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OhWow: Mount Desert Island



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UNT DESERT ISLAND, which to some resembles a lobster claw in shape, is the third largest island off the coast of the continental United States. Connected to the mainland by two short bridges spanning the Mount Desert Narrows, MDI is divided into four towns: Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert, and Tremont. About three quarters of the islands contains Acadia National Park. Ninety-six percent of Maine is privately owned; the 36,000 actres of Acadia National Park is the largest publicly-owned portion. There are restroom facilities at the Thompson Island information center at the head of the island. In Bar Harbor, there are facilities adjoining Agamont Park.

At MDI IMPORTED CAR SERVICE, David White runs perhaps the world's greenest auto repair business. Among other things, he heats his place with recycled motor oil and wastes next to nothing. A certified Bosch Automotive Service Center, MDI Imported Car Service understands foreign cars like few others.


If you're among those who think art should be fun, you won't want to miss ERNIE'S. Operating from a small shop in Town Hill, Ernie Abdelnour fashions fascinating, often funny sculptures of copper and brass, odd pieces of plumbing, tools, assorted debris, and anything else that strikes his fancy. Truth be told, Ernie seems to be a bit hung up on vehicles--many of his pieces are boats, trains, cars, fire engines and wagons, although he also has done sundry buildings and much else. He does a frog series that features a piano-playing frog campaigning against gourmet food—including, of course, frog legs. Call 207-288-5337.

ATLANTIC BREWING COMPANY-ESTATE BREWERY/WINERY features an open air garden bistro and tavern, a gift shop and tasting room, and on Saturday there’s a barbecue.
The ASTICOU CONNECTION GALLERY shows a superb selection of wood furniture and wood sculpture, bronze castings, paintings, jewelry and photography, as well as rare prints and maps. Monthly open houses and artist’s receptions feature a diversity of first-rate talent and afford the opportunity to meet the artists, discuss their work, or simply wander around and absorb details of form and nuances of color. The gallery provides a forum and showcase for the creative traits readily recognized in this area, and aims to be a vivid connection between past, present, and future generations.


SOMESVILLE  was the site of the first European settlement on Mount Desert Island. Although Native Americans visited here at least 6,000 years ago, they made no pernament settlement. The first families to settle here were Abraham and Hannah Somes as well as James and Rachel Richardson in the year of 1761.


The MOUNT DESERT ISLAND HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM has  a collection of local documents and artifacts, including period clothing, pewter, and old maps. Open 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays, mid-July to Labor Day. Both wild and domestic ducks swim in nearby Mill Pond. You might enjoy checking out the frequently-photographed Somesville Bridge, a graceful span over Somes Creek. In season, you'll enjoy the gardens.




The ACADIA REPERTORY THEATRE has been presenting summer theater for the past quarter century.









R. SCOTT BALTZ grew up on Mount Desert Island and his home serves as the base for his studio and visual interests. He says he is inspired by the surrounding landscape of Acadia National Park, and he endeavors to interpret the landscape filtered through both his memory and his imagination.


The PRETTY MARSH PICNIC AREA, which is in the national park, provides views over bluffs to Pretty Marsh Harbor and onward to Bartlett and Hardwood Islands. Here there is a stony beach.


SAWYER'S COVE, once known as Spirit Cove, is thought to be a repository for drowned seamen. Whenever the sea has claimed a local resident, people have reported seeing a fully-rigged ghost ship depart from the cove to collect the soul. Days later the ghost of the departed will be seen along the shoreline.

Imagine finding a world-class collection of early brass era cars stuck away in a metal building on a back road on the quiet side of Mt. Desert Island, in Maine. People still marvel at tripping over the SEAL COVE AUTO MUSEUM—the unlikelihood makes it all the more remarkable.


The KELLYTOWN ROAD, infamous for the brutal murder of a man found stuffed in a well, is known  to suffer disturbances by ancient spirits emerging from nearby unmarked swamp graves. Native Americans once inhabited this area, and there are numerous gravesites hereabouts.



It's a little hard to find and it's nothing fancy, but the MAINE GRANITE INDUSTRY MUSEUM is certainly an interesting place. Proprietors Steven Haynes and Juanita Sprague are the foremost authority on Maine's historic granite industry. They have collected specimens from over 350 of the state's abandoned granite quarries. (Steven can look a hunk of rock and tell you precisely where it came from!) They will show you their extensive collection of artifacts, including blacksmith and stone cutting tools, oxen shoes, railroad cartwheels, railroad spikes, old photos and derrick parts. Studying granite has been a lifelong pursuit for Steven; nobody knows more about this somewhat ignored aspect of Maine history. The museum, which is presently sharing space with a mower shop, is very much a work in progress. Steven says that in the present economy donations have dried up, but with him hope springs eternal and he's hoping for better times soon.

You can get a good deal on family camping at the APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB CAMP on Echo Lake. Campers live in tents that have board floors and are supplied with beds, sheets, and blankets. Hot showers are available along with three daily family-style meals, including a clambake and lobster picnic. The camp is so popular that a lottery must often be held to determine who will get in. Write Echo Lake Camp, Mt. Desert, ME 04660, or call 207-244-3747.

