Epic Vacation, Part I
I decided to forgo camp this summer and instead plucked my kids from the San Francisco fog for summer as it is meant to be — hot, sticky, and humid. East Coast style.
My family was planning to get together for a week on Cape Cod in late July, but I thought it would be fun to head out earlier and show the kids around my old New England stomping grounds. I hadn’t spent much time in Ogunquit, Maine, but I’d heard great things about this little artist colony on the Atlantic shore. Plus, it was on the way to my brother’s home outside of Portland.
It was blazing hot when we arrived in the sunny hamlet, a postcard-perfect beach town filled with cute shops, fine dining and lobster shacks, and miles of pristine white sand.
Victorian Charm, Modern Convenience
Our suite awaited us at The Colonial Inn, a Victorian beauty that recently underwent a superb $4 million renovation. Here, the charm of a century ago (huge, inviting wraparound porch and real keys with brass tags) meets modern amenities (pool, hot tub, 24-hour coffee and lemon water urns in the expansive lobby). Close to the beach but between the Village and Perkins Cove, The Colonial was an ideal location to base ourselves when exploring Ogunquit. The Inn serves a hearty Continental breakfast of oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, homebaked muffins, hardboiled eggs, coffee, and juice that fills you up enough to let you skip lunch.
When visiting, everyone will tell you that a stroll along the curiously named “Marginal Way” is a must. I don’t know where y’all are from, but to me “marginal” means “mediocre,” “average” or maybe, “just ok.” But this stunning mile-long footpath is anything but. It winds along the coast, above the rugged Maine cliffs with it’s pocket beaches and waves crashing below.
Delicious Maine dining
During our brief stay in Ogunquit, we enjoyed two fantastic dinners. The first night was at Jonathan’s — an über family-friendly restaurant + nightclub surrounded by lush gardens. The kids amused themselves with vintage toys (remember Jacob’s ladder??) and the 600-gallon fish tank while Dan and I feasted on fresh seafood pasta and stuffed halibut. The service was superb and upbeat. Later that evening, Jonathan Edwards was slated to play in the upstairs lounge. Comic Paula Poundstone had entertained there the night before. Something for everyone here. Really.
The next night, Dan went classic Maine and dined on oysters and a whole steamed Maine lobster at MC Perkins Cove. I got a little crazy and tried the lobster tacos and gazpacho with basil oil and crème frâiche. Chef/owners Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier are James Beard Award winners and their menus deliver both classic and creative with equal aplomb. The ocean was glassy and beautiful and we were seated just in time to catch the evening’s magic light as it danced on the glittering cove below.
Our final day was spent on the beach, of course. Rated as one of the Top 25 Beaches in the U.S., the Ogunquit beach is a three mile stretch of sandy beach and grassy dunes that form a natural barrier between the Atlantic Ocean from the Ogunquit River. You can take the trolley to the beach and rent equipment at one of the nearby outfitters.
Ogunquit Museum of American Art: Though most come here for the beaches and lobster, there is other culture to behold. This is a delightful place to while away a few hours out of the sun. We caught a fascinating exhibit of candid photos of Andy Warhol by his assistant Pat Hackett that included shots of Mick Jagger, Jackie Kennedy, and Jack Nicholson at parties, on the street, and in the back of limos. Tres Andy.
The Trolley: For $2, you can jump on Molly, Polly, Wally, and Holly — the trollies that run through town, stopping at popular dining destinations and hotels through the evening.
The Colonial Inn
145 Shore Rd Ogunquit, Maine 03907
I was a guest of the The Colonial Inn, Jonathan’s, and MC Perkins Cove.
Post contributed by Lisa Dion of Friscomama. Photos by Lisa Dion. Stay tuned for Epic Vacation, Part II, next month.