Settled in 1763, Bar Harbor expanded from a niche summer colony for the wealthy to a popular resort town. Situated on Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, Maine, the popularity of Bar Harbor means that tourists are constantly on the lookout for similar towns to explore while on vacation. Here are 20 towns that are similar to Bar Harbor, Maine:
To understand the similarities and differences between Bar Harbor and the 20 towns listed above, feel free to read further for a detailed description of each destination:
1. Camden, Maine
Camden is a seaside town located on Penobscot Bay which is situated in the MidCoastal region of Know County, Maine. The humid climate and various water activities on offer make it a popular destination between May and September.
While Camden offers visitors multiple ways to experience the surrounding coastline, the Camden Yacht Club allows the mooring and hiring of premium yachts for serious sailors and entrepreneurs.
Camden is also famous for its music and culture, as expected from the birthplace of Don McLean. Some highlights of Camden events and locations include:
- The Camden Opera House,
- Bay Chamber Concerts,
- The Camden Public Library,
- The Camden Conference,
- The Shakespeare Festival,
- The US National Toboggan Championships,
- The Camden International Film Festival.
Finally, Camden sports a variety of historical and natural locations to visit:
- Bald Mountain,
- Camden Hills State Park,
- Camden Harbor,
- Curtis Island Lighthouse,
- Maiden’s Cliff.
2. Kennebunkport, Maine
Situated in York County, Maine, along the Portland-South Portland–Biddeford metropolitan statistical area. Kennebunkport was home to shipbuilding and fishing ventures, given its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the city center’s easy access to the Kennebunkport river 1km inland from the ocean.
Over time, Kennebunkport evolved into a popular seaside resort and summer destination for wealthy visitors from across the state of Maine, transforming the industries of Kennebunkport into tourist destinations with ample restaurants, gift shops, and art galleries.
As a favored destination of the Bush administration to host foreign diplomats, Kennebunkport has a host of natural and historical destinations to visit, including but not limited to:
- Seashore Trolley Museum,
- St Anne’s Church,
- Dock Square,
- Gooch’s Beach,
- Cape Porpoise,
- St Anthony’s Monastery,
- Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge,
- Nubble Lighthouse.
3. Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Beginning life as a fishing outpost for settler communities in 1623, the incorporation of Boothbay Harbor in 1889 amidst a complex history of abandonment and industry over 200 years saw the development of Boothbay Harbor as a popular seaside resort in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Boothbay Harbor is best known for a host of water activities and natural locations, hence its moniker of being “the Boating Capital of New England,” including but not limited to:
- Boat tours around Burnt Island and Monhegan Island,
- Barret Park, situated on Linekin Bay,
- Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.
Boothbay Harbor is also home to various cultural and historical locations, as well as some noteworthy events, including but not limited to:
- Boothbay Railway Village,
- Boothbay Harbor,
- Boothbay Opera House,
- Maine State Aquarium,
- Boothbay Country Club and Golf Course,
- Fisherman’s Festival,
- Windjammer’s Day.
4. Greenville, Maine
While not a coastal town like the majority of the towns on this list, Greenville is situated in Piscataquis County, along the lower end of Moosehead Lake. Therefore, because of its proximity to the largest freshwater lake in the state, as well as several other bodies of water, Greenville is host to various outdoor and water activities.
Furthermore, unlike most coastal locations in Maine, whose activities are reserved for the summer months, spring and winter in Greenville are some of the best times to visit, as it allows for unique activities such as moose spotting or dogsledding.
Because of Greenville’s seamless integration with its natural surroundings, the following locations are a must-visit for fans of fishing, swimming, kayaking, hiking, boating, and/or skiing:
- Moosehead Lake,
- Lily Bay State Park,
- Prong Pond,
- Mount Kineo State Park,
- Little Moose Mountain,
- Big Moose Mountain,
- Burnt Jacket Mountain,
- Big Squaw Mountain.
