Three-Day Acadia National Park Itinerary

Three-Day Acadia National Park Itinerary

Ready to hit the Park Loop Road running? You can pack the highlights into three days or spend up to five to experience the park more fully with hikes, bike rides, boat trips, or ranger-led programs. If you have more time, include the Schoodic section of the park and Isle au Haut in your itinerary. For easiest access to the park, base yourself in Bar Harbor; even better, stay at one of Acadia National Park’s campgrounds.

sand beach in acadia national park
Sand Beach in Acadia National Park. Photo © ericcote/iStock.

Day 1

Pack a picnic, head to the park’s Hulls Cove Visitors Center, purchase a pass, pick up a schedule of ranger-led activities, then drive or pedal the Park Loop. Now, you can complete the loop itself in about two hours, but it’ll take the better part of the day if you stop at all the sights, including the Acadia Nature Center, Wild Gardens of Acadia, and Abbe Museum at Sieur du Monts Spring, as well as Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond House, and Cadillac Mountain (best at sunset or save that for sunrise tomorrow). Make it a whole day by adding a hike.

Perhaps stretch your legs with a walk along the Ocean Path or ascend Great Head or Gorham Mountain. If time permits, visit the Seawall area and Bass Harbor Head Light.

In the evening, if you’re not completely exhausted, perhaps attend a ranger-led program at either Blackwoods or Seawall Campground.

Day 2

Rise early and catch sunrise from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Spend the morning and early afternoon exploring one of the park’s outlying holdings aboard a ranger-narrated cruise to Baker Island or Islesford. On returning, head to the Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers on the lawn. Work it off with a sunset walk or pedal on the carriage roads.

sunrise over cadillac mountain in acadia
Catch the sunrise over Cadillac Mountain. Photo © Jon Bilous/Dreamstime.

Day 3

Pursue your interests, mixing and matching any of the following: Take a guided sea kayaking tour; enjoy bird-watching with Michael Good of Down East Nature Tours; hike Acadia, St. Sauveur, Mansell, or Flying Mountain, followed by a refreshing swim in Echo Lake; reserve a horse-drawn carriage ride to the Day Mountain summit; scale Acadia’s cliffs on a climbing lesson; take a sunset cruise aboard the Margaret Todd; or join one or more ranger-led programs.

With More Time

Day 4

Pack a picnic and catch a ferry to Winter Harbor and spend the day exploring the Schoodic section of the park, either by bicycle or via the Island Explorer.

Day 5

Rise early, pack a picnic and plenty of water, and catch the morning park boat out of Stonington to Isle au Haut for a day hike. Consult with the ranger upon arrival to determine which trails are best for your abilities and schedule.

Hilary Nangle

About the Author

Despite brief out-of-state interludes for college and grad school (and a stint as a ski bum), Hilary Nangle has never been able to resist the lure of her home state. She grew up on Maine’s coast, spending much of each winter skiing in the western mountains. Her sense of wanderlust was ignited when she became a Registered Maine Whitewater Guide on the Kennebec River, which gave her a chance to explore the central and northern regions of the state.

When she tired of her parents asking when she was going to get a “real job,” Hilary drew on her writing skills and began seeking out editorial work. She started out editing pro ski tour publications, then became a managing editor for a food trade publication and a features editor for a daily newspaper. Now, she freelances professionally for national magazines, newspapers, and websites.

Hilary never tires of exploring Maine, always seeking out the offbeat and quirky, and rarely resisting the invitation of a back road. To her husband’s dismay, she inherited her grandmother’s shopping gene and can’t pass a used bookstore, artisans gallery, or antiques shop without browsing. She’s equally curious about food and has never met a lobster she didn’t like. Hilary still divides her year between the coast and the mountains, residing with her husband, Tom Nangle, and an oversized dog, both of whom share her passions for long walks and Maine-made ice cream.

For updates between editions and to follow Hilary’s travels, visit

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waves crashing on the coast of acadia national park