Acadia National Park is set along the amazing rugged coastline of Maine. Boasting the tallest Mountain on the East Coast, Cadillac Mountain, Acadia also has beautiful lakes, beaches, cool hiking trails, and so much more. You will not be able to stop looking around at the beautiful scenery as you hike or drive the Park Loop Road. Spend a day watching the water splash in Thunder Hole, eating delicious popovers at Jordan Pond, and searching for sea critters as the tide rolls out. Let me show you all the fun things to do and the best hiking trails for your family at Acadia National Park.
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Fun Acadia National Park Hikes & Cool Things to Do with Kids
When you visit Acadia National Park, you have got to explore the top of Cadillac Mountain. You can arrive at the top two different ways – hike up a steep 7 mile trail or just drive Summit Road to the top. Summit Road is a 3.5 mile road with several pull offs on the way up to take in the views. With kids in tow we opted to just drive up to the top. When you arrive at the parking lot, walk all around to take in the breathtaking views of the park and coastline. Tip: This area of the park gets very crowded in the summer months so I would suggest going to this spot earlier in the day or taking the Island Explorer Bus, the park’s shuttle.
Thunder Hole’s huge draw is the spectacular crashing of the waves into a small inlet along the rocky coast. This small inlet was naturally created from the strong New England waves and creates a thunderous crashing sound when air and water are forced out. This is a fun stop with the kids on a day when the waves are strong. There is an easy paved path to walk out and see this cool inlet from the parking lot which also has bathrooms.
Jordan Pond and Jordan Pond House
Jordan Pond is a beautiful 187 acre pond formed in the last glacial period. It’s a perfect spot for a fun hike with the kids. The Jordan Pond Path is a 3.5 mile hike around the pond. You can hike all or part of it depending on your kids’ ability. From the parking lot, if you go to the left you will hike a boardwalk over the rocks and if you go to the right you will find a very flat path. If you plan to hike the around the whole pond, I would suggest starting to the left on the slightly harder hike and end up on the flat path when the kids are worn out. There is no swimming in the pond.
Before or after you hike, make sure to stop at the Jordan Pond House which is open in season. It is the only full service restaurant in Acadia National Park. The restaurant became famous in the 1800’s for serving Maine’s popular Popovers and Tea. Enjoy the beautiful views while getting a great bit to eat. Tip: This area does get very busy in the summer months so consider taking the Island Explore Bus (park shuttle system) to get here.
Park Loop Road
The main road to drive through Acadia National Park is Park Loop Road. It is a 27 mile road that starts at Hulls Cove Visitor Center on the North side of the Island in Bar Harbor. Use this road to connect to the park trails, forests, mountains, and beaches. It’s also a beautiful drive when the kids are tired and parents want to take in the gorgeous views at the many pull outs. Park Loop Road is a one way road for much of the drive and there is a fee for entrance about a mile and half before Sand Beach.
Sand Beach is a fun and pretty beach located between the granite mountains and rocky shoreline. This is one of the most popular spots for families in the summer months. The sandy beach is a unique sand created from shell fragments by the pounding surf. Kids will enjoy running through the waves and playing in this cool sand. There is a lifeguard provided here from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You will also find changing stations, bathrooms, and a parking lot. Get access to this beach off of Park Loop Road or take the Island Explorer Bus in the busy season.
Best Hikes with Kids
You probably want to get out and explore a little more of the park while your here. A great way to do this is to take a family hike. There are tons of great trails and places to hike throughout the park. Make sure to stop at the visitor center when you arrive to get a park map and information from the park rangers. Here are a few of our favorite family hikes.
Tip: Don’t forget to bring with water, snacks, sunscreen and a hat on your hike. I love using a fanny pack to hold water, snacks and my phone. Switching from carrying a backpack to a fanny pack has really saved my back from pain while we hike.
The Wonderland Trail is an old gravel road that leads down to the water’s edge. This is an easy 1.4 mile hike (not a loop) through stands of spruce and fir. End the hike at the rocky edge which is perfect for tide pooling at low tide. Kids will love climbing around the rocks searching for critters in the tide pools. This trail is located on the “quiet side” of Mount Desert Island. It has a small parking lot and a few road side parking spots.
Ship Harbor Trail
Located close to Wonderland Trail, Ship Harbor Trail is another great family friendly hike through beautiful forests. You will find cool pink granite rock formations that lead to more fun tide pools. The tide pools at the end are a great way to encourage your kids to make it through the trail. The trail is shaped like an 8 so you can take a different route up and down to get different views. There is a small parking lot at the start of the trail.
If you are looking for a little more challenging hike that’s still doable for kids, try Flying Mountain. It’s a 1.5 mile moderate loop trail in Southwest Harbor. It’s a gradually ascending trail that becomes a little more rugged as you reach the peak. At the top are beautiful views of Somes Sound to the east and the ocean to the south. Look out for the small islands in the ocean view. You will then continue your hike north before descending into Valley Cove where the parking lot is located. Keep in mind a lot of the path is rocky and not a smooth path but this is why the kids loved it.
Bubble Rock Trail
If the kids enjoy climbing rocks try this fun and easy 0.7 mile trail. You will start out in a wooded area and end with a cool rock scramble up to see the beautiful views. Learn more about this family friendly trail in this Bubble Rock Trail Guide.
Ocean Path Trail
Looking for the best views in the park? Then hike the Ocean Path Trail. Starting at the upper parking lot by Sand Beach you will hike in a south direction along the eastern shore of Mount Desert Island. Along the way you will find several spots to stop and take in the amazing views. Learn more about this beautiful hike in Hiking Ocean Path Trail.
Tip: Bring with Binoculars to see far away birds and other wildlife while you hike. Or just get a closer look at the stunning scenery.
More Fun Kids Activities in the Area
Bar Harbor Maine – This cute town surrounding Acadia National Park is a must see when you’re visiting the area. Its a great place to find a variety of lodging plus delicious restaurants and fun shops. Your kids will love getting an ice cream while you stroll along the historic downtown.
George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History – Located in the College of the Atlantic, all exhibits are created by the college students to teach children about coastal Maine wildlife. Check out the fun exhibits and tide pool tanks with live sea stars, hermit crabs, snails, and other marine creatures. To get here, take the Island Explorer Bus which stops right behind the museum. There is no parking for visitors.
Driver Ed Dive In Theater – Want to get out on a fun boat ride with the kids and learn all about local sea life? The Diver Ed boat ride is geared toward families as they watch Diver Ed dive into the water on the big screen in the boat. His whole dive is interpreted for the group and then items found in the sea are brought up for the kids to examine. This is a unique experience the kids will really enjoy.
Are you Ready to Explore Acadia National Park?
Are you ready now to explore Acadia National Park with your kids? Hopefully you have found fun Acadia National Park hikes and things to do. It’s such a great national park that you could make it into a day trip or spend an entire week explore Maine’s coastline. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. I love to hear from my readers!
Find more great National Park family vacation ideas in my Epic National Parks to Visit Before Your Kids Turn 18. Find out why you’ll love visiting Shenandoah National Park, Smoky Mountains, Yosemite, Cuyahoga Valley, Everglades National Park and more cool locations. Create some great family memories!
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