Asticou Azalea and Thuya Gardens

Sometimes when you travel you find a place or an experience that was not necessarily part of your original travel plans, but ended up to be one of the highlights of your trip.

When I went to Mount Desert Island, ME, a couple of years ago, the primary reason to go there was to visit the Acadia National Park. I had a whole day allocated during my New England road trip to explore the area. Initially I wanted to do a day hike in the national park to really experience the nature there. However, I did not arrive in Bar Harbor until around midnight the night before (after an all-day driving around Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine), and I wanted to catch the sunrise at the Cadillac Summit in the morning (which meant waking up around 5 am and heading up to the summit). After catching the sunrise in the morning, a short nap, a nice breakfast, and a drive around the Park Loop Road, I was quite tired by mid-day. The idea of doing day hike didn’t sound that appealing anymore. So after taking another short nap, I decided to change my plan and to drive around the Mount Desert Island to explore the area by car instead.

I had planned to go to Bass Harbor just before sunset to photograph the light house, so I decided to drive towards that area. On the way there, I passed a town called Northeast Harbor, and on the visitors guide for Mount Desert Island, there were two adjacent public gardens, the Asticou Azalea Garden and the Thuya Garden, that descriptions said were not to be missed. I had never heard of these places before, but I had some time to kill in the afternoon, and they’re on the way to Bass Harbor, so I thought why not stopping by and check these places out. The visit to these two gardens ended up becoming another highlight of the trip.

The Asticou Azalea Garden is a Japanese garden location right on the main road entering the Northeast Harbor area. When I visited the garden, there was hardly anyone there, so I practically had the garden for myself. The landscape was beautiful with a small man-made lake that provided beautiful reflection of the landscape on the water from far away. The fall colors made the garden’s landscape even prettier.

The Thuya Garden is located pretty close from the Asticou Azalea Garden, though it’s located on a hill at the back of the Thuya Lodge, so it was a little secluded and difficult to find from the main road. When I did find it, it was quite a unique place. Since it was at the end of the visiting season, there was also practically no one there when I came (four more people showed up few minutes after I got there). It felt like I was in a secret garden when I was alone in the enclosed garden area. It was very peaceful, and just a wonderful time being alone enjoying the beautiful scenery and taking photographs of this place.

The photo below was at the Asticou Azalea Garden. You can see more photos from these two beautiful gardens in my flickr album. I highly recommend including these two wonderful places if you’re planning on visiting the Mount Desert Island area.

Asticou Azalea Garden

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