What: A Family Adventure
Where: Acadia National Park, Baxter State Park
Why: Family Fun and Adventure
How: Biking, Hiking, Boating, Swimming
Do you have a family of active teens? If so, a family vacation has to appeal to their interests or else you'll have a family of frustrated teens in your midst. That's the challenge I faced as I planned this year's family getaway.
After a lot of web surfing to destinations near and far, I decided on a family favorite destination, Acadia National Park, as well as the addition of Maine's Baxter State Park. The strategy was to initially excite and exhaust my very active family with a wonderful climb to Mt. Katahdin's summit then a number of days of hiking, biking, and swimming on Mt. Desert Island.
We packed the car with plenty of healthy snacks and got an early start to our five-hour drive to Millinocket, Maine which lies at the southeast edge of Baxter State Park. We stayed at the welcoming Big Moose Inn, Cabins, and Campground that sits eight miles away from the park entrance. Our cabin was located at the edge of the beautiful, rocky Lake Millinocket. Once we arrived we rented a few kayaks ($15 for the day) and paddled to islands and giant rocks in the center of the Lake where we got a fantastic view of Mt. Katahdin. My sons quickly scrambled to the top of a large rock and proceeded to dive and jump into the cool, clean lake water. We returned to the cabin after the exhilarating paddle. The cabin provided comfortable beds, a couple of eating areas, kitchen, and a small screened-in porch. Adirondack chairs, a picnic table, grill, and fire pit dotted the surrounding landscape. The bathroom was located in a separate, but close building. The lodge, situated between two lakes, also offered camping or cozy rooms in the inn as well as a roof top dining area and two restaurants.
The next day hardy family members climbed to Katahdin's peak while others biked and kayaked. A mid-lake kayak tumble reminded everyone of the importance of wearing life jackets and adventuring with groups rather than alone--once the wind picks up the lake gets wavy and unruly. The lodge manager relayed a story of a couple who overturned their kayak and ended up spending the night on nearby islands. Hence, it's imperative that you do your research and regard nature with the respect and caution deserved. There are plenty of local experts and rangers on hand to help you out in this regard.
The following day we took a beautiful drive down the Maine highways to Acadia National Park. We passed miles and miles of woods, fields, farms, hills, and seacoasts on our way. At Acadia we stayed at the reliable, family-friendly Bar Harbor Motel. The Motel is located on the free Island Explorer bus route, walking distance from the quaint town of Bar Harbor, and a short trail away from Acadia National Park's beautiful carriage trails. We stayed in a family room which consisted of two large rooms with one king-size bed, two queens and a roll away cot which we requested. Again like Katahdin, the park offers teens the challenging Precipice and Beehive hikes as well as steep bike rides up and down the beautiful mountainside carriage roads. Echo Lake also provides a rocky edge for rock jumping and lengthy swims. The whole family can easily climb Mt. Gorham and many other island peaks, and spend a day or two playing in the sand and surf at Sand Beach, Echo Lake, or Long Pond. There's many, many restaurants on Mt. Desert Island. We enjoyed delicious lobsters, clams, chowder and other treats throughout the multi-day stay.
I asked my son, "Why do we keep coming back to Acadia?," and he replied, "Because we never do it all." In keeping with his statement, there were so many adventures we didn't take part in on this trip such as the rocky, secretive Hunter's Cove trail or Beech Mountain's vista and Acadia Mountain's views of Somes Sound. We didn't visit Little Cranberry Island or kayak or take the sunset sail either. We did visit Schoodic Penninsula where the boys jumped off the dock into the cold Atlantic waters and climbed the sandy shore rocks. We also admired the beautiful yachts and sailboats at Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor, and walked the shore path admiring both the view and the old mansions that line the path.
Maine offers multiple adventures to family members of all ages--that's what makes it a spectacular place to visit. Let me know if you have any questions while planning your trip--a trip that I'll bet you'll repeat more than once for your family's vacation adventures.