A Southwest Harbor Stay

July 10, 2023

Southwest Harbor is one of the four towns on Mount Desert Island, which is the 2nd largest island on the eastern seaboard. It’s a beautiful, typical coastal town that you may think of when a picture of Maine pops into your head. Think working waterfront, quaint main street, and delicious seafood. So cute! With a population of under 2000, Southwest Harbor is the perfect home base for exploring MDI and Acadia National Park. Located on the “quietside” of the island it’s away from the crowds and cruise ships in Bar Harbor, while the scenery is no less spectacular.

Where to Stay

Andrew and I visited Southwest Harbor for a mid winter getaway and stayed at the cutest A-Frame house. Poet’s Cabin/ Southwest Harbor Hideaway had the right amount of space for the two of us and a fully equipped kitchen. This was super helpful because we made a lot of our meals at the cabin. Another perk were all of the deer that visited during our stay. I would stay here again in a heartbeat. The Harbor Hideaway is much larger and can accommodate up to 10 people, perfect for a family or a group of friends!

Things to Do

Walk the “downtown” area for cute shops, cafes, and markets. Tom Cat Tide and The Quietside Shop are a couple of my favorite shops to pop into. If shopping isn’t your thing, don’t worry! You’re on Mount Desert Island, so clearly outdoor adventures are a must. Explore the butterfly garden at Charlotte Rhoades Park. This park has it all; a picturesque garden, walking paths, and a scenic overlook of Southwest Harbor. The park offers educational programs and exhibits too.There are plenty of trails to explore on the quietside as well. Check out this trail guide for hikes in the area.

When on an island it makes sense to get out on the water! Rent a kayak or join a guided tour to explore scenic Southwest Harbor and Somes Sound. You’re sure to see seals, porpoises, birds and other marine life. (hopefully not sharks!) If a bigger boat and local fare are more your speed, book a spot on a lobster cruise and enjoy watching the process of catching and preparing lobster with a gorgeous backdrop. If the weather calls for indoor activities check out the Wendell Gilley Museum. This museum is dedicated to the art of bird carving and features a collection of over 1,200 designs created by Wendell Gilley and other artists. Pretty neat.

Places to Eat

Fresh and tasty seafood is everywhere in Southwest Harbor. Beal’s Lobster Pier is a staple in the area and you’ve got to love their motto “eat, drink and be messy”. Serving up delicious Maine classics like fresh steamers, fried haddock, and of course plenty of lobster options! For delicious Southern style pub food try Peter Trout’s Tavern. Take a seat at one of their picnic tables and nosh on salmon cakes, fried chicken or steak sandwich while taking in the view of the waterfront. MDI Lobster and BBQ is another great option for fresh, locally sourced seafood and really yummy BBQ. It’s located on a pier so you can take in the gorgeous surroundings. Little Notch Bakery is the perfect place to grab a delicious pastry, salad or pizza. They also have a great beer and wine selection, so you can get everything you need for a perfect picnic.

I hope you consider checking out the “quietside” of MDI on your next trip to Acadia! It’s truly a magical place to spend any amount of time, and any time of year.

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