A Southern Maine coastal getaway is the perfect escape for those seeking a blend of tranquility and adventure. The rugged beauty of the coastline, with its picturesque lighthouses and pristine beaches, invites you to unwind and reconnect with nature.
Whether you’re exploring charming historic towns, indulging in fresh seafood delights, or simply basking in the sound of the ocean waves, this region offers a serene retreat.
The towns that dot the coastline are perfect for any kind of getaway, from a romantic weekend away to a trip with the grandkids and even a solo adventure. Here are great options to make the most out of a coastal weekend getaway in Maine.
Cape Elizabeth is home to the iconic Portland Head Light, Maine’s oldest lighthouse, perched dramatically on a rocky promontory. Visitors can explore Fort Williams Park, where the lighthouse is located, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Two Lights State Park offers more towering beauty.
Beyond its maritime history, Cape Elizabeth boasts pristine beaches like Crescent Beach State Park, perfect for a day of sunbathing and swimming. The town’s quiet, tree-lined streets are ideal for leisurely walks, and at less than 10 miles to Portland, you can easily access the city’s vibrant dining and cultural scene.
Cape Elizabeth’s best accommodations are on the coastline, without the build-up or large hotels. Imagine staying in this seaside retreat for a long weekend.
A short ferry ride from the mainland of Southern Maine, the Chebeague Island offers a unique and idyllic addition to your coastal getaway. Comprising Great Chebeague Island, Little Chebeague Island, and other smaller islets, this island community provides a tranquil escape.
Great Chebeague Island, the largest of the group, is a haven for relaxation. Explore the island’s picturesque roads by bike or on foot, taking in views of rolling farmland and pristine coastal landscapes. The beaches, such as Deer Point and Hamilton Beach, beckon for picnics, swimming, and beachcombing.
The charm of Chebeague Island lies in its unhurried pace and close-knit community. Savor fresh seafood at local restaurants, or even enjoy a traditional Maine lobster bake. For a unique experience, stay at one of the island’s cozy inns or cottages, choosing if you want one facing the sunrise or sunset of this coastal Maine paradise.
Your ship has definitely come in when you choose Kittery for a coastal weekend getaway. This charming town seamlessly blends history, modern culture, and picturesque scenery.
Explore the rich maritime heritage at Fort McClary State Park, then wander through the trendy Kittery Foreside with its unique shops and diverse dining options.
Kittery’s culinary scene shines with exceptional seafood, including lobster and clam chowder, and a wide range of international cuisine. Dining with a view of the Piscataqua River adds to the experience. The town’s outlet shopping at Kittery Premium Outlets satisfies retail cravings, offering discounts on top brands.
Kittery serves as a gateway to the Seacoast region, making it a convenient starting point for exploring neighboring towns. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and whale watching.
Over the years, Kittery has been overshadowed by Portsmouth, New Hampshire, across the water. Those days are over.
Of course, Kennebunkport made this list as it’s perhaps the most envisioned waterfront town when you think of a Maine coastal weekend getaway.
Kennebunkport adds a touch of coastal elegance to your weekend escape. Its classic New England charm is embodied in historic mansions, well-preserved buildings, and picturesque streets that invite leisurely strolls.
Dock Square is lined with boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops, perfect for exploring at a relaxed pace.
The culinary scene here is exceptional, with seafood taking center stage. Savor the finest lobster and clam chowder at renowned restaurants that offer waterfront dining. Kennebunkport combines culinary excellence with stunning coastal views.
This charming town also offers outdoor activities, from kayaking along the Kennebunk River to taking scenic cruises to see local wildlife.
While there are many great places to stay here, we love the Tides Beach Club for always having events and activities for guests. This is so helpful when you’re trying to fit a lot into a weekend getaway in any season.
Ogunquit, meaning “beautiful place by the sea” in the Abenaki language, is a quintessential coastal weekend getaway with plenty of charming overnight accommodations.
Its stunning seaside beauty is evident along the Marginal Way, a picturesque oceanside path offering breathtaking views of the rocky coastline and the vast Atlantic Ocean. Ogunquit Beach, a three-and-a-half-mile stretch of pristine sand, beckons for sunbathing and swimming.
The town’s artistic spirit is showcased at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, which houses an impressive collection overlooking the ocean. Stroll through the village center, lined with charming boutiques, art galleries, and cozy cafes.
For a memorable evening, catch a performance at the Ogunquit Playhouse, known as “America’s Foremost Summer Theater.
