New England has its fair share of LGBT-friendly vacation destinations, which are starting to wind down at the end of their tourism season. If you want to head somewhere a little bit more low-key and a tiny bit cheaper than P-Town, try Ogunquit, Maine! This classic New England town sits on the southern coast of Maine, and is known as the unofficial LGBT capital of the beautiful state.
WHAT TO DO
There’s a ton to do in Ogunquit, both at the shore and beyond. Ogunquit Beach, which sits on a body of land in between the Ogunquit River and the Atlantic Ocean, has been consistently rated one of the best beaches in the United States. Three miles of sand and dunes provides a perfect destination for a beach day (or two).
To make your beach trip as easy as possible, Ogunquit Beach ‘n’ Sport provides a service that will deliver beach equipment to wherever you want to go in Ogunquit. Beach chairs, boogie boards, umbrellas, coolers, and beach games like Bocce are all available to rent. In addition, their Beach Caddie will pick you up from your hotel or inn to take you to the beach to avoid parking. Reservations and rentals are all available on their website. You can also get around Ogunquit using the trolleys, which run daily and cost two dollars a ride.
The Marginal Way runs along the ocean, with one and a quarter miles of paved footpaths. The picturesque path provides a footbridge to Ogunquit Beach, and has several beautiful benches along the way. There is also a lighthouse on the path. The quick walk will take you to the quaint, beautiful Perkins Cove, filled with restaurants and shops that are perfect for when you want to get away from the beach. The Marginal Way is the best way to get to Perkins Cove, especially since the Cove has very limited parking and gets crowded in the summer.
To keep to the water, you can take a ride on the Silverlining Sailing, on a 42-foot Sparkman & Stephens sloop sailboat. The beautiful boat arrived in Ogunquit and was restored in 1982. There are five daily sails throughout the day, so you can choose whichever one you want to take. You can also make a private reservation on the boat, which must be done several months in advance. Many members of the crew are ordained so the boat can be used for small, intimate weddings.
For a classic night in Ogunquit, head to the Ogunquit Playhouse for some theatre. It’s been around since the 1930s and always has a great line-up of shows all year long. Currently, the Playhouse is performing “Ragtime,” which they will follow up with the world premiere of “Heartbreak Hotel.” In the fall, they’ll be performing, “From Here to Eternity,” a new musical. The theatre is all not-for-profit and is also on the national historic register.
Ogunquit was once an artist colony in the twentieth century, and attracted artists such as Edward Hopper, Charles Woodbury, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Marsden Hartley, and Bernard Karfiol. Their work and the work of many others is on display at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. The museum has several seasonal exhibitions rotating out during every time of the year, in addition to their permanent collections. Checking out the art is a great way to spend an afternoon in Ogunquit.
WHERE TO EAT
Ogunquit has no shortage of places to eat. Downtown is filled to the brim with seafood joints, cafes, and upscale eateries.
For breakfast and coffee, make sure to check out The Greenery Café, which has great breakfast sandwiches and large servings of classics like chocolate chip pancakes. If you’re in Perkins Cove for the day, stop in at Cove Café, right off of Marginal Way. Try Maine classics like lobster benedict and blueberry pancakes, in addition to crab cakes, home fries, and more. If you just need a quick coffee and pastry, try The Backyard Coffeehouse & Eatery. This newer, hip café brews Bard Coffee and is known for having amazing scones. They have other breakfast and lunch items such as sandwiches and salads, which can be ordered at the counter. It’s perfect for a quick, light meal to start the day, and they have both indoor and outdoor seating.
You can’t go wrong with seafood in Maine. The Lobster Shack is always a crowd pleaser, especially with their $20 lunch special that includes clam chowder and a lobster roll, two of their best items. This small, casual eatery sometimes has a wait to order, but it’s well worth it. For a more formal dining experience, That Place in Ogunquit provides great seafood, especially their bacon-wrapped scallops, stuffed haddock, clam chowder, and baked halibut. Make sure to try their mojitos, too! Brix + Brine, an outdoor-only restaurant, does not disappoint on the seafood front, especially if you want oysters, of which they have several different varieties.
