A wide, white sand beach, diverse mix of Union, that have expanded the local restaurant scene. shops, lively arts scene, classic coastal scenery, and welcoming vibe make Ogunquit one of the most popular tourist destinations on the East Coast. Artists were the first outsiders to discover the quiet fishing village, led there by the painter Charles Woodbury, who opened a summer painting school in 1898. Its success helped establish an art colony at Perkins Cove, which also remains the town’s working harbor, spanned by an iconic pedestrian drawbridge. The work of early- twentieth-century artists who summered in the community can be seen at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, while the Barn Gallery, operated by the Ogunquit Arts Collaborative, shows work by current artists and is a popular gathering space for cultural activities. A third major arts institution is the Ogunquit Playhouse, which is celebrating its 85th season this year. Stars from Bette Davis to Clay Aiken have appeared on the stage of the playhouse—the first and only remaining theater from the summer stock era.
The season that once began on Memorial Day and ended on Labor Day now extends from April to November, says Sarah Diment of Ogunquit’s well- known Beachmere Inn, which has been in her family since 1937. “Ogunquit has grown in its capacity to offer accommodations and amenities,” says Diment, noting the fine-dining options, such as Northern “But we’ve retained our cottagey character—we’re not too commercial—and the sense of community is still strong,” she says. “All these great little galleries and shops add flair to the town and keep it hopping. And we’ve kept our welcoming, artist-community character.”
Diment grew up in Ogunquit, “fishing off of Lobster Point, skipping along the rocks, and looking through the tide pools,” she says. Like many local kids, she learned to swim in the Ogunquit River on the inland side of the Ogunquit Beach peninsula. A favorite activity for all ages is to ride the river as it flows out to sea halfway between high and low tide. On tubes and body boards, riders are carried around the bend, the current depositing them in the shallows just off the beach. “It’s so sweet to see families enjoying the outdoors and being active,” says Diment.
No visit to Ogunquit would be complete without a stroll on Marginal Way, a mile-long path along the shoreline connecting Perkins Cove to Ogunquit Beach. Donated to the town in 1925, the beloved landmark is maintained by the generosity of locals and visitors through the Marginal Way Preservation Fund. Although the path winds in front of the Beachmere Inn, “I’m much too busy to take a walk in the summertime,” says Diment with a laugh. “But it’s great for snowshoeing in the winter.”