Acadia National Park
If any place typifies Maine’s great rugged outdoors, it’s Acadia, the state’s only national park (and the first crowned east of the Mississippi River). At 45,000 acres, it consumes some 65 percent of Mount Desert Island (plus two outlying islands), and is popular for many good reasons: 120 miles of pine-fringed trails on which moose-spotting is practically guaranteed; miles of sea cliffs formed from granite; a rocky coastal cleft called Thunder Hole (where the Atlantic dramatically roars and sprays); and 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the Eastern Seaboard—and the place to see the sunrise of a lifetime. Among the additions made to the park in the early 20th century under the direction (and financing) of John D. Rockefeller are 45 miles of carriage roads around Eagle Lake (today great for biking). Over the years, Acadia has become so popular that congestion and pollution are concerns; visitors are encouraged to hike, bike, or use the park’s propane-fueled buses for transport.
Insider Tip: Make the requisite stop for fresh-out-of-the-oven popovers at the Jordan Pond House restaurant (inside Acadia on the Park Loop). One bite and you’ll understand why the delicious eggy concoctions have been on the menu since the restaurant’s opening in 1870.
Admission: $5 (good for seven days). Open mid-April through October. Note: If you plan to camp, be sure to reserve in advance for Blackwoods Campground. Check in is at the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center.