You Can’t Quit Ogunquit
Discover the Hidden Gem in The Crown of New England.
For the longest time, coastal Maine was my dream vacation. Though I’ve been to a number of divine destinations across North America, a journey to The Pine Tree State always eluded my grasp. There have been plenty of reasons for the allure: the picturesque oceanside vistas, the copious amounts of seafood, and also the fact that my paternal ancestors just so happened to emigrate to America by way of Maine. This was the fatherland! With lobster rolls!
Imagine my elation, then, when I finally got a chance to not only travel to Maine, but to a small town with a big heart that made all my coastal dreams come true: Ogunquit, the hidden gem of the crown of New England.
Translated from the native Abenaki language as “beautiful place by the sea,” Ogunquit is a mere four square miles of land with around 900 year-round residents. But never let the small package belie not only the tremendous sense of community and camaraderie, but also the fact that the coastal village town—only 45 minutes from Portland—is a prominent destination for the GLBT community.
In fact, one-third of the businesses in Ogunquit are GLBT-owned and operated, and you’ll see your fair share of rainbow flags adorning homes and storefronts all around town. And business is bustling, attracting not only all-year and summertime residents, but also tourists from Massachusetts and New York looking for a fabulous day trip.
There’s just so much to do in Ogunquit that it could fill five articles, let alone one, so I’ll give you a walkthrough of the many joys I got to experience. As my wonderful guide Rusty Hayes—who also serves on the town’s planning board—would explain to me, Ogunquit bore a harmonious mix of gay and straight denizens, never feeling as though either party felt out of place. It just felt like home.
And for me, my home for the trip was the ultra-cozy Moon Over Maine bed and breakfast, boasting celestial-themed rooms and delicious homemade scones every morning. It’s one of many wonderful B&Bs in town—including Dragonfly Guest House and Ogunquit Beach Inn—and it’s only a mere six-minute walk from the heavenly three-mile-long Ogunquit Beach, which intoxicated this writer with its brilliant blue waters and magnetic ocean breezes. The coast also serves as an ideal venue for surfing and sailing, such as when I took an amazing 90-minute trip out of Perkins Cove and into the welcoming arms of the Atlantic Ocean.
And because there is so much to do in Ogunquit, visitors can hitch a ride on the Beach Caddie, a “little yellow taxi” that’ll take you anywhere from the Amore Breakfast restaurant for brunch (which I did with retired Congressman and Ogunquit resident Barney Frank) and Brix & Brine for lunch (give the oysters and Maine Crab Melt sandwich a go), to the dinnertime brilliance of Bessie’s (lobster rolls, please and thank you), and the sweet mix of Italian and seafood at La Pizzeria.
If you couldn’t tell by now, Ogunquit doesn’t mess around when it comes to satisfying one’s appetite. How could I forget the sumptuous pastries at Bread & Roses Bakery or all of the deli-fresh groceries and wines courtesy of the popular Village Food Market? And once again, all of the aforementioned businesses? All gay-owned and operated.
And trust me, the Rainbow Connection here is strong. The largest gay nightclub in northern New England and easily the nucleus of Ogunquit’s gay scene, Mainestreet is a song and dance spectacular in every sense with two dance rooms, two outside decks, three bars, and a whole lot of attitude. Everything from drag shows to tea dances light up Mainestreet, and it often plays host to drag luminaries such as Paige Turner and the Dueling Drag Divas.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Mainestreet is the famed Front Porch piano bar, home to a slew of amazing dishes and cocktails, not to mention a raucous singalong piano bar experience, as well as a rotating cadre of terrific entertainers. During my visit, it was Disco Night, starring the glamorous Kim Kuzma, who even brought yours truly onstage to dance to Donna Summer in front of a packed house. Let’s just say that I made my New England ancestors proud.
And it helps that for such a small town, Ogunquit fully embraces the arts as a crucial aspect of its culture. I was lucky enough to catch a tremendous production of An American in Paris at the legendary Ogunquit Playhouse, the historic summer playhouse which runs shows from May to October. The playhouse will be presenting a production of Jersey Boys through Oct. 28 before it closes up for the winter, so get a show in while you can!
Speaking of art, don’t you dare pass up a walk through the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, located right on the coast and boasting over 3,000 pieces of art on permanent display. The museum is the only one of its kind in Maine dedicated to the preservation of American art, and it overlooks the gorgeous scenery of Narrow Cove—a perfect spot for a fall visit.
A perfect beach experience? Check. Sailboats and hiking? Check. Fabulous nightlife? Check. Wonderful, wonderful people? Check. All the seafood your greedy stomach could ask for? That’s a check, good buddy. I have paragraphs and paragraphs of other reasons to visit Ogunquit, but all I can say is that you’ll have to visit this hidden gem to learn for yourself. For more information on planning your own journey to this beautiful place by the sea, visit gaycationland.com.