By Jake Miller
During 12 of the past 13 summers, my family has traveled to Ogunquit Maine for a week at the end of the summer. This is our Happy Place – where we can relax and spend great family time before returning to work and school in the Fall. We like to rent a house so we can spread out for a more comfortable stay. Others of our friends love to stay at the Anchorage Hotel, right in town, with a pool, hot tub, and easy access to the beach. The activities in Maine are endless, for those who are very active, to those who just like to hang at the beach. From the beach to the town to the LOBSTER, I cannot imagine a better vacation spot for my family.
During the daytime, we usually head over to Ogunquit beach. It is very convenient, because it is in walking distance from many of the hotels and houses in the area. This is not just any beach however – it happens to be very unique. The beach differs every day based on the Tide Schedule. At High Tide there is very little beach but lots of fun rapids of water to go boogie boarding, rafting or kayaking. As the water recedes, it becomes more of a lazy river. As it moves to Low Tide the beach transforms into a vast area of flat wet sand that allows you to run and walk forever by the water or play games such as whiffle ball, Frisbee, football, fly kites or our favorite, Kadima. My mom and I tend to get very into it, building up rallies occasionally exceeding 300 hits. Every day the beach looks different and always offers something new and exciting. For a good long run or walk, you can start at Main Beach and walk to the rocks of Moody Beach (~ 3 Miles each way). The beach is also great for the little kids, allowing them to build sandcastles, run around in the tide pools, go crabbing or learn to boogie board. The minimal undertow makes it very safe for young children, ensuring that they can venture into shallow waters safely.
There are many other activities to do during the day besides just going to the beach. This year my brother and I rented kayaks from one of the local hotels, and they gave us a route to follow that ended up going up to Ogunquit Beach. It was a lot of fun, but just be careful about when you sign up as it is only open for an hour before high tide and 2-3 hours after. Over the years we have also climbed high ropes and went ziplining at Take Flight Aerial Adventure. They have a huge array of obstacles and a relaxing zip line tour as well. If you want to go hiking, you should head further North towards Acadia, which boasts many different outdoor activities. One of our favorite things to do is to play mini golf at Wonder Mountain in Wells. Two very fun mini golf courses (our family takes our mini golf very seriously), a maze that never seems to get easier, and a fun small arcade ensure that there are things for everyone to do. This year they also opened up go-karts, but we have yet to try them out. For the younger kids there is also the York Zoo nearby and a few fun amusement and water parks around 30-60 minutes away.
Down by Main Street and Shore Road, there are many shops and stores around to buy clothes, food, games, and more. These are great destinations to hit up after a day at the beach. There are all types of souvenirs that can be purchased from the many family run businesses around. Our favorite game store is Animal Instinct. Each year we try and buy a new family game that we enjoy in the mornings before going to the Beach. I personally recommend the smoothie place (Love Shack) by the end of Shore Road (trust me, it’s good!). The rest of my family loves the Candy Store on Main St. (Harbor Candy Shop); whether it’s the chocolate everything or fruit slices they buy, they always leave happy.
On the other side of Ogunquit lays an area known as Perkins Cove. It is accessible by taking a nice pretty walk along Marginal Way, a beautiful walkway that helps to connect the two places and provides great views of the Beach, cliffs, etc. There is even a little beach along the way where you can take a relaxing stop by the rocks. Perkins Cove provides another convenient shopping area to spend some time, take a lobster boat ride, sit and overlook the water or grab an awesome lobster roll from the Lobster Shack.
One of my favorite parts of going to Ogunquit is the great food that they have. They’re famous for their lobster, and it is served at tons of places throughout the area. We personally love the Ogunquit Lobster Pound, and usually find ourselves there about three times during the week. Yes, that is where you see our annual red Adirondack chair picture. You can pick out your own lobsters outside (I suggest the 2 lbers!) plus steamers and the best clam chowder. For those in your family that don’t like lobster (like my sister), they serve pasta, burgers, etc. If you tire of seafood (but who would?) there are also, pizza places (La Pizzeria, has the best clam pizza around), burger places (you can drive down to Wild Willy’s in York), and more. While I do not like ice cream, my family goes almost every day. My sister’s favorite is Scoop Deck, in Wells near the mini golf, while my brother loves Sweet Pea, right in town. This year a new place, Abbott’s, opened up, which seems to work well, too.
For breakfast the options are endless. We have always enjoyed Wild Blueberry Café (yes Maine Blueberry Pancakes) and Cove Café (near Perkins Cove with awesome cinnabun French toast). But this year we got to try a new place that just opened, the “Greenery Café”, which had delicious and healthy brunch and lunch food. In the mornings when my mom and I like to go for long walks we either stop at Backyard Café (a great coffee house with unbelievable blueberry scones), my favorite smoothie shack, or the Village Market for awesome egg sandwiches. If you don’t mind getting in the car to drive, many love Congdon’s donuts. Great discounts for your dads on Bald day!
Most years, we try and go see a show at the Ogunquit Playhouse, near town, which tends to have a few old famous actors or actresses performing. My favorite years have been Spamalot, 9 to 5, and Legally Blonde, two of which happened to star Sally Struthers. On our drive home we usually hit the Kittery Outlets for back to school shopping. Not my favorite activity, but lots of good shops and we usually end up going to Roberts or Bob’s Clam Shack for lobster rolls or clams, so it is not too painful.
Some of our best family memories have been made in Ogunquit, and I cannot imagine a better spot to spend a summer vacation. The tradition of seeing one of our favorite spots evolve over the years has been remarkable to witness, and we always leave having had a successful trip. For those of you longing for a relaxing place to spend your summers, Ogunquit will give you just that (and more).