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Aug 5, 2007 10:42 AM

4 Days camping in Bar Harbor w/kids - long

I've been gleaning great recommendations from folks on this board for tips on chow in Bar Harbor. Thought I'd run my list past folks, through the filter of dining with two well-behaved chowpups. One is very adventurous, one is in her bland-food-only stage, which hopefully will pass quickly!

We'll be camping on MDI near the bridge mid-week, so will eat most meals at the campsite. We have friends in Brooklin, so will probably go out with them for a lunch or dinner. Have been noodling over a trip via the lobsterboat ferry to Winter Harbor (thanks again, Mainegal). The SO wants to drive up Cadillac Mountain to watch the sunrise one day (reliving college glory, I think). So here's what I'm thinking.

Breakfast one morning at Morning Glory. How early do we need to get there? The chowpups usually rouse us pretty early, and if I didn't have to fire up the campfire to make a decent first cup of coffee we could probably get there by 7:30 or 8.

We'll probably hit Chase's in Winter Harbor on the ferry trip day.

For the Brooklin hookup day, we'll probably try Bagaduce Lunch or wherever our friends want to take us. Arborvine sounds yummy but too fancy for this trip. Bummer.

We'll be renting bicycles one day and touring the park. Would love to try Havana,or Burning Tree but we'll probably have to wait until non-bland foods are back in our rotation. <grin> Are Cafe This Way or Cafe Blue Fish kid friendly? Do they welcome pups at Jordan Pond House? Any place to steer clear of in Bar Harbor?

We're thinking about exploring the southwest corner of the island a bit, and are leaning towards Thurston's. Are they seafood only or do they have other fare? The pups still aren't sold on seafood (which just amazes and distresses me!) but will sometimes try it if it's fried. <grin> Other options would be welcome so that the SO and I can enjoy some lobster while the pups have something else.

One last thing, any recommendations for markets? We'll be heading in from a friend's place on Winnepesaukee and will probably load up on groceries once we get closer to MDI.

Thanks in advance for any comments!

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  1. There's a market next to the Otter Creek Inn which seels and boils lobster. Just down the road is the Burning Tree restaurant (kid friendly). Almost next door to that is a brewery (gift shop and tours).

    1. If you get to Cafe This Way before 8:30 you should be fine. If it's raining, I'd get there by 8:00, as it can be really busy on rainy days. I was there last week for breakfast and it didn't start backing up until close to 9:00 (it was sunny). You might consider them for dinner as well. I'm sure you can get them to make one of the apps or entrees without sauce to qualify for the blandness factor.

      You might consider either McKays ( or West St. Cafe ( to satisfy your desire for lobster/seafood, while still meeting your kid's palate. I've not been to Cafe Bluefish so can't comment on it.

      JPH is very kid/family friendly. It is sort of the central meeting spot in the Park. It's a good place to refill your water bottles, get a snack at the gift shop, use the bathrooms, etc. You should have popovers, strawberry jam, and tea on the lawn, weather permitting and get a good view of Jordan Ponds and the Bubbles (mountains). Good carbo loading for your ride!

      Markets...great farmers markets are in many locations on MDI. They are usually 9AM to noon. Wed. in the Reel Pizza parking lot and Sun. in the YMCA parking lot, both in Bar Harbor, Thurs. 2-6PM in Northeast Harbor near the Kimball Terrace Inn, and Southwest Harbor on Fridays on Main St. Sunset Acres Farm is at most of the markets (except BH on Wed) and has wonderful goat cheeses. Also Beech Hill Farm on Tuesday and Saturday near Somesville. For a specialty foods market, try Sawyers in SWH. They have two stores, one that specializes in wine and cheese. The other more grocery and produce items. Bakeries - Morning Glory Bakery on Rodick St. in BH or a new bakery in Town Hill whose name escapes me (something Delice, I think), or Little Notch Bakery in SWH. Little Notch also has outstanding pizza, sandwiches and soup for lunc or dinner. My favorite is the chicken focaccia (grilled chicken, roasted onions and aioli). The main grocery store in BH is a Hannafords. Nothing special but they will have all of the basics, while it's not Whole Foods, it suffices. Don't go to the Southwest Market on 102 in Southwest Harbor. There stuff is pitiful.

