Southern Maine is known for its miles of beautiful beaches, unique rocky cliffs and delicious seafood joints. Activities are varied. Families can replenish outgrown clothes at the Kittery outlets or learn some history while getting a glimpse of the Bush Compound in Kennebunkport. Traverse a coastal walk and hear people talking in different languages. It’s proof that – each year – folks from all around the globe embark on a family trip to Southern Maine. The natural vistas – especially at sunrise and sunset – can’t be beat.
A True Family Vacation
We live in Connecticut and had spent most of our summer getaways on the Rhode Island shore or Cape Cod in Massachusetts. This year, I said, “We need to plan a family trip to Southern Maine!” There’s just something about this northern state that’s entirely unique, entirely New England: the relaxed lifestyle, the craggy coast, the constant presence of lobster traps and the wildlife (think: “Blueberries for Sal”) . I took to Facebook, seeking advice from friends for the perfect week in Maine – filled with sightseeing and, yes, even swimming (brrrr!).
Maine is huge. It’s tough to stay in one spot and get the full picture. So, we decided to spend a few days in Ogunquit and then head north, to experience the splendor of Bar Harbor (yes, more TravelingMom posts to come!). But let’s begin in the south. Here are a few family activities you don’t want to miss in the Ogunquit area:
A Walk Along the Gorgeous Marginal Way
The beautiful mile-long walk – called the Marginal Way – begins in downtown Ogunquit. The trail takes walkers along the gorgeous coast for views of the pounding surf and impressive rocks. Benches dot the path, which also includes several stairways down to small beaches. It ends at Perkins Cove, a charming area sporting several famous restaurants such as Barnacle Billy’s and Oarweed.
This picturesque spot is also filled with cute t-shirt and jewelry stores. My sons – ages 11 and 13 – were happy to find an old-fashioned candy shop and ice cream stand. Be sure to walk onto the quaint wooden footbridge which gives visitors a great view of the historic harbor. Check out this TravelingMom link for more ideas for free activities in Southern Maine.
Don’t Miss Ogunquit Beach during a Family Trip to Southern Maine
This pretty, artsy town sports one of the most unique beaches I’ve ever seen. At low tide, it becomes a peninsula with water on three sides. One area fills with tidal pools, perfect for families with small kids who love to build sand castles. Another side is great for body surfing but be warned! The water in Ogunquit is pretty darn cold. The hard-packed sand stretches for 3 miles and is the perfect place for families to play soccer, football or frisbee.
We stayed at a hotel called Anchorage by the Sea and were lucky enough to have an incredible view of this lovely beach. In the early morning or evening, it’s simply spectacular, filled with images of surfers, paddle boarders and pink or orange hued skies.
Satisfy the Sweet Tooth at Historic Congdon’s Doughnuts
Ooooh, want a treat? Take the kids to breakfast at Congdon’s Doughnuts in Wells. This family restaurant is well-known for its house-made jellies, coconuts and crullers. We were craving a fun meal and the experience didn’t disappoint. But here’s a bit of advice: arrive early or be prepared to stand in line. This place is constantly crowded!
Check out a Kennebunkport Lobster Tour
After bumming around for a few days, we were ready for an organized activity. So, we headed to Kennebunkport for a Rugosa Lobster Tour. This was a hit with the whole family. We boarded a classic New England lobster boat at the Nonantum Resort for an hour and a half ride through the water. The knowledgeable guides pulled a few lobsters out of traps. They allowed the kids to band the claws. Then, they proceeded to teach us all about the fascinating crustaceans – such as their shell shedding habits and life cycle. Be advised: the kids giggled and blushed during the lesson about lobster mating! And, don’t worry. The live lobsters were all safely tossed back into water at the end of the tour.
This trip also featured a great view of the Bush family compound – the summer home of President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. The guide told many stories about the couple’s affinity for the area and their reputation as kind and gracious neighbors.
When it Rains, Find Go Karts and Mini Golf!
Every vacation includes a grey day or two. And, what do we moms seek-out when the rain drops fall? MINI GOLF, of course! And Wonder Mountain Fun Park in Wells also offers Go Karts! Win, win! We had a great morning and didn’t mind a break from the surf, sand and sun.
There are lots of great towns in Maine. Click here for TravelingMom tips from Portland and Freeport.