At OCEANSIDE VINTAGE & ANTIQUES on Main Street in Southwest Harbor, Bernice Fallon brings new meaning to the term "eclectic." She has a bit of pretty much everything, from vintage clothing for both men and women, art, books, furniture, jewelry, photography—the list goes on and on. Her store, she promises, will have something different every time you visit!

You'll see the parking area for ACADIA MOUNTAIN, which provides a 3.5 mile round trip climb and spectacular views of Somes Sound. From the parking area for ST. SAVIOUR MOUNTAIN, you can go hiking and climbing. Watch for the ECHO LAKE  entrance to Acadia National Park. At Echo Lake, there is a man-made beach with changing facilities and lifeguard. From the parking area, a steep trail leads up the cliff face of Beech Mountain.




From the FERNALD POINT ROAD, you can take a trail up Flying Mountain. It's an easy climb, said by many to provide the park's best view for the least effort (unless you count driving up Cadillac Mountain).


The SEAL COVE ROAD, most of which is in Acadia National Park, is a winding dirt road that takes
you thru a heavy coniferous forest, providing access to Bald and Western Mountains, two of MDI's quieter hiking areas. Roaming around these parts is a great way to avoid the crowds that flock to Sand Beach and Thunder Hole. You may meet no other hikers as you explore such places as Seal Cove and Hodgdon Ponds. Likewise is true of the Long Pond Fire Road, an unpaved loop providing access to Western Trail, which leads to a notch between Bernard and Mansell Mountain and Long Pond. The forests hereabouts have been untouched for decades, allowing for mature growth.

In Southwest Harbor, the WENDELL GILLERY MUSEUM OF BIRD CARVING  features changing exhibits of carvings by Gilley and other artists. Gilley, author of the classic "The Art of Bird Carving," did around 6,000 wooden birds, some of which have in recent years commanded thousands of dollars. The museum is housed in a state-of-the-art solar heated building; staff is on hand to explain its workings. During the summer months, the museum has a full schedule of demonstrations and classes. Call 207-244-7555 for schedules. Low ticket prices make this a real cultural building. General admission: $5; children 5-12, $2; children under 5 free. 



Ed Elvidge, famous locally for the four decades he has produced outstanding regional post cards and calendars, has opened the ED ELVIDGE GALLERY AND SCHOOL OF PHOTOGRAPHY. At the gallery, there are always more than 100 wall prints on display and several bargain bins offer attractively priced prints. People interested in learning fine points of photography can sign up for one of Ed's half-day summer workshops.


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Best thin-crust pizza ever? The LITTLE NOTCH CAFE is a serious contender for that honor. Chefs there use organic tomato sauce and whole-milk mozzarella. Besides pizza, which can come with some pretty imaginative toppings, there are sandwiches like the sweet Italian sausage with parmesan on focaccia or the roasted broccoli, onions, and cheddar on homemade wheat. Head honcho Arthur Jacobs also operates Little Notch Bakery at Hinckley's Great Harbor Marina.


SAWYER'S SPECIALTIES has the biggest selection of fine wines on Mount Desert Island. The second Saturday of every month from 2 to 5 p.m., the folks here sponsor wine tastings.

The CAFE DRY DOCK serves seriously wonderful food, including Crispy Chilean Style Haddock, Scallops Southwest Harbor, Scallops Mornay, Walkers Wellington, Filet Mignon, and Lobster along with Great Salads, and Homemade Soups and Chowders. The good folks here have been cooking from scratch for nearly a quarter of a century. Go there for lunch, dinner, or lighter fare served all evening. There is a full bar as well as beer and wine. Listen to great music on Wednesday evenings or dine under the stars on the deck.


The lovely DRYDOCK INN is open year round and during spring and summer guests enjoy room service. The inn features two suites with kitchen/living room combo and also kitchenettes. All eight rooms have cable TV, wireless internet, phones, in-room coffee, and hair dryers. The inn is convenient to shops and other amenities.

There is way more than meets the eye at the QUIETSIDE CAFE & ICE CREAM SHOP. This place  serves more than 20 flavors of hard ice cream and yogurt (along with 24-plus flavors of soft serve). On top of that,  there are salads, specialty sandwiches, and what could be Maine's best homemade bluberry and apple pie. In addiion to that, there are daily specials, pizzas, and incredible seafood baskets. It's an Ice Cream Shop with a whole lot more!




Everything sold at PURE MAINE LLC on Main Street in Southwest Harbor is made in Maine. The lady here will help you design your own Gift Basket. During holidays, shipping is free.





A focus on what’s local and fresh has been a driving force behind the success of the RED SKY RESTAURANT on Clark Point Road. Chef James Lindquist, who was featured in Fresh from Maine, the 2010 cookbook of “recipes and stories from the state’s best chefs,” insists that nothing could be more important.  His vivid way of describing food and engaging the imagination of his diners is another reason Red Sky has received such acclaim from The New York Times, Travel and Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, and Down East Magazine, among others.


