The state of Maine possesses raw American-style beauty, a true representation of classic New England in all its glory. “Vacation Land,” as the state has dubbed itself, attracts folks from all over the world—especially New Englanders—to enjoy its rocky coasts, incredible seafood, unique shopping, museums, and the serenity that is Maine. As someone who’s spent a great deal of time in Maine, I can tell you the people are friendly, the mood is relaxed, and your natural surroundings encourage you to pause for a daily dose of beauty.
The southern part of the coast contains many vacation gems, such as Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, the shopping outlets at Kittery, York, and even Saco and Old Orchard, which offer many family-style activities. This area also possesses 90 percent of the sandy beaches in Maine. You’ll find many more beaches up the coast, but more of the rocky variety.
Next up is Portland, and though not a large city, it’s bursting with trendy shops in Old Port, excellent restaurants (especially seafood), culture, and fun things like the Portland Children’s Museum for families. The beautiful Portland Headlight is a must-do when visiting the area. This is the very first lighthouse built in America, commissioned by President George Washington, and is a favorite landmark of Maine tourists.
Up north you have incredible places like the mountainous Acadia National Park, which certainly is worth the drive. This beautiful, rocky coast, with its nooks and crannies, is longer than California’s coastline—mile for mile. So take your time and explore Maine at a leisurely pace—that’s what a Mainer would do!
Check out just a a few of the wonderful luxury family accommodations along the Maine Coast:
Captain Lord Mansion—Kennebunkport
This stately, old New England mansion was built back in 1814 and converted to an inn in 1978. Located in an area filled with beautifully preserved 17th- and 18th–century homes, Captain Lord Mansion sits atop the town green with maple trees lining the way. It’s lavishly decorated and exceptionally detailed. The halls are graced with many European works of art, and though elaborate in its approach, it’s not stuffy. You’ll find enticing features in the beautifully appointed rooms, each named after a ship the Lord family built. Amenities include four poster beds, gas fireplaces, down comforters, heated marble and tile bathroom floors, double whirlpools, Jacuzzis, and body-jet showers.
It’s a quiet walk from the shops and restaurants in Kennebunkport, and after you return you’ll find a treat prepared by the kitchen waiting for you in the afternoon. Spa massages are available on the premises, and complimentary snowshoes, bicycles, and other conveniences are available at the front desk. The inn also hosts wine tastings along with summer garden parties. Note: Parents with teens are most welcome here, but they discourage bringing children under 12.
Black Point Inn—Scarborough
If you’re dreaming of taking in beautiful Maine ocean views, visit the Black Point Inn in Scarborough. This prime waterfront location has water views from three sides of it’s facility. The 25 spacious rooms and public areas were recently renovated and decorated in a classic New England style, often with a nautical theme. Take a dip in the geothermally heated swimming pool (this is a Green Certified inn), enjoy the golf course, play with the kids along the two 1.5-mile sandy beaches, use their kayaks, bicycles, or hike the path by 19th–century American painter Winslow Homer’s studio.
There are two restaurants—one for fine dining and one for more caual fare. (Dinner and breakfast are included with the room rate.) The staff is famously friendly, courteous, and professional. Consider staying here on a Tuesday night in the summer so you can enjoy the jazz trio, which plays outside on the deck while you sit in a wicker chair with an appetizer or cocktail enjoying the views. Or for wine enthusiasts, stop in for a Wednesday visit and enjoy their wine tasting sessions.
Inn By the Sea—Cape Elizabeth
The lovely Inn By the Sea is a terrific place for families who enjoy excellent service, its close proximity to Portland, location along one mile of beautiful sandy beach, and its 61 one– and two-bedrooms suites. The two-bedroom suites offer two bathrooms, spacious living areas, pull-out couches, fully equipped kitchens, indoor/outdoor fireplaces, a deck area, and beautiful ocean views. The suites are decorated with a cool balance of modern style while maintaining an old New England flare.
Dogs are welcome here—the Inn has 17 pet-friendly rooms. Great activities abound for your family at the Inn By the Sea, including nightly s’more-making around the firepit, storytelling, yoga on the lawn for the whole family, art classes, and beach walks with a naturalist. There’s a heated pool and spa services as well. As a special New England-style experience, they will arrange for your family to board Captain Tom’s lobster boat, where everyone will be part of the crew, haul lobster traps, learn about Portland history, and more.
Portland Harbor Hotel—Portland
If you’re interested in all Portland has to offer, the location of the Portland Harbor Hotel can’t be beat. Nestled in the city’s Old Port District overlooking the Portland harbor, it’s within walking distance to many fantastic restaurants (such as the nationally acclaimed Fore Street Restaurant), cool shops, and fun pubs like Ri-Ra (interior of this bar is all imported from a collection of pubs in Ireland.) The hotel, which opened in 2002, offers 95 guest rooms, including 19 suites (six of which are new). In the spacious guestrooms you’ll find granite bathrooms with oversized soaker tubs, his and hers armoires, and down coverlets, (nice to have in Maine). Some rooms have a view of the lovely interior courtyard. You can rent bicycles at the front desk for a fun ride around the cobblestone roads to take in the sights. If you’re in need of relaxation they’ve recently partnered with local spa Nine Stones, to offer their services within the hotel. As a special add-on feature, you can plan a little surprise for your child by having the staff draw a bubble bath in your soaker tub, accompanied by warm cookies and milk for a good night treat.
Camden Harbour Inn—Camden
Camden Harbour Inn is a favorite for many Maine visitors because of its service, its beautiful view of Camden harbor, and the modern twist the owners have infused into this classic New England Inn. The beautiful white wrap-around porch is inviting and the views are truly enjoyable, especially while sipping a hot cup of coffee with fresh baked treats in hand (snacks are available all day to guests). The rooms are modern and crisp, with fun extras like iPads loaded with apps in the some of the suites. The bathrooms are very modern, and offer different features like rain showers, separate tub, Jacuzzis, UltraBain Therapeutic air baths, and steam showers.
The new Royal Dutch Suite is especially well-suited for families as a second bedroom with double twins can be added. This luxurious suite offers fireplace views from three locations-livingroom, bedroom or bathroom. Upon arrival, kids are greeted with “Ocean Creatures” which are small plush whale, lobster, seal or crab toys, and mocktails created specially by award winning mixologist Tom Laslavic. The inn provides kid-sized bathrobes and slippers for an extra welcoming touch. A nanny service is available to guests. Note: you won’t find a pool or beachfront area onsite, but the beach is close by. Many visitors rave about the hearty breakfast included in the price, especially the lobster eggs benedict.
—Laurie Flannery for Luxury Travel Mavens