Ogunquit’s culinary scene is equally enticing, with restaurants serving fresh seafood and local specialties. With its natural beauty, cultural attractions, and coastal charm, Ogunquit offers a perfect blend for an unforgettable coastal weekend escape. It’s well-known as an LGBTQIA+ welcoming community.
Old Orchard Beach is a fantastic coastal weekend getaway for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, its iconic, bustling pier is a hub of activity, with amusement rides, arcades, and lively entertainment. The seven-mile sandy beach provides ample space for relaxation and water activities, making it ideal for families and beach enthusiasts.
The town’s classic boardwalk exudes a timeless charm, offering everything from delicious seafood shacks to souvenir shops. You can’t miss the chance to try a famous Pier French fry or savor a lobster roll.
Old Orchard Beach is more than just a beach destination; it hosts concerts, festivals, and events throughout the summer. The welcoming atmosphere, vibrant energy, and nostalgic appeal make it a beloved coastal escape for all ages. Whether you’re seeking fun in the sun or a lively seaside experience, Old Orchard Beach delivers it all.
You can also expect to make a lot of new Canadian friends while you’re visiting in the summer.
As the largest town in Maine and with a pole position on the southern Maine coastline, Portland is an ideal coastal weekend getaway for those who want big-city options with small-town appeal.
Portland’s rich maritime heritage is palpable in landmarks like the historic Portland Head Light, offering quintessential Maine coastal views. The Old Port district’s cobblestone streets house a vibrant arts scene, boutique shops, and an array of restaurants serving delectable seafood.
The culinary scene is a highlight, with renowned chefs crafting farm-to-table cuisine, and the craft beer scene is booming.
Portland combines cultural sophistication with coastal charm. Look for the newest upscale hotel, the Longfellow Hotel, for the trendy and timeless experience you expect in a major Maine city. You can also search through dozens of other overnight options.
You can explore world-class museums like the Portland Museum of Art or enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Eastern Promenade, offering panoramic vistas of Casco Bay. The Back Bay walk is one of our favorites.
You can also escape the buzz of the city to Peaks Island, which is a short ferry ride away and still part of Portland.
Scarborough is too often missed on the way to Portland, but this hidden highlight of the Maine coastline shouldn’t be ignored. It’s ideal for those who want more relaxation and space than new brews and shopping bags.
Scarborough Beach State Park offers pristine sandy shores and gentle waves perfect for morning runs or romantic walks. That’s in addition to three more public beaches, with Ferry Beach being the best for a weekend getaway with young kids.
Prouts Neck offers mesmerizing coastal scenery without the crowds. Stay at the historic Black Point Inn to savor that scenery. If the Marginal Way of Ogunquit is too crowded, check out the Prouts Neck Cliff Walk.
NOTE: Prouts Neck Cliff Walk is also referred to as Marginal Way, so use that hyperlink above to find the correct location.
This town is also home to Len Lebbies chocolates and a life-sized chocolate moose.
Scarborough’s tranquil ambiance and natural beauty, combined with its proximity to other coastal towns, make it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful coastal escape.
York Beach, paired with York Harbor and the town of York, makes an ideal weekend getaway for beach and lighthouse lovers.
It boasts a trio of pristine sandy beaches: Short Sands Beach, Long Sands Beach, and Harbor Beach. Even on chilly fall days, you can watch surfers riding the waves in this popular surf zone.
The town is steeped in history, with the iconic Nubble Light perched on a small island just off the coast, providing a striking backdrop. You can explore the York Village Historical District, which features beautifully preserved colonial-era buildings.
Additionally, York Beach offers a delightful range of seafood restaurants, art galleries, and unique shops along its charming streets. The combination of natural beauty, historical charm, and coastal ambiance makes it an ideal coastal destination for a memorable weekend escape.
You Can’t Go Wrong on the Maine Coast
Every community on the Maine coast will have lobster rolls, fried clams, whoopie pies, and ice cream, with a heaping dose of seaside scenery. If boat tours are important for your trip, Portland and Kennebunkport are your two best options.
The southern Maine coast is great for a weekend getaway in winter, too, with festivals and open access to beaches without those pesky parking fees in most towns.
To reiterate, all of these locations are within an hour of each other. Stack your favorite options to build a southern Maine weekend getaway itinerary. There’s a reason so many Maine tourists become repeat visitors–there’s just so much to see and do!