The CLAREMONT HOTEL, off Clark Point Road is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Held here is a famous summer croquet tournament.


The FIDDLER'S GREEN RESTAURANT is known for providing outstanding quality of food and service in a warm casual amosphere overlooking the harbor. Chef-owned and operated since 1999, the culinary style celebrates New England traditions without being bound by them. The cuisine is prepared daily using the finest seasonal ingredients, local and organic produce, farm-raised meats and very best fish the oceans have to offer. A food critic for Fodor's wrote, "The Most Difficult Part of Dining at this Harborside Restaurant is Selecting Just One Entree."

Joe and Anne Paradise both do the wonderful bird carvings found at RAVENSWOOD.



The SHIP'S HARBOR NATURE TRAIL runs about a mile-and-a-half through a spruce forest and open ledgey woodlands. A self-guided brochure to the trail is available free at Seawall Campground.

SHIP'S HARBOR leaves many people feeling psychically uneasy. Some say it's haunted. For sure, its history is grisly. In 1739, autumn gales drove the Grand Design, a three-ton wooden vessel onto Long Ledge at the entrance to the Western Way. All 200 passengers made it onto Mount Desert Island, where they were surprised to find not another living soul. They searched the entire island, but found no one. It was late autumn, winter was setting in, and their situation became desperate. They dispatched a 100-man search party, the heartiest among them, to head for the mainland and salvation. Only six off those aboard Grand Design lived to see old age. Members of the search party were never heard from again, creating a mystery comparable to the Lost Colony of Roanake, Virginia. Today, many visitors to Ship Harbor swear they detect their presence.


The SEAWALL PICNIC AREA  on the ocean is near the Seawall Campground. Both are in Acadia National Park. Here there is a rocky shore laced with tidepools. The best picnic tables are perched on flat waterside rocks with views of little tidepools and Great Cranberry Island in the distance. There is a $20 per car admission fee.



The trail to WONDERLAND  is an old road offering an easy walk to the shore thru a dense spruce forest and open pitch pine forest. Here there is an amazingly wide variety of habitats, making it a good birdwatching spot.




First off, probably no place else on Earth calls itself HOT SHOWERS & LOBSTER POUND. And this merely hints at this business' unique versatility. Officially known as SEAWALL CAMPING SUPPLIES, this is where you come to get lobster, take-out, saltwater bait, hardware and RV accessories, fishing supplies, souvenirs, beer, wine and soda, and coin-operated showers. It is run by a good-natured, young lady who will help you find whatever you want.


SAWYER'S LOBSTER POUND is owned and operated by a Maine lobsterman, guaranteeing fresh product every day. The famous Lobstergal (who is on track to sample lobster rolls from every pound in New England) has declared the rolls here to be among the very best. The nice lady here gave me a complimentary organic Maine root beer and, when I came back for a lobster roll, a piece of homemade blueberry pie. The lobster roll surpassed my fondest expecations. Visit the FACEBOOK page.


HENRY R. HINCKLEY, noted builder of luxury yachts, has its yard in Manset. Driving past the yard and in the harbor at Northeast, you can see some of the world's most beautiful sailing vessels.


Yankee Magazine called ANN'S POINT INN the "Best Acadian Escape." Featured are spacious rooms, ocean views, gas fireplaces, luxurious linens, elaborate breakfasts, afternoon refreshments, and evening sweets. Last but hardly least, there is an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, and 700 feet of shorefront.




Writing in the  Boston Globe, Hilary Nangle boldly asserted that THURSTON'S LOBSTER POUND is  "the best lobster spot on Mount Desert Island." Setting the scene, Nangle describes "the two-story, screened-in dining area... built on a wharf above lobster boat-clogged Bass Harbor in a classic fishing village." She goes on to say that "because it caters not only to tourists but also to the island’s well-heeled summer residents, it’s quite a bit snazzier (perhaps pricier, too) than most lobster spots."


Sometimes at night, there is a procession of phantom spirits treading its way from GOOSE COVE to the top of Spook Hill. According to Marcus Librizzi, author of Ghosts of Acadia, "these ghosts walk in single file and they hold glowing lanterns that cast no shadows and shed no light on their surroundings." These spirits follow a long-unused shore road running from Goose Cove to the top of Spook Hill. Coves in this area have histories of smuggling, and pirates are thought to have buried treasure on Spook Hill.


On the Pretty Marsh Road, you can see one of the country's finest collections of antique cars at the SEAL COVE AUTO MUSEUM. The display represents the fruits of a great deal of dedication as well as heaps of old and inherited money.

The PRETTY MARSH PICNIC AREA, which is in the national park, provides views over bluffs to Pretty Marsh Harbor and onward to Bartlett and Hardwood Islands. Here there is a stony beach.

