How can one escape the summer heat, the city, the job, the everything? Get away from the rat race and search out a small town to disappear into for a day, weekend, week. USA Today has helped us narrow down the list of coastal small town getaways and the winner happens to be one of the gayest towns in the country. Ogunquit, Maine was named as the winner of USA Today's 2016 Best Coastal Small Town in America. What's so attractive about Ogunquit?
During the summer months, the population of tiny Ogunquit swells as visitors flock to the 3-mile white sand beach backed by grass-covered dunes on the Maine coast. Before gaining fame as a resort community described as a mini Provincetown, Ogunquit attracted prominent artists like Charles H. Woodbury, Walt Kuhn and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. Besides gallery hopping, visitors to the Maine town can whale watch, kayak, hike, golf or go deep-sea fishing just off the coast. – 10best.com
I stumbled upon Ogunquit many moons ago as a young gay man looking for a welcoming paradise. Several friends that have traveled more than I had suggested the coastal Southern Maine town with its cool Atlantic waters and one of the best sand beaches they had ever come across, complete with a welcoming and open gay section. I fell in love with the quaint town and knew it would be one of my favorite vacation spots for a long time to come.
The town has changed quite a bit since my first visit about 18 years ago, some of the faces, names, buildings, colors, businesses, but what has not been altered is that it remains one of my favorite destinations. You don't have to be strapped to the normal tourist activities while in town, but instead, you can choose your own adventure. Go ahead and be a beach bum every single day and enjoy the "Vacationland" offerings of Maine, or you can step it up a notch and take in a Broadway Play / Musical with real Broadway performers at the well-known Ogunquit Playhouse (there's a bus from NYC that actually stops right at the Playhouse). And then there is everything in-between.
Repeat vacationers often have a hotel they keep on speed dial. I usually stay with one of the many friends I have made over the years or I'll try a different B&B I would find online. One of the more quaint places I stayed at was the Bourne Bed & Breakfast (B3). Besides its quaint size of 7 guest rooms, the location is perfect. It's placement equidistant from the center of Ogunquit Village and picturesque Perkins Cove makes it ideal for explorers. Both destinations are just a 5 minute walk from B3 and in both areas of town, you will find convenient simple dining next to some of the best eateries New England has to offer tucked between shopping, art galleries, and other tourist delights. The Bourne Bed & Breakfast is under new management and we wish Jimmy and Brian the best. Travelocity reviewers seem to like them.
My last visit to Ogunquit was for Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest weekends in own, along with the 4th of July and Labor Day. I enjoy any time I can get there, off-season, too, but it's also fun to see many new and old faces enjoying a place I actually called home for a whole summer. I hadn't been back in a couple of years and did notice some changes. One of the changes was Jimmy and Brian's new purchase. Another was the revitalization of Route 1 and new sidewalks through town. I dearly wanted to check out my friend Jake's new restaurant Brix + Brine, but juggling 8 friend and a drag queen from NYC was a little time consuming to say the least. Someone needs to go there and let me know how it is.
Besides B3's new management and the addition of Brix + Brine to the culinary options, MaineStreet bar went under a little cosmetic surgery during the winter and it was a lot more than just a botox treatment. Mainestreet is northern New England’s largest gay nightclub with 2 dance rooms, 2 outdoor decks, and 3 bars. Its central and main bar had seen many additions and renovations happen all around it, but now, it has been converted into one of the best places in town to grab a libation, hang with old friends and make new ones.
So a small quaint New England coastal town with a world class beach, simple and fine dining, bed and breakfasts along side large resorts, drag shows and Broadway musicals, family fun as well as one of the best gay bars in New England … sounds like it has everything? Some may say, yes, there is everything there, but next weekend, there will be a little more.
Living in a small quaint New England coastal town may become a little vanilla after a while. Mainestreet does spice things up monthly with Women's Tea Dances as well as monthly Bear Tea Dances and next weekend they will host The Sinner's Ball August 5th through the 7th. Spicy and hot indeed.
We look forward to traveling to big American cities that can offer it all. Award winning small coastal town Ogunquit, Maine can and does deliver just about everything you may desire. And if it is not there, the beach town is a short ride from the best craft beer city in the world, Portland, Maine, a little longer from Boston, Mass and Manchester, NH, three cities with large airports, it's an easy vacation destination to get to.
And if you cannot make it during the summer to enjoy Ogunquit, Fall is a great time of year, too. Bring your coats and mittens. For those that do not mind a little cooler temperatures, check out two of my favorite holidays to celebrate in Ogunquit, Halloween and New Year's Eve. Pack your costumes and your noise makers respectively.
As for the rating of Ogunquit being one of the best gay destinations out there … that's not USa Today's ranking, but mine. See you soon Ogunquit.
Here are the results from the USA Today's 10 Best List.
The top 10 winners in the category Best Coastal Small Town are as follows:
- Ogunquit, Maine
- St. Simons Island, Ga.
- Fernandina Beach, Fla.
- Rockport, Texas
- Saugatuck, Mich.
- Chincoteague, Va.
- Port Townsend, Wash.
- Tybee Island, Ga.
- Gulf Shores, Ala.
- Bayfield, Wis.
Other nominees in the category Best Coastal Small Town included Beaufort, S.C.; Cannon Beach, Ore.; Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.; Duck, N.C.; Portsmouth, N.H.; Rehoboth Beach, Del.; Sanibel Island, Fla.; St. Michaels, Md.; Sullivan's Island, S.C. and Traverse City, Mich. – 10best.com