Acadia National Park 3-, 4- and 5-day Itinerary

June 5, 2024

Surrounded by rocky coasts, dramatic forests and Maine’s characteristic rolling fogs, Acadia National Park is a wonderful place for every kind of traveler. Whether you want to spend a week with the family, challenge yourself with difficult hikes or relax in the New England landscape, you’ll find plenty of options in this guide to Acadia National Park.

Plan your trip and explore some of the best things to do in this Acadia National Park travel guide with itineraries for 3-, 4- or 5-day trips.

3-Day Itinerary for Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is just off the eastern coast of Maine, mostly on Mount Desert Island. It has rugged coastal cliffs, an abundance of hiking trails and the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast of the U.S.

Throughout this itinerary for Acadia National Park, you will primarily drive through Park Loop Road, a ring road that runs around the park. If you visit in summer or fall, you can also hop on the free Island Explorer bus system. Even if you have a car or RV, it’s a great way to avoid parking. While you can visit Acadia in winter, many parts of Park Loop Road will be closed, so getting around is challenging.

With logistics out of the way, let’s dive into the Acadia National Park 3-day itinerary.

Male backpacker standing near the waters edge in Acadia National Park during a sunrise.

Day 1: Scenic Views and Hiking

The first day of your Acadia National Park guide begins at Sand Beach, which offers easy access to multiple trails, for a drive down Park Loop Road. Then, you will stop by Jordan Pond before heading back to explore the town of Bar Harbor.

Start by getting your park entrance pass and browsing the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, then head to your first stop:

  • Sand Beach: Sand Beach is the main beach in Acadia, offering a lovely coast surrounded by cliffs. The water can be chilly, but it is a great place to relax. If you are driving, try to get there early for easier parking.
  • Ocean Path Trail: From the Sand Beach parking lot, start your walk down the flat Ocean Path Trail, which runs along the cliffside for stunning sea views. You will pass Thunder Hole, a unique underwater sea cave that amplifies the sounds of the waves at high tide. You can turn around here for a 1.4-mile round-trip journey or keep going to Otter Point, another stunning viewpoint with coastal cliffs. Otter Point is 2.2 miles from the lot in one direction.
  • Other hikes: If you want to do another hike, the Sand Beach lot puts you near several short options, including Beehive Trail and Great Head Hike. Beehive Trail is pretty strenuous, but it is only 1.4 miles round trip. Great Head Hike is a nice, family-friendly option of about 2 miles.
  • Jordan Pond: After your hike, enjoy the scenic route from your car, RV or shuttle bus to Jordan Pond. Jordan Pond is a great location for a picnic lunch. If you haven’t had your fill of Acadia hiking yet, you can walk around the Jordan Pond Path for 3.3 miles round trip — or take South Bubble Trail for something more challenging. For a non-hiking option, bring a kayak or canoe from one of many rental businesses in Bar Harbor.

After a breathtaking introduction to Acadia National Park, head to your stay. While Bar Harbor is the main city on the island, staying a little further west at the Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA Holiday offers a quieter experience on the water, away from the crowds. You’re still close to the shops and restaurants and can stay in your RV, a tent, a Camping Cabin or a Deluxe Cabin.

Settle in and get ready for an early morning on Day 2.

Day 2: Exploring Land and Sea

The second day of this Acadia National Park 3-day itinerary takes you from the peak of Cadillac Mountain to the surface of the Atlantic. After a sunrise mountain view, you’ll do some light hiking and head to Bar Harbor to explore the town and spend time on the water.

While this day ideally starts on Cadillac Mountain, the process of getting there could be tricky. You can only drive through the area with a vehicle reservation. The National Park Service releases 30% of these reservations 90 days before the reserved date and 70% of them two days before it. Unfortunately, the island shuttle does not cover Cadillac Mountain. You also cannot drive RVs or trailers on the road.

If you can get up to the summit, you will get a stunning view, but if not, you can always do one of the park’s many other beautiful hiking trails, such as Gorham Mountain Trail. You can also hike directly into Cadillac Mountain without a reservation, but many of these hikes are moderately challenging or difficult. If you’re not interested in hiking, swap in one of the many other activities listed throughout this guide, like kayaking, golfing or visiting the gardens.