INDIAN POINT ROAD leads to the Blagden Conservancy, which is owned by the Nature Conservancy. The area was once home to the Passamaquoddy Indians. Now a nature preserve, trails thru the land offer views of old spruce forest, an old apple orchard, and white spruce along the coast.


BAR HARBOR



A major attraction is the OCEANARIUM, which features the  lobster hatchery, a lobster museum, and a 45-minute marsh walk. The museum features net-making demonstrations and a visit aboard a lobster boat. At the hatchery, visitors can examine fry via a microscope linked to a television. The Discovery Pool is a touch tank containing local maine life. Most often there's a lobsterman on hand to explain the mysteries of his venerable trade. The Oceanarium is run by David and Audrey Mills, good people who take their roles of teachers seriously.


The ATLANTIC BREWING COMPANY  of Town Hill is establishing a vineyard on Route 3 at what was Sweet Pea’s Farm. The new name is Sweet Pea’s Vineyard. It’s more than a vineyard, however; it is also an organic farm selling vegetables and flowers. It has a nice gift shop.


MT. DESERT ISLAND BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY
in Salisbury Cove conducts a free summer visitors' program. Scientists here are engaged in studying various aspects of cell biology, with an emphasis on rheopharmacology--they've been using sharks and dogfish to study kidney functions. Visitors can check out a touch tank, see the laboratories, and listen to scientists describe their work. The tours begin at 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays mid-June thru August. Call 207-288-3605.


STAR POINT is a wave-chiseled granite arch as spectacular as any landmark in Acadia National Park. Although the lab lets visitors walk across their property, the best way to see Star Point is to put in a kayak at Bar Harbor's Hadley Point boat landing and paddle over for a peek. The formation is best seen at low tide. Down East magazine called Star Point MDI's Best Secret.


In Ghosts of Acadia,  Marcus LiBrizzi calls THE DEVIL'S OVEN "the most infamous gateway to the supernatural on Mount Desert Island." He says that this sea cave has been the setting for ghostly encounters going back thousands of  years. Evidently, the Indians of old always had had misgivings over the entire north shore of Mount Desert Island. They reported having seen strange lights along there, even under water. They believed the rocks contained portals to hell with the  Devil's Oven being the primary gateway. The historical records shows that dark rites were practiced here and that people really were burned alive in The Ovens.



On the Crooked Road, the MYSTERY COVE BOOK SHOP has a large collection of mystery and detective fiction along with a growing collection of Maine, children's, science fiction, nautical books and more. Open year round. Call 207/288-4665.


The HULLS COVE SCULPTURE GARDEN, featuring the work of contemporary Maine sculptors, spreads across two acres of fields, flowers, trails, ponds, and a stream


WIND AND WINE BY THE SEA offers a nice assortment of specialty foods along with Maine-made gifts and art. On hand are craft beers and interesting wines from around the world.


Few places on earth rival the Acadia National Park's popularity.  USA Today chose Acadia as America’s “Best National Park.”   Then ABC’s "Good Morning America" showcased Acadia National Park as “America’s Favorite Place”!  ACADIA NATIONAL PARK VISITORS' CENTER has printed information and a free film that'll introduce you to the park. During the summer, park naturalists conduct daily interpretive programs to help visitors understand the ecological processes at work here.


On several occasions, Wine Spectator magazine has given THE LOOKING GLASS RESTAURANT at the Bluenose Inn its award of excellence. The Looking Glass is one of 18 Maine restaurants to receive national recognition. To be included, according to co-owner Jim Ash, a restaurant must have outstanding food along with an excellent wine list.


The GEORGE B. DORR NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM  at College of the Atlantic, open daily Labor Day to Oct. 10, features children's hands-on exhibits, a 20-foot whale skeleton, and other displays of island life. There is a self-guided nature trail on the college campus and summer field studies. The price certainly is right: general admission, $2.50; seniors, $1.50; kids under 12 - 3, one dollar. 


COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC  was the first college in the United States to pledge carbon neutrality. The college, which grants degrees in human ecology, strives to avoid or reduce carbon emissions that may be generated due to campus activities, including commuting to and from the campus. Ecofriend rates COA as the third greenest college in America. At 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, COA holds a summer distinguished lecturers' series.


Yankee Magazine
says the SALT AIR INN  is New Engand's best oceanfront B&B.



BAR ISLAND 
can be reached by walking across a sand bar when the tide is out. Half of Bar Island is national park, and you're free to explore the whole place. Take care not to let the incoming tide strand you there. 



Back in the days when Bar Harbor attracted the nation's bluest blood, the BAR HAR
BOR CLUB was where it congealed.   Open only to highly favored WASPs, it exemplified all that was least likable about high society. The earliest white settlers shunned the land where the club is located, referring to it as "the devil's half acre." In the late 1800s, Native Americans camped out on the property until skyrocketing land prices forced them off. Local legend has it that the place is haunted by a young woman who was strangled there before its most recent refurbishing. People today say they still can smell patchouli, the perfume she wore night she was murdered. Other ghosts are said to haunt the club, spirits so numerous they must keep bumping into one another. Nowhere else on the Island holds so many claims to the gruesome supernatural.



