Maine: Portland

Three years after our first family vacation to Maine, we returned recently and once again chose Portland ( as our base. We really enjoyed the accommodations at the Embassy Suites last time, so that certainly helped with our decision when they had availability and the spacious two bedroom suite we had our eyes on. This was a significant upgrade for my family. The large living room in the middle was perfect for me to work late into the evening or early in the morning without disturbing anyone.

Portland is Maine’s business, financial and retail capital and the largest city in the state. Seascapes and cityscapes blend harmoniously in Portland, perched on a peninsula, jutting out into island-studded Casco Bay. The metropolitan hub of Maine’s south coast region, Portland is a progressive, lively city incorporating the character of yesteryear into a modern urban environment. Historic architecture blends gracefully with the new as you stroll along her working waterfront or the cobblestone streets of the restored Old Port section of the city.
With a metro population of 230,000, the Greater Portland area is home to almost one quarter of Maine’s total population. The city itself has 64,000 residents. Their economy is strong and bumper-to-bumper traffic and gridlock are unheard of. Portland is an easygoing city, with friendly, hardworking people. Ranked nationally as one of the ten safest, culturally most fascinating US Cities and one of the top cities for doing business, it is no wonder 3.6 million tourists a year visit, including 41,000 cruise ship passengers.

In the Old Port, great brick buildings, once warehouses for local merchants, now hold a myriad of original shops, galleries and restaurants. Its history intricately bound to the sea, Portland remains proud of its working waterfront and the celebrated beauty of its rock-bound coast. The waterfront provides access to the sea for commercial shipping and a host of pleasure activities.
Portland boasts a thriving arts scene and an exclusive Downtown Arts District. As one of the premier cultural centers in northern New England, Portland’s visual and performing arts rival those of regions much larger in size. Stroll through the world-class Portland Museum of Art, or wander the cobblestone streets in search of local galleries. Shop for gourmet foods in the bustling Public Market and in the evening dive into a nightlife that features award-winning local brews and a flourishing live-music scene. From classical to cutting-edge, performing and visual arts are vibrantly alive in Portland and infuse the region with a surprising sophistication.

WHERE TO STAY: The Embassy Suites Portland, Maine hotel ( is centrally located and right next to the Portland Jetport. It is just four miles from the famed Old Port. Moreover, the hotel is just a few miles from Maine’s beaches and scenic walking, hiking, and biking destinations. What I like best is the easy five minute drive to the beautiful Maine Mall and known chain restaurants such as Ruby Tuesday’s, IHOP, Pizza Uno Chicago Grill, Friendly’s and even a Tim Horton.

All accommodations feature two flat screen televisions, a refrigerator, microwave oven and coffee maker, complimentary wireless high-speed internet access, two telephones and a comfortable work area with desk. There are 119 suites in the hotel. Only five are of the two bedroom variety so book those early. KTB Hospitality owns this hotel and five others in the state.

You can start your day here with a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, including omelettes and pancakes. Grab a bagel and coffee on your way to a business event or to Portland’s attractions. In the evening, the atrium lobby is the site for the complimentary Manager’s Reception. Here you can sip a cocktail or refreshing beverage and enjoy a variety of snacks. You also have the option of savouring fresh local seafood and American cuisine at Café Stroudwater, their casual restaurant.

Looking to stay in shape? Work out in the state of the art fitness center or swim laps in the indoor pool, which as of this writing is about to get a facelift. The BusinessLink Business Center enables you to remain productive and manage work-related tasks. This is a popular spot to host a business conference or special event for up to 100 guests in one of their flexible meeting spaces. There is complimentary outdoor parking, always a bonus.

The hotel is located at 1050 Westbrook Street. For more information call 207-775-2200 or 1-800-Embassy.

