Need to know what to do in Maine? Traveling on Route 1 through Bucksport to Bar Harbor? Many people seeking things to do in Maine often neglect tons of would-be adventures that are on the way to the ultimate Downeast destination: Bar Harbor. And while there might be a lot to do on Mt. Desert Island (where Bar Harbor is located) the fact of the matter is you'll be enjoying it with thousands of other travelers. Why not beat the crowds and check out some of Maine's little-known best attractions?

UNIQUE ROCK SHOP 131 US Highway 1 Bucksport

One of the first things you'll see as you enter Verona Island is a colorful, unique-looking rock shop. Inside you'll find treasures of all types including fossils, crystals, ancient petrified wood, statues and figurines carved from some of the world's rarest minerals, and much more. But outside is where the real fun is. Visitors can purchase baseball to softball sized rocks with a guaranteed surprise inside. Put this rock in the huge lever-type crusher and you and a friend can pull down on the handle, cracking your rock perfectly in half and revealing beautiful- and sometimes rare and expensive- geode crystals.

FORT KNOX STATE PARK & PENOBSCOT NARROWS OBSERVATORY, US Highway 1 Bucksport/Verona

Fort Knox was the first granite fort in Maine. It was originally built to protect Penobscot harbor from possible British, Spanish, or even Confederate attack at various times in US history. The sprawling 175 acre grounds are open to the public and visitors can spend hours exploring dark passageways, never-used prison cells and hot-shot cannons that were meant to set ships ablaze and cause absolute pandemonium. Occasional guided tours are also offered.

When you're done exploring the fort, walk on over to the newly constructed Penobscot Narrows Bridge and take the elevator 420 feet to the towering observation deck at the top. The bridge is one of the most uniquely constructed cable-supported spans ever made and the observatory is the tallest in the world- and the ONLY bride observation deck in North America. From the top you can take stunning photographs of Verona Island, the sleepy village of Bucksport, Penobscot River and Harbor, and pristine forestland stretching as far to the West as you can see.

NANA'S KITCHEN, US Highway 1 Verona Island

After crushing geodes, exploring the park and gazing out over the harbor from the bridge, you'll probably be pretty hungry and there are few better examples of excellent Maine cuisine than at Nana's Kitchen. Located just down the street from the Rock Shop on Route 1, Nana's is a unique restaurant that has successfully blended extremely high quality food and culinary skills with old-fashioned diner-style service and atmosphere. Eat your way through an entire boiled Maine lobster or relax with a piping bowl of authentic clam chowder. While you're there, chat it up with Nana and Pappy and get to know the place- it's practically worth a trip to Maine on its own merit!

KISMA ANIMAL PRESERVE & ZOO, Mount Desert/Trenton

The Kisma Preserve in on the way to Bar Harbor and offers one of the best chances to check out some of the world's most incredible creatures, up-close-and-personal. Featuring bears, wolves, large cats, reptiles, small and large ruminants, owls and other birds of prey, moose, deer, buffalo, primates and tons of little creatures too, the Kisma preserve focuses on the animals; NOT the rides, treats and other attractions like most zoos and animal preserves do. Kisma is open every day from 9:30 until dusk.

ACADIA AERIAL TOURS, Trenton Maine

You really want to see Bar Harbor? Want to gaze upon the entire community of Mount Desert Island in a way that so few people get to? Then sign up on the spot for a biplane or glider ride with Acadia Aerial Tours. Think it’s out of your price range? It's not! Acadia Aerial Tours provides inexpensive short flight options for both novice and experienced flyers.

Once your plane or glider lands, you'll only be about 15 minutes outside of beautiful Bar Harbor. But unlike so many people trying to plan what to do in Maine, you'll have experienced parts of this great state that most run-of-the-mill tourists never think to investigate. Have fun!

Heading to Bar Harbor and beyond this summer? Check out the best Maine seafood right here on Verona Island.

Click here for seafood dinners and lunches without all the tourist hustle and bustle.

Author's Bio: 

Mike is a former novelist turned content producer who focuses on extremely high quality and conversion rates.