Schoodic Peninsula ME: Acadia NP’s Quieter Side

Do you want to “do” Acadia National Park, but don’t want to deal with the multitudes that converge on Bar Harbor each summer? Then stay on US 1 North about 20 miles from where the crowds veer off, and hook a right onto Route 186 to Schoodic Peninsula.

Infinitely more secluded, and encompassing 3,500 acres, Schoodic Peninsula is part of Acadia National Park, with ferry and bus access to the bulk of it on Mount Desert Island.

Schoodic is one of our favorite spots to pop the question in Maine. The small towns of Winter Harbor, Birch Harbor and Prospect Harbor are all located on Schoodic offering some of the best things to do near Acadia, but do check out this Acadia National Park itinerary for even more great ideas.

So on this Romantic Getaway, you’ll experience nature in its rustic glory, and if you’re game – a few “Pickled Wrinkles.” And of course, some comfy beds and pretty places to rest your head.

Welcome to Schoodic Peninsula sign

How To Get To Schoodic Peninsula

Getting to the Schoodic Peninsula is easy and straightforward. The peninsula is located on the southern tip of Acadia National Park and is accessible via Route 186. If you’re coming from Bar Harbor or other points on Mount Desert Island, simply take Route 3 to Ellsworth and then follow Route 1 down to the town of Winter Harbor.

From there, follow signs to the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park. There are several parking areas available for visitors, and the park road winds along the coastline, offering stunning views of Frenchman Bay and the surrounding area. Whether you’re coming from Bar Harbor or elsewhere in Maine, the Schoodic Peninsula is an easy and accessible day trip destination.

Things to Do on Schoodic Peninsula

Rockefeller Hall, Schoodic Institute, ME

Tour The Schoodic Institute

Most people arrive here for weeklong programs, like Birding Tours, “Citizen Science” opportunities, or Art In Residence. But even if you visit for the day, stop into the magnificent Schoodic Institute Welcome Center for an interactive overview of the area, history, and research done here. And of course, to ogle the striking architecture.

This multi-hued stone structure, a gift from J.D. Rockefeller, was built in 1933 for the US Navy. From 1919 to 1933, the Navy operated a “listening station” from what is now Acadia National Park’s Otter Cliffs. As Rockefeller wished to preserve Mount Desert Island strictly as a National park, he funded the construction of this Naval Office on the peninsula nearby.

When the Navy vacated the Schoodic Peninsula property in 2003, some aging buildings were removed. Others were built to fill out the campus of this non-profit science institute – a partner of Acadia National Park, but not managed by it.

Schoodic Institute Auditorium

Together the National Park and Schoodic Institute run the Schoodic Education and Research Center. The presence of the Schoodic Institute, say scientists, adds an intellectual and study-focused element to the Park’s beauty and is a “catalyst and magnet for ecosystem research and inspirational education experiences.”

Besides the engaging exhibits at the Welcome Center, visitors can take advantage of free drop-in programs run by the Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park. Or sign up for the annual “Bio-Blitz” weekend in July – a Biodiversity Study weekend inviting the public to help collect and document research being done here.

Maine Kiln Works ceramics

Learn At A Makeshop

As you head to the Schoodic Peninsula, you’ll pass Maine Kiln Works, a very New Englandish-looking shop that is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in pottery and ceramics. Located in the beautiful town of Waldoboro, Maine, this artisanal pottery studio offers a wide range of handmade and unique pieces, from functional dinnerware to decorative sculptures.

And, in addition to artist residencies, they offer mini-Makeshops where participants can learn the Crystalline Glaze process.

Drive Or Bike The 5-Mile Schoodic Loop Road

It’s the true edge of the world out here, especially on Schoodic Point, where chances are you’ll be one of just a few people meditating on the ocean and rocky cliffs. The park road winds along the coastline, offering breathtaking views of Frenchman Bay and the surrounding area. Be sure to make stops at Schoodic Point and Frazer Point, where you can take in the views and watch lobster boats in the harbor.

For now, this section of Acadia National Park sees little traffic. Come out here before that changes.

Schoodic Point hike

Go On Hikes In Schoodic Peninsula

Acadia is considered one of the best national parks for hiking. There are 3,500 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula, with several great hiking trails in the area. The Schoodic Head Trail is a popular option, offering stunning views of Cadillac Mountain and the surrounding area. The Anvil Trail is another option, offering a more challenging hike and views of Prospect Harbor.

Schoodic Explorer

Cruise On The Bar Harbor Ferry

The Bar Harbor Ferry takes people (not cars) between Winter Harbor and Bar Harbor. Some claim that this one-hour cruise is one of the most picturesque on the Maine Coast. While there, you can take the Island Explorer Shuttle Bus, with drop-off points throughout the National Park, for free. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Kayaking Schoodic Peninsula

Kayaking around the Schoodic Peninsula is a fantastic way to experience the natural beauty of this part of Acadia National Park. With its rugged coastline, pristine waters, and stunning views, the Schoodic Peninsula is a kayaker’s paradise. Visitors can rent kayaks from local outfitters in Winter Harbor and explore the coastline at their own pace. Paddling around Schoodic Point and Frazer Point offers the chance to see harbor seals, bald eagles, and other wildlife up close.

For a more challenging experience, kayakers can paddle across Frenchman Bay to Bar Harbor or explore the inlets and coves around the Schoodic Islands. With its calm waters and beautiful scenery, kayaking the Schoodic Peninsula is a must-do activity for any outdoor enthusiast visiting Acadia National Park.

