Get out on MDI 2015: 10 things to do near Acadia this October


Photo by Gina Platt

October is my favorite time of year on Mount Desert Island (MDI), Maine. All of the restaurants and shops are still open, the traffic has thinned-out a bit (finally there are places to park again!), and the weather is usually perfect. There are still lots of things to do, many of them outside amongst the glorious color (like the Asticou Azalea Garden, seen above), and daylight is still plentiful. Looking for something to do inside? We’ve got some great options for that too. Whether it is your first time to the Acadia National Park area or your fiftieth, here are some activities to keep you occupied during October!

1. Run

MDI Marathon: Maine’s Destination Marathon, Half, & Relay

October 18, 2015

MDI Marathon 2014

MDI marathoners running by Seal Harbor Beach. Photo courtesy of Kevin R. Morris

An annual tradition here on the island. People come from all over the world to run along the gorgeous marathon course. ESPN has called the MDI Marathon “The most scenic destination marathon in North America!” Pretty hard to compete with that. Their website FAQ section even provides the weather report for marathon days going back to 2002, so you can see what the conditions traditionally have been. Starting line is at 200 Main Street in Bar Harbor. To register for any of the day’s races go to

2. Walk

Mr. Rockefeller’s Bridges Walk

October 9 & 13, 9-11:30am

Follow tree-lined carriage roads to beautiful stone bridges. Explore the stories behind John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s gift to Acadia on this easy 1.5-mile (2.4 km) walk. Tour meets at the Parkman Mountain parking area on Rte. 198. FREE

The Shore Path


Balance Rock. Photo by Gina Platt

Take a leisurely stroll along Bar Harbor’s Shore Path which was first constructed in 1880. Start at the town pier, pass Agamont Park, and meander past some seaside estates, old and new, and don’t forget to stop and check out Balance Rock (above). This walk is only about 1/2 mile long, one-way. You can go to the end and turn around or exit along various public streets and walk back through town.

Additionally, here is a list of walks/hikes in Acadia that might be of interest. They are grouped by ease.

3. Watch

Hawk Watch

October 9-13, 9am-1pm

Weather permitting, join rangers and/or Schoodic Institute staff at the perfect vantage point to learn about and help count migrating raptors. Tour meets at Cadillac North Ridge Trail, 200 yards (183 m) from Cadillac Mountain Summit parking area. FREE

Whale Watch


Photo from Wikipedia

You might need to bundle-up, but if last month was any indication, it will be worth it! September 2015 was a banner month for whale sightings off the coast of MDI. Blue and Sperm whales were both seen, which is a really special occurrence. Other whales seen in the Gulf of Maine include Humpback, Fin, and Minke whales. You might also see dolphins, porpoise, seals, and sometimes even a shark! There are several companies in and around Bar Harbor that run tours.

4. Check out some great films

Not the first thing you might think of being a stone’s throw from Acadia, but that’s why we have these kinds of lists! Maine weather does not always cooperate or perhaps you just want to sit in the dark for a few hours. These options may fit the bill.

Bar Harbor Film Festival

October 9-11, 2015
Opening Reception: October 9, 6pm – 7:30pm


BHFF presents a wide range of international narrative, documentary, animated, and experimental films. Often cutting edge, always entertaining, the short and feature length programs represent innovative cinematic works from both established and emerging filmmakers. Based at the Abbe Museum on Mount Desert St. in Bar Harbor.

Reel Pizza


Photo from

Kick back on a couch while you eat pizza and drink beer! It’s like being in your own living room, but with a bigger screen. Food is awesome and named after famous movies; atmosphere is chill. Check out the upcoming schedule at Be sure to check out their Stupidly Asked Questions page. It features winners like “What time does the 8:30 movie start?” Don’t be this person.

The 1932 Criterion Theater

Photo by Jeff Dobbs

This landmark Art-Deco movie theater was recently purchased and restored thanks to an anonymous $2 million dollar donation. Now run by the Bar Harbor Jazz Festival, the Criterion offers first-run movies, live performances, and other events. Spring for the extra bucks and sit in the loge (the front of the upper balcony); you can gaze at the gorgeous painted ceiling while waiting for the film to start. Food and beverage, beyond the standard movie snacks, is also available.

5. Eat, drink, and play beerless pong?

Yes, that’s right. We’ve got beerless pong! But wait, there’s beer too. And wine, and cheese, and live music, and tug o’ war…This one happens soon, so don’t miss it. You WILL have fun.

Acadia’s Oktoberfest

October 9-11, 2015

From Acadia’s Oktoberfest Facebook page

6th Annual Wine & Cheese Tasting/20th Annual Brewfest. Food, crafts, cornhole tournament, costumes, beerless pong, and more! Bring cash.

