Visiting Ogunquit Maine
Number One Beach Town in New England
By: Sandy Katz - Jan 19, 2016
Yankee Magazine just named Ogunquit #1 of 25 Best Beach Towns in New England. It was tops in picturesque quality, shopping, accessibility, natural life and many more assets. Editor Mel Allen of Yankee Magazine recommended Ogunquit to be Among 51 American Beaches listed in USA Today. This newspaper asked local experts to select one great beach in each state
USA Today stated “In a state famous for its rock-bound coast, Ogunquit Beach’s 3.5-mile stretch of sand has long made this small southern Maine town a summer Mecca for beachgoers. The wide, scenic beach also sports a magnificent mile-long cliff walk. Stroll along Marginal Way for a grand view of beach and rock strewn sea, all in one sweeping glance.” Glorious vistas amaze you with a rugged Maine coastline.
You can enjoy the fine white sandy beach with natural dunes as a sunbather, surfer, swimmer or under shade on a beach chair provided by Ogunquit beach. Lifeguards on surf-boards practice for enjoyment of on-lookers.
The paved path of Marginal Way leads you to quaint Perkins Cove. While at Perkins Cove take a cruise on Finestkind Scenic Cruises. On-board this cruise I learned all I wanted to know about lobster fishing. An authentic lobsterman hauled up lobsters caught in the traps while the tour guide provided detailed explanation of his procedure. And we got to hold the wiggly lobsters!
Perkins Cove is home to many restaurants, art galleries, specialty shops. You can eat the local fresh caught lobster and shop for nautical themed items.
Historically, Ogunquit attracted artists and performers as far back as the 1920s. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art was founded here in 1952. It now has a Magnificent Sculpture Garden and over 1600 works of art in the Permanent Collection and has been called “one of the most beautiful small museums in the world.”
Ogunquit has reigned as an art colony since 1888 when it was deemed “an artist paradise” because of scenic inlet, weathered fish shacks and sailing dories. Female young students wandering the beach holding parasols and easels to paint post-impressionistic beach scenes.
Other art galleries to visit include Barn Gallery where the finest contemporary local artists have their art work available for sale. Stonecrop Gallery has art photography from artists around the world. The Black Bear Fine Art shop has beautiful reduction woodcuts of Maine artist Don Gorvett.
Summer-stock playhouses have made Ogunquit area a performer’s oasis full of energy manifested in several playhouses encouraging up-and-coming Broadway stars and giving already Broadway stars a delightful place to perform and a place to summer-in-pleasant-beach-style.
America’s foremost summer theater Ogunquit Playhouse has hosted professional performers since 1933. This summer-stock theater was called “Broadway on the Beach” now celebrating its 80th year. Cast of Stars who have appeared at the Ogunquit Playhouse reads like a who’s who of American Theatre including Bette Davis who actually worked in Ogunquit as a waitress and a lifeguard. On the walls of the Playhouse you can spot Jeff and Lloyd Bridges, Carol Channing and Helen Hayes. When I was in Ogunquit “South Pacific”, one of the most enduring musicals of all time graced the Ogunquit Playhouse stage.
The Hackmatack Playhouse is in its 41st year and offered “Oklahoma”, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic which set the standard for American Musical Theater.
“Fantastics” , the longest-running production of any kind in the world was playing at small black-box Booth Theater. This intimate show engages the audience’s imagination and showcased a strong ensemble cast.
The Arundel Barn Playhouse brings live, professional musical theatre at the restored Smith Sisters New England farm barn celebrating its 15th anniversary season with The Irving Berlin Musical “White Christmas.” Here was a New England Christmas in July!
Maine seems to continue to attract very talented people. I met up with singer/songwriter Tim Janis and Bill Thompson, author and artist while visiting Nubble Light circa 1879 on Cape Neddick, York. This Nubble Light is considered one of the most photographed, illustrated and recognizable lighthouses on the east coast.
Charming and handsome Tim Janis, a Maine native, participated in four NPR-TV specials and sold more than one million recordings. He worked with some top artists including Billy Joel, Ray Charles and Paul McCartney. His songs are enormously inspirational!
Attractions not to be missed:
Ogunquit Heritage Museum at the charming 18th century cape of Captain James Winn which is nestled in the center of an historic herb and flower garden. Here you can see exhibits depicting the art, fishing, maritime and architectural history of Ogunquit. This 1780 building was placed on National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Wonder Mountain has a huge human maze, indoor fun center and two extreme 18 hole miniature golf ranges.