DINING: Greater Portland offers a robust selection of restaurants, specialty foods and brewpubs, totalling over 200 dining choices. The amount of money spent in restaurants per capita ranks third in the country, behind San Francisco and New York. Local foods are featured at century-old outdoor farmers’ markets, a new year-round public market, and at a variety of smaller specialty stores that offer a blend of prepared, imported and local foods. The microbrew industry is well represented in Greater Portland with nearly 20 breweries, some recognized nationally.
We were directed towards David’s Restaurant (, located at 22Monument Square in the Arts District. Owner David Turin is an award winning chef and artist in residence.
David’s has a pretty extensive menu, from an array of soups, salads and appetizers to meat, seafood and pasta dishes. There are also daily specials. One member of our party chose the open faced lobster “ravioli” which included Maine lobster, day boat scallops, Gulf shrimp, herbed ricotta and sherried lobster cream. Given the fact that the other two individuals at the table were having a very difficult time making any selections, we were offered a tasting menu. This was indeed a treat. It started off with some greens (arugula, spiced pecans, blue cheese, shaved red onion and black currant vinaigrette). I actually substituted that portion for a delicious blend of David’s clam chowder, containing thyme, brown sugar and bacon. A sampling of lobster was next, butter poached, with chanterelle risotto cake, citrus truffle and micro salad. This was followed by tuna (pepper crusted sushi rare, sesame peanut soba noodles, Szechuan citrus sauce and asparagus), sorbet (honeydew with cucumber vodaka), ravioli (forest mushrooms, leeks, shallots, oven dried tomatoes, goat cheese, arugula and Madeira truffle sauce), duck (crispy skin, garlic, ginger and soy with sesame spinach and mushroom risotto) and finally some ice cream (sea salt and caramel, chocolate sauce and crumbled chocolate cookies).

BEACHES: As far as beaches go, our original plan was to commute to Old Orchard Beach. But then our hotel recommended Scarborough and Crescent Beaches. Both are popular family swimming beaches with fine sand, picnic tables, snack bars and washrooms. There is parking, albeit of a nominal fee, but it is fine spot to relax and take in the sun.

Maine:Cape Elizabeth

Extending 12 miles into open ocean, rimmed by craggy shores and sandy beaches, the Maine town of Cape Elizabeth ( marks the entrance to spectacular Casco Bay.

We were lured to Cape Elizabeth by a beautiful resort called The Inn by the Sea ( Voted a World’s Best Hotel by Travel + Leisure Magazine, 2011, this very pet friendly venue is located on a mile of sandy beach and just 15 minutes from Portland. There are 61 guest rooms, suites and cottages making the property the perfect luxury Maine beach hotel for couples or family travel. Rauni Kew, the head of public relations and green programs, gave me a tour of the property. Rauni gave me a peek at some of the extraordinary and spacious rooms, including one of 10 new ocean view, luxury one and two bedroom suites. Meanwhile, she also showed me a stylish loft one bedroom suite. They both had nice outdoor balconies, full kitchens, lavish bathrooms, gas fireplaces, flat screen TVs and ipod docking stations.

The Sea Glass restaurant offers panoramic views of Crescent Beach from its intimate dining room or al fresco deck. Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich features the best of Maine’s oceans and farms in his seasonally appropriate menus. Here you can enjoy signature cocktails or selections from an award-winning wine list. Both the hotel and the restaurant are involved with an underutilized seafood program orchestrated by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, (GMRI)- which includes local fishermen, regional talented chefs and GMRI’s research to interest restaurant diners to enjoy lesser known, but delectable seafood fresh from the Gulf of Maine.

“By eating underappreciated fish, that are both delicious and abundant, we help the sustainability of Maine’s fishing industry, the fishermen, and the health of the Gulf of Maine,” explains Rauni.

Chef Kaldrovich marries the freshest regional ingredients with his Argentine roots to create a unique and memorable culinary experience. Sea Glass serves breakfast, lunch and dinner year-round and an all-day light fare menu in the lounge. Hours vary by season and reservations are recommended by calling 207.799.3134 or booking online. It is open to the public. We enjoyed a delicious lunch by the lovely salt water heated pool, sharing some pita and hummus, a grilled chicken Caesar salad and a Maine lobster roll.

This venue has been nationally recognized for its green and pet-friendly hotel practices. It is a particularly popular spot for weekend getaways, wedding celebrations at the beach or group meetings.

Spa at Inn by the Sea offers a full complement of beach inspired body treatments, massages and aesthetics. Here you can unwind and be soothed by luxurious facials, massages and treatments. There are six elegantly appointed treatment rooms and private spaces for men and women, featuring relaxing steam and experience showers. The Spa offers a full array of natural and maritime-inspired massages, facials and body treatments. A room-for-two can be reserved for treatments with that special someone and men’s and women’s sanctuaries allow for quiet repose before and after spa services. The spa was designed and built with eco-friendly materials and offers treatment products that specifically complement our reputation for environmental responsibility while offering natural chemical-free ingredients to promote wellness. One member of our party enjoyed an extraordinary relaxing massage while raving about the therapist. The Spa is open to the public, but try to make a reservation as far in advance as possible.

