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Fall in New England is one of the best times to visit. Cooler temps paired with gorgeous colors make for a relaxing and enjoyable trip. In particular, Acadia National Park in the fall is the best place for a long weekend getaway.
In the early 1900s, the National Park Service created Acadia with significant land donations from the Rockefeller family. Over time, it has emerged as one of the most popular national parks on the East Coast.
Once Labor Day weekend ends, guests can expect fewer crowds compared to the summer season. However, it can still be busy as guests love New England fall, and cruise ships will still dock in Bar Harbor. Luckily, many of the school-aged families are back home in school.
Average temperatures vary based on when you visit in the fall. Early fall will be cool with only a light jacket needed, and temps will drop as time progresses through the season.
photo credit: K. Wiggins
Reasons to Visit Acadia in the Fall Season
Summer is the peak season, so not only is it more crowded, but also more expensive. Fall grants nice temps at a lower price point, especially in late Fall.
- Crowds- Since many families are back in school, the park isn’t as crowded. You won’t have too much trouble finding parking spots at the famous places in the park. Also, you can take relaxing scenic drives with less traffic.
- Temperatures- I love shoulder season when traveling. Although we live in the South, traveling in extreme heat is unbearable.
- Hotels- Pricing is at its peak in the summertime. You may find competitive pricing in the shoulder season, and the luxury hotel you’ve been eying may be more affordable.
- Restaurants- Once again, no need to fight with crowds. You may still have a little wait at some of the most popular places, but hopefully, you can avoid hour-long wait times.
- Bar Harbor- This town is the main focal point for guests for dining and shopping. In the summer, it can be packed. Cruise ships will still drop guests off at lower numbers than in the summer. So you can shop & dine without massive crowds.
Acadia in the Fall
Although there are cooler temps, autumn is the perfect time to visit Acadia. Some people love it more than peak summer season. Most outdoor activities are still available except for some water activities. The trails are open for hikers as well as most restaurants.
The fall months are an excellent time to be at the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast. Guests are granted beautiful views of the park, Bar Harbor, and Frenchman Bay with added fall foliage.
Cadillac Mountain requires reservations, so plan and this is one of the most popular spots on Mount Desert Island.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
If you love lighthouses, you must make time to visit Bass Harbor. This destination is a little further away from Bar Harbor and the main Acadia attractions, but 100% worth the short drive.
The lighthouse majestically sits on the coast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Imagine bright yellows, oranges, and red leaves beaming behind the white lighthouse in autumn. Don’t forget your camera; you will want to snag a picture or a few.
Jordan Pond House
Jordan Pond House is one of my favorite stops in Acadia. I love to grab a strawberry popover in the restaurant before I explore the Jordan Pond Trail. The restaurant is popular, but make reservations ahead of time.
The park has miles and miles of carriage roads open to guests who want to explore on foot or bike. This is a unique and beautiful way to see the park with less crowds.
✅Book your bike tour of the carriage roads NOW by clicking HERE!
Park Loop Road
Once in the park, you will want to explore the park loop- the main road around Acadia. The road is 27 miles around the park on the coast of Mount Desert Island.
It is a one-way road, so you have plenty of time to explore, as there are many pull-off spots for scenic views. There are also places to stop for a picnic lunch.
Thunder Hole is one of the most visited spots on the park loop. You’ll find a nice parking lot on the other side of the road and steps leading down to the part known as Thunder Hole.
Thunder Hole is an inlet in between massive rocks. When waves crash into the spot, you hear an echoing or thundering noise hence the name. It is an excellent spot and a place to visit year-round, regardless of the water. Guests will climb the rocks surrounding the area, but I do not recommend this.
photo credit: K. Wiggins
Another great stop on the park loop is a stop at Sand Beach. It is a beautiful place to explore while at Acadia.
photo credit: K. Wiggins
Ocean Path is a several-mile path along the coast in Acadia. If you want to do the entire route, start at Sand Beach and walk to sites like Thunder Hole. The whole path is 4.4 miles, but you can explore as much or as little as you prefer.
The path isn’t strenuous but also not always flat. It doesn’t require hiking boots, but I would wear at least tennis shoes and avoid sandals. If the weather is nice, this would be a fun way to experience Acadia’s autumn colors.
photo credit: K. Wiggins
Although it is no longer summer, don’t be discouraged from booking a whale-watching excursion. The season stretches into October. So as long as you are visiting in September & October, you are in the prime window for whale spotting.
You can’t visit Maine without trying a world-famous lobster roll. I have to admit that whenever I’m in Maine, I tend to have one almost every day! Bar Harbor and the rest of Mount Desert Island offer some excellent places to try a local favorite.
My favorite lobster roll in Acadia is from Thurston’s, but Beal’s Lobster Pier, Abel’s, Rose Eden Lobster, and Stewman’s are great options too.
