Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Every summer, I am fortunate to enjoy a week in Ogunquit, Maine. Ogunquit is an Abenaki word meaning Beautiful Place by the Sea, and it truly is, being rated one of the most beautiful beaches in America. It is one of only 2 public beaches in the state of Maine. Ogunquit is rich in history, having been a fishing village since the mid-1600s, and of course a strong Abenaki culture dominated before the arrival of Europeans.
One of the many wonderful things about Ogunquit is how this tiny town, situated on Route 1 between Wells and York, has managed to keep national chain businesses from moving in. Other than a couple banks and gas stations, with a Cumberland Farms mini-market, there are no other large corporate businesses that I have seen. Because Ogunquit is so tiny, visitors who desperately need Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, or Dairy Queen can zip 10 minutes north to Wells. For those of us who enjoy a time with no neon or familiar logos, we stay in the village.
Another thing that makes this a great place to visit is the trolley system. Buses that look like trolleys, all with cute names such as Lolly, Wally, and Molly, stop throughout the town and are very reasonably priced. Each year, we take a round-trip on the trolley, just to see what has changed in town. Because this is an old New England village, roads are narrow, curvy, and crowded; using the public transportation is the best way to get around.
The Ogunquit public beach is gorgeous and well-maintained. The majority of visitors to the beach are respectful and keep things clean. Because Maine is so far north, there are long tides, so if your day's timing is right there will be tidal pools and hard-packed sand for thousands of yards. This is important, because on weekends the beach can get really crowded. It also makes it great for playing bocce, flying kites, and the inevitable digging holes to China! Sunbathers on the beach have their backs to the parking lot, but on the other side of the lot is the Ogunquit tidal river. Families enjoy the tidal river because the water on that side does not have crashing waves, there are rocks to look among for sea life, and there is more soft sand for building. There are also kayakers in the tidal river and water birds.
Originally Ogunquit was settled by Europeans as a fishing village. Over time, it's beautiful views brought many artists to its shores. Ogunquit and the Southeast Maine coast offer many art shows, galleries, and museums. With its artistic year-round population, the area is very culturally diverse. There are fabulous antique shops, salvage yards, and live theater all over the Southern Maine coast.
When people think of Maine, they immediately think of lobster, I know! I'm not a big lobster fan,
myself, it's too much work. I'm more of a crab gal. Get it: crab: evil overlord! It's not really a joke, I do prefer crab. One summer I did a "crab roll tour" of my own invention. I ordered the same meal at every restaurant every night and took a few little notes on what I thought about each crab roll meal. The final conclusion is that they were all excellent in different ways. Some had celery, some chopped the crab more than others, some toasted the roll, all different ways of making a yummy New England sandwich.
Besides eating lobster, visitors can catch a boat at Perkin's Cove and go on a lobstering tour. This is a really fun way to see the coastline from the ocean and learn about lobstering. There are also different sunrise or sunset tours.
As I wrote, there are no chain restaurants in the village, but there are also no bad restaurants. Besides seafood, there is Italian, Chinese, family fare, gourmet, diners: it's all available. As my family enjoys this trip as a tradition, we have certain places we like to eat, and certain activities we do each year. We eat several meals in a section of town known as Perkin's Cove. There are great views from most of the restaurants of the fishing boats, the famous draw bridge, and the Marginal Way path. The Marginal Way is a 1.3 mile coastal walk, going from the Cove to just outside the Village Center. There are benches where walkers can sit and enjoy views, the pathway is paved for ease of strollers, and you will walk past beautiful historic beach homes. Our family likes to take the walk from the Cove after dinner and then get an ice cream in the Village Center. The adults stick to the pathways, but the kids like to hit the rocks for a bit of the time!
In addition to varied activities and restaurants, there are all sorts of accommodations. Condo hotels, house rentals, motels, B & Bs, there is something for everyone's needs. Most of these places do not have restaurants, but often serve a continental breakfast. Many do not have pools, and most require a 48-hour notice of cancellation or the visitor will be charged for the entire stay. This is because there is such high demand for rooms and so many people book several weeks for the summer each year.
My dad loves to go to Ogunquit, but he doesn't like beaches! He enjoys sitting in the covered pavilion at the top of the sand and reading his magazines. He's right by the trolley if he wants to go home, and he can see the kids playing in the sand and waves.
The famous Perkin's Cove drawbridge connects foot traffic from one side of the cove to the other. When a ship with tall masts needs to go under, she blows her horn and anyone who is on the bridge needs to get off and one person will hit the button to open the bridge. Some kids wait around for hours for the thrill of pressing the button.


Joanne Kennedy said...

What a fun trip! It sure is a beautiful place to go to. You are one lucky lady.


Michele said...

I just love the beach, and your pictures your beautiful! I loved reading about the unique history of the place where you go every year. The picture of your dad is cute, too....being near the trolley if he wants to go home. Great pic!! Glad you had a great time on your trip!


Terrie's Lil' Piece of Serenity said...

Gosn I would love to visit Maine. The closest I've been is Boston. I do love Boston. Great pictures!!

Duh!!! Which other friend??

Mike said...

Wow...sounds like a wonderful place. We like Nantucket very much because it is quiet and non-commercial. We vacationed on Cape Cod last summer and had a wonderful time.

Great blog!

Kristine said...

Oh gosh! I was so excited to see your pics!!! I've been there!!!!!
Gorgeous pics btw.
Wonderin' how this Georgia Gal ended up in Maine??? My folks are from N.H. So most my relatives still live in the New England area! ;-)
Oh! and thank you too for stopping in to see me in the Kitsch 'N and leaving a comment! I love meeting new folks!! Hope you Have a beautiful day!!!
Kristine ;o)

i'm kelly said...

what a beautiful spot! and i love tuna melts as well!

Carolyn (sea mystery) said...

I'm with your Dad. I'd probably be sitting on the benches, watching the ocean and crocheting. Ahhh! Wouldn't that be nice. :) Love this post about Maine. Elizabeth, you are a true writer. xxoo