Meandering Through Maine: Ogunquit & Kennebunkport (New England)
11 Oct, 2012 - After two days in Boston, we were looking forward to leaving the big city and start discovering the little towns of New England again. Besides, I had had a gut full of Peter waking me in the mornings with the Helen Reddy rendition of “I Am Woman” on his laptop. The fact that we had been staying at the oldest women’s college in the US really tickled his fancy. As for me, the joke was getting kinda old.
Getting out of Boston in peak hour traffic was a challenge. Missing one major turnoff, our GPS took a while to re-plan the route, by which time we had missed yet another turnoff, driving us around the bend (I know, bad pun). Eventually we made it out of the city and heaved a sigh of relief when we hit the open road.
Let me put my travel guide hat back on... Ogunquit, Maine is only an hour and a half’s drive north from Boston. While I hadn’t planned on us staying the night here, it was well worth stopping for based on my research.
Known as "beautiful place by the sea," Ogunquit Beach has three and a half miles of sheltered white sand beaches. Listed as one of the top 25 beaches in the United States, it is pristine with packed fine sand which makes for easy walking. Covered beach chairs under an awning are on offer on the South end so that you can just sit back and contemplate the view and people watch. Being October, the wind was icy and the beach deserted, which made for an eery atmosphere. The midsection of Ogunquit Beach is known as Footbridge Beach, and is accessed by a footbridge across the Ogunquit River.
In the nearby village of Ogunquit there are gift shops, cafes and restaurants, groceries, B&B’s, inns and motels. While the village is small and quaint, it was Perkins Cove that held our interest. Originally a small fishing community, the Cove too has its shops and restaurants. But there’s something about watching all the lobster boats come in and out while standing by the foot bridge off the wharf that is special and so quintessentially Maine.
If you get the chance, drop by Barnacle Billy’s restaurant, an Ogunquit institution for 51 years. Known for its lobster, steamed clams, barbecued chicken, homemade clam chowder, and of course, the lobster roll and lobster stew, Barnacle Billy’s have extensive indoor and sun deck seating where guests can enjoy views of the harbor and the ocean. The ritual is simple: Order at the counter, pay, and then sit down till you hear the kitchen yell out your order number. The restaurant is rustic, which befits a fishing community, complete with fully functioning open fireplaces when those icy Maine winds come blowing in. After Peter and I enjoyed a simple lunch of clam chowder and a lobster sauté today, we got the chance to meet old Barnacle Billy himself, a living and breathing icon.
Half an hour from Ogunquit lies Kennebunkport, a bustling major seafaring village since the 1800's, where ships were built and sent to sea from its harbor. But it took George H.W. Bush to put Kennebunkport on the map, so to speak, as this is where the Bush ancestral home is located. While you can view the estate from a distance, don’t get too excited about dropping by for a cup of tea or game of tennis. Security is tight round there and the estate is patrolled by the secret service 24/7. Apart from that, New Englanders have enjoyed this quiet corner of coastal Maine town for generations. In hot weather, beaches are a major draw, while Kennebunkport's small boutiques, art galleries, craft stores and restaurants make an enjoyable visit any time of the year. Fashionistas, take note that there are dozens of outlets and factory stores offering plenty of bargains at nearby Kittery.
Our Accommodation Pick: 1802 House B&B
I agree, the village of Kennebunkport is cute. But please get me away from the hordes and somewhere quiet to spend the night! Thank God my intuition kicked in when it came to booking our B&B in Kennebunkport. S ecluded among towering pines and lush private gardens, the tranquility of our B&B’s neighborhood was immediately apparent. Pulling into the gravel driveway, the only sounds we heard were the rustling of Autumn leaves and the chirping of birds. Heavenly!
Run by innkeeper Terri Walker, who walked away from the UK corporate scene to return to the US, 1802 House B&B is a labor of love. Originally a 19th century restored colonial Inn, the inn provides six exclusive and well appointed guest rooms and is only a short stroll from Kennebunkport's Dock Square. Can’t wait for the gourmet breakfast in the morning!
Why don’t you ..... dine with the locals at Bandaloop, which is named after a fictional tribe taken from the Tom Robbins’ novel Jitterbug Perfume . Unlike the tribe that knew the secret to eternal life, Bandaloop Chef W. Scott Lee and his wife Bridget may not hold the key. However, they have a pretty good feeling that good food and wine must be a part of it. Known for their use of organic and local foods, everything in Bandaloop is created in house, from the organic bread and sauces straight through to the desserts. From flour and salt to free range chicken and all natural organic beef, Bandaloop demand only the highest quality organic ingredients for their flavors as well as their lessened impact on the environment. Try their house classics, the Wilted Organic Spinach Salad and Maine Sharp Cheddar and Cavatappi. The flavors are to die for.
Bandaloop 2 Dock Square, Kennebunkport, Kennebunks, ME http://bandaloop.biz