Home Cities This Year’s American “Fit-cation” Destination, Bar Harbor

This Year’s American “Fit-cation” Destination, Bar Harbor

This Year’s American “Fit-cation” Destination, Bar Harbor

Do You Need to Get Away? Are You Feeling Bloated After the 4th of July? Is it Time for a Change – If the Answer is Yes, You are Ready for a Fitcation.

I am going to take you to a place that has no big city crowds and some of the most beautiful vistas in America. I am going to take you to a place that has all kinds of outdoor physical activities which will be the center of your fitcation. I am going to take you to a place where you can hike, bike, canoe, kayak, run, rock climb, fish, bird watch and bask in the beauty of the North Atlantic Ocean. I am going take you to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

Before You Begin, Here’s Some History


Bar Harbor was settled on the north east shore of Mt. Desert Island. The Wabanaki Indians called the island “Pemetic” meaning range of mountains. The Wabanaki fished, hunted and gathered berries, clams and shellfish there. They called the area where Bar Harbor is located “the clam gathering place”.

In 1604 the French Explorer Samuel de Champlain ran aground on a rock ledge on an island where the Wabanaki fished. Looking around at the beauty of this place he named the island “Isles des Monts Deserts”. Today it is called Mt. Desert Island.

The Island was first settled in 1763, and the first settlement was named Eden after Sir Richard Eden, an English Statesman. Eden became a place for fishing, lumbering, shipbuilding and agriculture. Much of what was caught, cut, built and grown in and around Eden was sent back to England.

In the 1840’s a number of artists came to Eden because of the beauty of the place. The first hotel, Agamont House, was built in 1855 to provide lodging for the artists and the other visitors.


In 1868 the first summer estate was built by Alpheus Hardy. It was the first of many summer estates to follow. In the 1880’s Eden began to rival Newport, RI as the summer get away for the elite rich. Trains and ferries became common ways to travel to Eden.

Yachting, garden parties at the Pot and Kettle Club entertained the owners of the summer estates. Carriage rides up Cadillac Mountain were very popular and just relaxing on the beautiful coast of Maine became a way of life for the summer.

On March 3, 1918, Eden’s name was changed to Bar Harbor. It was named after a sand and gravel bar that was visible at low tide. The sandbar led to Bar Island and formed the rear of the harbor. The name became synonymous with the Gilded Age.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., son of John D. Rockefeller owner of Standard Oil, did so much to change the whole dynamic of Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. John D. Rockefeller, Jr donated all the carriage roads to the Park. The carriage roads are used today for hiking and biking for those who are on a fitcation.


Jamie Stewart America Unraveled's resident expert on all things higher ed!


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