Bar Harbor is a coastal town with 5000 year-round residents.  In the summer and fall, millions of visitors make their way here to explore the rugged shoreline and trails of Acadia National Park and the bustling downtown restaurants and shops. During winter and spring, the tourist-oriented businesses are closed and COA students can experience the quieter joys of small-town life. Year-round businesses include restaurants and movie theaters, an outdoor gear store, natural foods shop, and a YMCA. Swimming, hiking, kayaking, sailing, and bicycling are popular summertime activities, and in the winter we shift our focus to ice skating, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and cozying up by the fire.

Summer view of Frenchman Bay from Bar Harbor

The Bar Harbor town band.

Bar Harbor village at dusk. Town can be very quiet during the late fall, winter, and early spring.

It’s hard to capture, in just a few words, what it’s like to live in Bar Harbor year-round. Here are some snippets that start to paint the picture:
  • There are working fishing boats in the harbor; one day they might be moored alongside a traditional five-masted schooner, the next a towering cruise ship.
  • We dress in layers because we know the weather’s likely to change any minute.
  • “Spring peepers” are frogs that announce the arrival of spring. Their nighttime chorus of song might just make your heart sing.
  • “Leaf peepers” are tourists who mark the arrival of the dramatic colors of fall foliage season. Getting stuck behind one of their RVs might just make your heart sink.
  • You’ll see a whole lot of people in hiking boots, but you might go months without seeing a pair of high heels (and once you’ve lived through a winter and mud season, you’ll understand why).
  • In the grocery store, you’re bound to run into your professors; and the person who reviewed your admission application; and your dentist (she sees you buying that ice cream). This is a small town, after all.