Fortunately, Greenville also has some historical and unique attractions to visit between outdoor activities:
- Katahdin Cruises,
- Moosehead Marine Museum,
- Spotted Cat Winery,
- Moosehead Historical Society,
- Lily Bay Antiques and Vintage Collectables,
- Moosehead Lake Indian Store.
5. York, Maine
Situated in the aptly named York County beside the Atlantic Ocean on the Gulf of Maine, York’s incorporation in 1652 makes this popular seaside resort the second oldest town in Maine.
Because of its long history and charming surroundings, York is a popular destination for families looking for a coastal getaway while still having access to historical sites, brewing companies, golf courses, and a host of other destinations.
Some of the key attractions in York include, but are not limited to:
- Long Sands Beach,
- Short Sands Beach,
- Mount Agamenticus
- Columbary House Antics,
- Hartley Mason Reserve,
- York’s Wild Kingdom Zoo and Fun Park,
- Wiggly Bridge Distillery,
- SoMe Brewing Company,
- York Beach Beer Company,
- Old Gaol,
- Old York Historical Society,
- George Marshall Store Gallery,
- John Hancock Wharf and Warehouse,
- Civil War Monument.
6. Castine, Maine
Situated in Hancock County, Castine’s checkered history was a contested area among numerous colonial powers before its incorporation in 1796. While its military and fishing history influences its modern structure, as illustrated by Maine Maritime Academy, Castine is a popular coastal resort for history buffs.
Some of Castine’s historical attractions include, but are not limited to:
- Castine Historical Society,
- Wilson Museum,
- Unitarian Universalist Church,
- Civil War Memorial,
- The Witherle Memorial Library.
- Dice’s Head Lighthouse,
- The Castine Post Office (the oldest operational post office in America.)
Outside of historical attractions, Castine has a host of other activities and attractions for the whole family to enjoy:
- Main Street,
- Gallery B,
- Fort Madison State Park,
- Fort George State Park,
- McGrath Dunham Gallery,
- Guildive Cruises,
- Castine Kayak Adventures,
- Windmill Hill Gardens and Market,
- Compass Rose Books,
- Castine Golf Club.
7. Damariscotta, Maine
As the final main destination on this list, Damariscotta is situated in Lincoln County along the Damariscotta River. Termed the oyster capital of New England and sharing a unique relationship with neighboring New Castle to form the “Twin Village,” Damariscotta is the perfect place for a laidback vacation.
Although Damariscotta is famous for its fresh seafood: Pemaquid oysters and local mussels are served up in the local restaurants. The town is also famous for a host of historical buildings, bookstores, and art galleries for visitors to explore:
- Kefauver Studio and Gallery,
- Jan Kilburn Watercolor Studio and Gallery,
- Whaleback Shell Midden State Historical Site,
- Frances Perkins Center,
- Damariscotta Farmers Market,
- Lincoln County Community Theatre,
- Red Cloak Tours,
- Damariscotta River Cruises,
- Gifts at 136,
- Maine Coast Book Shop and Café,
- Skidompha Secondhand Book Shop.
8. Canandaigua, New York
Situated around Finger Lake of New York, Canandaigua is the first non-Maine town featured on this list. Canandaigua is a town designed around its tourist industry, meaning there are plenty of hotels, inns, cottages, and bed and breakfasts of different price ranges.
As the largest wine-producing area in New York, there are plenty of wineries and breweries to explore, along with the various water and outdoor activities to enjoy along the northern end of the Canandaigua Lake. Whereby most of these popular destinations play host to multiple events throughout the year:
- Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens,
- Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum,
- The New York Wine & Culinary Center,
- Kershaw Beach,
- Atwater Park,
- Pat Rini Roder Art Gallery,
- Pageant of Steam Fair,
- Constellation Brands – Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center,
- The Canandaigua Lady steamboat,
- Finger Lakes Riesling Festival,
- Waterfront Art Festival,
- Canandaigua Art and Music Festival,
- LakeMusic Festival,
- Festival of Trees,
- Christkindl Market,
- Finger Lakes Plein Air Festival,
- Bristol Mountain Ski Resort,
- Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures,
- Heron Hill Tasting Room,
- Twisted Rail Brewing Co,
- Naked Doe Brewing Company,
- Peacemaker Brewing Company.
