New England's Gem: Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park
Get to know Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park as you learn about the East Coast’s only fjord, explore a compound area of the Rockefellers and enjoy a lobster feast.
Rating (4.67)
Program No. 16429RJ
5 days
Starts at
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5 days
4 nights
11 meals
4 B 4 L 3 D
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Walking Tour, Dinner
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor Quality Inn

Afternoon: Check in to motel and register with Road Scholar group leader between 2:30 and 3:15 p.m. The Quality Inn is located in downtown Bar Harbor and is within a short walk of downtown shops and attractions. We’ll have our first gathering at 3:15 to get to know each other and to receive an introduction to Acadia National Park. Following that, we'll do a Victorian walking tour, focusing on the era when Bar Harbor was the country's most exclusive and illustrious resort. Please be at the motel's cafe (across the street from the office) by 3:15 so we can start promptly.

Dinner: We’ll dine at a local restaurant in downtown Bar Harbor.

Oldfarm, Acadia National Park's Ocean Drive, Cadillac Mtn.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor Quality Inn

Activity note: We'll spend a couple hours in a classroom setting at the YWCA, probing different topics about Mount Desert Island. But the bulk of the day will be devoted to exploring Acadia National Park and its wonders.

Breakfast: Continental breakfast will be served at the motel.

Morning: We'll begin the day's activities with a trip to the ruins of Oldfarm, the estate of George B. Dorr, who's considered the father of Acadia National Park. We'll learn the fascinating story of how Acadia came to be the only national park in which the land was donated rather than purchased by the government. Nearby, we'll also view Compass Harbor, a delightful shoreside area offering spectacular views. This small harbor is off the beaten path in Acadia and is known primarily to locals. Then we'll move on to the YWCA classroom, where Tim Garrity, director of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society, will speak about a topic of interest; his presentations vary. Finally, Ruth Grierson will entertain us with her humor-laced presentation on flora and fauna of the park.

Lunch: We'll picnic today with sandwiches and the trimmings, probably stopping at the scenic Bear Brook picnic area as we start our tour of Acadia's Ocean Drive.

Afternoon: Be prepared for stunning scenery this afternoon as we tour Acadia’s Park Loop Road, including the famed Ocean Drive section. We’ll stop at Thunder Hole, where under the right conditions the sea sends flumes of spray skyward and produces a booming sound. We’ll also visit the glacially carved Jordan Pond, which is nestled between mountains and features a gorgeous panorama looking towards the Bubbles, twin peaks rising out of the water on the north end of the pond. Finally, we'll enjoy a scenic drive up Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard of the United States. When the serpentine summit road was built in the 1930s, it was considered the best engineered mountain road in the world. From the summit, we’ll marvel at the 360-degree views and will look west towards Blue Hill as the day comes to an end.

Dinner: We'll have dinner tonight at a downtown restaurant.

Evening: You'll be free tonight to explore the many shops and attractions in Bar Harbor.

Lobster Class, Carriage Roads, Somesville, Granite Cutting
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor Quality Inn

Activity note: We'll again visit the YWCA classroom but will spend most of the day in Acadia National Park.

Breakfast: Continental breakfast will be served at the motel.

Morning: The North American cold-water lobster takes center stage this morning as Glenn Tucker presents a lively program on the state's most famous crustacean. Then we'll head out to view an exquisite portion of "Mr. Rockefeller's carriage roads." We'll learn about the monumental effect the Rockefeller family has had -- and continues to have -- on Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.

Lunch: We'll pick a scenic spot to enjoy a picnic.

Afternoon: We’ll take a brief ride to Somesville, the oldest settlement on Mount Desert Island, where we'll view that delightful village.. From there, we’ll take in the sights of the western side of Mount Desert Island -- the “back side” or “quiet side,” as many natives call it. Then we'll experience Steve Haynes' fascinating demonstration of granite cutting, after which we’ll visit Southwest Harbor and meander in and out of Acadia National Park, visiting areas that many tourists never see. Finally, we’ll see Bass Harbor Head Light, the most photographed lighthouse in Maine.

Dinner: Tonight is dinner on your own, with an opportunity to visit the many shops and attractions of downtown Bar Harbor.

Cranberry Islands Boat Ride, Sieur de Monts nature walk
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor Quality Inn

Activity note: Our cruise on the Sea Princess will help us gain a "water perspective" of this gorgeous area.

Breakfast: After an early breakfast, we'll be treated to a morning bonus -- a trip to Sieur de Monts Springs, one of Acadia's little-known secrets. There, accompanied by a well-versed naturalist, we'll traverse the mile-long nature walk, a wonderful way to begin our day. Then we'll head to Northeast Harbor for our boating adventure.

Morning: We'll board the Sea Princess in Northeast Harbor, a sightseeing/nature cruise vessel. We'll tour the Great Harbor of Mount Desert and make a stop on Little Cranberry Island, one of 14 offshore Maine islands which maintain a year-'round population. Then we'll cruise into Somes Sound, the only fjord on the east coast of North America, where we'll view dramatic cliffs rising out of the sea.

Lunch: We'll enjoy a picnic lunch in Northeast Harbor.

Afternoon: A naturalist will lead us on a scenic tour along the Otter Cliffs section of Acadia National Park, discussing many aspects of this coastal gem as we view the breathtaking views over the Gulf of Maine.

Dinner: Tonight we'll enjoy a Down East lobster dinner at a downtown restaurant.

Classroom presentations, final picnic
Bar Harbor, Maine

Activity note: We'll wrap up our week's educational activities with two different presentations at the YWCA. Finally, we'll celebrate our week and our newfound Road Scholar friends with a picnic by the sea at Albert Meadow.

Breakfast: Continental breakfast will be served at the motel's cafe.

Morning: We'll be in the classroom this morning. Steve Ressel, a professor at Bar Harbor's College of the Atlantic, will talk about winter habitat and how animals on Mount Desert Island adapt to harsh conditions. Then we'll have a program on the "Great Fire" of 1947, which burned half the island.

Lunch: We'll wrap up our week with a picnic at Albert Meadow, overlooking Frenchman Bay.

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