There’s no better way to get the lay of the land in a new destination, or to add to the depth of context even in a familiar place, than taking a narrated tour. Oli’s Trolley has been helping locals and visitors alike relax and take in the scenery around Mount Desert Island for 20 years. Experienced tour guides also provide some local humor, along with accurate information about the area’s history, flora, and fauna.
“My stepbrother, Larry Sweet, and I are second-generation owner/operators,” said Denise Morgan. Oli’s offers fully narrated tours of various lengths that include stops at highlights where folks can get out, walk around, and take a few photos while their ride waits for them.
Like most businesses this spring, Oli’s is following COVID-19 guidelines, including allowing fewer people on each tour. “We feel like we are safe and family-friendly—a good way to see Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor,” said Morgan. A full list of safety measures can be viewed at olistrolley.com.
The slow tourist season (at least so far) and social distancing guidelines present some unique opportunities for locals, Morgan said. “With our capacity of only 13, it’s a good opportunity for a private tour if you’re having a family reunion, or for you and 12 of your closest friends to have a private tour,” she said. “Grab your friends and come see Bar Harbor like a tourist!” Groups wanting private tours should call ahead for reservations.
The old-fashioned red and green trolleys offer Acadia National Park Tours, Downtown Bar Harbor Tours, and Cadillac Mountain Tours. Tours range from 2.5 to 4 hours. Morgan said that the 2.5-hour tours are by far the most popular. Oli’s is also the only tour bus in the area to offer a dedicated Cadillac Mountain Tour, with the sunset tour being the most popular.
Oli’s Trolleys are “old-fashioned, with all the modern conveniences,” Morgan said. With the Island Explorer busses not running this summer, traffic may be even thicker than usual on Mount Desert Island, and parking at popular sites in Acadia National Park is never easy to find. Riding Oli’s Trolley lets visitors forget about all of that and just enjoy the fresh air and scenery. Another perk is that one doesn’t need to purchase a national park pass to enter aboard the trolley.
“Let us drive,” said Morgan. “When you have a family coming in and someone is driving, they never get to see anything. This way, everyone in the party can sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights.”
The 2.5-hour Acadia National Park Tour includes three 15-minute stops so that visitors can get photos or stretch their legs while taking in the views at Thunder Hole, the Jordan Pond area, and the Cadillac Mountain summit. Stops on the four-hour tour are 30 minutes long and also include a visit to the Sieur de Monts Spring area. Passengers get to see mansions of the rich and famous on the way in and out of the national park, and they pass through many scenic overlooks along the drive, with views out over Frenchman Bay.
The Cadillac Mountain Tour takes about 1.5 hours and provides breathtaking views from atop the highest peak in Acadia National Park. Guides point out mansions and locations of historic interest along the way. As long as parking is available, there’s a 15-minute stop at the summit for walks and photos.
The 30-minute Downtown Bar Harbor Tour provides passengers with an overview of the village’s history from its establishment in 1796 to present day, along with information about mansions, shops, restaurants, and other points of interest throughout the community.
In addition to passenger tours aboard old-fashioned trolleys, Oli’s offers step-on guide service for charter bus tours that visit Bar Harbor. Stop by the ticket office and gift shop at 1 West Street, Bar Harbor for more information, or call (207) 288-9899.