Hulls Cove Visitor Center
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Activities: Hiking, walking, dog swimming
Last Visit: 2017
Notes: Beaches in Maine and Acadia National Park are open to dogs mid-September through mid-May. Check the town or Park Service websites for more info.
Acadia National Park bills itself as one of the few dog-friendly National Parks. Neighboring Bar Harbor also has a reputation as a dog-lover’s Mecca. Neither disappointed.
We decided to take a vacation our dog could join us on and settled for Acadia and Bar Harbor. We love hiking and exploring with our mutt and this seemed like the perfect destination. With a little planning and research we found activities and destinations for the entire trip that were all dog friendly.
We headed out in mid-September when the beaches in Maine and the National Park were closed to swimmers but open to dogs. In addition, the summer crowds had thinned substantially and prices were cheaper. Traveling in “shoulder season” has it’s perks. The weather was perfect: high 70’s during the day, cool-crisp evenings perfect for sitting by the fire pit.
The drive is long but can be broken up with stops at many of Maine’s picturesque sea-side towns. Many had coastal walking trails or great little downtown shopping areas (though some were a bit tourist-y). We made stops in York, Ogunquit, Kittery, Freeport and Kennebunkport.
Bar Harbor is, as mentioned, super dog friendly. We had no issues finding a hotel that allows pets. Most restaurants have outdoor seating on a patio or deck where you can eat with your dog. There was even a dog-themed coffee shop.
The park and the surrounding islands are filled with miles upon miles of trails for hiking or walking – including the famous carriage roads. You can test your dog’s sea-legs on one of the mail boats that goes between Northeast Harbor and the Cranberry Islands. And, if you go off season, there are some amazing beaches to stroll down.
Not to be missed: Stopping at Jordan Pond House Restaurant inside the park for one of their world-famous pop-overs. There is outdoor seating that is dog-friendly. Lollipop lucked out the day we visited: it was windy and a tray of pop-overs got blown onto the ground. The servers split them up among the many happy visiting dogs.
Not to be missed: Sunrise on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Due to fog / overcast weather, it took us three pre-dawn trips, but on the last day it cleared and was spectacular. Get there well before sunrise as it gets quite crowded at the summit parking area.