ULTIMATE GUIDE: See the Best of Acadia National Park in 24 Hours

Best of Acadia National Park

It was my mission to experience the best of Acadia National Park in 24-hours and I did just that!

It was my last weekend in Boston. Though I have loved the past two weeks in the city, I was craving some wilderness and hiking.  Doing some research, I came across, Acadia National Park. It’s only a four half hours’ drive from Boston Massachusetts, I had to go!

You can accomplish a lot in 24-hours! Here is the list in order with the full itinerary and details of each destination below.

The Ultimate List of things to do in Acadia National Park in 24-Hours

  • Watch Sunset in Acadia National Park
  • Photograph Bass Harbor Lighthouse
  • Watch the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain
  • Hike Jordan Pond and Bubble Rock
  • Eat like a local
  • Walk the Ocean Path trail
  • Wanting a challenge – Hike Bumblebee trail
  • Take a puffin & whale watch cruise

Best of Acadia National Park in 24-Hours

Watch a Sunset in Acadia National Park

Orange Sunset in Acadia National Park dock

Sunsets are my all-time favorite thing to photograph. It’s the perfect way end to your day!

Sunsets are like jet skis… you can’t frown while watching a sunset!

The five most popular sunset locations are:

  • Cadillac Mountain
  • Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
  • Jordon Pond
  • Otter Cliff
  • Bar Island

Sunset Acadia Maine boats

I was hoping to make it to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse for sunset, but Mother Nature and my sense of time had other plans for me! It was 8:19 p.m., five minutes past sunset. I still had a 15-minute drive.

The rain had just stopped. The sky started to glow. I looked up and saw the most vivid rainbow from the high humidity.

Continued to drive… crossing my fingers hoping I’d make it in time for sunset! Then… it opened to this lake view on my left! I pulled over, fumbled for my camera and ran. I’ve never seen this creamy creamsicle of a sunset as you see above!

Can you see the faint rainbow, pillows of fog and creamsicle colors?! I was in AWE!

This goes to show you don’t need to be at some “popular” location for a one of a kind sunset experience! The unexpected and uncrowded ones are the BEST!

I jumped back in my car and headed to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse hoping there would be some color.


Bass Harbor Lighthouse Black and white

One of the most iconic scenes of Acadia National Park is the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. It was determined in 1855 that there was a sufficient reason for a lighthouse at the mouth of Bass Harbor. The lighthouse was built of brick in 1858 on a stone foundation. Today the house is a private residence for a local Coast Guard member and family.

Pulled up hoping for a colorful sky but I got thick, dewy fog! I took the short five-minute along the trail and down maybe 200-steps to the shoreline. This is where you can capture the iconic cliffside shot of the lighthouse.

Bass harbor light house fog

It made for an eerie experience and was still awesome! The mosquitos were insane though! I think I got 100 bites so don’t forget your Deet!


girl standing Cadillac Mountian Sunrise

Watching the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain is the #1 recommended thing to do in Acadia National Park. This means large crowds of 200+ people! However, don’t let that deter you from experiencing it. Call me a tourist, it’s WORTH IT!

I’m not a huge morning person but I had to see what the fuss was all about!

I decided to sleep in the back seat of the truck on top of the mountain to make sure I’d wake up for sunrise. There was maybe two other people in the lot around midnight. I set my alarm at 4:04 a.m. (yes those extra minutes’ matter: P).

The alarm goes off, I jump up and the parking lot was FULL… at FOUR FREAKIN AM! Crazy right?!

Sunrise in Acadia

I gathered my gear and walked five minutes along the granite to find my spot away from the 200+ people that surrounded me. It was nearly impossible to avoid but still absoltuly worth it!

I now see why this is the #1 thing to do in Acadia National Park and highly recommend seeing it for yourself!


  • Make sure your ARRIVAL time is at 4 am to get a parking spot
  • Wear warm clothes it can be chilly even during summer months
  • Expect a lot of wind – it was SUPER windy during my visit.


girl standing on top of Jordan Pond copy

I only had time to do one good hike and wanted to find the best, not necessarily the longest… but the most scenic with beautiful views and a little bit of challenge.


Jordon Pond is only a 15-minute drive from Cadillac Mountain. I ate my Quest bar for breakfast and started the hike by 8 a.m. Perks of an early sunrise!

Length: 4 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy around the lake – strenuous .5 mile up to Bubble Rock


Side Street Cafe Haddock Ruben

I was starving after hiking Jordon Pond. Drove 15-minutes into Bar Harbor, a little downtown with several restaurants and shops. My intentions were to eat healthy at Thrive Juice Bar & Kitchen but I couldn’t resist the delicious smell next door. Side Street Café patio and menu won me over.

I got their local haddock Ruben sandwich and fresh-cut fry’s. It was mouthwateringly delicious and so different! Their lobster roll looked amazing too but I was all lobster rolled out! It’s a major staple here in Maine!


girl standing on rock ocean path trail

Ocean path trail starts at Sand Beach and ends at Otter point. The best part, it’s mostly level great for the whole family. There are several famous spots along the trail to stop at such as Monument Cove, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliffs. It’s a well maintained assessable 4-mile round trip trail hugging the pink granite coast.

To get there you enter Acadia National Park via Park Look Road. It’s a two-lane one-way blacktop road. There are parking lots along the entire trail for the famous viewpoints. If you go during summer like me, overflow parking is allowed on the right side of the road. Stay off the soil.

I parked near the famous, Thunder Hole. It’s a small inlet, naturally carved out of the granite, where the waves roll into it. There’s a small cavern at the end. When the rush of waves arrive, air and water is then forced out making it roar like thunder! Water may spout out as high as 40 feet! They have metal railings to hang on to and is even handicap assessable.

The water levels were too low during my visit so I didn’t get to hear the thunder. I decided to walk along the pink and orange rugged granite shoreline for an hour before I headed back to Boston!

Length: 4 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy

Here are TWO more things I REALLY wanted to do but didn’t have time!


Beehive Trail girl standing

Image from search engine

If you’re looking for a short difficult trail this is it! I ended up passing the trailhead on the one-way road by nearly a mile so I decided to be more chill and head to Thunder Rock instead. However, this hike looks heart-throbbing awesome… as in terrifying!

It’s a 1.2-mile round trip well-marked hike. Iron rungs aide with the climb in some sections. There are a few steep drop-offs, so it’s not recommended for those with a fear of heights. There are incredible views of the coast along the way.

Length: Under 2 miles round trip
Difficulty: Strenuous due to the iron rungs


Wild Puffins on Rock in Maine

How incredible would be to witness humback whales, the largest animals on earth?! What about adorable little puffins with their brightly colored beaks?! Well, you can and then some!

This is a fully narrated trip, on the Gulf of Maine. They look for and find a variety of whale species along with seals, eagles, porpoises, dolphins, offshore birds, lighthouses and North Atlantic Puffins. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. offers galley and bar service, indoor cabins, restrooms and plenty of outdoor viewing space. I’m not affiliated with them at all but this was the company I was going to choose, so if you did’nt enjoy not my fault :P!  If I had more time I’d  LOVE to see all the above which is why I am recommending a tour. I never thought you could witness wild puffins in America! Did you?!

That my friends is how you spend 24-hours in Acadia National Park! Have more suggestions? I would love to hear from you! Comment below, Pin, share & subscribe to stay up to date on my latest adventures!

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Best of Acadia National Park


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