With these limitations in mind, here is Day 2 of the itinerary in Acadia National Park for three days:

  • Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain: Head up the mountain for a beautiful view of the surrounding area. Take the quick 0.3-mile walk around the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail. If you want something more challenging, try the North Ridge or South Ridge Trails.
  • Bar Harbor exploration: Grab lunch at Bar Harbor and fuel up for some shopping along the streets. You’ll find plenty of shops for souvenirs, gifts and home decor. You can even take a trolley around town and learn about the area’s history.
  • Boat tour: Many companies offer boating and sailing tours that leave from Bar Harbor. You can go for a scenic ride, join a lobster fishing demonstration or search for marine wildlife like seals, whales and even puffins. For something more hands-on, you can go kayaking or paddleboarding in Frenchman Bay.
  • Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse: Finish the day with a trip to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, which sits against a rocky backdrop of coastal cliffs. This area is famous for its sunsets and only has one small parking lot, so either get there early or take the bus. If you don’t like crowds, you can also push this stop earlier in the day or swap it with Cadillac Mountain.

After sunset, head back to the campground for a nice evening around the fire or on the beach. Be sure to look up for some wonderful stargazing opportunities. You can also return to places like Jordan Pond, Ocean Path or Sand Beach to watch the night sky.

Beautiful sunset reflections from Otter Point in Acadia National Park in Maine.

Day 3: Flora and Fauna

The last day in this Acadia National Park itinerary takes you through the forested roads of the park, one of several lush gardens and the tidepools of the area.

Here’s the outline for Day 3:

  • Biking or a carriage ride: Acadia National Park has a great network of roads originally built for horse-drawn carriages. Now, hikers and bikers also use them to get around the peaks and valleys of the park. Find a carriage ride tour or rent a bike from Bar Harbor. If you are not driving, the Island Explorer’s Bicycle Express route takes you right to the carriage roads on Eagle Lake, where you can ride the gentle 6-mile Eagle Lake Loop.
  • Bar Harbor tide pools: Return your bikes or hitch them to your vehicle and head to downtown Bar Harbor, from which you can see Bar Island. During low tide, a shallow stretch of land appears. Follow this half-mile path to the island and poke around for snails, sea stars and crabs. Be careful of your timing so you don’t get stuck on the island. Research the tide schedule for the day, and walk out before low tide starts.
  • Shore Path: If you need to wait for the tide to roll in, you can walk Shore Path before Bar Harbor. Either way, it offers a beautiful, relaxing stroll down the coast. You can stop at a bench and watch ships in the harbor or bring some food from town for a picnic.
  • Garden walk: Next up is a stroll through one of the island’s beautiful, well-maintained gardens. Three options include the Wild Gardens of Acadia, Thuya Gardens or Asticou Azalea Garden. These beautiful landscapes show off the island’s diverse plant life.

This day of connecting with nature brings the 3-day Acadia National Park itinerary to a close, showing you all the island’s highlights in a short time.

4-Day Itinerary for Acadia National Park

If you have a little more time, consider extending your Acadia National Park itinerary to four days and adding a trip to the Schoodic Peninsula. This piece of land juts out from the mainland United States, with dramatic landscapes and the charming town of Winter Harbor. It is only an hour’s drive or ferry ride away, with several trails and scenic areas. The Island Explorer shuttle runs in this area, too.

For an Acadia National Park 4-day itinerary, follow the same three days listed above and add these stops in the Schoodic Peninsula on the fourth day:

  • Raven’s Nest: After a walk through the harbor town, make your way to Raven’s Nest. This scenic viewpoint offers a stunning sight of the ocean peeking through two rocky cliffs dotted with pine trees. Be careful around this area, as it has some sharp drops.
  • Schoodic Point: Schoodic Point is another scenic location. Stand on the tops of the cliffs, look out over the vast ocean and feel the power of the Atlantic as the waves hit the rocks. Go at low tide for some excellent tidepooling opportunities.
  • Blueberry Hill: Stop at Blueberry Hill for another gorgeous view. From this area, you can see the nearby Little Moose Island.
  • Hiking trails: The Schoodic Peninsula has many hiking options for different skill levels. Choose one you like, such as Sundew Trail or Schoodic Head Trail, and go for a hike before heading back to Mount Desert Island.

The Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park, Maine

5-Day Itinerary for Acadia National Park

If you have a full five days for your Acadia National Park itinerary, you can visit the picturesque Echo Lake and explore an activity that interests you.

Echo Lake sits just beside Beech Mountain, with its tall cliffs towering over the shoreline. Unlike the cool waters in many other places of the park, Echo Lake’s somewhat warmer temperatures make it a nice swimming area during summer. You can also hike around it or go fishing.

Either before or after Echo Lake, you can choose one of many activities on the island. Here are a few choices:

  • Precipice Trail: For experienced trekkers, no Acadia National Park hiking itinerary would be complete without Precipice Trail. This adventurous and challenging hike will have you climbing Champlain Mountain across 3.2 miles round trip, moving over ladders, iron rungs and boulders.
  • Isle au Haut: For another approach to hiking, consider a trip to the nearby Isle au Haut. It’s a remote option, so expect to spend about 90 minutes getting there via car and a ferry from Stonington, Maine. Once you are there, you practically get the trails all to yourself.
  • Golfing: Get some tee time over at Kebo Valley Golf Club for a relaxing afternoon in the beautiful Maine scenery.
  • Dive-In Theater with Diver Ed: This one-of-a-kind show is the perfect kid-friendly activity in Bar Harbor. Hop on a boat led by Diver Ed, an experienced diver and marine ecologist. He livestreams his adventures at the bottom of the harbor to everyone on the ship and brings some sea creatures back with him. Kids can learn about marine life during this entertaining show.

Pick one or two activities to round out your Acadia National Park 5-day itinerary, and head home knowing you made the most of your trip.

Acadia National Park Visitor’s Guide and FAQ

Whether you are creating an Acadia National Park camping itinerary, taking in the sights or helping the kids get in touch with nature, there’s a lot to consider in a journey to Acadia. Here are a few commonly asked questions:

How Many Days Do You Need at Acadia National Park?

How long you should spend in Acadia depends entirely on your travel style. If you love hiking, five days might not seem like enough to tackle all the trails you want to reach. If you just want to see the highlights and don’t mind a busy day, three or four days should suffice and can get you to all of the major sights and activities.

When Should You Visit Acadia National Park?

While the park itself is open year-round, summer and fall offer beautiful weather and easier travel, as the Park Loop Road is open. If you visit in winter, many parts of Park Loop Road are closed, along with local businesses.

Also, a few trails in the park close between early spring and late summer to protect peregrine falcons during their nesting seasons. These trails typically include Jordan Cliffs Trail, Precipice Trail and Valley Cove Trail. Always check trail conditions before heading out.

Where Can You Bring Pets in Acadia National Park?

Many places in Acadia allow pets, including the carriage roads and most trails, but you cannot take them to Sand Beach or Echo Lake during the summer season. Always follow best practices for traveling and camping with a pet, including keeping them leashed and cleaning up after them. If you stay at Kampgrounds of America, you can use the KampK9® dog park to let them run free and stretch their legs.

Book Your National Park Stay With KOA

With this Acadia National Park itinerary, you can explore the best of this beautiful park in just a few days. Stay at the Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA Holiday for an oceanside experience for all types of travel.

Escape the crowds and stay in an RV Site, Deluxe Cabin, Camping Cabin or Tent Site. On-site amenities such as firewood, clean bathrooms, RV hookups and Wi-Fi make it easy to stay comfortable, while food options and the Island Explorer shuttle stop can help you make the most of any Acadia National Park itinerary. Learn more about the Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA Holiday, and reserve your stay today!

About the Author: Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting

Enjoy a Greater Slice of the Great Outdoors

Discover even more room to enjoy outdoor living with a KOA Patio Site®. These spacious sites offer your very own patio equipped with outdoor furniture and the perfect place for a fire. Wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee with the sunrise and spend an evening relaxing with family and friends.

Learn More