The expansive, impeccably-landscaped grounds of the Mira Monte were once the crown jewel of the property. Over the years, they have been featured on HGTV and in numerous travel publications from coast to coast. Though the garden’s spring blooms remain beautiful, their beauty belies a pressing need for renovation. The award-winning firm of Burdick and Associates has been selected to create a comprehensive “master plan” for the restoration and renovation of Mira Monte’s grounds. Burdick specializes in landscapes that create a harmonious balance between human and natural elements that draw upon the native beauty of Maine. While newly-planted areas will focus upon local flora, the 2 formal gardens of the estate will continue to retain their historic character. It is our hope that the grounds will provide a place of beauty and respite for our guests for many years to come!
We are happy to announce that we have contracted Wallace Interiors of Trenton, a leading area design firm, to perform a makeover of 2 of our guest rooms at the Mira Monte. In this pilot project, the North Suite and the Newport room will be re-imagined to feature a bright, refreshed “contemporary Victorian” look. Under the plan, care will be taken to preserve the historic elements of each room, including the many fine Eastlake-style antique furniture pieces in each. We will post updates as work progresses!
Of course Mount Desert Island is famous for Acadia National Park, but would you believe that not everyone comes to the island for the park? Well, it’s true, and while it may seem a bit funny to ignore the park as a destination, there are plenty of other things to do and places to see. There are three gardens in particular that bring many tourists to the island each year. Two of them are in Northeast Harbor and owned by the Land and Garden Preserve while one is near Bar Harbor and is in the park itself. You can do all three in a convenient loop. It doesn’t matter which way go, but stopping for lunch at the Asticou Inn is a wonderful idea, especially if you can get out on the terrace.
- Asticou Azalea Gardens: Part of the Land and Garden Preserve set up by the Rockefellers, the Azalea Gardens are small but quite tranquil despite being right off Rt. 198. If you’re going to Northeast Harbor, there’s a turnoff to the left before you get into town. This turnoff goes to the Asticou Inn. You can park there if you’re going to the restaurant after the garden (or before), but the parking for the garden itself is right before that intersection on the left-hand side. Many people who can’t get into the small parking lot end up parking on the road. My favorite part is the sand garden, but there are some wonderful ponds, stone bridges, benches, and plenty to admire plant-wise, of course.
- Thuya Gardens: Also part of the Land and Garden Preserve, the Thuya Gardens are on Rt. 3 between Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor, and they’re right around the corner from the Azalea Garden as well. At the turnoff for the Asticou Inn, before you arrive in downtown Northeast Harbor, turn left and drive past the Asticou Inn for a minute or so. Down the road a bit you’ll see the path that ascends up the left-hand side of the road. There is a small dirt parking lot right across the street from that path on the right. It only holds about 10 cars, so if that’s full, or if you don’t fancy the hike up (not long and worth it), drive a minute down the road and find Thuya Drive on the left. Drive up the hill and find maybe another 10 parking spaces closer to the garden. My favorite thing here is the smells. All those flowers lined up that way really challenges the senses.
- Wild Gardens of Acadia: These are on Rt. 3 just outside of Bar Harbor (between the Jackson Lab and the parking area for Dorr Mtn.and Champlain Mtn.) at the Sieur du Mont Springs section of the park. You can get here either off Rt. 3 or via the Park Loop Road as well. These gardens are famous for having a sample of all the native species on the island. There are also plenty of hikes in the area, and not all of them go up mountains, such as the Jesup, Stratheden, and Hemlock trails, which all form loops off the Great Meadow Trail. These hikes can be accessed on foot straight from the Mira Monte, too.
To get directions to any of these, check out our availability calendar and we’ll set you up right: www.miramonte.com.
I know, no one wants to talk about winter when the summer hasn’t even finished yet. These trees in the photo above are full of wonderful colors right now, too. But let’s face it, Bar Harbor is wonderful in winter, especially when it snows. Did you know the Park grooms the carriage trails for cross-country skiing? How about the miles of snow-shoeing that can be had? And even though the Park is required to plow the Ocean Drive (meaning Sand Beach and Thunder Hole are still accessible), the Park Loop Road is open to snowmobiles?
Every year we get guests who come just for the peace and quiet, but we get a lot more guests when there’s a lot of snow on the ground. Acadia is magical in winter, even if the shops are all closed up (there’s a fair number of restaurants still open, though). Yes, it’s cold, but it’s warm inside after a fun day of winter hiking and exploring.
Now, the Main Inn is not open in the winter and we don’t serve breakfast, but our two suites buildings are open. Three of the units open this winter will be kitchenettes or have a full kitchen, depending on the room. Three others don’t have these amenities but there are places to eat, and the grocery store is a 30-second drive away (many people in these rooms take advantage of our coffee and tea in the rooms and buy bagels if they don’t rent a kitchenette). And our prices are A LOT lower than during the summer.
To book your room, check our availability calendar to see what’s available, and yes, we do fill up quite often: https://secure.thinkreservations.com/miramonte/reservations
We went hiking at 5:30pm on a day in early September, and from trail marker to trail marker we had the mountain to ourselves. We saw no one until we got to the parking lot. This is one of the fascinating aspects of Acadia National Park. It’s one of the smallest national parks in the country and at the same time one of the most visited, and yet it’s entirely possible to go to the busiest sections during peak season and get solitude.
Gorham Mountain is a north-south mountain that runs parallel to the Ocean Drive, the latter of which is one of the busiest sections in the entire US national park system. It’s busy for a reason – it’s beautiful and iconic with Sand Beach, Great Head, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliffs. The Beehive nearby is one of the most hiked hikes in the park, too. And Gorham is one of the easiest mountains to hike because it’s not tall and not steep, but there it is, with spectacular views and not nearly as many people on it as you’d expect.