9. Cape May, New Jersey
Shifting our focus from New York to New Jersey, we find the coastal town of Cape May situated on the southern tip of the Cape May Peninsula, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay.
Because of its established history as one of the oldest seaside resorts in America and its concentration of preserved Victorian buildings, the entire city of Cape May is considered a National Historic Landmark.
Although Cape May is also known for having one of the top 10 beaches in America, according to the Travel Channel, there are a host of activities and attractions to enjoy in and around the city:
- Cape May Fisherman’s Memorial,
- The Cape May Jazz Festival,
- The Cape May Music Festival,
- The Cape May, New Jersey Film Festival,
- Cape May Stage,
- Harriet Tubman Museum,
- The Cape May Bird Observatory,
- Cape May Lighthouse,
- Cape May Winery and Vineyard,
- Willow Creek Winery,
- Nature Center of Cape May.
10. Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania
Situated in Monroe County, which is located in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware Water Gap is a result of a water gap that was carved through the Appalachian Mountains by the Delaware River millions of years ago.
Despite its tiny population of approximately 700, Delaware Water Gap is smaller than most towns on this list while still maintaining similar appeal and popularity. Therefore this is a perfect vacation destination for those looking for lakes, trails, mountains, and forests:
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area,
- Worthington State Forest,
- Mount Tammany,
- Sunfish Pond,
- Silurian Shawagunk conglomerate,
- Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery,
- The Historic Castle Inn.
11. Jackson, New Hampshire
Jackson is another very small town with a population of approximately 1000 people, therefore making it a perfect vacation destination to escape the hustle and bustle of city living.
Situated in the White Mountain Villages of New Hampshire in Carroll County, Jackson is home to covered bridges, churches, rolling farmland, and mountains.
Therefore, Jackson’s seamless integration with nature makes it an all-year-round tourist destination, with accommodation ranging from charming inns to grand hotels. Some of Jackson’s attractions include, but are not limited to:
- Glen Ellis Falls,
- Jackson Falls,
- Wildcat Mountain,
- Nestlenook Estate and Resort Sleigh Rides,
- Honeymoon Bridge,
- Jackson Art Studio and Gallery,
- The Museum of White Mountain Art,
- Jackson Ski Touring Foundation,
- Black Mountain,
- Wentworth Golf Club,
- Eagle Mountain House Golf Club,
- Lost Pond.
12. Lenox, Massachusetts
Situated in Berkshire County in western Massachusetts, Lenox has a history of heavy industry which has developed into a tourist town with a deep appreciation for arts and culture.
As the home of Tanglewood, which is the summer home for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Lenox hosts the annual Tanglewood Music Festival. Furthermore, it is also the site of Shakespeare & Company.
While Lennox may not have the coastal features or various outdoor activities on offer as many other towns on this list, it makes up for these by having multiple historical and cultural points of interest:
- Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum,
- Lennox Railroad Station,
- Church on the Hill,
- Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio,
- Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary,
- Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum,
- The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home,
- The WIT Gallery,
- Tom Fiorini Sculpture Yard,
- Lenox Mountain,
- WAM Theatre,
- Wood’s Pond.
13. Provincetown, Massachusetts
Provincetown is a seaside New England town located at the north tip of Cape Cod in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Provincetown is significant in American history as it was built on the site where the Mayflower landed in 1620.
Although Provincetown has a small population of approximately 3 600 people, this number has been known to exceed 60 000 people during the busy summer months. Therefore you should plan your vacation accordingly to avoid large crowds.
