In June, we're launching our first ever postcard book titled, Forever Yours, Bar Harbor: Historic Postcard Images of Mount Desert Island & Acadia, by journalist and MDI Islander editor, Earl Brechlin. Alongside each postcard, the author offers interesting facts, shares bits of Maine lore and compares these fascinating images from the past to the Mount Desert Island we know today.
Brechlin, who is also a registered Maine Guide, is an expert when it comes to the forests and mountains of his beloved island. With this expertise in mind, we asked him to share some of his favorite places in Bar Harbor:
The Shore Path
Few long-established communities in New England enjoy as much public access along the waterfront as Bar Harbor. Stretching from Bridge Street, through downtown and past the town beach at Agamont Park and beyond, the Bar Harbor Shore Path covers not just distance, but time as well. On the section south of the Bar Harbor Inn, visitors can see 100-year-old former summer "cottages" of the Gilded Age.
Picnic anywhere you want along the shore. In the bay, lobster boats dart as fishermen and women tend their traps. Mighty ocean liners anchor in the harbor where sea birds, harbor seals and porpoises are often seen from shore.
On Bar Island, you can walk the bottom of the ocean without getting wet (just be sure to wear your rain boots). With a tidal change of nearly 12 feet, the receding water uncovers acres of gravel and a muddy ocean bottom. You can explore the sand bar connecting Bar Harbor to its namesake island twice each day.
The island, once the home of NBC newsman Jack Perkins, is now owned by Acadia National Park. Visitors will find a field where forlorn cellar holes from its earliest settlers are slowly returning to forest. The view of the town and mountains of Acadia beyond from the open top of the hill on the island's east end, is unparalleled. FMI visit here.
The Village Green
A quintessential New England gathering place, the Bar Harbor Village Green is surrounded by quaint shops, unique restaurants, churches, the Abbe Museum and the town's century-old fire station. Its lush grass provides an inviting spot to picnic, play Frisbee or to do nothing at all. The town clock and stone bench on the east side are the perfect place to watch the swirl of summer activity on Main Street. At the opposite end is the hub of the Island Explorer Bus System which covers all of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.
In the middle of the park, there is a gazebo where the town band performs free outdoor concerts on Monday and Thursday evenings. Children race in circles as the band plays, and the concert always ends with "The Star-Spangled Banner" when the nine o-clock fire horn sounds.
Built in 1932, in less than six months, with money rumored to have been made running rum in the foggy offshore waters, the Criterion Theatre is a splendid example of high art-deco style. Performances have ranged from original vaudeville acts to world-class musicians to major motion picture premieres.
Its subsequent owners have included a flamboyant mystery novelist, a restaurateur, and a local non-profit. Armed with $2 million from an anonymous donor, the non-profit Bar Harbor Jazz Festival bought the 600-seat theater in 2014 and began extensive renovations. The Criterion now shows nightly movies and hosts live music, dance and community theater.
Summit of Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Rio de Janerio. Also the highest point in Acadia National Park, the mountain is believed to be the first place in the United States to be touched by sun's rays several months of the year. Some 1532 feet above sea level, this solid granite summit attracts scores of people who hope to be among the first in the nation to see the dawn of a new day. Each evening, weather permitting, people flock to the Blue Hill Overlook to watch the spectacular sunset. In the fall, park naturalists help visitors spot eagles, hawks and falcons on their annual migration.