I drove by Cape Neddick Country Club to view its golf course.
Then I checked out the Ogunquit Fire Museum that’s open 24/7 as seen from outside.
I dropped in on one-room Ogunquit Memorial Library because it’s architecture was attractive as a mini-castle/style.
Restaurants and eating experiences: My eating and dining beach experience started out very “beachy” with home-made ice-cream and a famous hamburger at Sundaes at the Beach.
When you visit a beach community you can find a place to eat next to the water just about anywhere in Maine. Oceanside views dot the scenery and make for delicious dining for the eyes as well as the palate.
There were so many fantastic restaurant experiences too numerous to mention so I’ll pick out the most memorable: Breakfast: My veggie omelet at Omelette Factory was one of the largest and best I ever ate. Then there was Rasperri’s Restaurant in elegant Gorges Grant Hotel where breakfast was an adventure in gentility. Roost Café & Bistro let me sit outside and enjoy the warmth of the area .
Lunch: IAM Thai Restaurant and Chowders Café and Deli had delightful owners that shared their story of fame and glory where visitors to area come repeatedly due to the freshness of menu. Dinner: Prime Restaurant spoiled me with most tender piece of beef ever to be plated for me. Stutesy’s Pub & Grille was a pleasant surprise with healthy pub food served so elegantly. Cape Neddick Inn & Tavern Restaurant’s ambience blew me away. The owner did a marvelous job of bringing this restaurant into a Colonial style era. Then there was Surf Point Grill at Anchorage by the Sea where service was with smiles and dining was at its nautical best.
Shoreline Trolley can bring you from beach to Perkins Cove where you can explore picturesque harbor with fishing boats moored alongside restaurants, shops, art galleries and only draw-foot bridge in the country.
Ogunquit is one of the smallest towns in Maine, just four square miles of sand wedged between Wells and York, Maine but it packs lots of fun into such a small space.
IF YOU GO
Tourism Information: For free Ogunquit vacation Planner call Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce 207-646-2939 www.ogunquit.org www.visitogunquit.org
www.visitmaine.com will send you a free Maine travel planner
Travel Maine & Dine Maine www.gotravelmaine.com
Accommodations: Sea Chambers is a family-owned motel located in the heart of Ogunquit Village and beach where you can enjoy complimentary Continental Breakfast. 207-646-9311 www.seachambers.com
Ogunquit Heritage Museum 207-646-0296 www.ogunquitheritagemuseum.org
Ogunquit Museum of American Art 207-646-4909 www.ogunquitmuseum.org
Finestkind celebrating more than 50 years of sightseeing along Ogunquit’s beautiful shoreline. 207-646-5227 www.finestkindcruises.com
Stonecrop Gallery 207-361-4215 www.stonecropgallery.com
Barn Gallery 207-646-8400 www.barngallery.org
Black Bear Fine art 201-646-7278 www.dongorvettgallery.com
Wonder Mountain Fun Park, Moody, Maine 207-646-9655 www.wondermountainfunpark.com
The Ogunquit Playhouse 207-646-5511 www.ogunquitplayhouse.org
Hackmatack Playhouse 207-698-1807 www.hackmatack.org
Booth Theater 207-646-8142 www.boothproduction.com
Arundel Barn Playhouse 207-985-5552 www.arundelbarnplayhouse.com
Sundaes at the Beach 207-646-5425 www.sundaueatthebeach.com
Prime Restaurant 207-646-8600 www.primeogunquit.com
Omelette Factory 207-646-4110
IAM Thai Restaurant 207-646-8881 www.iamthairestaurant.net
Cape Neddick Inn restaurant & Tavern 207-351-1145 www.capeneddickinn.com
Raspberri’s restaurant at Gorges Grant Hotel 207-646-1733
Chowders café & Deli 207-646-2535
Roost Café & Bistro 207-363-0226 www.roostcafeandbistro.com
Stutesy’s Pub & Grille 207-646-1900 www.stutesys.com
Surf Point Grill at Anchorage by the Sea 207-646-9384 www.anchoragebythesea.com
Ogunquit Trolley Company 207-646-1411 www.ogunquittrolley.com
Cape Neddick Country Club 207-361-2011 www.capeneddickgolf.com
Books: Ogunquit Maine Menu Guide ’12 www.ogunquit.org
Cookbook: Tastes of Ogunquit (Team Travelers) 207-351-1181 www.teamtravelers.com