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The Best Touristy Town in the World: Why I Love Bar Harbor

In my Acadia National Park post I talked about how beautiful the park is–and how out of shape we are.  But I left out one important aspect of this part of the trip–our home base, Bar Harbor.

We very seriously considered staying elsewhere on Mount Desert Island in order to enjoy Acadia, and I feel that would have been a huge mistake.  Why?  Because Bar Harbor is awesome.  I love it there.  It is one summer vacation destination that I could actually see myself returning to year after year.

Yes, it is touristy.  But I’m a tourist.  And as far as tourist-ing goes, I can’t think of a better place to do it.  Bar Harbor really has everything a person could want.  Quaint lodging?  Check.  Ample restaurants?  Check.  Things to do late at night–not like Vegas (or any major city), but still check.   Nice people, great window shopping, delicious ice cream?  Check, check and check.

In addition to the Acadia-enjoying that we did during the day, we also very much enjoyed the town of Bar Harbor in the evening.  On our first day in town we had a drink (and snack) at the Thirsty Whale and then another at The Terrace Club, a super-fancy outdoor dining area overlooking Frenchman Bay.

My blueberry lemonade and the view from The Terrace Club

We then strolled along the length of the shore walk, something I would have missed if not for a great suggestion from one of my blog followers and facebook friends–and Maine native–Meg.  (Thanks Meg!)

Along the shore path. Why does my husband always cut off my legs?

We also checked out the music playing on the town green, which was actually something I had on my list of ‘do if possible’–I wanted to sit in a park near a band shell and listen to music. Imagine my surprise that this was possible just as we passed by on our way back from the shore walk! What timing!

Music in the park

Us in the park--don't we look happy?

Which brings me to yet another reason why I love Bar Harbor–it has (drum roll please) ample public restrooms! So I was able to sit out on the town green and listen to music knowing that if I had to pee (and I always have to pee) I could. I love you, Bar Harbor.

Post-concert in the park, we found a cute little Italian restaurant a block from our B&B.  I had an insane craving for spaghetti, which resulted in one very cheap meal. It was a little hole in the wall place that had a great jukebox and $4 glasses of wine. What more could I want?

Italian restaurant

But that was only our arrival day! After our Acadia biking mishap, we enjoyed a meal at Cafe This Way, which was lovely (if a bit expensive) followed by an evening of improv comedy at Improv Acadia–a tiny little theater on the second floor of a little shop.  We went to the early show–which was family friendly–and only partially regretted it.  Family friendly, it seems, equals ‘lots of obnoxious kids’.  Next time, we’ll stay up for the 10:00 show!  Though it still was quite enjoyable.

Inside Cafe This Way

Appetizer at Cafe This Way

For our final evening, after our hike to Bubble Rock and our Thunder Hole jaunt, we enjoyed dinner and a movie at the wonderfully kitchy Reel Pizza Cinerama. Yes, that’s right, I said cinerama. It’s a movie theater where you can order a pizza before the movie begins and then pick it up at the counter when your number lights up on the bingo board to the left of the screen. They also serve wine in 16 ounce plastic cups. Have I mentioned that I love Bar Harbor?

Reel Pizza Cinerama, before the pizza came. We saw Captain America.

Sadly, on our last night in town, on the way home from the pizza movie place, we realized that there’s also several bars featuring live music in the evenings–at least on Saturday nights. Had we been able to stay for a few more nights, that would have been really fun, too.

We also met lots of friendly people here.  We frequented three different bars–Testas, The Thirsty Whale, and some little Irish pub that served Strongbow–and had nice chats with the bartenders as well as the other customers.  This was a huge bonus, as we’d been talking to only each other for a week at this point!

I also did a lot of window shopping.  Bar Harbor is not a place to actually shop, unless you want tacky crap or you are independently wealthy (the nice stuff here was crazy expensive!)  And, as a final bonus post-movie,  I enjoyed a scoop of ice cream that included broken up home made chocolate covered toffee.  I also tasted the lobster ice cream–it’s not very good (but I’m glad I at least tried it!)

When you add Acadia to this whole equation, I honestly can’t think of a place more suited for fun, recreation, and relaxation.  I would honestly consider wearing an ‘I ‘heart’ Bar Harbor’ shirt.  And that’s saying a lot!

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