12 Best Things To Do in Southwest Harbor

Just twenty minutes from the busy sidewalks and taken parking spots of Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor is a quaint village dotted with shops, art galleries and restaurants for you to explore. A leisurely drive along Route 102 is the perfect way to get acquainted with Southwest Harbor. After you take a loop around Shore Road and admire the beautiful water views, here are some ideas that are sure to make for an unforgettable day!

somes sound at night

Enjoy a beer or cocktail while watching the sun set over Somes Sound at Batson River Fish Camp

You don’t have to be a guest at The Claremont Hotel to enjoy the incredible views from our waterfront location. Batson River Fish Camp is open to the public with a selection of creative dishes and New England favorites. Whether you stop by for lunch or a mid-afternoon snack, be sure to order one a craft beer or signature cocktail made with spirits distilled in southern Maine.

Explore the butterfly garden at Charlotte Rhoades Park

Acadia National Park gets all the glory but this natural wonder right here in Southwest Harbor is a feast for all the senses. The delightful mix of perennial and annual flowers is lovingly maintained by a legion of volunteers. Each plant was chosen to attract caterpillars that become butterflies that flutter throughout the garden in late July and early August. No matter when you visit, Charlotte Rhoades Park, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.

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Meet master carver Steven Valleau at Wendell Gilley Museum or take a class with him.

A master plumber turned master carver, Wendell Gilley was a Southwest Harbor native who hand carved over 10,000 sculptures of wild birds. More than 300 of Wendell’s carvings are on display at the museum that honors his memory where Artist in Residence Steven Valleau has been carrying on Wendell’s legacy since 1985. A carving class with Steven is the ultimate rainy day activity but a visit to the Wendell Gilley Museum is a treat in any weather.

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Book a spa treatment at Botanica

Opening July 1
Southwest Harbor is even more relaxing after the service of your choice from the skilled staff at Botanica, opening this July. Whether you opt for a rejuvenating massage or an invigorating skin treatment, you’re sure to leave looking and feeling better than you did when you arrived.

Bite into a lobster roll on an authentic Maine lobster pier.

Owned and operated by the Beal family since 1932, no trip to Southwest Harbor is complete without one of their signature lobster rolls enjoyed on their rustic pier. Don’t let the age of this iconic spot fool you. In addition to the classic lobster roll, Beal’s offers garlic butter and spicy Buffalo options plus lobster tacos, lobster grilled cheese plus options for folks who prefer a burger or a salad.

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Take a sailing lesson at Mansell Boat Rentals

Owner Chuck Watson was born and raised on Mount Desert Island and has been renting boats and teaching people to sail since 1973. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a friendlier, more qualified or highly regarded person to learn the art and science of sailing than Chuck. Humble to the core, Chuck named his business after Robert Mansell, the original owner of Mount Desert Island who purchased it 1622 for 110 English pounds.

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Have a meal at Little Fern

Open daily for breakfast and dinner Little Fern is the social hub of The Claremont Hotel. Featuring a mix of seasonal creations and New England favorites, Little Fern is sure to satisfy everyone in your group. Don’t miss our mid-day porch menu served daily with a view.

Take a lobster cruise on a vintage 1966 wooden lobster boat

After showing you how to bait and haul traps and how to tell if a lobster is a keeper, Captain Jason Clark cooks up the freshest lobster bake in Maine right on his boat! It’s an experience that’s as delicious as it is unforgettable.

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Hop on one of our complimentary cruisers and bike to the shops and galleries on Main Street.

Our cruiser bikes are the most fun you can have while exercising. Pedaling the rolling roads of Southwest Harbor is the perfect way to work up an appetite and earn your afternoon cocktail. Our bike rack is a leisurely ride from dozens of shops and quintessential coastal Maine sights and harbor views.

Hike Beech Mountain Loop and Beech Mountain Valley Trail.

Climbable within two hours of the Beech Hill Road parking lot, Beech Mountain is a less crowded alternative to Cadillac Mountain. If you’re seeking a slightly longer hike, choose the Beech Mountain Valley Trail that starts in the same parking lot. Either way, you’ll enjoy beautiful views at the top in the shadow of the old fire tower that was built in 1962.

 

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Book a sea kayaking tour on the “quiet side” of Acadia

Whether you’re a lifelong paddler or you’ve never sea kayaked before, Southwest Harbor is home to some of the most beautiful sights and friendliest conditions on Mount Desert Island. Our staff will be happy to recommend a guide service to match your experience and appetite for adventure in areas where seals are regularly seen and power boats aren’t as plentiful.

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Take a ferry to the Cranberry Isles

Great Cranberry Island and Little Cranberry Island offer views of Acadia National Park normally reserved for boat owners. As a passenger on the Cranberry Cove Ferry, you can spend an entire day (7:15am – 5:30pm) exploring both islands plus the charming port of Manset on the other side of Southwest Harbor. For just $8 more, you can bring your bike and see all the sights these charming places have to offer.

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