Let the BAR HARBOR WHALE WATCH CO.  be your one-stop boating company. There are four different cruises, all of which are informatively narrated. It’s both fun and educational. The folks here promise you’ll see a whale. If you don’t, the next trip’s on them.


Diver Ed’s DIVE-IN THEATER is a two- or two-and-a-half-hour scenic boat ride out into Frenchman Bay  where Diver Ed & his sidekick “Mini Ed” dive down to the ocean floor with specially equipped video and sound equipment, allowing you to see and hear the ocean floor in real time from the comfort of the deck. At the end of the dive, Ed & Mini Ed return to the boat – and so do the creatures! Touch tanks allow you to observe, handle – and sometimes even kiss – these strange and mysterious beings before they are returned safely to the sea. You will be amazed at the colors, the textures and the variety of animal life beneath the waves. Yankee magazine called  Ed's Dive-In Theater New England's best family cruise.




Downtown BAR HARBOR  has something for just about everybody. There are nice shops w
ith beautiful, expensive things, less nice shops with inexpensive T-Shirts, and shops with expensive T-shirts. There are several pretty decent restaurants. Throughout Bar Harbor, there are motel and hotel rooms aplenty, running the gamut from low cost to really expensive.Many people love Bar Harbor, although there are those who hate it. The people who like it enjoy the many shops carrying quality merchandise not readily available anywhere else in the territory, the wide choice of restaurants, the high energy level. The people who hate it point to the tackiness, the high prices, the crowdedness, the pushiness, the kitsch—all the things that go with great popularity. Whether you love it or hate it probably has more to do with you than with Bar Harbor.



The BAR HARBOR INN got its start in 1887 with a Reading Room for gentlemen. As the local joke had, all the reading was done through the bottom of a glass. Everybody knew it was place to escape Maine's prohibition law, which lasted for nearly a century. The inn is haunted. Two ghostly Victorian gentlemen are often seen sitting at a table by the windows. Making eye contact with these specters yields a deathlike chill that can last for hours.
Finding vacationtime more stressful than your regular workaday life? Well, you're not alone. Lots of people have had the same experience. There is a solution: Yoga by the Sea! Classes, led by certified yoga instructor Elizabeth Escardo,  meet daily at 9 a.m. at the BAR HARBOR INN.  Call 340-643-6467 for more information.


T
HE SHORE PATH, which begins at the town pier, has a heritage that includes a large number of supernatural encounters. At Hardy's Point (still on Bar Harbor Inn property), the spirit of a young woman often appears at dusk. Her last name is Olsen, and she traces back to the late 1700s when she, her husband, and young son lived here. Mr. Olsen, a sailor, and was lost at sea, leaving her and their son in dire poverty. Then one day he disappeared without a trace, leaving her alone. To this day, she continues to hold a sad and  lonely vigil, awaiting their return.


The folks at JEANNIE'S GREAT MAINE BREAKFAST figure if you concentrate on just one thing, you're bound to become awfully good at it. And they're right. The only thing they serve is breakfast, and, as you might expect, theirs is the best around.

Something a bit unusual: An owner-run shop in Bar Harbor.  A LITTLE MAD SHOP is just that. It features whimsical home accents, unique gifts, one-of-a-kind jewelry, classic bulk candy, original art and more.

LITTLE VILLAGE GIFTS proves that hard work and honest dealing can still succeed, even in Bar Harbor's high-rent district. A family-owned and operated gift shop, it's been hanging in there since 1992. On hand are a variety of items, from souvenirs to accessories and jewelry. There is a big variety of humorous signs.


The Sohns family has three shops: Tony Sohns describes the one on the Bangor Road as "a rock shop with art" and the one in downtown Bangor as "an art shop with rocks." Now sister Amanda says the new ROCK AND ART SHOP in Bar Harbor is "a gift shop with freaky stuff upstairs." She's referring to the "Cabinets of Curiousity," which contain, as she puts it, "all sorts of amazing dead stuff." It's worth braving downtown traffic to check them out.


The original art deco style has been preserved at Bar Harbor's CRITERION THEATRE. The unusual balcony configuration has the upper level, called the loge, split into many compartments. Everything is original, including the two projectors, which go back sixty years. The Criterion was built in 1932 by George McKay, a local legend who is said to have gotten his considerable fortune running rum. In the early days, live vaudeville was spotlighted on the Criterion's stage. Shown now is a wide variety, including recent releases, art films, and foreign language films.

The first owner of the LOMPAC CAFE was a W.C. Field's fan, and since Fields set his 1940s classic The Bank Dick in Lompac, California, it only seemed natural to so-name the cafe. These days the restaurant and late-night music spot are known for the leafy beer garden and bocce court, and for the fun, robustly flavored Mediterrean and Asian food prepared by Meg Kelly.




At MORNING GLORY BAKERY, everything here is made from scratch. This is where the locals come to get their goodies.