If you’re more into barbecue, make sure to try Smokey B’s Gin Mill, which makes some great brisket, pulled pork, and more. In a town full of seafood, it definitely stands out.
After dinner, make sure to grab some ice cream at Rococo Ice Cream. With another location in Kennebunkport, this is quickly becoming a Maine favorite. Rococo serves artisan, homemade ice cream with unique, global-inspired flavors such as goat cheese blueberry, strawberry basil, and mango citrus thyme sorbet. They also have more classic flavors, too. They encourage sampling so make sure to try all their flavors before deciding on one! Even if you’re indecisive, you can always order a flight of ice cream, which lets you have four different flavors. Abbott’s Creamery is also a go-to spot for more classic ice cream, and cute, vibrant decor. They even have board games that you can play while you eat.
WHERE TO DRINK & DANCE
The go-to spot for LGBT nightlife in Ogunquit is MaineStreet, located down on Main Street. This club boasts the tagline #MOGA: Make Ogunquit Gay Again. With three bars, two dance rooms, and two stories, this is the place to be. Throughout the summer, MaineStreet has events every night of the week, including Tuesday Trivia Nights, Dueling Drag Divas on Wednesdays, Saturgays, karaoke nights, women’s tea dances, pool tournaments, performances, and more. As the season winds down they still have their dance parties every weekend, and even hold Ogunquit’s “Bear Fest” later in the fall. MaineStreet is an integral part of the community and has philanthropic causes such as the upkeep of Marginal Way. It also stays open all winter, so make sure to stop by whenever you can.
Another hot nightspot is the Front Porch Piano Bar, one of a few of its kind still in existence. With a great line-up of performers, there is never a dull night at the bar. There is also a full restaurant, so you can come for dinner and then stay longer. Front Porch also has a Boozy Brunch every Sunday, featuring a selection of comfort food and fun drinks.
Five-O Shore Road Lounge is another favorite, with both a full restaurant and bar. The chefs are skilled in their craft, and the bar area is fairly large with tons of room to sit. They have a wide variety of drinks to order from, as well as a lounge menu for light fare while you’re drinking.
WHERE TO STAY
There are hundreds of places to stay in Ogunquit, but look no further than LGBT-friendly bed and breakfasts where you will be treated to great breakfasts, drinks, and insider-information from the innkeepers.
The Ogunquit Beach Inn is centrally located, close enough to walk to the beach and MaineStreet. Innkeepers Mike and Greg have owned the place since 1997, and provide guests with complimentary beach chairs for their excursions.
Bourne Bed & Breakfast is a mere ten-minute walk from the beach. Innkeepers Jimmy and Brian hold Sangria Saturdays on their front porch, which is adorned with pride flags. The inn received a 2017 Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor.
If you’re looking for refreshing homemade breakfasts, check out Trellis House. Innkeepers Laurence and Glen hold a happy hour on the porch every evening, and make breakfasts such as tarts with granola crusts and fresh fruits. They even published their own cookbook with their original recipes. Complimentary beach towels and chairs are also available. For the history buff, there are American Revolution gravesites right nearby.
A more affordable option is Blue Shutter Inn, which also welcomes pets and children. They also have apartments available to rent if you want to cook more during your vacation. The inn offers some packaged deals including dinner at nearby restaurants, or romantic packages of flowers and chocolate to be delivered to the room. Centrally located, you won’t need a car to leave the inn.
The Black Boar Inn is the oldest standing structure in Ogunquit, built in 1674. The ornate and beautiful inn is a must for those who like old architecture and design. Innkeepers John and Dwain serve made-to-order breakfasts inspired by local and seasonal items and goods.
If you want more amenities, Abalonia Inn has a heated salt-water pool and a firepit ready for guest use. It’s also a bargain at only $69 a night. Innkeepers Alyssa and Jimmy also host Sangria Saturdays, and speak French for any francophone visitors.
Lastly, Moon Over Maine has been run by innkeepers Mark and Rick since 2011. All the rooms in the inn are named after different planets, and the inn even has its own outdoor hot tub. Visitors note that Rick’s scones are delicious and deserve to be world-renowned. This is definitely not an inn to pass up on.
You can find out more about Ogunquit and how to plan your visit at their official website, or at gayogunquit.com.