By Victoria Hart
In the language of the Algonquin Indians, Ogunquit means, “beautiful place by the sea.” Those Algonquins knew what they were talking about. I spent 24 hours in Ogunquit, Maine, but I highly recommend you stay longer. This is the perfect place to escape and do absolutely nothing, if you can avoid being tempted by all the choices of unique and interesting things to do.
A trip to Boston left us with an unplanned day to explore, so off we went in our rental car from Boston’s Logan Airport, north on I-95 along the eastern seaboard, to the coast of southern Maine. In just 90 minutes we reached this picturesque town. For a long weekend, here are a few ideas of uniquely local things to do.
Overnight at The Cliff House
We checked in for our overnight stay at The Cliff House. This historic 70-oceanfront acre property atop Bald Head Cliff first opened in 1872. Don’t let its age misguide you. The resort has been renovated several times over the years. Its latest renovation took place in 2016 and 2017. A huge reconstruction including 226 rooms and suites, an outdoor cliff side pool and hot tub, an indoor pool for cooler days, a luxury spa and wellness center, and fabulous dining make this one of a kind luxury, upscale Destination Hotels resort worth the splurge. Published room rates begin at $249 in the Spring and start at $489 in the summer. Coupons, promo codes and specials are offered, so try an internet search if cost is a concern and your schedule is flexible.
One of the things that makes The Cliff House unique to the area is that it is open all year. This is a property where the hotel can be the destination. The spectacular Fall day of our visit begged for outdoor activity. As an alternative to an in season visit, I recommend The Cliff House for a winter getaway, when snuggling by a fireplace with a hot beverage, a fabulous meal, beautiful views and a massage at the spa would be a therapeutic way to pass the time on a cold winter weekend. Not much else in town will be open, but I don’t think you will care. You will be completely engaged and entertained through the large picture windows with the crashing waves along the rugged coastline, the ever-changing cloud formations, and the fact that you are warm and cozy inside.
Perkins Cove and the Marginal Way
Perkins Cove is a bustling fishing community offering tourist fishing charters and lots of shops and restaurants. Perkins Cove is the “go to” place for all things active.
A one-mile cliff walk (give or take a few steps) along the rugged coastline, the Marginal Way is a free walk with easy public access. The crashing waves against the rocky cliffs create a soothing “whoosh” guaranteed to release stress and anxiety as you throw your cares into the wind. Don’t be intimidated by the term “cliff walk.” The 4-foot wide paved path is friendly to navigate. Railings are helpful for those who need a bit of assistance on the up and down swings. Plenty of benches along the way provide stops for rest and meditation, or perhaps just having a chat with Poseidon. He roars loudly from here. Artists will want to bring a sketch pad to capture the landscape. Grab a lobster roll at The Trap and have a picnic along the way.
Eat a Lobster Roll at The Trap
We wouldn’t have found The Trap without the recommendation of the concierge at The Cliff House. This tiny family-owned restaurant overlooking Perkins Cove was a great choice for a lobster roll. A quarter pound of lobster meat is served with mayo if ordered cold and with butter, if ordered hot. Either way, the large chunks of fresh lobster stand out over the sauce. Eat in if you can get a table, or order “to go” and picnic on the Marginal Way. You can’t really say you’ve visited Maine without indulging in fresh lobster.
Visit the Ogunquit Museum of American Art
The Ogunquit Museum of American Art was founded by artist Henry Strater and opened in 1953. It is tied to one of the earliest art colonies of the American Modernist era. Why an artist colony in Ogunquit? The unlimited supply of spectacular landscapes worthy of being captured on canvas around the local area is a big draw. OMAA is open during the traditional May-October season. A $10 admission to take a break from the outdoor elements or attend an evening talk is totally worth it.
The Ogunquit Playhouse
History and theater enthusiasts will enjoy planning an evening to see a Broadway show at the Ogunquit Playhouse. Now on the National Historic Register, the theater opened in 1933 in a renovated garage. Each year the theater brings 5-7 musicals to town over the 24-week season. The beautiful rustic setting makes this a very different place to enjoy a show than the New York Broadway experience. If you are staying for a week or more and have children in your party, consider enrolling them in a summer theater camp. Backstage tours are offered for a $5 ticket. Seeing a musical is an uplifting way to end an already perfect day in a beautiful place by the sea.
All photos by Victoria Hart