Where to Stay While Visiting Acadia National Park

From glamping to grand inns to classic campgrounds, there’s lodging for every budget.

Campsites at the scenic Mount Desert Campground near Acadia National Park
Campsites at the scenic Mount Desert Campground.
By Will Grunewald
Photos by Cait Bourgault
From our June 2024 issue

Acadia and a whiff of refinement have always gone hand in hand, owing to the robber barons and other well-heeled rusticators who transformed Mount Desert Island into a leisure destination in the 19th century. Nowadays, vacationers who prefer their outdoorsy adventures mixed with sophistication still have plenty of options, especially around Bar Harbor. There’s the grand Bar Harbor Inn, which began as a social club in the late 1800s and grew from there, claiming an enviable perch along the water, right in the hustle and bustle of town but also somehow removed from it (1 Newport Dr., Bar Harbor; 844-814-1668). Or there’s the Balance Rock Inn, in a turn-of-the-century Scottish railroad tycoon’s oh-so-humble summer “cottage,” which presently boasts AAA four-diamond status (21 Albert Meadow, Bar Harbor; 207-664-4926). In the busy season, guests at those sorts of upscale establishments can expect to find rates starting — and certainly not stopping — around $500 per night. Four-figure nights aren’t entirely uncommon around Acadia.

Forest campground on Mt. Desert Island
Another Mount Desert Campground campsite.

At the other end of the spectrum, the most affordable accommodations are always the ones you bring with you: tent, camper, or RV. The park service operates two campgrounds on Mount Desert Island, Seawall (668 Seawall Rd., Southwest Harbor; 207-288-3338) and Blackwoods (155 Blackwoods Rd., Otter Creek; 207-288-3274), where drive-up sites cost $30 a night (nps.gov/acadia). Park-run campgrounds are also located in the separate Schoodic Peninsula section of Acadia and on remote Isle au Haut. The privately run Mount Desert Campground is another good option, with its scenic perch above Somes Sound (516 Sound Dr., Mount Desert; 207-244-3710). And Lamoine State Park, on the mainland side of the narrows, offers knockout views of the Acadia skyline and sites that go for $30 a night for out-of-staters, $20 for in-staters (23 State Park Rd., Lamoine; 207-667-4778). 

Lately, camping-esque experiences at fancy-hotel prices (glamping, as the practice is neologistically known) have been catching on around Acadia. Twenty minutes outside the park, at Under Canvas, a national chain that opened locally three years ago, spacious permanent tent structures come with cushy West Elm furniture, private bathrooms with running water, and private decks (702 Surry Rd., Surry). The appeal is pretty self-evident: all the breezy pleasures of actual camping combined with many of the perks of an upscale resort, even if the prices are solely in line with that latter.

Is there a middle ground to be had? The Acadia Hotel is situated right in the center of Bar Harbor, across from the village green — a prime location with a supply of compact, well-appointed, nicely cared-for rooms, but even those start around $400 a night in July and August (20 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor; 207-288-5721). That sounds like a lot of money — it is a lot of money — but, for some perspective, it’s generally in line with the Holiday Inn and cheaper than the Hampton Inn, both on the periphery of town. On the other side of the island, the Seawall Motel offers basic, slightly less expensive rooms and water views that would usually cost a lot more (566 Seawall Rd., Southwest Harbor; 207-244-3020).

Lodging will almost always represent the biggest chunk of change on any vacation, and even though there are many dozens of hotels and inns near Acadia, there aren’t any true bargains out there, at least not during the high season. A place that seems surprisingly cheap might come with a few surprises. But all in all, when you’re somewhere as magnificent as Acadia, your hotel is hardly the most important thing. 

Acadia National Park is Maine’s crown jewel and, like so many rare and wonderful things, it can come with a hefty price tag. But you still don’t need to spend big in order to enjoy a big adventure. From lodging to restaurants to activities to timing, order our June 2024 issue to learn how to have a gem of an experience on any budget.

May 2024, Down East Magazine

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