      I've not been to Thurstons so I can't comment on them, but have heard mixed reviews from others. You may consider the Seafood Ketch in Bass Harbor. I used to take my niece there when she was small and she adored the steak fries, fried shrimp and chicken fingers. The fried seafood, salads and bread (baked on the premises) are very good. Avoid anything with Newburg sauce unless you like it thick and gluey. I usually ordered the halibut imperial when it was on the specials list (wine/cream sauce with mushrooms, onions and capers).

      Good luck with your trip.

      2 Replies
      1. re: BikeToEat

        Thurston's "used" to have fine lobster rools(our favorite) but for the past 3 years now we've found the quality & quantity of lobster meat sorely lacking.
        The only item that has gone up is the price of the lobster rolls.
        i would avoid Thurston's and I would ask some locals for a new place to try;most locals know where the "good food" is!

        1. re: BikeToEat

          I just returned from Acadia, and have to say to that I disagree on the comment about Southwest Market and Sawyers. Sawyers is way overpriced and limited selection - aimed at catering to visiting sailors, the chocolate I bought was stale. For basics especially when camping, Southwest market was not that bad, but have to agree on the produce - pretty sad-looking. Hannaford in BH - is a full-fledged supermarket, I was shocked how big and well-stocked it was (I'm from NYC, so am used to 2-3 aisle grocery stores).
          About Otter Creek market - locals warned me that they freeze their lobsters.
          About the lobster roll place that Mainegal mentioned, yes it is called Lobster Claw, operated by Barry - a grumpy Maine character. Great stuff, but like everything on the waterfront of Bar Harbor - a bit overpriced for the amount of food.
          Thurston's was the best lobster I had on MDI, IMO and Cafe this Way was probably one of the best breakfasts I've ever had period.

        2. Thanks, bewley and BiketoEat! That's exactly the kind of information I was looking for.

          1. Groceries: On the Ellsworth strip are both Hannaford's and Shaw's. Hannaford's I find has the better prices, with Shaw's you have to have their card, which brings the prices down to what they are anyway at Hannaford's. There's a much smaller Hannaford's in Bar Harbor, too, but for serious shopping, hit one of the bigger stores in Ellsworth.

            Morning Glory opens at 7 am weekdays and 8 on Saturdays and closes around 4 weekdays, earlier on Sat. It's tiny, only a few tables, so get it to go and take it to the waterfront.

            Not much in Brooklin, which is why it's so lovely. Perhaps Morning Moon for breakfast or lunch. If you want to splurge a bit on a great and kid-friendly dinner, make reservations at the Oakland House--it's been in the same family for umteen generations. Food is excellent--it's a family resort of the old style.

            Thurston's is one of the three island lobster pounds. There's also Abel's, which is very pricey, and Beal's, which was being renovated when I visited in the spring. But, even better, and for a great family adventure, sign up for one of Kim Strauss's Island Cruises out of Bass Harbor to Frenchboro. He knows all the history and heritage, demonstrates lobstering and on Frenchboro Island, you can have a lobster lunch at Lunt's, hanging over the Frenchboro harbor. It's a fabulous experience.

            Another good one for the kids is Diver Ed, in Bar Harbor. He dives undersea, and brings up all sorts of marine critters for kids to identify, then he returns them to the depths. Good way to see seafood at its source.

            Kids definitely welcome at Jordan Pond House--go for ice cream, popovers and strawberry jam, and eat on the lawn.

            Cafe This Way is kid friendly, but check the menu first--make sure there's something on it your kids will eat. It's posted out by the street.

            One other lobster place a friend swears by, I haven't been there. It's on the inland side of West Street, near the Whale Museum/down and across from the Harborside Hotel. It's a white building with blue and red accents, and for the life of me I can't think of it's name. Kinda divey, but it does fab lobster rolls, I'm told. Also family friendly choices are Galyn's (always reliable) and McKay's, with outdoor seating.

            Oh, and if your kids love hot dogs, go to Maddy's in Southwest Harbor.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Mainegal

              You guys rock! Your advice is setting my mind at ease. I feel like we'll be to roll with the punches during our trip and find some great chow when we need to.

              One more question, if I may. I'm extremely tempted by the suggestion to head out to Frenchboro for a lobster roll at Lunt's but we'd also tossed around the idea of taking the ferry to Winter Harbor for the day. The ferries are both REALLY expensive but if there's the promise of great chow at the end, I think I'm ready to go for it. <grin> I'm not sold on the chow option of Chase's or Fisherman's Inn over Lunt's but there are more options of things to do in WH, especially if we can hop on the Island Express once we get there. Any other suggestions for Winter Harbor that would be close to the BH ferry landing and good for kids? Which would YOU do?

