If you’re missing travel like I am, planning a road trip may be the safest and most practical option for traveling this summer. In part one of my Maine summer series, I’m giving you a local’s travel guide to my favorite destinations, beaches, restaurants and hidden gems along the coast of Southern Maine.
Following Route 1 North to Portland we will uncover the most charming seaside villages and why they should be on your next Maine itinerary. There’s a reason Maine is called Vacationland. Picture lighthouses, lobster shacks, charming fishing villages, the sound of waves crashing on the rocky coastline, pine trees, and beautiful sandy beaches, Maine is the ideal place to visit in the summer.
The first stop is a small charming town located just forty five minutes south of Portland, and only twenty minutes north of the Maine state line. The name Ogunquit means “beautiful place by the sea”, and that perfectly describes this little coastal village.
Shore road winds through the small bustling town lined with boutiques, galleries and restaurants. One mile from downtown is Perkins Cove, a quaint little fishing village serving up a lot of charm. The cove has many local shops, galleries, fresh seafood and lots to offer visitors. If you’re looking to test out your sea legs, there are many fishing and lobstering boats in the harbor who will offer unique, hands-on experiences and tours.
No visit to Ogunquit would be complete without a walk along Marginal Way. This is a paved pathway just over a mile long that wanders along the beautiful rocky coastline from Perkins Cove to Ogunquit beach. There are many benches along the path providing the perfect opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
But what keeps people coming back to visit Ogunquit? The 3.5 mile white sand beach! A long sandy peninsula with grassy dunes, clear water and lots of room to spread out. It is one of my favorite beaches in southern Maine and continually ranks as one of the top 25 beaches in the country.
Heading north on Route 1, Kennebunkport is only a twenty minute ride along the beautiful coastline. Picturesque Kennebunkport is a charming Maine fishing village full of history, beaches, scenic views, lighthouses, working piers and some of the best restaurants in Southern Maine.
With so much to do in KPT, this has become one of my favorite destinations to visit year round. Walk or rent bikes and ride through Dock Square, the center of town. Explore the local boutiques, galleries, restaurants and the scenic waterfront. Make sure to include stops at the Clam Shack for an award winning lobster roll, ice cream at Rocco’s and the Candy Man for some salt water taffy.
Take a scenic drive along Ocean Ave to check out the mansions, old captain’s houses and modern cottages along the water. Visit Walker’s Point to enjoy views of the Bush compound. Stop for a walk along Parson’s Way, a popular scenic walkway along Kennebunk’s rugged coastline. Continue on to the coastal village of Cape Porpoise for beautiful scenery, fresh seafood straight off the boat and views of Goat Island Light from the pier.
As we continue traveling north on our road trip, we are heading to the beautiful, lesser known coastal town of Cape Elizabeth. Although only a few miles from Portland, Cape extends 12 miles into the open ocean of Casco Bay. With stunning scenery, sandy beaches, home to three lighthouses, parks, great restaurants and the smell of salt in the air, Cape offers what every summer escape should.
Spend the day exploring Fort Williams Park and Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine and the most photographed in the country. The park has 90 acres of stunning scenery, walking trails and picnic benches line the rocky coastal trail. Experience what I think is the best lobster roll in Maine, at Bite Into Maine, a food truck serving up fresh lobster in the park daily.
Just a few miles drive from Fort Williams is my favorite park in Maine, Two Lights State Park. Offering 41 acres of untouched beauty and stunning views, spend an afternoon walking the trails lining the rocky coastline. Pack a picnic and grab one of the many secluded picnic benches throughout the park. Or take a walk along the rocks and keep an eye out for the whales that frequent the waters along the park in the summer months.
Basing yourself in Cape, also allows you to easily explore its neighboring town of Scarborough, the ideal place to visit in the summer. This beautiful coastal town is home to my favorite beaches in all of New England. Higgins Beach is at the top of the list with its clear, warm water, soft white sand and an endless number of sand dollars. Scarborough State beach, Pine Point and Ferry beach are all beautiful and worth a visit. Don’t leave Scarborough without a visit to the Bait Shed for fresh seafood on their waterside deck.
The final stop on our Southern Maine Coastal road trip is the city of Portland. Portland offers a small town feel with “big city” experiences. It has unmistakable charm with it’s narrow cobblestone streets, historic brick buildings, incredible restaurants and beautiful ocean views.
Portland’s historic Old Port is lined with local shops, art galleries, restaurants, bars, cafes, theaters and bookshops, offering something for everyone. You could easily spend a few days just walking around downtown. Start on Commercial St. along the water and work your way up to Wharf St and Exchange St. Spend an afternoon on the Eastern Promenade enjoying the stunning views of Casco Bay.
If you’re looking to get out on the waters of Casco Bay, take a ferry over to the beautiful Peak’s Island for a day of exploring. Set sail on a two hour sailboat cruise with Portland Schooner Co. opt for the sunset cruise and byob for a perfect evening.
Experience the beauty of the Maine coastline and islands of Casco Bay on the one of a kind Mailboat run. This boat is an active mail delivery service, stopping at the islands of Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Long, Cliff and Chebeague. Passengers have the option to get off at some of the islands to spend time exploring, or just take the 3 hour scenic cruise. Pack a picnic and byob for a locals favorite summer activity.
Portland has a booming food and craft beer scene. Spend a day exploring the many breweries downtown and the variety of incredible restaurants offering up the freshest seafood, you can’t go wrong!
If you’re thinking about getting out on the road this summer let KC Abroad design your perfect Maine itinerary! Learn more at www.kcabroad.com about how I can offer you special access & amenities at any of these Maine properties. As well as access to all my local insider tips for the perfect summer getaway.
Follow along for part two of my Maine Summer Series! My guide will uncover my favorite towns along the coast of Maine’s Downeast & Acadia region, for the perfect summer road trip.
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