Festival is located at Smuggler’s Den Campground, 20 Main Street in Southwest Harbor, but there are also some events held downtown. For more information and admission rates visit:

6. Experience Halloween on Ledgelawn

October 31, 5pm-whenever


Photos by Gina Platt

If there is a Halloween version of Clark Griswold, he lives on Ledgelawn Avenue in Bar Harbor. Cars are prohibited which makes it a perfect place to bring the family for a little trick-or-treating. The residents of this lovely street dig deep into their own pockets each year to make this happen, so if you come across a local donation spot (candy or cash) give generously! Last year someone actually had the full video of Michael Jackson’s Thriller playing on a “full-screen” sheet. The sight of teeny-tiny tots grooving to Thriller was really the highlight of the night for me!

7. Go to the library


Photo by Gina Platt

Mount Desert Island has some wonderful libraries. Get cozy with a book, or take in a lecture. Here are some links to our local locations:
Bass Harbor
Northeast Harbor
Bar Harbor
Southwest Harbor
Several other villages also have libraries, but not websites!

8. Take the kids to a puppet show

The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow

October 25, 2015

photo from

Photo from

Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers bring to life this comedic original version of the classic Washington Irving tale. Schoolteacher Ichabod Crane helps the Headless Horseman find a new head and a spookier image. Meanwhile, a jealous Brom Bones tries to run Ichabod out of town as they both vie for the affection of Katrina Van Tassel. The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow features 20 of Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers hand-crafted mouth and rod puppets, and some shadow puppetry. Performance suitable for all ages and tickets are just $5. Presented by The 1932 Criterion Theatre.

For more information visit Frogtown Puppets  or The 1932 Criterion Theater

9. Haunted History Tours

Bar Harbor, the largest town on MDI, is a village with a wonderful history. Tales of intrigue, wealth, disaster, fortune, devastation, and rebirth shape its narrative. Learn about Bar Harbor’s haunted past on one of its walking tours. Grab a coffee or hot cider and meet up around dusk with one of the knowledgable guides to tour the town.

Red Cloak Haunted History Tour of Bar Harbor

Tuesday-Sunday, 7pm

Learn the early history of Bar Harbor, hear some ancient superstitions, and take a trip by the Village Burying Ground. This moderate walk, suitable for all ages, lasts approximately 90 minutes and is by reservation only. $15 for adults, $7 for children under 12, free for children under 5. For more information and to purchase tickets visit Red Cloak Haunted History Tours or call 207-380-3806.

The Original Haunted Bar Harbor Walking Tour

Fridays, 7pm

Join a costumed guide for Bar Harbor’s original walking tour of haunted places and Wabanaki Indian tales of the supernatural! Tours are approximately an hour and fifteen minutes long. $15 for adults, $10 for children under 12, free for children under 5. This is a dog friendly activity. Tour leaves from the Abbe Museum courtyard at 26 Mount Desert Street and goes throughout the Downtown area. For more information and to purchase tickets visit Dawnland Tours.

10. Peep the Leaves!

Ok, this one is obvious. But this year MDI had quite a bit of drought and then a couple of quick torrential storms. Pair that with a warm fall and this leaf peeping season hasn’t been the best. No worries, friends, the leaves have finally started turning all over Maine. If you blink you might miss it, so get out there and check it out. This report will keep you up-to-date on color conditions. In the meantime, here are some photos to look at.


Photo by Abhishek Srivastava, via flickr

Hike up the Beehive to get this astounding view of Sand Beach and Great Head.


Path to Day Mountain. Photo by Jane McCombs-Beaman

Day Mountain, which is between Otter Creek and Seal Harbor is a lovely hike or walk. Which depends on whether you go up the long way, via the carriage road, or the short way, via the hiking trail. The entry points to Day Mountain can be a little bit hard to find so either ask a local or check out this website, which I thought explained it best.


Photo by Gina Platt

Don’t forget to look up!


Photo by Gina Platt


Lower Hadlock Pond in Northeast Harbor. Photo by Gina Platt


Pretty Marsh. Photo by Gina Platt

Folks, that’s just a very small sampling of the many things to do on Mount Desert Island in October. There are so many that I might make this an annual post! Until then, please check out the Resource Section of The Knowles Company’s website. We can help you find the perfect house but we can also help you to find grocery stores, boat rental locations, restaurants, doggie day care, and catering for your wedding!

I’d love to hear what your favorite MDI activities include.

Posted by Gina Platt, The Knowles Company
October 8, 2015

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