Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough + South Portland

Famous for incredible beaches and lighthouses, these postcard-worthy communities just south of Portland also offer exciting, high-quality culinary and shopping destinations.


3:00 p.m. @ Maine magazine

My sidekicks on this adventure—Byron, a husband, and Stella Blue, a five- month-old Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever—pick me up at the office, and we begin our journey over the Casco Bay Bridge into the hinterlands of Cape Elizabeth.

3:30 p.m. @ C Salt Gourmet Market, Cape Elizabeth

We provision up at C Salt Gourmet Market on Route 77. This friendly variety store and gourmet deli is packed with a broad selection of sandwiches, salads, craft beers, and snacks. We grab a few bottles from Maine Beer Company along with some cheese and crackers.

3:45 p.m. @ Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth

Concierge Mark Kellerman greets us warmly at the front desk of this dog-friendly inn. Our suite not only contains a welcome note for us, but a very special welcome note for Stella, complete with a home-baked dog treat. There is even a dog bed and dish already set up for her. The inn’s commitment to canines extends beyond its guests: through an arrangement with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, the inn has adopted out 73 dogs in just a year and a half. The expansive and tastefully decorated lobby gives us a great view of the grounds and Crescent Beach State Park, which is just a short walk away.

5:15 p.m. @ David’s 388, South Portland

We grab two seats at the bar of this neighborhood restaurant owned by chef David Turin. Sarah Flynn makes us Manhattans, and we share steak tartare and the Brussels sprouts special.

7:00 p.m. @ Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth

Chef Andrew Chadwick comes out of the kitchen and asks if we want to order from the menu or if we want to trust him and the kitchen staff to create a meal for us. We, of course, take him up on the latter. It’s hard to describe the tastes that are put before us—from the lobster taco with avocado mousse to the seared salmon with carrot and cucumber noodles to the Hudson Valley duck breast with farro verde and pickled blueberry to a dessert of chocolate banana bread pudding with grilled pineapple, chef Chadwick and his team wow us.


7:30 a.m. @ Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth

We bundle up and take the short but picturesque walk along the inn’s boardwalk to Crescent Beach. The sun is rising, the beach deserted, and Stella chases her ball like there’s no tomorrow. No matter the weather, a walk on a beach in Maine is the best way to begin the day.

8:45 a.m. @ Inn by the Sea

Sustenance is needed, so we head to the lounge in the lobby of the inn with Stella in tow and order breakfast—a sandwich of egg, avocado, roasted tomatoes, and bacon on a house-baked English muffin for me, and Byron has the Farmhouse Breakfast of house-made corned beef hash with poached eggs and hollandaise. Stella has a dog bone.

10:00 a.m. @ Bug Light Park, South Portland

The views of Portland Harbor and Fort Gorges in Casco Bay juxtaposed against the oil storage facilities nearby give us reason to consider what a beautiful place this is, and how much we treasure our working waterfront.

11:00 a.m. @ 158 Pickett Street Cafe, South Portland

All the fresh air gives us an appetite for breakfast number two. We stop in to this warm, welcoming neighborhood cafe and grab much-needed cups of coffee. We split a bagel with salmon that is one of the best you’ll find in the area.

11:45 a.m. in Knightville, South Portland

This section of town is going through a renaissance, with shops, cafes, boutiques, and antique stores joining longtime businesses to create a wonderful place to stroll and discover. We stop in to G.L. Smith Books and Collectibles, where I fall in love with an antique Underwood typewriter. The business also sells out-of-print books online. Ocean and D is a relative newcomer to the area, run by Emma Lockwood. This light-filled store wit a small gallery in the back holds a curated selection of gift items by local artisans, including tea towels and potholders made by Lockwood using fabrics of her own design. At Mainely Labs Studio, artist Jim Williams’s colorful prints of Labrador retrievers cover the walls. For a pick-me-up, we zip over to Cia Cafe, a coffeehouse, gift store, and neighborhood gathering place that’s buzzing with Saturday cheer. On Cottage Road is Soma Massage and Wellness, which offers massages and other bodywork therapies that can be booked online.

1:15 p.m. @ Higgins Beach, Scarborough

This small beach at the edge of a residential neighborhood is one of the most popular surf destinations in the area. Even on this cold January afternoon the water is dotted with surfers.

1:45 p.m. @ Ferry Beach, Scarborough

This is our favorite beach in the summer because it really is two beaches in one. A very family-friendly beach lies along the inlet, and a short walk down the beach and around the point leads to a more secluded place with views to Old Orchard and beyond.

2:15 p.m. on Route 1 and Payne Road, Scarborough

We head to the Cheese Iron and are swept up by the selection of cheeses, sandwiches, wines, and gourmet snacks of all kinds. This is the place to stock up for a picnic at the beach—or just because. At Chilton Furniture on Payne Road, Byron and I eye a natural- edge bed that we add to our someday-we’ll-own-that list. This showroom filled with handmade, Shaker- influenced furniture has become a destination for visitors from all over.

3:30 p.m.@ Fort Williams State Park, Cape Elizabeth

This is a must-stop place and home to what may be one of the most photographed lighthouse in the world, the Portland Head Light. The park features an incredible cliff walk along the water’s edge, and you can wander over to the well-preserved remains of the Goddard Mansion that was built in 1858.

5:00 p.m.@ Inn by the Sea

At the inn’s spa, we are transported to a place of calm in a Zen-like sanctuary, which also features a well-equipped gym. We call room service for Stella’s dinner and order the Meat “Roaff,” made in-house with natural ground beef and served
with steamed rice, raw vegetables, and a dessert of a special dog biscuit.

7:45 p.m.@ Easy Day, South Portland

A combination bowling alley, sports bar, and pub, this proves to be the perfect place to watch the Patriots playoff game. Our server tells us that Easy Day makes its own pizza dough and sauce everyday. While we forgo the pizza, I order the cobb salad sandwich and Byron gets the Easy Day Burger.


9:00 a.m. @ The Bird Dog Roadhouse, Cape Elizabeth

We’re seated in a sun-drenched porch room at the Bird Dog Roadhouse, formerly Rudy’s of the Cape, and treat ourselves to some of the best Bloody Marys we’ve ever had. My special benedict of the day, smoked salmon with spinach on potato pancakes, is incredible, as is the breakfast pizza baked in the wood-fired oven.

10:30 a.m.@ Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth

Rocky shoreline, check. Amazing views, check. Fresh air and that real Maine feeling, double check. We spend time wandering the rocks and taking it all in—feeling very lucky to be surrounded by such awe-inspiring natural beauty.

12:30 p.m.@ Eastern Trail, Scarborough

We need a walk to shed some of the calories we’ve managed to pack in over the past few days, so we wander a stretch of a trail that goes from Casco Bay south to Kittery. As we talk about our weekend we remind ourselves again how fortunate we are to live in a place where so much to see and experience is just a short drive from our front door. We can’t wait to get back out and do it again.