Bar Harbor, Maine.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor is a coastal town situated on the northeastern shore of Mount Desert Island in Hancock County in the southern part of the US State of Maine. The town is located at the base of the 466m high Cadillac Mountain – the county’s highest point and the highest within 40km of the continent’s Atlantic shoreline. The town serves as a popular tourist destination, and about 41.1 sq. km of Acadia National Park is located within the boundaries of Bar Harbor.

Geography Of Bar Harbor

Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine
Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine. 

The coastal town of Bar Harbor covers a total area of 163.45 sq. km, of which 54.05 sq. km is occupied by water and 109.40 sq. km is occupied by land. The town is placed on a gentle hill that overlooks the harbor and islands of Frenchman Bay and is situated approximately 74km southeast of the city of Bangor. The communities that make up the coastal town include Bar Harbor, Salisbury Cove, Town Hill, and Hulls Cove. The town of Bar Harbor is home to several notable institutions, including the College of The Atlantic, Mount Desert Island High School, MDI Biological Laboratory, Conners Emerson School, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, and the Jackson Laboratory.


According to Köppen climate classification, the coastal town of Bar Harbor experiences a humid continental climate with hot and humid summers and severely cold winters. The warm season lasts from June to September, and July is the hottest month, with the average temperature ranging between 22.7°C to 13.8°C. The cold season lasts from December to March, and January is the coldest month, with the average temperature ranging between -8.3°C to 0°C.

Population And Economy Of Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor attracts many visitors daily to its shops and restaurants
Bar Harbor attracts many visitors daily to its shops and restaurants. 

As per the 2010 census, about 5,235 people live in the coastal town of Bar Harbor. The town’s population has increased since the 2000 Census, which showed that the town was home to 4,820 people. The town has a population density of 44.1 inhabitants per sq. km. There are also 2,142 households and 1,163 families that live in or close to the town of Bar Harbor. About 97.88% of the town’s population is considered White, of whom most are non-Hispanic. The Hispanic group accounts for 0.62% of the town’s population, African Americans at 0.15%, Native Americans at 0.21%, Asians at 0.89%, Other races at 0.08%, and 0.79% from two or more races. The American Community Survey conducted in 2010 also revealed that the median income for a household in the town was $37,481, whereas the median income for a family was $51,989.

Visiting Bar Harbor

A woman enjoying the beautiful view from Cadillac Mountain
A woman enjoying the beautiful view of small islands seen from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine. 

Bar Harbor serves as a popular tourist destination and attracts many visitors, especially during the summer and the fall months due to its proximity to the Acadia National Park. The National Park also offers several outdoor recreational activities for its visitors, such as hiking, bird watching, biking, and climbing the Cadillac Mountain, which is the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard. Tourists interested in witnessing the spectacular marine life surrounding Mount Desert Island can also register for a nature cruise at the marina located at the end of Main Street. From May to October, many cruise ships also arrive in Bar Harbor, and it has been recorded that more than 254,000 passengers and 176 ships arrived in Bar Harbor in 2019. Bar Harbor also houses a wide variety of shops, boutiques, specialty stores, and other retail outlets. The town’s famous Abbe Museum tells stories about the tribes who inhabited the area for thousands of years. Since Bar Harbor serves as the eastern terminus of Adventure Cycling Association’s Northern Tier Bicycle Route and the northern terminus of the Association's Atlantic Coast Bicycle Route, several long-distance cyclists visit the town of Bar Harbor.

Brief History Of Bar Harbor

View of the historic Bar Harbor Inn
The historic Bar Harbor Inn is a luxury waterfront hotel resort in downtown Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island, Maine. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

The town of Bar Harbor was established on the northeastern shores of Mount Desert Island, which was referred to as “Pemetic” by the indigenous Wabanaki Indians. The native people referred to Bar Harbor as “Man-es-ayd’ik” and seasonally hunted and gathered berries, fish, clams, and other shellfish in the area. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain met the natives in early September 1604 and named the island “Isles des Monts Deserts.” The American soldier Abraham Somes established the first European village on the island in 1761 and called it Somesville. In 1763, the Europeans John Thomas and Israel Higgins established their settlements. On February 23, 1796, the town was first incorporated as the “Town of Eden,” named after the notable English statesman – Sir Richard Eden.

View of the rocky coast and boats in the harbor at Bar harbor, Maine.
View of the rocky coast and boats in the harbor at Bar Harbor, Maine.

In the 1840s, the spectacular natural maritime scenery of the area began to attract several well-known artists, who started to popularize Mount Desert Island and its surrounding areas via their paintings. These paintings of the mountains and seascapes started attracting the wealthy residents of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, etc., to this faraway land. These early visitors were referred to as “rusticators.” Construction of many hotels began on the island to house many rusticators.  On March 3, 1918, the “Town of Eden” was rechristened as “Bar Harbor” after the sand and gravel bar visible during low tide that connected Bar Harbor with the western edge of the Bar Island. In October 1947, large parts of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park were destroyed by a catastrophic wildfire.

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