Explore the Rich History of Acadia National Park with VBT

Cadillac Mtn View
Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park and the bustling summer community of Bar Harbor, is known for a dramatic coastal landscape that was carved by glaciers and the powerful ocean which provides the perfect playground for bikers and walkers alike. Travelers on both our popular Maine Coast: Purely Acadia biking tour and our new Coastal Maine: Walking Acadia tour will explore beaches and mountains on the park’s many trails, as well as delve deeper into the history of both the vacationing elite and blue-collar communities that have inhabited Mt. Desert Island for over 150 years.

Once the domain of the Wabanaki people, the town of Eden— now called Bar Harbor, Maine— was first settled by Europeans as early as the 1760’s. Early industries included fishing, shipbuilding and lumber working until tales of the island’s renowned beauty brought artists from the Hudson River School, like Thomas Cole and Fitz Henry Lane, to paint its scenery. Soon the inspirational paintings attracted journalists, hunters and rusticators to see the land for themselves. The first hotel in Bar Harbor was built in 1855 and the first summer estate was completed a mere 13 years later. As tourists, transplants and wealthy families began to frequent Mt. Desert Island, the history of Acadia National Park would be forever changed.
Carriage Roads

During the height of the Gilded Age, iconic American families like the Rockefellers, Astors, Vanderbilts, Fords, and Morgans all had summer estates on the island. In fact, it was J.D. Rockefeller who donated over 50 miles of carriage paths and woodland roads from his land to then called Lafayette National Park—many of which are still used today by a vast majority of the park’s visitors. After 18 years of development under the design of Landscape Architect Beatriz Farrand, Lafayette NP expanded and was renamed Acadia National Park as homage to the former French colony that used to envelop present day Maine.
Lobster Boat and traps

During our VBT tours in Acadia, we’ll also learn about the history of the island’s local residents and about the famously laid-back life in Downeast Maine. On both walking and biking tours, our travelers will board a mail ferry to Little Cranberry Island and visit this pristine hamlet, which hosts a year-round community of lobstermen, boat builders, craftsmen, and those who opt for country living. Here we’ll learn about local life from a lobsterwoman and stop by the Islesford Historical Museum before boarding the ferry back to the mainland.

For more information about VBT’s Maine Coast: Purely Acadia biking tour and Coastal Maine: Walking Acadia tour, please visit our website. To request a full catalog with all of our vacations please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868, available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am-3:00pm EST.

Discovering Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay: Colonial History, Maritime Traditions and Delicious Crabcakes:

Chesap Bay Sunset
The Chesapeake Bay is an historical and ecological hotbed on the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The area is most known for its abundance of shorelines, islands and native seafood—especially blue crab, oysters and clams. The bay was also one of the first areas in the US to be settled and saw a part in both the American Revolutionary War as well as the War of 1812. While on tour with VBT you’ll explore this relatively undiscovered portion of U.S. by visiting its small towns and villages, and learning about the maritime traditions, shell fisherman, craftspeople, and local artisans that make up such a vibrant, eclectic community.

Colonial Relics
The Chesapeake Bay was first explored in the early 1600s but the popular waterway really flourished in the 18th Maryland tour Groupcentury. Today you can visit colonial seaports like St. Michaels and Chestertown—once the second biggest port in Maryland—and explore their historic town centers, museums and learn about the way life used to be back in simpler times. Present day Chestertown still provides a window into the colonial times, which is evident in the architecture of the town’s courthouse and 18th century brick mansions that were erected by wealthy shipping merchants when the town was designated as one of the 6 Royal Ports of Entry. Did you know that a few months after the infamous Boston Tea Party, Chestertown staged its own revolt against the crown? Every year the Chestertown Tea Party Festival is held on Memorial Day Weekend and pays homage to the event with re-enactments, parades and a plethora of colonial era music and dancing demonstrations.

By Sea…
12Much of the area’s wealth was attained years ago when many ports in the Chesapeake Bay thrived with either trading or fishing operations. Today there is still a strong relationship with the water as many fisherman, boatyards and harbors dot the shoreline. The bay, of course, is also widely known for its blue crab population. The tasty crustaceans are caught during crab season, from April through December, and are often served in a variety of ways including Maryland Crabcakes. With VBT, you’ll visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, explore historic seaports and even take a ride on a skipjack and the oldest private ferry still in operation in the US in the quaint community of Oxford. One of the best ways to learn about the area’s marine history is from local fishermen who still live and breathe the ocean life everyday.

Or if by Land…
Of course the Chesapeake Bay is also ripe with amazing bicycling routes that allow you to really get a sense of the culture and landscape. You’ll balance breezy rides along the coast with lovely routes more inland past farms and wildlife refuges. The Chesapeake Bay is home to over 200 species of birds including Bald Eagles, Indigo Buntings, Great Blue Herons, Piping Clovers, Peregrine Falcons and other rare or endangered species. The rural communities away from the coastline are home to a resurgence of family farms that tend to their own land and churn out delicious products from grass-fed beef to artisan cheeses.

We hope you enjoyed reading about the Chesapeake Bay and we have given you some fun insight into this area of the east coast and are looking forward to having you join us here in 2014. For more information about VBT’s Maryland: Cycling the Chesapeake Bay ​biking vacation please click here.