Acadia With Young Children
7 Essential Tips
By: Puranjot Kaur Khalsa
Taking your children on an adventure in Acadia National Park is exactly what family memories are made of.
Where else can you be on an island . . .off the coast of Maine . . .that is made up, in part, by a National Park? A visit to Acadia with young children is a chance to both disconnect and reconnect. Here, you can spend quality-time together and inspire your children through your love of the mountains, the forest and the ocean.
Here are 7 tips to help you plan an unforgettable experience in Acadia with young children that the whole family will love.
Find the Perfect Place to Rest Your Head: You’re probably looking for convenience and a place your kids can run free without disturbing others too much. Are you looking for a full-service hotel with room service, televisions and a pool or are you hoping to have the experience of camping? This is an important question to answer as you plan your trip. Are you looking to be in Bar Harbor or on the Quietside of the island? Lodging on Mount Desert Island is as diverse as each family, so be sure to do your research.
Rise and Shine: You probably are awake anyway, so why not embrace it? Get going before 8 AM and you’ll see fewer people and feel as though you have the entire park to yourself. The Park Loop Road gets quite busy as the day goes on, so getting a jump on the day is key.
Be Open to Learning as a Family: Visit one of the park’s Visitor Centers to pickup maps and handy guides (and don’t forget to use VisitAcadia.com as a reference while out exploring!) You can also head over to the Sieur de Monts Nature Center or the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History to help your whole family learn about the natural history of the island. You can touch local sea creatures in the Dorr’s touch tank and learn about the various animal habitats on the island.
Let the Park (and Your Kids!) Be Your Guide: Acadia’s Junior Ranger Program offers kids the opportunity to attend ranger programs, complete activities in a workbook, and promise to take care of Acadia. When you arrive in the park, stop by a visitor center, nature center, or one of the park campgrounds to obtain your booklet. It is a great way to learn and have fun in the park. When your child has completed their book, stop by the Sieur de Monts Nature Center so they can take the Junior Ranger oath and get their badge. Acadia National Park also offers a program called Acadia Quest. Acadia Quest is a series of youth- and family-oriented experiences in the park that encourage youth and families to explore, learn about, and protect national parks and other conserved lands. Families or friends create a team and complete activities in categories of Explore, Learn, and Protect. For more information, visit the Acadia Quest page on the Friends of Acadia website.
Take a Hike: Acadia is a hiker’s paradise and it’s never too early to get your kids on the trail! The Compass Harbor Trail, Beech Mountain Trail and Ship Harbor/Wonderland trails are super friendly for younger kids. Be sure to bring plenty of snacks and water for everyone. And take it slow – it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Take a Dip: What family vacation to Maine would be complete without a trip to the beach for some swimming? Echo Lake Beach is by far the most young kid-friendly beach on the island. The water temperature is considerably warmer than Sand Beach and there is a lifeguard on duty during the summer months. The depth of the water is very gradual, so it’s a perfect place for new swimmers. There are bathrooms, showers and foot baths available for washing off sandy toes.
Ice cream!: It’s always a good idea and the perfect reward for the tuckered out adventurers. There are loads of flavors at the various ice cream shops around the island. Be sure to ask locals you meet about their favorite spots.