Spring, summer, fall, winter—any time is a good time to go to Maine for a long weekend. It’s a bit more than an hour’s flight from Manhattan to Portland. Your commute to work is likely longer than that. To set the record straight in case you’re in doubt, yes, Maine really is as beautiful as the photos you see of the trees in fall exploding in colors—vibrant orange, red and yellow.
By the time you drive less than an hour from the Portland airport to Cape Neddick, don’t be surprised if you notice a change in your breathing as you downshift into relaxation mode. The winding roads are hypnotic. Things get better still when you pull up to the Cliff House. It’s perched atop the Atlantic with panoramic views of the jagged, rocky coast. Exhale and take in the fresh air.
How to spend the afternoon? Maybe you start with a bite at Nubb’s Lobster Shack, New England clam chowder, Lobster Totchos, (Maine lobster, tater tots, cheese sauce, jalapenos, cheese curds) or perhaps the infamous Maine lobster roll, signature double grass-fed burger, crab cakes, lightly fried oysters or anything else from the menu that does not disappoint.
What to do next depends on the season. Either way, there’s no shortage of things to do, be it snowshoeing on Mt. Agamenitus or cross-country skiing, or in warmer temps, hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, golfing, sailing, swimming at the resort’s indoor or outdoor pool, or immerse yourself in Maine culture on a lobstering excursion. Kennebunk is nearby with its galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
Wind down the day at the 9,000 square foot, The Spa at Cliff House. At some resorts, the spa, much like the gym, is there but nothing to brag about. That’s not the case at the Cliff House. Even before your treatment the Zen kicks in while you relax in the Seaside Sanctuary with its views of the cliff and cove. Pamper yourself with energy, therapeutic and salt stone therapies. Top off your visit with time in the sauna and steam rooms.
Rise for an early guided beach walk or the Marginal Way walk, just over a mile of coastline that connects Perkins Cove to Ogunquit Beach. There are benches throughout the trails so you can stop and savor the scenery. The exercise and salt air will likely stir your appetite. No worries, for breakfast The Tiller restaurant is beyond yummy. Go healthy with a cold press juice. One favorite is the Orange Turmeric, with oranges, carrots, lemon, ginger and pear nectar. Try the avocado toast, with When Pigs Fly Bread, Maine sea salt, chili pepper, toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Consider too, the Browne Trading Maine smoked salmon with tomatoes, pickled onions, capers, bagel and lemon-chive cream cheese. Then there’s the duck confit hash, lobster poutine and chorizo and crab burrito. You may need to do another walk.
Chill out on a ride to Portland. Check out the shops, galleries, and of course the many breweries. Afterall, Portland has the most breweries per capita in the U.S. Hit Anderson Street for several breweries and an urban winery. The Arts District is where you’ll find the Portland Museum of Art. In winter, the Rink at Thompson Point offers outdoor ice skating along the river. One cool must-visit spot is the Urban Farm Fermentory, which produces and serves its own cider, beer, mead, kombucha, and jun that focus on what’s in season. The vibe is chill and eclectic, with its picnic tables, or pull out a stool and sit around a big wooden barrel with a top that serves as a table. Don’t want to give away all the surprises, suffice to say it’s a room like none other.
Make your way back to Cape Neddick, rest up before finishing off the day with dinner at Walkers Maine, fine dining at its best in town. You have to start your meal with the right app. Try the pumpkin fries, Long Island Cheese pumpkins, ancho chile, aioli or Bang Island Mussels, bacon, cream, Poblano aioli, fresh horseradish, frites. As for your entrée, too many choices. Consider the Wood Fried Maine Lobster, green garlic butter, Garnet yams, sweet peppers, fennel pollen or perhaps the Wood Grilled Pork Chop, creamed winter greens, wood fired carrots, Cipollini onions, chicharrones. Frankly, there’s no wrong choice.
You don’t want to leave town without tours of Perkins Cove, a quaint fishing village with restaurants and shops, picturesque, and the Ogunquit Art Museum which is open from May through October. A long weekend in Maine is hardly enough, a tease really. You’ll likely be coming back for more.