One of the great treasures and beauties of Maine is Acadia National Park. Spend a full day, sun up to sun down, or spend a week exploring all the details and hidden treasures. Or if you're short on time, simply take a scenic drive through the park and stop at one of the many overlooks for an amazing view. If you don't get the chance to plan your trip beforehand, don't stress. There's something to see every step of the way and there's a photo opportunity at every turn! If you're looking for just a few points of interest, there are plenty to choose from. Jordan Pond has a scenic, level hike around a gorgeous pond. Sand Beach has exactly what you would hope for at a place so named, with plenty of sand for sunbathing and sand castles. Thunder Hole has stunning views of the ocean, cliffs, and beach, with the added bonus of the thundering sounds of the waves. And Cadillac Mountain provides picture-perfect views of the islands and Bar Harbor. Acadia National Park has plenty to do and see, no matter how much or little time you have to spend there.
Jordan Pond is perfect for a mild hike around a beautiful pond of crystal clear water. There's no swimming in this pond! It's actually used as a public water supply. The hike around the pond is about three miles with little to no incline. It's mainly level, but part of the path is made up of wood planks through the forest and another part leads across large rocks. The rocks are great for taking a moment to sit down and enjoy the scenery and kids love playing on them. Step back and enjoy the blue water, the green trees, the bright sunshine, the shade of the forest. Late in May, there was a bit of a wind chill on one side of the pond, but the sunshine was warming where it broke through the trees. If you don't get the chance to pack a picnic, Jordan Pond House has a restaurant and gift shop on site, as well as restrooms and a water bottle fill station.
Sand Beach was aptly named as its sandy shore makes it unique to the park where the majority of the coast is made up of rock or cliffs. On a chilly day in May, this was the coldest part of the trip since the breeze comes right off the ocean, but it's perfect for flying kites or playing in the sand. The beach is framed by rock on either side, topped with trees for beautiful pictures or a little adventure. This stop has restrooms and a foot-rinsing station, so feel free to dip your toes in the water and run around on the sand. It's generally too cold to swim at this beach, but the breeze makes it nice for sunbathers to keep cool. And just a short scenic walk (or drive) of less than a mile is Thunder Hole.
If you're short on time and want to quickly get to your destination of Thunder Hole, it's an easy drive and there's a parking lot right across from the main attraction. But if you're up for a little more exploration, there are several stunning overlooks in the short walk between Sand Beach and Thunder Hole. It's less than a mile between the two and all along the way, there are countless little trails branching off from the main path and leading to grand views of the beach, the rocky cliffs, and the incredible horizon. It's a photographer's dream and the large rocks provide plenty of space to sit and meditate. You'll know when you've reached Thunder Hole because there's a staircase with a metal railing leading the way down to the attraction. It is so named because of the thunderous sound made by the waves as they crash in this one small space. If you're up for exploring a little, you might come across a tide pool filled with marine life!
If you're looking for one good view of the rocky coast, the forest, Bar Harbor, the islands, and the horizon, your go-to spot is Cadillac Mountain. It can be a bit busy on a sunny day, but with such a wide expanse of land and such broad views, it's easy to get pictures and enjoy the scenery. Everywhere you look, there's another photo opportunity. Watch the birds soar and the butterflies flutter around the flowery bushes, learn about the volcanic landscape, climb the rocks. There's plenty of parking and this stop is good for either a quick picture, or a good amount of time climbing rocks and exploring the view from all different angles.