Mr. President, Some Suggestions for Your Long Weekend At Acadia National Park
Three days might not qualify for official "vacation" status, but the First Family's trip this weekend to Acadia National Park should provide enough time for President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their kids to sample some of the highlights of this Down East treasure.
While there are no public events scheduled, it'll be hard to miss the president and his entourage on 108-square-mile Mount Desert Island, roughly half of which is claimed by the national park.
How should the First Family spend their 72 hours at Acadia? Here are some suggestions, Mr. President:
* Take a hike. While the South Ridge of Cadillac Mountain would take too much of your weekend, head up the Beehive Trail. You can leave your limo at the Sand Beach Parking Area and stretch your legs on this short .8-mile roundtrip hike. Sure, there are some sections where you need to climb hand-over-hand up iron rungs pounded into the granite cliffs, but that can't be any scarier than facing off with Rush Limbaugh. Reach the top and you'll enjoy great views of Frenchman Bay and into the Atlantic.
* Time things right so your return from the Beehive coincides with the high tide and a stop at Thunder Hole, a coastal crevice in the park's granite foundation that resounds with a thunderous clap when waves pound it. Be careful of the pounding surf, though, as rogue waves can at times threaten your safety.
* Take the girls for a bike ride down the park's legendary carriage paths. Sure, hopping aboard a horse-drawn carriage has its appeal, but you sit enough in Washington and the exercise and fresh air will do you good. Don't forget to get some family photos with some of the historic bridges you'll pass along the way as backdrops.
* To recover from your bike ride, stop by the Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers...or make a dinner reservation for a lobster feast.
* Leave the park, but just briefly, to head to Southwest Harbor to visit the Wendell Gilley Museum, where you'll be amazed at the intricacy of the miniature carved birds. If you time your visit right, you might find one of the resident master carvers at work. Along the way check out the Somesville Bridge. They don't make 'em like this any more. Want a true Down East culinary experience? Head over to Beal's Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor where you can point to the lobster you want from a tank full of the crustaceans and wait while they boil it for you. Don't forget the corn on the cob and maybe a pound of steamers.
* Stop by Cafe This Way in Bar Harbor for dinner one night. Not only is the name unusual, but the fare is incredible. Try the smoked duck wrapped scallops on a rosemary skewer for starters. Before dinner, stroll the streets of Bar Harbor and poke into the shops. Step into Island Artisans on Main Street and you'll find some beautiful works from some of Mount Desert Island's most talented artists.
Send the Traveler a postcard from your trip, and we'll send you an autographed copy of The National Parks, Our American Landscape by Ian Shive so you can start planning next year's national park getaway.