Pack A Picnic

One of the best ways to experience the Schoodic Peninsula is to pack a picnic and spend some time at one of the picnic areas. There are several tables, fire rings, and grills available for visitors to use. The picnic areas offer stunning views of the coastline and are a great spot to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Fishermens Inn is a popular Schoodic Peninsula restaurant

Schoodic Peninsula Restaurants

EAT: Pickled Wrinkle, Birch Harbor

Three miles from Acadia Oceanside Meadows Inn (see below), the specialty here is the restaurant’s namesake, Pickled Wrinkles. An old Downeast delicacy, these sea snails (whelks) fed poor fishermen in tough times, offering a quick and easy way to get protein when food was scarce. Boiled and pickled in vinegar, these things are an acquired taste for sure.

Order them if you dare.  If you seek a more VEGAN seafood experience, try the Fried Wild Dulse – seaweed chips – fine if you like your food ultra-salty. You’ll find very good burgers, salads with greens from local farms, and small pizzas. The Lobster Flatbread is very good. And I’d return repeatedly for the “Rhubarb Streusel” – more like a cobbler, warm and indescribably delicious.

EAT: Chase’s Restaurant

There’s nothing pretentious about Chase’s Restaurant, but it’s often open when others aren’t. And we like their lobster roll and even their lobster BLT. But the stand out here is anything blueberry. We hear that the Blueberry Pie is excellent, and can attest the Blueberry Crisp Parfait is outstanding.

Locals also recommend

Opened seasonally, locals recommend lobster rolls and the lobster festival at JM Gerrish and Fisherman’s Galley in Winter Harbor.

Exterior, Acadia's Oceanside Meadows Inn, Prospect Harbor ME

Schoodic Peninsula Lodging

Stay In Prospect Harbor

The fantastic Acadia’s Oceanside Meadows Inn is not just an “inn:” it’s a nature preserve, a lecture/event hall, and a beach all in one. With over 200 acres of trails near a contiguous 1,300-acre preserve, there are miles and miles to hike right around the inn.

Plus, it offers one of the most beautifully presented and delicious B&B breakfasts I’ve ever seen and tasted. FYI – this Inn is Vegetarian, so do not expect a Farm Breakfast with Sausage and Bacon. You will get, however, one of the most beautiful breakfasts a B&B can offer.

First Impressions Of Acadia’s Oceanside Meadows Inn

Farmhouse guesthouse at Arcadia's Oceanside Meadows Inn

“Check-in” occurs while seated on the couch in a lived-in parlor, where innkeeper, Ben (or his son or daughter), hands over a bundle of laminated property Trail Maps and Nature Guides and offers an overview of each one. The inn’s property encompasses a rocky shore, sandy beach, salt marsh, meadows, and freshwater ponds (with beavers!) and is one major reason visitors from “away” keep coming back here year after year.

You are here mat, Acadia’s Oceanside Meadows Inn, ME

Given time, I would have taken the 40-minute “Salamander Trail,” or three-mile “Heron Trail” out to the salt marsh to look for moose or bald eagles, painted turtles, herons, and water snakes. But I was happy just to read the “Introduction to the Seashore Right Outside Your Window” since I merely had to look outside my own guestroom window to view the shoreline.

As I checked in, repeat guests were arriving. Acadia Oceanside Meadows Inn is extremely popular with nature lovers who come here just to relax, bird watch and wander the beach.

Guest Rooms At Acadia’s Oceanside Inn

Quaint guestroom, Arcadia's Oceanside Meadows Inn

Guest rooms in both the main house and the Farmhouse next door are not posh or luxe, but comfy and pretty in traditional country décor. The Farmhouse served as a guesthouse in the late 1800s when tourists started to arrive from the cities in droves.

My room – #4 – had sweet Laura-Ashley type floral wallpaper and bed quilt, original wide floorboards painted bright blue, and a bank of windows overlooking the sandy, rocky cove. At night, the sound of waves hitting rocks on the beach was a wonderful lullaby.

Ginger Mellon Soup, Acadia’s Oceanside Meadows Inn, ME

Food at Acadia Oceanside Meadows Inn

Strictly vegetarian, owners do not include meats with meals but are happy to provide an outdoor gas grill for guests who would like to cook their own burgers or steaks.

Whole Wheat Waffles, Arcadia's Oceanside Meadow Inn, Prospect Harbor ME

That said, you will not miss bacon or sausage in the morning when you see what comes out of the kitchen. The first course, the likes of Mellon-Ginger Soup served in stunning blue-glass bowls, followed by Whole Wheat Waffles with fresh berries is a feast for both the stomach and eyes.

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  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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5 thoughts on “Schoodic Peninsula ME: Acadia NP’s Quieter Side”

  1. I was checking out the Inn you mentioned. Their rates seem very different. 1 week minimum, and between $1200-$1500/ night. Maybe you would update your article.
    Thanks for the other ideas though.

  2. Hi Christie – thanks for letting me know. I did check, and those rates are for the whole homes (7 and 9 bedrooms respectively), so if you have a group of people, each room is still within the realm of nightly rates per room. But, that is important information, and I rely on establishments and readers to keep me up to date! – Malerie

  3. I don’t love that you have shared this information so publicly. We have travelled to and enjoyed the splendors of Schoodic Peninsula for decades without the giant crowds driven by consumerism and the taking of anything they can find from these beautiful pristine places. Please do what you can to put this lovely less traveled destination back in the jar from where it came and allow the magic to keep. Shame on you.

  4. Hi TW. I don’t cover anything without being invited first. The folks on Schoodic asked me to visit and write about their region – as tourism is a large part of the Maine economy. I doubt you’d be averse to small business owners making a living, right? I found that area of Maine quite rustic and beautiful.

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