This posting is part of the series New England Road Trip.
Our first stop in Maine was Ogunquit. Ultra-charming and somewhat unique, this is where my family went to the beach. Although large and beautiful, the beach is not the center of town, nor the center of activity. The town stands on its own with great restaurants, shops, and art.
Behind the beach is a river, making the beach itself a large peninsula. As the tide comes in, the river flows in, and as the tide goes out the river flows out. This makes for some fun swimming and floating on the river side of the beach.
Ogunquit has a large gay population, and at the risk of generalizing or stereo-typing, this results in better restaurant selection, night life, and general sophistication. It’s not Provincetown, but drop into an Ogunquit gay bar on karaoke night and you’ll understand!
It also has a large French Canadian population which adds an international element to the scene. It also plays a trick on the eye because I have yet to meet a fat Canadian! The coast of Maine is filled with Québécois and no matter what their age, men and women alike all have the body of a teenager.
With the exception of the beach, the shoreline is rugged and rocky. It’s exactly what one thinks of when they think of the Maine coast. The walkway along this rocky shore is called the Marginal Way.
Walking along it, you can’t take enough pictures! To one side are classic vacation homes and old-school resort hotels; and, to the other side, pounding surf on the rocks, sailboats, and the vast Atlantic ocean.
At the end of the Marginal Way is Perkins Cove where you will think you’re in a calendar photo. This quiet, protected cove is moored with fishing boats and lined with restaurants. The small footbridge is also a drawbridge, and when a high-masted sailboat comes in, the captain honks to ask the people on land to press a button to raise the bridge.
There, in that cove is my family’s favorite spot in the world, Barnacle Billy’s. Here in this is humble institution, you order at the counter, pick your seat and wait for your number to be called. I suppose they have burgers and chicken but I’ve never seen anyone order anything but lobster, clams, corn on the cob and rum punch! And man is it good! Good enough, in fact, for President George H. W. Bush who makes regular trips from his Kennebunkport compound by boat!
On this day we had only a few hours on our way to Portland. It would be a quick lunch and a walk around town, so we walked along the Marginal Way.
Stopping for only lunch with a subsequent destination meant we could not enjoy the legendary Rum Punch…of which one should never have a 3rd! (LCF, you know what I’m talking about!)
We did, however, enjoy a couple lobster rolls and some New England Steamers!
New England steamed clams are one of the few foods you cannot get just anywhere. You can get clams, but not these. Delicate and briny, dipped first in clam broth and then in drawn butter, this is my favorite food and what I would order if told to select a last meal. If I should ever face a firing squad, at least I have that to look forward to!
Ogunquit has been the site of many happy vacations, family gatherings, and fun stops to and from college. Being on the southern end of the Maine coast it’s pretty easy to get to. There are great restaurants and a lot of variety. If you’re tired of boardwalk beach towns that only offer t-shirt shops and corn dogs, give Ogunquit a try!