Yankee Magazine
holds that FIORE ARTISAN OLIVE OILS & VINEGARS is New England's best "Around-the-World Tasting Room."  Visitors are encouraged to sample extra-virgin, first cold-pressed olive oils from around the world (including flavored and specialy oils), plus balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy, aged 35 years, and specialty foods, including sea salts and pestos.


A favorite destination in downtown Bar Harbor is REEL PIZZA, the place to go for gourmet pizza. Eat pizza any way your like it, enjoy beer or wine, and watch movies ranging from current hits to cult classics.


SERENDIPITY is a very upscale thrift store. Seems that a lot of wealthy people donate barely used, but highly fashionable castoff clothing there. All the profits benefit the Bar Harbor Food Pantry, a charitable organization assising the less fortunate among us.


To our way of thinking, the best place to watch sports on TV is the MAD HATTER PUB AND GRILL at 166 Cottage Street. There are several large flatscreen TVs and strategically situated overstuffed couches. The menu features homemade treats made with fresh ingredients such as their famous tri-colored tortilla chips topped with mozzarella cheese black olives, onion, tomato, jalapeno, corn and shredded lettuce, portabello fries, bruschelta chicken, parmesan sandwich ciabatta bread, and fresh mozzarella, homemade bruschetta mix and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. This is where we go to watch Tom Terrific lead the patriots. If the game isn't to your liking, the good folks here also provide free WIFI.
 


According to Downeast Magazine, SHERMAN'S BOOK AND STATIONERY offers more Maine Books than anybody else on Earth. This venerable business began in Bar Harbor in 1886, and now has opened sister stores in Camden and Boothbay Harbor.


Recently I had lunch at WEST END DRUG.  The half a ham and cheese sandwich on wheat, bag of chips, and small soda came to $4.01. For 22 cents I could have added a  cup of coffee.  Yankee Magazine says West End Drug offers New England's "Best Sweet Deal." As Yankee put it, "In a town of $4 ice cream cones and $7 sandwiches, this sanctuary offers a grilled cheese for less than $2 and a one-scoop cone for $1.49." On top of that, the old-fashioned ice cream soda fountain here may be the friendliest place in town.a one-scoop cone for $1.49."


On Monday and Thursday evenings at 8 during July and August, the TOWN BAND plays at the Village Green. Concerts are free.

They told the Waymans they wouldn't be able to make it with popcorn alone. The Waymans didn't listen. They were convinced that if the popcorn was good enough and properly presented, people would find it irresistable. They were right. At BAR HARBOR POPCORN on Mount Desert Street, they kept things simple and did things right. The endeavor is succeeding. The Waymans' great gourmet popcorn comes in three flavors—caramel, blueberry, and maple—and in three sizes. (The blueberry is flavored with real Maine blueberries. The Waymans say they tweaked the recipes for six months before getting each one just right!) Popcorn fanatics won't want to miss this welcoming shop.

Talk about humble beginnings! The JESUP MEMORIAL LIBRARY on Mt. Desert St. traces its roots back to 1875 when the Bar Harbor Village Library got under way with twenty dollars and 176 volumes. Work on the present building, which is in the National Register of Historic Places, began in 1910. On the building committee were some very big names, including George Dorr, Ernesto Fabbri, and Henry Lane Eno. The library is named after Morris K. Jesup, a New York financier and philanthropist, whose widow, Maria DeWitt Jesup, provided funding for it. Today, the public has free access to more than 35,000 books, 7,000 eBooks, 2,000 audiobooks and CDs, 2,000 videos, and a telescope.


ST. SAVIOUR'SEPISCOPAL CHURCH on Mount Desert Street has wonderful Tiffany windows and welcomes visitors. Performing occasionally in St. Saviour's Parish House is Jackson & Friends, a concert series of comedy, music and new vaudeville. The shows are presented by the wonderfully talented Jackson Gillman, sometimes known as the Stand-up Chameleon.


BAR HARBOR HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM 
at Jesup Memorial Library on Mount Desert Street  (288-4245) has a large collection of photographs of early hotels, cottages, steamers, and rusticators. There are excellent scrapbooks of the 1947 fire.



LEDGELAWN
on Mouont Desert St. has a well-deserved reputation as the most-haunted mansion on Mount Desert Island. Built in 1904, Ledgelawn was among the last of the true "cottages," palatial estates built of common  bungalow-style materials such as cedar shingles. Accordiing to Marcus LiBrizzi, author of Ghosts of Acadia, the place is haunted by "the specter of a young dark-haired woman with madness in her smile."  She is thought to be the ghost of Mary Margaret, a young lady who had been left standing at the alter. She hanged herself in her wedding dress, attaching the veil to the beams of the sloping ceiling. When Ledgelawn became an inn, guests staying in Mary Margaret's room were apt to awaken to the image of a woman floating in the moonlight at the foot of their bed. More times than not, the woman would have a ghastly smile on her face.



