Maine’s Southern Coast
(260 miles round-trip from Boston)
This is Maine at its most alluring: a rich landscape where sunrise on a sandy beach can be followed by a hike through a mist-shrouded wildlife preserve, where a lobster-roll lunch can precede an afternoon of blueberry picking, where Skee-Ball by the boardwalk can segue into a candelit dinner at a country inn. Our list of favorites for a weekend away is as much about the land as the sea—pine forests and Colonial-era villages meet lighthouses, harbors, and the spray of the surf.
Lay of the Land
Right over the New Hampshire border, about an hour from Boston, Kittery is best known for outlet shopping, but its tranquil residential enclaves are a world apart: woodsy Kittery Point has a top-notch lobster shack and a virtually undiscovered state park, Fort Foster. • Next up the coast are the Yorks: Rockwellian York Village, blue-blooded York Harbor, and honky-tonk York Beach, where old-time motels, ice cream parlors, and arcades face the sand. Off nearby Cape Neddick stands whitewashed Nubble Light, the state’s most celebrated lighthouse. • A low-key version of Provincetown, gay-friendly Ogunquit is a long-standing artists’ haven (several galleries line Shore Road). It has the loveliest beach on the coast, framed by grassy dunes and a tidal river. Walk the oceanfront Marginal Way foot-path to Perkins Cove, a minuscule marina traversed by a pedestrian-only wooden drawbridge. • The Bush family may have put Kennebunkport (and its sister village, Kennebunk) on the national map, but old money has been ensconced here for ages—only now those elegant captain’s mansions and Federalist houses have luxury sedans parked out front. For all the patrician polish, there remains a salty authenticity to the “K’bunks,” especially beside the marina, along the beaches, and in the many lobster pounds lining the shore. • Forty-five minutes away lies Portland (population 64,500), which may seem like a small town on paper but is Maine’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, with eclectic shopping and a thriving culinary scene. For the quintessential Maine coast experience, catch a ferry at the Casco Bay Lines terminal to one of the hundreds of islands in breezy, briny Casco Bay.
—Peter Jon Lindberg
Boston to Cape Neddick: 72 miles
Cape Neddick to Ogunquit: 9 miles
Ogunquit to Kennebunkport: 12 miles
Kennebunkport to Portland: 30 miles