As wedding photographers we are lucky to be able to travel the world, with clients spanning the globe. We recently photographed Katherine + Danny's wedding in Bar Harbor, Maine and stayed a few extra days to explore and photograph the beautiful island of Mt. Desert and Acadia National Park. We had so much fun traveling with our baby girl Juniper (ok, she's really a toddler now but it's all so new that we still - and probably always will - call her our baby!). The island is an ideal destination for a family vacation. Below, we share our travel tips and destination recommendations via photo diary. We hope you enjoy this magical little island as much as we did. Enjoy :)
Our flight was super delayed and we got into Bangor, Maine around 2.30am, then drove in the early morning hours to Bar Harbor. Juniper was still on West Coast time and totally slept in the next day (we did too!), so we got a late start on our first day. All we wanted to do was picnic and swim, and just five minutes from our cottage was the most wonderful hidden gem, Lakewood Pond. One reason it may be infrequently visited is that the park map doesn't show a road that leads to it. Take Crooked Road to Lakewood Road and you are there.
It is actually a very large lake in Acadia National Park, but it was not crowded at all and the water felt like a bathtub! We have never swam in such a warm lake and ended up staying the whole day, picking wild blueberries, taking a mini hike around the lake and watching little fogs hop about. While kids enjoy the nice pebbly beach, we watched adventurous teenagers hike around the bend to a diving spot over a little cliff. Lakewood was one of our favorite chill out spots in Acadia and we ended up going back two more times! Truly a perfect summer spot!
Well rested and up early, this was our big adventure day on Mt. Desert Island! We started in the morning with a swim at Echo Lake Beach. This is totally the family hang scene! It was packed with swimmers, snackers and splashers. Be ready for crowds! After lunch, Juniper was ready for a nap, so we put her in the Ergo and went for a hike on Beech Mountain, taking us up and up for stunning views of Echo Lake below. Once Juniper woke up, we hopped back in the car for a five minute drive to Southwest Harbor (the island is tiny, and it only takes about ten minutes here and five minutes there to get from place to place, which we especially loved since Juniper is not the biggest fan of the car!). We stopped for finger-licking good wild blueberry ice cream at Quietside Cafe and popped into the local library so Juniper could devour a few books as well -- she's a super bookworm. Then we continued to the most southern point of the island to the iconic Bass Harbor Point Lighthouse, which also has a beautiful trail shooting off from it, covered with blueberries to pick. At sunset, we started to head back, but got sucked in by all the beautiful scenery and persuaded to stop at the natural Seawall, where Juniper splashed in the tide pools, played with seaweed and even got to see some beavers in the adjacent lake.
Wedding day! We didn't need to be at the farm until the late afternoon, so we packed a picnic and headed back to Lakewood Pond for a morning swim and soak in the sun, then put on our fancy wedding duds in the parking lot. Have never headed to a wedding shoot so wonderfully relaxed and refreshed as we did in Maine :)
Acadia National Park has a fantastic free bus service that goes all over the island. Since Juniper does not dig the car, we thought it would be fun to explore via bus for a whole day :) We started by parking at the visitor center and headed for the classic park loop, with our first stop at Sand Beach. There was heavy fog but it was still surprisingly warm, which meant Juniper was happy in her swimsuit and sweater to take a dip in the frigid waters! Then it was time for a nap, so we meandered down the coastal trail to Thunder Hole, then we hopped back on a bus for Jordan Pond. Wowza - Jordan Pond was gorgeous!! It was crazy hard not to go swimming in it (it's not allowed) and Juniper tried with all her might to "fall in." So worth a visit and there are many little beach side coves along the perimeter which are perfect for a picnic.
Our friends Merritt + Brian had told us about this AMAZING book store called The Naturalist's Notebook in Seal Harbor. It was along our route so we made a stop! Sadly, the bookstore was being renovated, but Seal Harbor was one of the most beautiful villages on the island and we were so happy we stopped for a visit, which of course included a dip in the ocean, no matter that it was totally foggy out :) If you go, check out the bookstore. It's supposed to be wonderful for kiddos and grownups alike.
We woke up to a big storm, so we kept our plans flexible to accommodate the weather. We started the day exploring the town of Bar Harbor, which was packed with tourists buying wooden ducks and eating ice cream. We took a dip and left pretty quickly, heading south in search of lobster. On our way, we randomly chose a hike called Wonderland (it's near the Seawall Campground), and it ended up being our favorite mini hike on this trip! The trail rambled through a variety of ecosystems, ending at a lovely beach scattered with countless colorful shells (read -- hours of entertainment for babies and kids!). And Sam got a kick out of impersonating John Mayer (much to mama's distress!) and singing, "Your trail is a wonderland" the entire walk ;) Wind swept and hungry, we stopped for a lobster dinner at The Upper Deck in Southwest Harbor, dipping seafood in butter while watching the clouds turn colors into the evening.
It was time to fly back to California, but not without one last swim at Lakewood Pond! Can you tell? We liked this swimming hole a lot. Maine was so wonderful and we hope to go back again soon, and to take Juniper on more adventures in this beautiful, blueberry landscape!
This last photo, above, is Juniper (mouth full, lips blue) making the sign for "blueberry" in ASL. Ahh... blueberry memories!
Ariel + Sam + Juniper