If you enjoy hiking, Acadia is the place for you, with some of the best hikes on the East Coast. If you want an easy route, then walk the path along Jordan Pond or the Ocean Path.
For those seeking more of a challenge, plan time for the Precipice Trail, Beehive Trail, or Bubbles Trail. Wear proper footwear like hiking boots and pack plenty of water. Precipice and Beehive are not for the novice hiker FYI and some have iron rungs to climb on. Avoid these trails in inclement weather. Lastly, these trails are one-way only.
Within the national park, there are several options for camping. You can choose between campgrounds at Blackwoods, Seawall, Duck Harbor, or Schoodic Woods. If you are traveling with horses, Wildwood Stables Campground is available.
Duck Harbor and Schoodic Woods are not technically on Acadia. These would be ideal if you wanted a distance from the park.
You can book reservations through the park service two months in advance. If you want to come at the peak fall season of mid-October, grab your spot when the booking window opens.
🍁Looking for another fall getaway? Consider Banff National Park!🍁
Although temps drop after Labor Day weekend, you still have time for a sailing trip. A tour around Mount Desert Island is available from September through mid-October. Plan on packing layers as it may be chiller than the coast.
✅Book your sailing trip NOW by clicking HERE!
Where to stay in Acadia
On Mount Desert Island, there’s lodging for every type of guest. For those who prefer luxurious lodging to guests traveling with pets or even those who love camping, you’ll have a lot to choose from. Rates should be slightly lower than the peak season of summer.
Luxury– The Claremont
One of my favorite luxury hotels in the area is the Claremont. Tucked away from the crowds of Bar Harbor, you will find a serene retreat on Mount Desert Island with games, music, yoga and restaurants.
✅Book The Claremont NOW by clicking HERE!
Moderate– Holiday Inn Resort Bar Harbor
Since Acadia is so popular, many mid-tier hotels are still pricier, especially if you want to be on Mount Desert Island. The further away from the park, you’ll find more options in the 100-200 price range.
The Holiday Inn Resort is in a great location overlooking Frenchman’s Bay with cozy rooms. Each room is equipped with a refrigerator and coffee supplies.
✅Book the Holiday Inn Resort NOW by clicking HERE!
Budget– Hanscom’s Motel & Cottages
Hanscom’s Motel & Cottages is perfect for the budget traveler visiting Acadia. The rooms are clean, tidy, and recently redecorated. All rooms come with a sitting area, which is a nice perk. The cottages are an excellent option to explore Acadia National Park in fall.
✅Book Hanscom’s Motel NOW by clicking HERE.
Glamping– Under Canvas
If you visit in the early fall, it is still warm enough to try one of America’s latest trends- glamping! Under the Canvas offers this unique opportunity until early October in Acadia.
The tents are spacious with simple bathrooms. The property has activities like yoga, bonfires with smores, and kids’ activities.
✅Book Under the Canvas NOW by clicking HERE!
Acadia Travel Tips
How to get to Acadia?
If you live in New England, make a roadtrip and wind your way along the east coast.
Do I need a car?
Do I need a National Park Pass?
Yes, purchase one in advance from the National Park Service.
FAQ: Visiting Acadia
photo credit: K. Wiggins
Is October a good time to visit?
September and October are the best times to see fall foliage in the parks. November will be much cooler and even cold at times.
Is Acadia a good location for fall colors?
Acadia is an incredible place to experience fall in New England. Cape Cod is also a gorgeous location in the fall.
When is the peak time for fall colors?
You’ll want to be in the Acadia region by mid-October to experience the speculator fall foliage.
What’s the best time of the day to avoid crowds?
Early morning or late afternoon/early evening
What should I wear?
By late October, the temps have drastically cooled compared to early September. If you visit in early fall, it may hover in the 60s during the day but cooler at night, so pack layers. If visiting in late fall, definitely pack warm clothes. Temps will hover in the mid-40-50s during the day but can drop even lower at night.
How many days do you need?
I suggest at least 3. You can get away with two days but may not see everything you want.
Does it snow in October?
Rarely will you see snow in October, but the likelihood increases as you move into early November.
What are the best restaurants in Acadia?
Side Street Cafe, Thurston’s, Beal’s, Stewman’s, Adel’s Lobster, The Reading Room, Gayln’s, and Rose Eden Lobster are the top places to eat. After dinner, grab some yummy ice cream in Bar Harbor.
In conclusion: The Best Acadia National Park in Fall Guide, 2023
Booking a fall getaway or road trip to Acadia is the best way to see spectacular fall foliage. The weather conditions are ideal, as well as lower crowds. I hope my guide to Acadia National Park in Fall helps you plan your next great adventure!
Check out my Acadia in Fall Webstory!