The Acadia Night Sky Festival begins today

The Acadia Night Sky Festival begins today!Starting today, and running through next Monday, Acadia National Park, located near Bar Harbor Maine, will play host to the third annual Acadia Night Sky Festival. The event, which is designed to celebrate and promote the stunning night skies above the park, will mix live music, art, and science, with a healthy dose of stargazing.

The event is designed to be family friendly, offering plenty of activities that both kids and adults will enjoy. Some of those activities include daily children’s book give-a-ways, photography workshops, lectures, picnics, and more. Tonight there will be boat cruises to take in the night sky while out on the water, and the rest of the weekend includes scheduled “star parties” at various locations around the park, including Cadillac Mountain and Schoodic Peninsula.

The skies above Acadia are described as “the largest expanse of naturally dark sky, east of the Mississippi,” something that is seen as a spectacular natural resource by the organizers of this event. As our urban environments continue to expand, and bring plenty of light pollution with them, fewer and fewer people actually get to experience a night sky in all of its glory. This festival hopes to remind us just how beautiful – and humbling– that view can be.

The Acadia Night Sky Festival comes to a conclusion at dawn on Monday, September 26th, with early risers enjoying a sunrise on Cadillac Summit, as the night sky fittingly gives way to the sun.

And don’t forget, entry into the park is free on Saturday.

Obama visit likely to screw up Bar Harbor vibe

President Barack Obama‘s about to ruin it for everybody.

The folks in Bar Harbor, Maine, according to MSNBC, value their privacy, especially the rich people who go there to escape the heat and the proletariat. They like quiet; they like to be left alone. When a president comes into town, none of that is possible.

Of course, it will be made exponentially worse by the fact that he’ll have the liberal media in tow. It could be worse – it could be bloggers trailing him.

According to MSNBC, Obama arrives today for a three-day visit and will be the first president since William Howard Taft to shatter the peace of the summer retreat once favored by Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Morgans.

Nonetheless, the Bar Harbor locals are excited to see the president, even though they’re accustomed to attention from big names:

[W]ith the area’s history of business barons, political power brokers and famous actors among them for generations, they’re used to having the rich and famous in their midst. People in Maine, they say, aren’t likely to get too flustered by the presidential visit.

Even though they’re used to this, there are plenty of locals who’d like to have their pictures taken with the big guy.

[photo by marcn via Flickr]

Four Hotels for a Free Lobster Dinner for Two

Nothing goes with summer quite like the cracking of lobster shells (and wearing a bib, even if you’re a grown man). You can get a lobster anywhere, but if you’re within a few hours of the New England coast, the whole experiences changes dramatically. This summer, four hotels are willing to give you and your guest a free lobster dinner when you stay only one night. Of course, it isn’t a lobster dinner without corn on the cob, clam chowder and blueberry pie, all of which you should expect to find on your table, as well.

Rates vary, ranging from $179 to $299, depending on the hotel, but it comes out to a savings of around $150 at each of them. To take advantage of this deal, check out the properties below:

The Sagamore, Lake George, New York (code: LOBSTER)

The Wentworth, New Hampshire (code: LPR)

The Samoset, Maine (code: DATE)

The Harborside Hotel, Bar Harbor, Maine (code: DATE)

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Ten outdoor destinations with everything!

Who says you can’t have it all? For many travelers vacation time is limited. Those in search of adventure want to maximize that short window of travel time. Here are ten cities where adventure-seekers can expand their options with a range of heart-pounding choices.

Buena Vista, Colorado
Buena Vista translates to “beautiful view.” It’s easy to understand why the name stuck. Nestled into the central Colorado highlands, this Colorado town just might be the hidden adventure gem of the Rockies. Peak-baggers have twenty 14ers within roughly an hour-and-a-half drive from Buena Vista, making it a perfect base camp for high-altitude hiking. Ski Cooper, Monarch and Aspen are all close by for a winter sports fix and the class III-V Arkansas River provides thrilling whitewater rafting all summer long.

Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa is considered by many to be the adrenaline capital of the world. Cape Town has no shortage of blood-pumping options. Traditional sports like sea kayaking and mountain biking are epic here, but there’s also more unique endeavors like sand boarding. If that’s still not enough to get adrenaline junkies excited, there’s always the shark cage diving experience.
Vancouver, Canada
Adventure pursuits like sailing and kayaking are synonymous with this famous Canadian coastal city. Of course, skiing is the main draw in Vancouver, a fact reinforced by the city’s selection as host of the 2010 Winter Olympics. One visit to Whistler Blackcomb, among the top ranked snow resorts in North America, and the powder crazed will fall in love.

