Whale watching is virtually guaranteed by the local tour companies, Bar Harbor is home to both modern architecture as well as shops and homes from the late 1800's and early 1900's. We're about 2 blocks from the YMCA (swimming, basketball) and fenced kid's playground. Across from the Y is the ballfield.
Here's a word picture of what you will find on your visit.
From our home walk a block to Main Street and over to Main Street Market to pick up the local Mount Desert Islander or the weekly National Park Guide for a list of daily and local events, many of them free and fun for all ages. On Sundays you are a block away from the local Farmer's Market in the YMCA parking lot. The Y offers kids camp, basketball, swimming. For the under 8 year old set, the public playground behind the Y is a gem. Two blocks beyond that is Glen Mary Pool open to all throughout the summer - at no charge.
Walking into town you will quickly pass fine restaurants, ice cream parlors, wine, clothes, and specialty stores, and outdoor hiking, rockclimbing, and water activity outfitters all within a few blocks.
By now you are in the heart of town and about 3 blocks from the Harbor. The Village Green is as enjoyable as you can imagine, surrounded by Reel Pizza (dine on gourmet pizza and local beer while watching first run films), the firehouse, the National Park Visitor's Center, the Library, Churches, museums, and of course, a collection of local shops featuring Maine art, gems, clothing, and local dining from Lobster Fra Diavlo to Lobster Ice Cream.
Before you get to the Harbor, be sure to find Rodick Street, right behind the Village Green to the right of Reel Pizza. Two favorites here are Side Street Cafe (owned by big sister Jenn - always a party and often live music) and Little Sister's Creative Studio (owned by lil' sister Emily). The kids will enjoy crafts and artwork for a few hours while you enjoy some time together in the village, taking in a movie, or enjoying a local dish at the many great restaurants. There is even a 'date night' package on Friday nights where kids enjoy the Studio and a meal from the Cafe next door.
Rodick Street is also home to Morning Glory Bakery, by far the best bakery/coffee shop to get your morning started. Even Diver Ed goes there (more on him later).
On the way to the Harbor walking down Main Street, the big red wooden carved lobster lets you know you are at Ben and Bills. Try to resist the homemade fudge, confections, and ice cream if you can. (If you are successful, CJ's or MDI Ice Cream off of the Village Green will ensnare you with their own unique flavors). The aroma of pizza and the lure of boutique shopping on Cottage Street may divert you momentarily from your goal of reaching the Harbor.
Once at the Harbor enjoy spectacular views of Frenchman's Bay from Agamont Park, luxury yachts and lobster boats side by side, the Porcupine Islands, and the Little Egg Lighthouse. At low tide you will walk the 'bar' over to Bar Island. You can even drive there, but don't dally. The phrase 'tide and time wait for no man' are born out by the rapid rise in tides in the Bay of Fundy, and cars are occasionally stranded or stuck on Bar Island when their owners wait too long to drive off. You will find sea life and sea glass on the bar including crabs, snails, and sea stars (starfish).
The Harbor is also home to the Margaret Todd, a recreated 4-masted schooner with voyages daily. I like the sunset cruise myself, enjoying some soft guitar tunes and helping to hoist the sails with a half-dozen other crewmate (passengers). The serenity of the voyage and the view from the water reminds me of what Champlain saw when he discovered the island in the 1600's.
If you enjoy fishing, take a fishing rod from our home and catch a few mackerel or pollock for dinner from the pier. For an unforgettably fun, funny, and zany encounter with sea life - be sure to take the Diver Ed excursion from College of the Atlantic just up the road (under a mile). Ed and his wife have turned a vessel into an ocean-going theater. Ed dives down with a high-def camera and Mini-Ed. Together they do battle with crabs, lobsters, and sea cucumbers. Later Ed bags the critters and brings them on board for a real show. You'll see seals, porpoises, and sea lions as well.
The Harbor will also offer you opportunities to whale-watch, ride on a lobster boat, and take an ocean tour of the island to see seals, puffins, porpoises, and the spectacular beauty of Mount Desert Island.
Finally, you can leave the Harbor and walk home on the Shore Path. Remind yourself of the majesty of the Island when it was the summer retreat of the Rockefellers, Astors, and the wealthy. The view from the Shore Path is one of estates with spreading lawns on one side and Frenchman's Bay to the other. At the end of the Shore Path, walk one block and you are back home.
I know I've left out just as much as I've written about here. So much to discover!