Called “Eden” when founded in 1796 and renamed in 1921 for the sand bar which had accumulated in the bay, Bar Harbor is the best known and largest town in the northeast section of the island and leads to one of the entrances to the park.
The Great Fire of 1947 consumed 10,000 acres of Acadia National Park, 67 mansions, 5 historic grand hotels, 170 private homes and 10,000 acres of Acadia National Park.
Favorable winds spared the downtown section of Bar Harbor from the fire, where several homes in the historic district operate as inns. The town also includes the villages of Hulls Cove, Salisbury Cove and Town Hill.
While in downtown visit the Abbe Museum, Oceanarium and the Criterion Theater built in 1932 in the Art Deco style. Take Shore Path, which starts near the town pier and continues along the eastern shore. Bar Island, which you can walk to at low tide, gives you a spectacular view when you look back toward Bar Harbor with the towering mountain in the background.
Bar Harbor is home to College of the Atlantic where you can visit the Natural History Museum and see displays of mammals, birds and maritime life. It is also the site of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory Jackson Lab, the world’s largest mammalian genetic research facility.