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Old 10-06-2010, 10:34 AM
 
33,291 posts, read 39,297,627 times
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I have a conference in Boston the first week of April ( I know...I wish it was later!!) and I plan to take a few extra days at the end and spend them in Bar Habor and maybe Acadia (if it's even accessible that early). Plans are in the early stages...I know I want to take the Downeaster to Portland, and from there, get to Bar Harbor, but I'm unsure of the best way.

Is there a train or bus from Portland to Bar Harbor? Should I just rent a car in Portland and drive?

Also, given that it will only be early April, what can reasonably expect to enjoy, scenery-wise? I'm a photo-hound, and love the scenic stuff. I've never been north of Boston - so all suggestions are welcome. :-)
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:55 AM
 
Location: on a dirt road in Waitsfield,Vermont
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The last I went to Acadia was for a week in April and if the weather cooperates, I did set up my camp in a downpour, it's a great time to go. I was there to photograph so I was up before sunrise and got done after sunset, using the time in between to scout out locations, everyday.

I didn't even go into Bar Harbor until the last day....typical nice tourist town...and I saw this ice cream parlor with I think was named for 2 guys and one of them was named Ben[?]. Well, being a Vermonter I had to check this out. There was a line, even off-season, the ice cream was awesome with alot of quicky flavors. I think Acadia NP is one of the most photogenic parks anytime of the year.

I would rent a car in Portland, give yourself a long day for the drive as there are alot of things along the way to check out. Pick out a couple of things to stop for and check out as the list is a very very long one.

One relatively new and quick thing is to stop at the west(?) tower of the semi-new Waldo-Hancock Bridge if you are taking US 1 and take the elevator to the top. Yup, there is a small fee. The view is amazing as the topography of the historical importance of the river splitting, the fort and the ocean from the Rev War is totally cool.

"the interstate system is a great way to get from one place to another, without seeing anything". - Charles Kuralt
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Check here Travel Resources - Maine Office of Tourism for different transportation options. It seems like renting a car is your best option. There is no train to Bar Harbor.

Early April will still be cold and blustery in Bar Harbor/Acadia. There probably won't be any snow on the ground (hearing that this should be a relatively warm winter) but buds/leaves won't start forming until a few weeks after you leave. Most of the scenery will be dead from the winter, but you could certainly get some beautiful shots out near the water. Focus your April trip on Maine culture and come back between May and early October to take pictures.
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Old 10-06-2010, 12:44 PM
 
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Getting to Bar Harbor from Boston by Public transportation will be a piece of cake. If you take the Downeaster to Portland, you will arrive in Portland at the Concord Trailways terminal. You would then take a Concord Trailways bus to Bangor. (same building)

Concord Coach Lines: Connecting Maine and New Hampshire to Boston & Logan Airport

Of course you could have picked up the Concord Trailways bus at South Station in Boston. It would be cheaper than the train, but if it's the train experience you want...that's understandable.

Once in Bangor, at the Concord Trailways terminal, you can take the DownEast Transit bus to Bar Harbor...only one bus a day I believe, so plan accordingly. (transfer to DownEast in same building)

Shop in Bangor

Greyhound Bus sometimes services Bar Harbor, but not sure if it's running now or not. The others I mentioned run year round.
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:27 PM
 
Location: on a dirt road in Waitsfield,Vermont
2,186 posts, read 6,377,418 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kellysmith View Post
Getting to Bar Harbor from Boston by Public transportation will be a piece of cake. If you take the Downeaster to Portland, you will arrive in Portland at the Concord Trailways terminal. You would then take a Concord Trailways bus to Bangor. (same building)

Concord Coach Lines: Connecting Maine and New Hampshire to Boston & Logan Airport

Of course you could have picked up the Concord Trailways bus at South Station in Boston. It would be cheaper than the train, but if it's the train experience you want...that's understandable.

Once in Bangor, at the Concord Trailways terminal, you can take the DownEast Transit bus to Bar Harbor...only one bus a day I believe, so plan accordingly. (transfer to DownEast in same building)

Shop in Bangor

Greyhound Bus sometimes services Bar Harbor, but not sure if it's running now or not. The others I mentioned run year round.
That will get you to Bar Harbor but then what do you do?. The park shuttle doesn't start until June. Island Explorer Home
I just feel that having your own car really gives you flexibility to explore on your own timetable and preferences.

IMHO Acadia NP isn't about the trees or plants it's about Cadillac Mtn, the unique features of the rocky coast along the ocean. Every location has their icon images and most people who like to photograph want to check them out and give them a shot, no pun intended , at getting a great image. Bass Head Light is one example and it's abit of a distance from Bar Harbor.

Your spot on about the possibility of snow. If your in the mountains of NW Maine rarely an option in early April, Acadia can still have snow but the OP can call the park and if it's been a big snow year probably not worth going.

Lastly, your right again, May and October are even better times to visit Arcadia NP but the OP was asking about early April. Plus there is always that great ice cream parlor. I suppose I should put my camera before my post so here are a couple of pics I took in early April.
Attached Thumbnails
Portland to Bar Harbor/Acadia...in early April?-basshdlit10.jpg   Portland to Bar Harbor/Acadia...in early April?-cadillcmtn103.jpg  
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:52 PM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
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Late March, Early April are my least favorite times to be in Maine. Well... Maybe early May. Mud Season (yuck!). Still, if the weather cooperates (and even if it doesn't) there's very little that can detract from the beauty of Acadia NP. If it doesn't cooperate, plan to come back another time. Personally, I think Acadia is one of the most strikingly attractive natural settings in the country. Even if it's pouring.

While there IS public transit up there, it can be a hassle (three transfers and nearly 8 hours spent on trains and buses isn't fun). You COULD take the Downeaster and rent a car in Portland, but then it's a matter of getting to the rental car company (likely the airport) from the train station which isn't too difficult, but it's unnecessary.

I would rent the car in Boston for a number of reasons. First, it's going to be cheaper and probably by quite a bit. If you use a service like Hotwire to rent, it's reasonable to get a decent rental for $15-20 per day out of Logan. Some airlines (Jetblue, Airtran, etc) have partnerships with car rental places in certain cities and can offer you affordable rates that way. Second, is accessibility. Logan Airport is literally two subway stops (blue line) from downtown Boston (or you could take the silver line from S. Station) and jump on the car shuttle there. A lot easier than taking a 3-3.5 hour train ride to Portland (by car it's 2 hours) and trying to get a car from there.

The final reason, simply, is time. Look, the Downeaster is a novelty in that if you've never been on a train before (or rarely ride trains) it's fun. It's not a super scenic ride (nice view of the Scarborough Marsh, but not much else) and it's about 1-1.5 hours slower than driving and more expensive than the bus. If you want the novelty, go for it. If you want more time and freedom to enjoy Acadia and other areas in Maine (i.e. Portland), rent the car. By renting in Boston you will probably save yourself 2-3 hours total (at least) each way. Not to mention the headache involved with transferring between modes of transit. Hell, the round trip Amtrak tickets will cost you as much as a full-priced daily car rental (probably around $65) alone. I'd rent the car, pick some stops along the way and leave it at that. I'd rent the car in Boston to save some money and time.
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:07 PM
 
33,291 posts, read 39,297,627 times
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I have ridden trains before, and frankly, I simply love them. So that is the main reason for me taking the Downeaster.

Thanks all, for the info, and the (gorgeous) pics! Glad to hear that others have enjoyed the area in early April. I think renting a car in Portland will be my plan.
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