To Do
Bar Harbor has tons of shopping and I mean tons. Main Street is pretty big and there are shops tucked away on the side streets as well. I would leave just a little extra room (probably more than you think) in your bag for whatever items you purchase. Below are some of the shops I went into and thought were fun:
Bar Harbor is packed with great places to eat. Each one has its own atmosphere and spin on food. The best advice I received before heading to Maine was to walk around and find my own favorite places. I am passing this advice onto you. These are a couple places I ate at and thought were good but be adventurous and find your little slice of food heaven.
Acadia National Park
The park is open 24 hours a day so if you already have a pass you can enter anytime. If you need to purchase a pass you can get them between 8:30 and 4:30. This is a very organized park. There is a scenic 27-mile loop that goes around the park. Most of it is one way with two lanes, which is great for stopping and enjoying the scenes. Cars that wish to stop and take pictures can park in the far right lane, leaving the left lane open for traffic to pass. The only downside to this park is that I saw very few animals. That being said there were beautiful scenery shots, great picnic spots and beautiful beaches.
*If you are in the park during falcon nesting time the precipice trail and surrounding area will be closed. Other than that everything else should be open.
If you head into the park you should eat at the Jordon Pond House. They are known for their popovers and afternoon tea. It is extremely busy so call ahead of time and get a reservation. The house is accessible from multiple entrances and has two parking lots.
Bar Island is located behind Harborside Hotel. At high tide it is not accessible by foot but at low tide you are able to walk across, look for beach glass and build a cairn. Before you head over be sure to check the tides and see when low tide is. The button below links to a tide chart for Bar Harbor. You want to cross as early as possible for two reasons. First, you want to have as much time on the island as possible since beach glass is hard to find. Second, you do not want to get stuck on the island. When the tide comes back in it comes in fast and if you are not paying attention you may be spending the night on the island. Every year people get stuck out there. Depending on the weather they either have to wait on the island for the next low tide or be "rescued" by the harbormaster.
Cairns are rock made formations that are commonly used as trail markers. They also help lessen the amount of soil erosion and plant loss in the area around the location of the cairn. If you see one make sure not to move it or destroy it as this can mislead hikers and bikers that may be relying on it for navigation reasons. Make sure to head out and build one while in Maine! Perhaps you can build the tallest one in the area.
Since most of what you will be shooting in the park and around the harbor is scenic shots as opposed to animals I would recommend staying away from long lenses and bringing a wide-angle lens, fisheye or a 24-70 lens. I personally don't like carrying the extra weight if I can avoid it so I only brought my Nikkor 24-70 and a fisheye.