When it comes to Fourth of July Getaways, there’s no better town for your group of friends to escape to than Bar Harbor, boasting lobster races, live music, and fireworks.
You’ve got the time off from work. You’ve got the sitters booked. You’ve got your gang of other friends – also couples – ready to go. So where do you actually opt to go for an adults-only Fourth of July getaway? Bingo: Bar Harbor, which National Geographic and The Today Show have lauded as one of the best places to have fun on the Fourth of July. Along with a packed schedule of events for the day itself, the surrounding Acadia National Park has 49,000 acres of outdoor activities, while the historic New England town on Mount Desert Island is full of souvenir shops to find trinkets for the kids back home. Not that we are thinking of the children right now.
Where to Stay
Book a selection of oceanfront rooms at the West Street Hotel, and arrive to find nautical decor, Tommy Bahama mahogany furnishings, and private balconies that overlook the Gulf of Maine. The boutique hotel on Frenchman’s Bay lures couples to play tennis at the adjacent Bar Harbor Club and enjoy a duet massage in the 11,000-square-foot spa. Toast the good times with a pint of Guinness at Paddy’s Irish Pub & Restaurant before dining on Blue Hill Bay mussels and smoked seafood chowder and counting the stars while doing the backstroke in the rooftop pool.
Tucking into Blueberry Pancakes
Every year, Bar Harbor kicks off its Fourth of July festivities with a blueberry pancake breakfast from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sponsored by the MDI Rotary Club, it’s a traditional Maine way to get ready for the day, give back to the community, and mingle with some locals, too.
Catching the Fourth of July Parade
Starting at the corner of Livingston Road and Park at 10 a.m. and looping its way through Bar Harbor, the Independence Day Parade here is a must-see event that has a different theme each summer (last year’s was “Acadia’s Centennial”). There are trophies awarded for the most creative floats, along with the best youth and best theme depiction, so couples can get into the competitive spirit while absorbing the energetic vibe.
Whale Watching on the Atlantic Ocean
Summertime means that the Gulf of Maine abounds with humpback, finback, and Minke whales, and beginning on July 5, couples can embark on a sunset cruise to see the largest animals in the world at play with Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. This is prime time to see whales feeding since schools of herring and plankton are more abundant as the sunsets. Instagram, anyone?
Watching the Fireworks from a Rooftop
The adults-only, infinity-edge rooftop swimming pool atop the West Street Hotel also happens to be the only rooftop pool in Maine, making it an exclusive place to float in the Crest-blue waters while watching the red, white, and blue fireworks explode overhead. If it’s a chilly night in the Pine Tree State, there’s a hot tub for couples to soak in instead.
Cracking Open a Freshly Caught Lobster
You’re in Down East Maine, so a lobster dinner during your couples’ getaway is a must. Stewman’s Lobster Pound in downtown Bar Harbor can easily accommodate large groups. Order the Downeast Lobster Experience – a half ladle of New England clam chowder, a pound-and-a-quarter steamed Maine lobster, local mussels, buttered sweet corn, and potatoes with homemade blueberry pie.
Hiking and Biking Acadia National Park
The hills that roll through the more than 47,000 acres of Acadia National Park create a prime place for walking or cycling with a payoff of panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. Couples can catch up while hiking some of the more than 120 miles, where the marquee attraction is Cadillac Mountain, the first place to see the sunrise in the US. The South Ridge trail to the summit is three-and-a-half miles long and offers the most scenic route. For biking, there are 45 miles of roads, including the historic carriage roads and the 27-mile Park Loop.