When I think of the perfect Maine getaway, Ogunquit immediately comes to mind. It’s all there, breathtaking Maine beauty, surf, sand, rocky coastline and a small artistic village. A destination worth flying to from anywhere in the US and an idyllic day trip from the Boston area, locals often refer to the village of Ogunquit and its beach as a beautiful place by the sea. For good reason. Living there, they appreciate how well the coastal salt air of the Atlantic gently cools the summer sunshine as it brings relief from inland heat waves.
A seasoned beauty, Ogunquit was inhabited by the Abenaki Indians long before settlers discovered its shores. It was the Abenaki who gave Ogunquit its title. In their language the word for a beautiful place by the sea is Ogunquit and so the name remains today. Ogunquit Beach itself is one of the reasons to visit in all seasons. A walk along the shore’s three-mile stretch of white sand can be a transcendental experience. For me, the vistas, the reflections, the crisp sea air become absolutely intoxicating.
At low tide, Ogunquit Beach becomes a veritable playground with kite flying and sand castle construction contests, Children splash in the tide pools and streams that form along the shore. Sprightly sandpipers scurry around the water’s edge and even the endangered piping plover shows up occasionally. It’s a stage set to behold. After a walk on the sand and a soak in the sea, I often cozy into an Adirondack chair with a warm blanket and a cool drink to take in more of this little slice of heaven.
Marginal Way: At day’s end, more magic awaits. Near Ogunquit Beach on Shore Road, you’ll find the entry to Marginal Way, a winding footpath lined with wild rose bushes that wanders high above the rock-strewn coast. Here, incredible ocean views create an ambulatory observation deck of coastal vistas. Like a film soundtrack, the waves bellow and roar in accompaniment as they crash upon the rocks. Wild sea roses growing along the path’s edge scent the salt air. Wooden benches beckon, inviting opportunities to ponder, sketch or photograph. Little more than a mile long, the meander along Marginal Way leads to the movie set village of Perkins Cove with its classic fishing harbor, sea captain’s mansions and seafood eateries ready to serve the catch of the day.
Reserve ahead for a waterside table on the deck at Barnacle Billy’s. Enjoy a lobster roll as you watch the fishing boats come into dock. A beautiful place by the sea.
Lighthouse: The closest lighthouse to Ogunquit is Cape Neddick Light also known as Nubble Light. Set on a rocky island outlet, the Cape Neddick Lighthouse is one of the most painted and photographed lighthouses in the world. When you look at its dramatic perch you realize how difficult a job it was to man this lighthouse. Crashing waves and swift ocean currents emphasize the drama. Be sure and keep an eye out for Great Black-backed gulls, double-crested cormorants, sunfish and harbor seals.
With its gift shop and welcome center, this is definitely one of the more enjoyable lighthouses on the Maine coast. With luck, you may find a local artist or two in residence at the shop. If so, you could ask the artist to customize your purchase by painting your name on one of the boats in the painting. Consider it a picture-perfect opportunity. For an even more dramatic view of this beautiful place by the sea, visit the Nubble later in the day when the setting sun highlights the lighthouse like a strobe.
As you enter the lighthouse’s park from Nubble Road, you will immediately see Nubble Light sitting atop the large rock island a few hundred feet from the shore. Visitors are welcome to the park year-round for excellent views, painting, photographing, scuba diving, fishing and relaxing. The gift shop is open seasonally from mid-April through mid-October (weather permitting) and offers parking for approximately 60 vehicles.
Ogunquit is home to one of America’s original art colonies and a renowned plein air painting summer school. Would you love to capture the beauty of this beautiful place by creating your own personal painting or drawing? Others have felt the same. As a result, in 2013, a small, collaborative group of painters and art teachers seeking an authentic artistic journey founded the Ogunquit Summer School of Art. The school gives workshops inspired by the area’s aesthetic beauty, its seacoast and its rich art history.
With outdoor weekly classes year-round, staff includes nationally recognized artists and some of the top professionals working in the field. Diverse instruction from skill-based art academics to modern and expressive offerings provide a deep range of options to students. Classes are appropriate for beginners to pros. Find your inspiration here. http://www.ogunquitartcolony.com/workshops.html
Theater: Before leaving the coast, round out your stay by attending a play at the Ogunquit Playhouse. Started half a century ago in a local garage, the playhouse has become one of the premier summer stock theaters on the East coast. The Playhouse’s Drama School attracts ingénues from around the country each summer for classes. For the 2021 season based on current social guidelines, there will be 26 rows of armless chairs, placed on a new ground covering, arranged in PODS of two seats, each spaced six feet apart. The annual playlist schedule includes both evening and matinee performances. Reserve seats for performances at www.oqunquitplayhouse.org
More on Marginal Way: You can help protect Maine’s popular walkway by the sea by donating to the non-profit Marginal Way Preservation Fund. The Fund has launched a series of unique fundraisers, Fine Art Competitions and gala events of juried artwork inspired by a love for the ocean.
For more information on travel to Ogunquit, including maps and guides, visit https://www.ogunquit.org/
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