I tell guests that Gorham makes for a wonderful introductory hike into the park. One gets to see three of the main sites in Acadia and get away from people at the same time. There are a few different ways to hike it, and they are spelled out below:
- Beehive to Gorham to the Ocean Path: Park near Sand Beach, hike up the Beehive (steep ladders makes this thrilling to some, but it’s easier than it looks – still, not recommended for those who fear heights), down the Bowl Trail on the back of the Beehive, head over Gorham Mtn., then walk back to Sand Beach on the Ocean Path. This takes about 2.5 – 3.5 hours, depending on how busy the Beehive is. It’s physically easy to hike down the ladders of the Beehive, but because there can be so many people going up, going down would just get in the way. Don’t go down the ladder trail of the Beehive during the season.
- Gorham to the Ocean Path: This is the more popular route to take, and it’s a bit easier than the Beehive option because it doesn’t matter which side you park on. If Sand Beach is full, just drive all the way down to Thunder Hole or the Gorham Mtn. parking lot after Thunder Hole. It’s a loop, and an easy one at that, so just park, hike in one direction up, and head back in the other direction on the Ocean Path. Give this about a two-hour hike roundtrip without stopping much. During blueberry season, add another 1-3 hours depending on your appetite.
- Cadillac Cliffs: This is a WONDERFUL section for the kids. Located at the southern end of Gorham, it splits off the main trail and rejoins later on. One feels like one is walking through the land of giants. Kids with an imagination are going to love this section.
We’re full of these types of tips because we do these hikes on our days off. Click our booking engine to reserve today and get more helpful tips at: www.miramonte.com.
What do locals do after the tourist season is over? Some say we sleep, and we do, but for one day we like to have a little bit of fun. This year that fund will be had on Nov 10, 2108 from 6am to noon. The earlier you come, the better the discount, and add even more to the discount if you’re wearing your pajamas. Yes, it’s Bar Harbor’s Pajama Sales Day, and we do it every year when the streets are quieter. How quiet? Well, let’s just say it’s quiet enough to shut down the eastern part of Cottage street all the way down to Main St. so we can have the bed races. What’s that you say? Several teams of five, four pushing the bed and one riding on top, race down Cottage St. to Main St. and back. The fastest time wins. It’s about an hour of fun just for the people-watching let alone cheering on your favorite team.
Is Mira Monte open this time of year? Yes we are, kind of. The Main Inn shuts down late Oct, but we do keep Ashe Cottage and the Suites Building open year-round. During the winter we don’t serve breakfast and we don’t do daily housekeeping, but you’d be surprised at how many people come up for the fall, winter, and early spring just to get away.
Too book your room, check out our reservations calendar here: www.miramonte.com.
Bass Harbor Head Light is the only lighthouse located on Mount Desert Island, but there’s several others nearby and within and easy drive from the Inn. All these great old lighthouses can be viewed and photographed on boat tours that tell of their incredible histories.
Bass Harbor Head Light, located within Acadia National Park in the southwest portion of Mount Desert Island, Maine, marking the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay. Today, the house is a private residence for a local Coast Guard member and his family. Tourists can get close to the bell and light via a concrete path, but most of the grounds are private. There’s a short walk which takes you to wooden steps that lead down granite boulders that allow views of the harbor side.
Mount Desert Rock Light is owned by the College of the Atlantic, whose students study whales and nesting seabirds. Mount Desert Rock is a small island about 18 nautical miles south of Mount Desert Island. The light station was established in 1830; the current lighthouse was built in 1847 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Great Duck Island Light is also owned by the College of the Atlantic and is located on Great Duck Island, a small 237 acres island in the Gulf of Maine about 9 miles south of Mount Desert Island. The light station is on 11-acres at the southern tip of the island.
Bear Island Light is a lighthouse on Bear Island near Mt. Desert Island at the entrance to Northeast Harbor. It was first established in 1839 with the present structure built in 1889. It was deactivated in 1981 and lit as a private aid to navigation by the Friends of Acadia National Park in 1989. Bear Island Light is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Egg Rock light was constructed in 1876 and was automated by the United States Coast Guard in 1976, at which time its ancillary structures except the fog station were torn down. The lantern house was removed and the light was replaced by the present aerobeacon. After public protest, a lantern house was installed in 1986. The light continues to be managed by the Coast Guard, and is not open to the public; the island and buildings are owned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Baker Island Light (1828), is the oldest light in the area and has been replaced with lighted offshore buoys. Established in 1828, it was the first along Maine’s coast located near Mount Desert Island. The light is an aid to navigation for reaching that island’s major ports, including Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor. The buildings of the station are now owned and administered by Acadia National Park with the light itself being maintained by the United States Coast Guard.
Winter Harbor Light is a lighthouse in Winter Harbor, Maine on Mark Island, a small island between the Schoodic Peninsula and Turtle Island. The light was built in 1856 and was deactivated in 1933; it is no longer an aid to navigation, and is privately owned.
The National Park Service is offering 4 fee free days to National Parks, including Acadia National Park Fee Free Days in 2018.
- Jan. 15: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- April 21: first day of National Park Week
- Sept. 22: National Public Lands Day
- Nov. 11: Veterans Day
“This is your chance to experience your national park and services in the neighboring communities and decide when you will come back in the future. Every season in Acadia has its own unique beauty and adventure” said Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider.
The park normally has an entrance fee of $25 per vehicle and $20 per motorcycle which is good return visits for seven days. Walkers and bicyclists can get a weekly pass for $12. An annual pass to Acadia costs $50.
For more information, visit www.nps.gov/acad or call 207-288-3338.