MIRA MONTE INN at 69 Mt. Desert St. was built in 1861. (Mira Monte means "behold the mountain" in reference to the beautiful surrounding peaks of Acadia National Park.) Arrington's Bed and Breakfast Journal called Mira Monte "One of Top 15 B&B's with Best Gardens" and singled it out as the "Inn with the Most Privacy" and "Best Inn for Shopping.”

KEBO VALLEY GOLF CLUB
, founded in 1888,  the eighth oldest golf club in the United States, has challenged the skills of many of the country’s finest players, most influential politicians, and top leaders of industry.  For many years, Walter Hagen held the course record. A championship par 70 course, Kebo  was rated among the "Top 15" public courses in New England by the New England Journal of Golf and among the "Top 10" classical public golf courses by Golf Digest.

HOUSE WINE, Bar Harbor's premier retailer for quality wine, cheese, and beer, was voted by People's Choice as the best wine shop on Mount Desert ISland.



TEA HOUSE 278 is a traditional Chinese Tea House where guests can enjoy a relaxed Gaiwan Tea Service, a glass of chilled tea, tea in a to-go container, and a variety of savory and sweet snacks. A beautiful tea garden provides a relaxing oasis where one may enjoy the sounds of a babbling brook and the peaceful energy of the stone garden. Rare loose-leaf teas,handpicked on organic farms in China, are steeped and presented in a traditional Gaiwan tea service. Yankee magazine proclaimed that this was New England's Best Tea House.





Would you believe that Linda Parker personally de-seeds every blueberry that goes into her super-premium Ice cream? She says she does, and she also says that instead of using vanilla extract she cuts and scrapes Madagascar vanilla beans before infusing them into fresh, Maine-made organic milk. She does several other seemingly unbelievable things to make her MDI ICE CREAM perhaps the best in the world. Linda's ice cream got national attention when President Obama stopped by for a cone and when Linda appeared on "The View" in a segment devoted to the Best Ice Cream in America.
It's far from cheap, but eating some is an experience you won't soon forget.

For over a quartery century, POOR BOY 'S GOURMET RESTAURANT has been a local favorite of diners seeking delicious food at reasonable prices. Featured are lobster, seafood, steak, chicken, vegetarian dishes and Poor Boy's special "Bottomless Bowl of Pasta". Poor Boy's has a full bar and makes what many insist are the best frozen Blueberry Daiquiris in New England. Always on hand are several locally brewed beers on tap. Poor Boy's has
an excellent wine list (including nightly $15.00 specials) and a complete selection of non-alcoholic beverages. For dessert, their cheesecake and berry pies are "simply the best!"



I went to the COFFEE CUP DINER and ordered a grilled cheese on wheat and fries. Bill came to $5, tax included. Next time in, a grilled cheese and bacon on wheat with fries. Still $5, tax included. Place opens for breakfast at 5 a.m., or so I'm told. The pstrami has has been called "the world best." Home-cooked food, friendly service, low prices. My favorite Bar Harbor lunch stop.



The COMPASS HARBOR NATURE TRAIL, home to enormous rhododendrons,  Japanese pines, and huge yew trees, ancient symbols of death and rebirt, is haunted by a long-deceased caretaker, a dark-haired man dressed in blue. Here was located Oldfarm, the estate of George Bucknam Dorr, generally regarded as the father of Acadia National Park. He devoted his life and family fortune to the park. Eventually, Dorr, who became totally blind and destitute, was assisted until his death by his loyal servant / companion John Rich, who most assume is the spectre still haunting the trail. Hogweed, a noxious bloom that can grow 14 feet high and cause painful irritation, permanent scarring, and, in rare cases, blindness, has been found in Compass Harbor.




ABBE MUSEUM, celebrating Maine's Native American heritage, has two locations: the new museum 26 Mount Desert St. in downtown Bar Harbor, open year-round, and the historic, trailside museum at Sieur de Monts Spring, open May-October. At the downtown site there are programs for children and adults including workshops with Native American craftspeople. 207-288-3519.

THE JACKSON LABORATORY
, the world's largest center for the study of mammalian genetics, is home to some of the world's foremost genetic researchers. The laboratory also is something of a factory, producing millions of mice used by scientists throughout the world. Many of these mice are unique in that they are genetically destined to have certain traits, including particular diseases.

If you keep going past the lab, you'll get to the TARN, a shallow, steep-banked mountain pond between Dorr Mountain and Hugenot Head. The far end of the Tarn is a favored habitat for beavers.

The PRECIPICE is MDI's toughest climb. Many of the island's mountains have hiking trails; they are tailored for all levels of energy and ability. Consult a park ranger for a hike you'll find suitable.


We are firm believers in the idea that America's national parks belong to the people, all of the people, even people who can't spare cold hard cash to get in. Consequently, we were unhappy when in the late 80s most parks, including Acadia, began charging user fees. The good news locally is that you can legally avoid paying the fee for entering the Park Loop Road, if you don't mind missing Sand Beach and Thunder Hole. From Route 3, turn left onto the OTTER CLIFFS ROAD. This road leads to public restroom facilities from which you can get onto the Park Loop Road free of charge.