              1. re: Bivalve88

                If you can only choose one ferry/cruise, go with Island Cruises out to Frenchboro and Lunt's. It's an experience your kids will remember for a long time -- talk with them about the kids living on the island year round, going to school there, etc. And Lunt's is the real deal. Last time I was there, lobster boats were unloading their catch as we ate. It's not fancy at all.

                If you go to Winter Harbor, you can take the Island Explorer bus around the Schoodic Loop, an extension of Acadia National Park. There are a few hikes in the park from the Blueberry something parking lot, and the views are terrific, if you hike to the top of Schoodic Head. At Schoodic Point, the waves crash on slabs of pink granite--really impressive. In any case, go on a clear day to get the most out of it. The village of Winter Harbor doesn't really have much. Just a few restaurants (chase's, fisherman's), the smokehouse up the road, a 5&10, Gerrish's--an upscale country store, and a handful of shops.

                1. re: Mainegal

                  Since the cost of the ferries is about the same, and we can drive to Winter Harbor for heaven's sake, I think we'll go for the ferry to Frenchboro. Sounds like a great experience! Thanks for the heads up, Mainegal. I never would have known about it.

              2. re: Mainegal

                Mainegal, I think the lobster place you are thinking may be the West St. Cafe? The tables are covered with laminated sailing maps. It is on the corner of West and Rodick.

                Bivalve88 - I don't have any experience over in Winter Harbor, unfortunately. I might see what the weather is like and make your decision based on that. It's been really foggy on many days in the past month.

                1. re: BikeToEat

                  No, not West Street Cafe. It's a shack, run by a curmudgeonly guy who really knows his lobster. The Lobster Claw? Something like that.

              3. I haven't been to Thurston's for a few years now but it has certainly been one of my favorites for a long time. Many people like Beal's in SW Harbor, a thought if Thurston's has declined.

                if you are going to Brooklin, consider the Fish Net in Blue Hill. Not a scenic location for a take out place, but you can carry your food to the town park if you like. they have a tiny indoor eating area. I was there week before last and they had a VERY good lobster roll and homemade potato salad. Other things looked good as well. Lobster roll and onion rings looked like a popular lunch.

                also went to Bagaducci Lunch (on your list). Lobster roll there was average. Fried seafood was perhaps above average but not excellent.

                We had a very good meal at Union River Lobster Pot in Ellsworth. only open 4-8 or 9:00. Lobster salad, seafood caesar (sp?), chowder were excellent.

                Now is prime wild blueberry season, be sure to take advantage! lots of places sell berries and products. Some snooping is in order to ensure you are getitng fresh blueberries. I woldnt buy anything near Bar Harbor but in the surrounding area people take their pie very seriously.

                if you head downeast at all (maybe a drive out to Schoodic?), i suggest a stop at Sullivan Harbor Farms (on Rt 1 in Hancock) where they have the absolute best cold smoked and hot smoked salmon i have ever had. They do mail order and prices are a bit high, but at the store you get very fresh salmon and good prices. Hanckock is only about 30 minutes from the Trenton Bridge to MDI.

                3 Replies
                1. re: lightsteve

                  Thanks, lightsteve. I'm looking forward to some wild blueberries, although my kids are probably blueberried out. We've already picked over 40 pounds this summer! But they're the cultivated ones, not the sweet little wild ones. Is there anywhere you can pick your own in the MDI area? I definitely would be willing to drive a ways for that experience! I'll have to bring along a recipe for making a cobbler in the dutch oven.

                  Thanks for the suggestion of Sullivan Harbor Farms. The last time we visited our friends in Brooklin they had some amazing smoked salmon that I still dream about. I wonder if that's where they got it.

                  I'll say it again. My fellow 'hounds are great!!

                  1. re: Bivalve88

                    Blueberry picking in the National Park is allowed and as of last week there were tons. It's a very good year for blueberries. Along the carriage paths there are many, especially along Duck Brook/Witch Hole area. Also if you are a biker and want to climb up the Around Mountain carriage road up Parkman Mtn, there are many blueberries up there as well. It's kind of a long walk from any where, but you could certainly do that, too. Not sure if your kids would be up for it. I'm sure there are lots of other places if you just keep your eye out for them.

                  2. re: lightsteve

                    is bistro 151 still in NEH? may be called something esle. good food?