One of Maine’s fastest growing communities seems to have it all

One of four beaches in Scarborough, Higgins Beach is popular with families.
The Black Point Inn, built in 1878, is open from May through October. The historic hotel’s oceanside setting, well-regarded restaurants, and old-world charm make it a popular site for weddings as well as for family vacations.
Surfers ride the waves at Higgins Beach year-round
A pebbly beach on the Prouts Neck Cliff Walk.
Even in the off-season, Higgins Beach draws dog owners and families for walks and beachcombing.
A view from the Prouts Neck Cliff Walk.

With eight miles of coastline, two tidal rivers, and Maine’s largest salt marsh, nearly one third of the 70-plus square miles that make up Scarborough is water. Seven miles south of the city of Portland, Scarborough’s four wide, white sand beaches are some of the most pop- ular in the metropolitan area; diehard surfers even catch waves at Higgins Beach in the winter. But there’s more to Scarborough than sand and salt water. A few miles from the ocean on the other side of I95, farms take advantage of its flat, fertile land—fields of vegetables and flowers spreading in a colorful patchwork.

For the past several years, Scarborough has been one of Maine’s fastest growing towns, and this is attributed to its proximity to Portland, natural beauty, good schools, and local amenities. Most of the year-round shops and restaurants in Scarborough (as well as the headquarters of Hannaford Supermarkets) are found along Route 1, with seasonal spots tucked into summer communities on the water. Scarborough even boasts a NASCAR-sanctioned auto-racing track: Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, which celebrated its 70th season in 2018.

“It’s a special place because there’s a little bit of everything,” says Sunny Townsend, who has lived in Scarborough with her husband, Scott, since 1997. Partners in the Scott and Sunny Townsend Team of Keller Williams Realty, the Townsends are passionate about the community of Higgins Beach at the northern edge of the Scarborough coastline, where they also manage 100 vacation rental properties. Members of DOGS (Dog Owners of Greater Scarborough), they take almost daily walks on the beach with their two pups, which “helps build community and connect neighbors,” says Sunny. “The long, expansive tidal span offers hard-packed sand—awesome for ball throwing with our dogs.” Sunny and Scott are both avid paddleboarders; he likes to surf the ocean waves on his board while she prefers paddling calmer waters. “One of my favorite activities is to paddle board from the Route 77 boat launch down the Spurwink River to Higgins Beach; timed with the tides it makes for a peaceful exploration of the marsh,” says Sunny.

Farther south along the Scarborough coastline, at the mouth of the Nonesuch River, Ferry Beach is popular with families. “It’s great for kids since it’s calm, protected water, and it’s also my favorite place to watch the sunset,” says Sunny. “We’ll pick up happy hour nibbles from the Cheese Iron or, in season, a killer lobster roll from the Higgins Beach Market.” Nearby, the Black Point Inn is a special spot for the couple to enjoy a summer evening cocktail or dinner on the deck, looking out to Pine Point and the marsh. The grand old hotel is situated at the entrance to the summer colony of Prouts Neck, where stately shingled cottages are visible behind hedges of beach roses, and where the Winslow Homer Studio, owned by the Portland Museum of Art, overlooks the ocean.

Across the Nonesuch River, Pine Point is a charming community of summer cottages and year-round homes, with a broad beach and the Townsends’ go-to seafood shack. “The best fish fry anywhere is Ken’s Place on Pine Point Road, open March through October,” says Sunny. “I crave the fried haddock—the not-too-heavy crumb batter is perfect, and it’s always fresh.”

In all seasons, the Townsends take advantage of the Eastern Trail, which offers miles of flat, sce- nic walking or pedaling. “It’s great for easy biking, and there is a gap section about to be closed that will connect Scarborough to South Portland,” says Sunny. “All this and just 15 minutes to the Old Port—life is sweet in Scarborough.”