Quito, Ecuador

I was on the summit of a 15,763 foot active volcano within four hours of leaving my hotel in Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. This short trek with dizzying altitude is but one of the quick fixes found in this city of less than two million. Rural Ecuador is still developing its adventure sports attitude, but when using Quito as a starting point guides can be found easily. Cotopaxi, one of the world’s most perfectly shaped volcanoes, is only a two hour drive from town. Cycling and mountain biking have seen a huge boom in recent years and bike rental companies are eager to take visitors on epic rides through the Andes for up to two weeks in length.

Bar Harbor, Maine
In Summer, the population of this quaint Maine fishing village swells from around 5,000 inhabitants to 18,000, and for good reason. Surrounded by paddling and sailing opportunities, those making their way into the area’s bays can not only watch whales and seals but can spot a variety of stunning bird species such as Bald Eagles and Puffins. During my stay I found that land based options are equally as spectacular with Acadia National Park sitting just out the back door. Hiking provides views of the channels and bays while the park’s abundant exposed rock opens up endless climbing opportunities. There is even a climbing school in the city for those uninitiated to the sport.

Castries, St. Lucia
Once travelers work their way past the cruise ships and trinket shops, a world of adventure awaits in Castries, the capital city of St. Lucia. Professional mountain biker Tinker Juarez designed a trail system specifically for the Anse Chastanet Resort. Beginner, intermediate, and expert single track trails wind their way through former plantations and lush jungle vegetation. Diving and snorkeling opportunities abound along St. Lucia’s shore. More experienced divers will find wreck diving just off the coast. This Caribbean island is even home to a diving shop named Scuba Steves. What more could a beach bum want?

La Paz, Bolivia
Trek along ancient Inca trails, raft the class II-IV rapids or the Rio Tuichi, or take on the world’s highest ski resort Chacaltaya. If that’s not enough adrenaline, mountain bike the Death Road, reported to be the most dangerous mountain bike ride in the world.

Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland boasts average highs between 59 and 75 degrees year round. The mild temperatures make for an ideal adventure sports hub. Rappel into massive caverns with Waitomo Cave Adventures to explore the underworld of New Zealand. You will need at least two weeks to take in all the adventure Auckland has to offer. Surfing, horse trekking, sailing, and magnificent hiking can all be found near this city in the “Land of the Hobbits.”

Bend, Oregon
With a beautiful trout stream rippling through town and ski slopes just up the road at Mount Bachelor, Bend accommodates Winter and Summer visitors alike. I found a trail run around Todd Lake that was the perfect way to take in a pristine alpine setting. Backpack the 40-mile Three Sisters Loop and enjoy jaw-dropping views of these triplet peaks.

Chamonix, France

France’s Chamonix has long been known as the site of world-renowned ski resorts and awe-inspiring vistas of the Alps. But these days, the French city is also home to an “air park” where brave visitors can paraglide from just below snowy summits and soar above green pasture. For those who prefer their adventures a bit closer to the ground, there’s the Via Ferrata course. Via Ferrata takes rock climbing to the masses with metal steps and small ledges for climbers to use, all while clipped in to a secure cable system.

Having your cake and eating it too was never so easy. Any of these world-class destinations should be a crowd-pleaser for even the most ambitious adventure travelers.

Jeannie’s Breakfast and Chowder House (Bar Harbor, Maine)

A visit to Acadia National Park isn’t complete without stopping in the adjacent town of Bar Harbor. Although its streets are riddled with souvenir shops and other tourist magnets, Bar Harbor holds a few restaurants which possess that small town charm.

On a recent trip, I pulled into the town early enough to catch the shops opening for business. I stopped in Jeannie’s Breakfast and Chowder House on Cottage St. to grab a morning bite, and I met the friendly staff and a group of local regulars. As I took a moment to sip my coffee, I listened to some stories from the sheriff who had wandered in for pancakes.

Jeannie’s breakfast menu is quite extensive. Not only does it contain the usual fare, but there were also options for vegetarians and vegans. My meal was prepared to my liking, and if the rest of the menu brings the locals back often, Jeannie’s must doing something right. Definitely a must for early birds and seekers of local color.