For the past two or so years I’ve found myself gravitating to the Atlantic exploring all the small New England towns along the east coast: the quaintness, the sunrises, the lighthouses (I have somewhat of an Instagram #lighthouseobsession), the food—there’s really no bad thing about summer on the east coast (except for maybe the hundreds of thousands of *other* people who also enjoy the same coast, causing some hefty traffic). Oh, and did I mention all of the delicious lobstah?!?
I was fortunate enough to time my NYC escape after Labor Day weekend, aka the last weekend of summer, so the normal seasonal crowds had already dwindled and I was left with a peaceful vacation in the heart of the Northeast.
The drive from NYC to Bar Harbor was filled with amazing skies I will never forget. My first stop along the way was around 6 in the morning at Old Orchard Beach, where I shared a sunrise with a little bird who actually did a pose for me!
After my much-needed first sunrise of the trip, I kept heading northward towards my final destination—Mount Desert Island—running into some peculiar spots on the way like the “Biggest Little City”, Belfast, Maine, a peaceful boat town that’s economy once thrived on industrial development even during the decline of ship building back in the 1800s.
Seeing Belfast reassured me that I was no longer in NYC; I was far, far away from any sort of city atmosphere, which relieved me, knowing I had zero obligations to fill until the following week.
About 30 or so miles from Belfast lies a little town that teased some cliffs—getting me very excited that I was a stone’s throw from Mt. Desert. Then crossing the island of Verona is one of the more architecturally advanced bridges I’ve crossed—the Penobscot Narrows Bridge–and I mean, it’s no Brooklyn Bridge, but I’ll definitely take it!
From Fort Knox it’s only about an hour drive to Tremont, where I would soon be dining around sunset at the famed Thurston’s Lobster Pound that’s lobster roll definitely hit my craving I’ve had as of late. And it was nice, considering the amount of driving I was doing that day.
But I was not done for the night quite yet; I was determined to get my perfect sunset shot at the Bass Harbor Head Light, just on the other side of the harbor from Thurston’s. The key to visiting the lighthouse is taking the pathway at the end of the parking lot and walking down onto the rocks; the view is much better and you will not be disappointed in your landscape shot!
The yawns were undoubtedly coming along at this point; I had covered much ground for a day, and was ready to head to my room just a short drive away along the harbor.
By early morning I was ready for my exploration of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. Before you do anything I recommend stopping at the visitor’s center and getting your parking pass (lasts for one week, $25), as you will need it for most parking spots (unless you have a bike, of course!).
First stop: Echo Lake! This beach was smaller than I had imagined, but again, it was technically off-season, so I enjoyed a nice day rest. However, it didn’t take me long to get that burning desire once again to move onto the next place on my list: a bigger version of Echo, Eagle Lake. I took a 3-mile or so hike along the biggest lake on the island, ending with a surreal landscape that’s water is SO pure it is ready to drink (no filter needed!); so it’s no surprise humans are not allowed to swim in the “Pristine Waters”.
Eagle Lake was probably my favorite view of the trip (that wasn’t a sunrise/sunset), and after a long hike (for me 3 miles is a long hike, but for you pros out there I’m sure you’d beg to differ) the view is most certainly worth it.
Somehow after Eagle Lake it was almost time for sunset once again, so I made my way over to the east side of the island to Sand Beach, where I hiked from there to the Otter Cliffs in time for another gorgeous sun-downer.
Maine really has infinite amounts of sights and beauty, while also offering the classic feel of the Northeast. If you live in any busy city along the East Coast and need a quick getaway, definitely add Mount Desert Island to your bucket list. I ended my WAY too short of a visit with a day spent in Bar Harbor, where I got my fix of lobster memorabilia and enjoyed the local spots (YES: you need to get two scoops at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Imporium and stop for dinner and drinks at Paddy’s at the West Street Hotel).
So until next time, you beautiful state, you. And RIP, summer.