While it may be the oldest colony in America, Provincetown has developed a reputation for being an open and welcoming town, particularly for the LGBT+ community.
Provincetown is famous for its notable people, arts, culture, and seaside activities, events, and attractions:
- Pilgrim Monument,
- Provincetown Museum,
- Race Point Beach,
- Herring Cove Beach,
- Kiley Court Gallery,
- Beech Forest,
- Provincetown Library,
- Provincetown Art Association and Museum,
- Whydah Pirate Museum,
- The Provincetown International Film Festival,
- Women’s Week Festival.
14. Rockport, Massachusetts
Situated in Essex County, Rockport is a seaside town that sits at the top of the Cape Ann peninsula, about 40 miles northeast of Boston.
Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Rockport is a popular summer destination, although the diversity of Rockport’s surrounding areas and their historical/cultural significance makes the town a year-round tourist destination.
Some key attractions include but are not limited to:
- Bearskin Neck,
- Dogtown Common,
- Halibut Point Reservation,
- The Paper House,
- Rockport Art Association,
- Shalin Liu Performance Center,
- Thacher’s Island,
- Motif Number 1,
- Front Beach,
- The Art of David Arsenault.
15. Newport, Rhode Island
Situated on Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island, Newport is famous for its rich sailing history and historical landmarks. Newport is famous for its hosting of America’s Cup, an annual sailing regatta that has earned the city the nickname of the Classical Coast.
The colonial history and upscale mansions of Rhode Island have mostly been transformed into museums, along with a host of historical locations, events, and coastal activities for visitors to enjoy:
- The Breakers,
- The Elms,
- Marble House,
- Fort Adams State Park,
- Rough Point Museum,
- International Tennis Hall of Fame,
- National Sailing Hall of Fame,
- Touro Synagogue,
- Save The Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium,
- First Beach,
- Second Beach,
- Gooseberry Beach,
- Newport Cliff Walk,
- Brenton Point Kite Festival.
16. Warren, Rhode Island
Situated in East Bay within Bristol County, Rhode Island, Warren is the oldest waterfront in New England. Despite Warren being one of the oldest towns in the state, Warren’s historical attractions are seen alongside a growing downtown area with various restaurants, bars, shopping, antiques, and marine-based industries.
Some of Warren’s attractions include but are not limited to:
- IMAGO Gallery,
- Toisset March Wildlife Reserve,
- Galactic Theatre,
- Sowams Cider Works,
- Bay Queen Tours,
- Warren Waterfront Historic District.
17. Port Angeles, Washington
Situated in Clallam County under the looming Olympic Mountains, Port Angeles is a unique combination of coastal and mountain living.
As the best of both worlds, Port Angeles provides ample mountainous and water activities, including the option of sampling the local cuisine: Dungeness crab. Further to its natural beauty, Port Angeles is an area of cultural and historical significance, particularly with regard to archaeology and Native American studies.
Some Port Angeles attractions include, but are not limited to:
- Marymere Falls,
- Black Ball Ferry Line,
- Salt Creek Recreational Area,
- Madison Creek Falls,
- Ediz Hook Reserve,
- Harbinger Winery,
- Port Angeles Fine Art Center,
- Feiro Marine Life Center,
- Olympic Cellars Winery,
- Spruce Railroad Trail,
- Port Angeles Lefties.
18. Seward, Alaska
Situated in the southern part of Alaska, Seward is a city that was shaped by glaciers and sat between the ocean and mountains, resulting in sweeping vistas and various outdoor activities to explore.
Although Seward may not have the cultural or historical significance of other entries on this list, it has arguably some of the best and unspoiled natural attractions on this list due to its affiliation with the vast oceans, forests, and mountains of Alaska.
