48 Hours in Ogunquit + Wells
Ogunquit and Wells are popular vacation destinations in the summer, but these beach communities offer plenty of options and exploration after the temperature gets cooler and they transition to the off-season.
Wide-open beach walks
The six-mile stretch of beaches between Ogunquit and Wells is beautiful throughout the year, but off-season visits, without the summer crowd, are especially peaceful. The flatness of the beaches makes them ideal for strolling, and most are dog-friendly. Starting at the southern end, Ogunquit Beach off Beach Street has a nice covered pavilion with Adirondack chairs and benches for enjoying the beautiful waves. There are plenty of shops and restaurants a short walk away in the center of town, and many remain open in the off-season. If you’re feeling adventurous you can walk all the way to Footbridge Beach (a little over a mile away). If you park near Footbridge Beach, you’ll get to walk over the bridge to reach the ocean.
Thoughtful dining and lively cocktails
Open year-round, the Beachmere Inn offers oceanfront views and direct access to the Marginal Way walking path. On chilly evenings, grab a cup of hot chocolate to enjoy on the deck while looking out at the ocean, or warm up in a suite with a fireplace. The inn has a sauna and hot tub as well as an on-site restaurant, Blue Bistro, where you can have a cocktail or meal with views of the ocean.
A short walk from the inn is Northern Union, a wine bar known for seasonally inspired dishes and drinks. The modern and cozy restaurant offers small tapas and full entrees along with a new bar menu, which includes chicken croquettes and cheesy Maine polenta fries. From the small-plates menu, try the roasted carrots and braised pork belly buns. And if you’re unsure which wine to order, your server will select the best wine to pair with any of their out-of-the-park main courses—the duck breast and grilled hanger steak are standouts. If wine isn’t your thing, the cocktail list is just as thoughtful.
It’s not an Ogunquit experience without having a cocktail at The Front Porch’s upstairs piano bar. Arrive early to claim your seat. They start singing at 5 p.m. and don’t stop until close. Try the Front Porch martini or one of the dessert cocktails and sing along to all the classics.
Walking trails after roadside doughnuts
Start your morning at Congdon’s Doughnuts, the family-owned roadside bakery and restaurant in Wells that has been around since 1955. There are more than 35 flavors available at a time, including classics like glazed, jelly, and Bavarian cream and signature flavors like blueberry cake and maple square. The sit-down part of the restaurant serves breakfast and lunch. During the summer months you can find Congdon’s After Dark, a nightly gathering of some of southern Maine’s favorite food trucks, along with a covered outdoor beer garden.
To get away from the beach scene, visit the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. The reserve encompasses 2,250 acres of salt marsh and wetlands with wonderful walking trails and its own beach. The reserve includes part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, which has a flat one-mile loop trail that’s accessible to wheelchairs.
Contemporary art, Ogunquit boutiques, and Marginal Way
On Route 1 in Wells, not far from the Wells Reserve, is Corey Daniels Gallery, housed in a renovated nineteenth-century colonial home and attached barn. The open space bridges the old-world with a modern industrial aesthetic. The gallery is filled with sculptures, design objects, paintings, and other artwork by artists from Maine and beyond.
Nearby is Bitter End, a local favorite where you can find unique dishes complemented by a list of delicious cocktails. The restaurant is decked out with classic New England sports memorabilia and eclectic art pieces, as well as a beautiful crystal chandelier that hangs in the center of the bar. There is plenty of space to bring friends—just make sure they’re hungry. Try the Original Onion Strings with smoked ketchup, the Portuguese-style steamed mussels, the Nine-Hour Bolognese, or whatever is on special.
Back in downtown Ogunquit, Main Street and the surrounding side streets are home to many gift shops, including Sea Bags, the iconic maker of tote bags and accessories handcrafted from recycled sails; Abacus, a unique home furnishing and wearables gift shop; H and M Crumpets, which specializes in apothecary products; and Harbor Candy Shop, full of handmade candies and chocolates. Continue exploring quintessential Ogunquit at Perkins Cove, one of Maine’s most picturesque small harbors, filled with fishing boats gliding in and out and featuring a unique draw footbridge. The area is surrounded by cute shops, restaurants, and galleries. After visiting the gift shops, take a stroll along Marginal Way Walk, the picturesque mile-long path that follows the ocean’s edge.
Dining and a nightcap
Ogunquit’s newest year-round restaurant is The Crooked Pine (sister restaurant of the seasonal seafood bar Brix and Brine), situated near the center of town and offering an impressive bar menu and classic cocktails. You can’t go wrong with the fresh ricotta appetizer, mussels Normandy, and whole trout to close out your Saturday evening.
Home-cooked breakfast and baked goods
Start the day with a hearty breakfast at The Greenery Cafe, which serves from-scratch meals starting at 5 a.m. Arrive hungry, because servings are large, and you’ll want to eat every last bite. If you don’t have room for the freshly baked goods, be sure to grab some for your drive home.
A short walk from Ogunquit Beach, The Beachmere Inn overlooks Marginal Way and the ocean and features a variety of well-appointed rooms.
Wildlife sights at the Ogunquit River Inn are not uncommon thanks to its location bordering the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.
The recently renovated Norseman Resort is located right on Ogunquit Beach, close to all the Ogunquit has to offer.
A date-night destination, M.C. Perkins Cove offers a prix-fixe dinner menu with drinks for $50 during the off-season and panoramic views of the ocean year-round.
Follow in the footsteps of Guy Fieri and try out the Maine Diner in Wells to dine on the famous lobster pie, seafood chowder, and codfish cakes.
From April to October try the famous rum punch and grab a lobster roll at Barnacle Billy’s.
Enjoy the Arts
Catch a world-class musical or show at the award-winning and legendary Ogunquit Playhouse during the theater’s May to October season.
Also open May through October, the Ogunquit Museum of American Art has a wide range of modern and contemporary works in its permanent collection and on display at special exhibitions.
Operated by the Ogunquit Arts Collaborative from May to October, the Barn Gallery features local artists and juried art competition in the summer months.