Ogunquit, which means “beautiful place by the sea” in the indigenous Abenaki Language was first a village within Wells which was settled in 1641.
Ogunquit is essentially a tranquil, small village where you can enjoy the simple pleasures at a peaceful pace, no matter how crowded it may become at times. It offers almost everything to almost everyone as perhaps nowhere else in the country can: the finest stretch of pristine beach whose glistening white sand flows wide and long; a picturesque small harbor, with its fishing and pleasure boats moving easily at their quiet moorings and crowned by a unique draw-footbridge; the quaint New England flavor of the Village Center with its countless restaurants, art galleries, gift shops, inns, hotels and guesthouses; awesome views of high waves crashing against rocks, and soothing views of gentle waters easing up onto clean white sand; kayaking, paddle-boarding and fine golf courses nearby; the Ogunquit Playhouse, movie theaters and small repertory companies; boat rides, either for sightseeing or for trapping Maine’s famous lobster or for fishing in the deep dark sea; the exceptionally stirring and exhilarating Marginal Way footpath which winds along a craggy promontory shadowing the vast Atlantic for a sandpiper’s view of the famed rocky coast of Maine. Over the past 100 years, this attractive seaside village has evolved without losing any of its charisma or endearing quaintness.
When you see the powdery stretch of white sand curving into a backdrop of rugged cliffs, you’ll understand why Ogunquit has been drawing admirers for so many years. This site called “beautiful place by the sea” is suitably named, and the bountiful beach is a special treasure in Maine whose rockbound coastline yields few such vast, open places.
The Marginal Way is a paved footpath atop the cliffs, meandering through bayberry and bittersweet bushes, gnarled shrubs of fragrant sea roses, shaded alcoves, and expansive views of the Atlantic with all its varying moods. There is no better place to unwind and be overwhelmed by the immensity and vastness of nature, then come away feeling humbled and contented yet remarkably uplifted and refreshed.
Maine has few small harbors as picturesque as Perkins Cove. Stand on the white painted drawbridge and watch the fascinating life of this little port and of the numerous birds living in the birdhouses nailed to the pilings under the footbridge. Lobstermen constantly shuttle in and out with their pots and catches, and sailing ships and fishing parties make their way through the crowded harbor, leaving for or coming in from a day of relaxation or adventure.
Ogunquit began to lure fine artists in the late 1880’s, when they stumbled upon the artist’s paradise of Perkins Cove, which was then a small picturesque inlet with colorful, sturdy New England sailing dories and weathered fish shacks. By the end of the 19th century, Ogunquit had become a well-established artist colony. You can experience our art colony today at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, praised as “…the most beautiful small museum in the world.” Perched high above the rocks in Narrow Cove where artists used to congregate, the Museum’s all-glass east wall looks dramatically out over an expanse of ocean. The lawn is dressed with whimsical, oversized wood sculptures and a small pond where butterflies gather. Additionally, Ogunquit offers a profusion of galleries, many still in Perkins Cove, where fine original art can be viewed and purchased.
Ogunquit has been similarly blessed with performing arts. Since 1933, top stars perform on the stage of the splendid Ogunquit Playhouse. It continues the tradition of high theatrical standards and the excellent quality of performances and productions for the enjoyment of future generations who flock to this small town on the Maine coast. Arts prevail in Ogunquit as galleries and summer theatre are still an important part of its landscape.