Furthermore, because of its close association with international cruise liners, the location of the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad, and well-maintained roads along the Kenai Peninsula, Seward, Alaska, is an easy destination to explore, acting as a gateway to some of the best attractions in the state:
- Kenai Fjords National Park,
- Alaska SeaLife Center,
- Resurrection Bay,
- Holgate Glacier,
- Mount Marathon,
- Bear Glacier,
- Waterfront Park,
- Miller’s Landing,
- Seward Community Library and Museum,
- Bear Creek Weir,
- Tonsina Creek Trail.
19. Stonington, Connecticut
Situated in New London County in the southeast of Connecticut, Stonington also contains the borough of Stonington, along with the villages of Pawcatuck, Wequetequock, Lords Point, and the eastern halves of the villages of Mystic and Old Mystic.
It has the only fishing port in Connecticut which brings in large amounts of fresh seafood, including shrimp and scallops. Furthermore, Stonington is home to a series of beaches along its coastline for visitors to explore at their leisure.
Stonington has a long naval/military history, most notable the role of the town in its defense of Connecticut against the British navy during the American War of Independence. Consequently, Stonington has numerous buildings and sites on the National Register of Historic Places:
- Nathaniel B. Palmer House,
- Mechanic Street Historic District,
- Mystic Bridge Historic District,
- Pequotsepos Manor,
- Rossie Velvet Mill Historic District,
- Stanton-Davis Homestead Museum,
- Stonington Harbor Light,
- Stonington High School,
- Whitehall Mansion,
- William Clark Company Thread Mill.
Other natural attractions and points of interest in Stonington include, but are not limited to:
- Dubois Beach,
- Saltwater Farm Vineyard,
- Stonington Lighthouse Museum,
- Beer’d Brewing Company,
- Enders Island,
- Studio 83,
- The Velvet Underground Studio,
- Cottrel Breweries,
- Barn Island Wildlife Management Area,
- Elmridge Golf Course,
- La Grua Center.
20. Townsend, Tennessee
The final entry on this list is Townsend, situated in Blount County and is considered one of the three gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Therefore, despite its tiny population of approximately 500 people, Townsend is a popular destination for local and international tourists.
Termed the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies,” Townsend has more laid back and affordable for tourists compared to the other Smoky Mountain gateways. These include inexpensive outdoor activities and historical locations dotted in and around Townsend:
- Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center,
- Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum,
- National Park Service Collections Preservation Center,
- Foothills Parkway,
- Tuckaleechee Caverns,
- Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing,
- Dark Island Swinging Bridge,
- Captain Dave’s Little River Artistry,
- Cades Cove Gallery,
- Wild Laurel Golf Course.
In conclusion, while Bar Harbor, Maine, remains one of the most popular and unique destinations in the state of Maine, there are multiple locations across the country that is similar to Bar Harbor and worth a visit on your next vacation!
- Home Stratosphere
- Touropia Travel Guides
- Wikipedia: Camden, Maine
- Wikipedia: Kennebunkport, Maine
- U.S. News Travel
- Wikipedia: Boothbay Harbor, Maine
- Visit Maine
- Wikipedia: Greenville, Maine
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Greenville
- Wikipedia: York, Maine
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in York
- Wikipedia: Castine, Maine
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Castine
- Wikipedia: Damariscotta, Maine
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Damariscotta
- Wikipedia: Canandaigua, New York
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Canandaigua
- Wikipedia: Cape May, New Jersey
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Cape May
- Wikipedia: Delaware Water Gap
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do near Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
- Wikipedia: Jackson, New Hampshire
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Jackson
- Wikipedia: Lenox, Massachusetts
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Lenox
- Wikipedia: Provincetown, Massachusetts
- Wikipedia: Rockport, Massachusetts
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Rockport
- Wikipedia: Newport, Rhode Island
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Newport
- Wikipedia: Warren, Rhode Island
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Warren
- Wikipedia: Stonington, Connecticut
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Stonington
- Wikipedia: Townsend, Tennessee
- Tripadvisor: Things to Do in Townsend