The two-mile section of the Park Loop Road known as OCEAN DRIVE is a mecca for photographers. Stretching from Sand Beach to the dramatic cliffs at Otter Point, Ocean Drive sports pink and tan granite ledges perched above the crashing surf of the Gulf of Maine. A pair of secluded cobblestone coves provide some compositional variety. This entire stretch of coastline faces the rising sun, setting a ripe stage for early morning photo-taking. GREAT HEAD is a rocky cliff rising 145 feet above the cold waters of Frenchman Bay. For history buffs, there are ruins of an early-20th-century teahouse once owned by J.P. Morgan. Accessible via the Great Head Trail, which wends its way up the roacks for abour a mile from Sand Beach, the cliffs are a popular hiking and rock-climbing destination. A clearing at the south end of JORDAN POND affords a spectacular view of the Bubbles, a pair of perfectly matched bald peaks at the northern edge of the pond. A great many visitors stop by the Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers. A well-engineered mountain road winds to the  1,528-foot-high summit of CADILLAC MOUNTAIN. The view from the summit is one of the best in all of New England: 360 degrees, taking in Frenchman Bay, the Porcupine Islands, and the surrounding peaks of Mount Desert Island.


BLACKWOODS CAMPGROUND, one of two national park campgrounds, has inexpensive sites, although reservations are required well in advance. At Blackwoods, there is an amphitheater where free naturalist talks are conducted. 

Once thru OTTER CREEK, you come upon the road to Hunter's Beach. There is a small packing area from which a park trail takes you down to an uncrowded cobblestone beach.


Keep going and you'll reach SEAL HARBOR, summer home to people in control of some of the country's historic fortunes. Fords, Vanderbilts, Astors, Mellons--people like that. Here and in nearby Northeast Harbor you can see their vast, rambling cottages. You can hobnob with some of them at the Northeast Harbor Golf Course, a strange, but beautiful, semi-secret 15-hole layout that accepts greens fee players.


As you leave Seal Harbor, note that on your left is; a public sand beach and on your right a pleasant park. Beyond the park is the STANLEY BROOK ROAD, from which you can get onto the park Loop Road without paying a fee.


If you continue thru Seal Harbor, you'll reach LITTLE LONG POND. The Rockefellers own the land around the pond, but they let people use it. Beyond this,you come to the Thuya Gardens and Asticou Terraces, an endowed municipal park containing an English formal garden, a waterfront mountainside trail, and a rare historical book library, Thuya Lodge. A walking trail begins a little farther down the road.



Keep going, and you'll come to Rtes 198/3. Turn right and you'll find the entrance to the formal ASTICOU AZELEA GARDENS. Down the road is the Brown Mountain Gatehouse, one of two lovely carriage road English Tudor-style gate houses built in 1932 by John D. Rockefeller Jr. (Rockefeller helped local folks weather the Great Depression with work projects, the fruits of which we continue to enjoy. He was the driving force behind MDI's wonderful carriage roads and marvelous stone bridges.)






A left turn will take you into Northeast Harbor. Check out the marina; there are some impressive yachts moored there. The GREAT HARBOR COLLECTION MUSEUM in the Old Town Hall on Main Street has exhibits representing all facets of early Maine coastal life. Donations are suggested. Nearby, there is a nice assortment of shops and galleries. Prices here aren't necessarily cheap, but browsers are tolerated nicely.


SHAW JEWELRY is the home of extraordinary contemporary
jewelry by national artists as well as the largest collection of work by Sam Shaw. Featured is an expansive showroom with over 100 artists represented in a spacious, well-designed environment. You will find luxurious jewelry in high karat gold with precious stones, pearls and diamonds. You will also find exotic and unusual artist-made pieces in alternative materials and challenging aesthetic. Shaw Jewelry Gallery hosts 20 exhibitions each year showcasing painters, photographers, sculptors and object makers.




TASTEFUL TIDES is affiliated with  FIORE ARTISAN OLIVE OILS & VINEGARS, which Yankee Magazine holds  is New England's best "Around-the-World Tasting Room."  Visitors are encouraged to sample extra-virgin, first cold-pressed olive oils from around the world (including flavored and specialy oils), plus balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy, aged 35 years, and specialty foods, including sea salts and pestos.







SARGENT DRIVE
skirts Somes Sound from Northeast Harbor. The sound constitutes the only natural fjord on the Atlantic coast. At Somes Sound Lookout, you'll gaze upon Acadia Mountain. You may see porpoises frolicking in the sound. Further on, the Somes Sound Picnic Area hugs the shore.


NORTHEAST HARBOR GOLF CLUB is one of the Island's well-kept secrets. Golfers are presented with the best of all worlds — magnificent wooded holes surrounded by thousands of trees and five traditional links-style holes. There are several significant elevation changes, very small greens, and unrivaled beauty.




Questions or comments? Send them along to Captain D.

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