Known by locals as “the quiet side of town,” the southwest part of Mount Desert Island is an ideal escape for serenity seekers. Situated at the southern entrance of Somes Sound (the East Coast’s only fjord), this quaint town is full of mooring fields, fishing grounds, waterfront restaurants and scenic sanctuaries perfect for a peaceful escape.
Marine lifestyle has a long history in this region, rooting back to the native Abenaki Indians, who first crossed the fjord to fish, to the first steamboat wharf built on the island in the 1800s. This paved the way for the area to become home to some of the nation’s best-known yacht builders such as Hinckley, also a lobster boat servicer since 1928.
Acadia National Park is a beloved coastal gem that enhances Southwest Harbor’s outskirts with rocky beaches, mountainous trails and wildlife. Many people prefer to stay on this side of the island for a slow-paced getaway to explore the park. The city also provides a free circulator bus that runs throughout the island, connecting towns to stops within Acadia. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain and see the Atlantic seaboard’s highest point.
For centuries, the historic Claremont Hotel has provided upscale refuge for Southwest Harbor and Acadia National Park visitors. The cozy cottages and vintage rooms overlook the harbor, where you can kayak, canoe and sail calm waters.
Be sure to grab a good seaside spot to relax at dusk, because the fading light of multicolored skies grazing the water at sunset gives you a comforting feeling of the good life in Southwest Harbor.
WHERE TO DOCK
Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina
This full-service marina, located in the heart of Acadia National Park, is Southwest Harbor’s main dockage hub. Dysart’s offers the cheapest diesel fuel prices in the area and provides plush accommodations including comfortable condos and cottages with private docks and spectacular views.
Hinckley Yacht Services
What began as a small service yard almost 100 years ago is now a world-class sail and power yacht builder. The Hinckley boating community is also known to uphold a timeless dedication to providing high-level service in this region, which is famous for waters populated by mooring fields rather than wet-slip rentals.
WHERE TO DINE
Locally sourced ingredients accentuate American fare with a French-inspired twist at this fine-dining restaurant. The staff offers a carefully selected, ever-changing wine list and wine seminars that create perfect pairings.
Little Notch Bakery & Café
This seasonal café is located in the center of a cluster of charming local eateries and offers fresh-baked goods from spring to fall. With a variety of pasta, pizza, salads and sandwiches, it’s easy to forget to save room for delicious blueberry scones and sticky buns as dessert.
Xanthus Restaurant & Bar
The historic Claremont Hotel’s upscale restaurant has consistently stood at the forefront of supporting locally sourced products. You can feast upon contemporary American fine dining and sip on a signature cocktail while enjoying the peaceful ambience overlooking Somes Sound and island mountains.