The hotel is just around the corner from the Portland headlight, commissioned by George Washington. This is one of the oldest and most famous lighthouses in the country and its small museum represents a fun stop. The lighthouse has been painted by numerous artists. There is also a wonderful nature walk around the 125 acre Great Pond behind the Inn.

The boardwalk that leads to the beach is 150 yards long. Pool attendants walk umbrellas and chairs to and from the beach and set them up for guests. They will also help carry beach toys and other items.

RECREATION: Inn by the Sea and the surrounding area is rich in scenic and recreational opportunities. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a hundred outdoor activities like fishing, boating, sports of many kinds, and exploring nature. Culture vultures will find music, theatre, museums and more just a few minutes away in Portland.

Crescent Beach State Park opened in 1966. Sandy oceanfront beaches, saltwater coves, wooded areas, and rock ledges provide seashore recreation for beachgoers, fishing and water sports enthusiasts, and nature observers. Crescent Beach State Park is a classic saltwater beach park with beach grass-studded sand dunes, ocean breezes, herring gulls, picnic areas and views of fishing boats and an offshore island.
The park’s signature feature and namesake is a mile-long, crescent-shaped beach ideal for strolling and sunbathing, where relatively warm waters and light surf make swimming and boating a pleasure. A few feet from the crowded summer sands are trails for walking and nature watching. In the off-season when the park is closed to vehicles, walkers are welcome to enjoy the tranquility of the beaches and trails. In the winter, visitors can hike or cross-country ski on paths under a canopy of snow-covered evergreen boughs.

Maine: York and Perkins Cove

YORK MAINE AND PERKINS COVE: From our base in Dover, New Hampshire recently, we spent a day in York Harbour, Maine ( – a mere 30 minute drive and moved over to Perkins Cove in the Ogunquit area for the evening.

York is considered the Gateway to the Maine Beaches. We were there a few years ago to visit their wonderful zoo –York’s Wild Kingdom. This time we decided to spend the day at the Stage Neck Inn (, a complete boutique resort in the New England tradition. The Inn is situated at the mouth of the York River, with breathtaking ocean and harbor views at every turn. Resort facilities include a fitness room with sauna, indoor atrium pool with Jacuzzi, sandy beach, oceanside fresh-water pool with snack bar, seasonal clay tennis courts, spa treatments at The Spa at Stage Neck and 18-hole golf privileges at two of the area’s finest courses: the Ledges and the Links at Outlook. Other renowned courses are nearby.

Stage Neck Inn is on the ocean’s edge, adjacent to York Harbor Beach. This is a beautiful sandy beach with a gradual incline, making it ideal for wading. The tides vary throughout the day. You’ll enjoy the sound of the waves on the sand, as well as on the rocky peninsula upon which the Inn is situated. The crannies and nooks of the cliffs are an excellent spot for beach combing for shells and for other treasures. Beyond the beach is a scenic cliffwalk which takes you past the “summer cottages” of York Harbor. About a mile from the Inn is Long Sands Beach which offers a long expanse of sandy beach with views of the Nubble Lighthouse. York is also home to Short Sands beach, which offers a beach-resort atmosphere with an arcade, band stand, playground as well as restaurants and shops.

The Stage Neck Pool and Tennis Club features a gorgeous, oceanside fresh water swimming pool. It is open in the summer months only. The area includes lounge chairs and tables with umbrellas for those who don’t want to get too much sun. The pool offers harbor views, ocean views, and views of the Inn and stately seaside “cottages.” They also have a nice lunch menu, with a unique ordering formula. All you need to do is take a red flag and stick it in the ground near your poolside spot. A server then comes over and takes your order. This is one place my family and I hope to explore more of at a future date.

PERKINS COVE: Perkins Cove ( is a small but popular artist colony and tourist area in Ogunquit, with shops, restaurants, lodging facilities and breathtaking views of the ocean. It is also known for its historical trail known as the Marginal Way. Once recognized as a fishing village, Perkins Cove is now an outdoor mall of shops and boutiques. It has been a favorite place for artists, painters and tourists for generations and represents a great place to spend a day and or evening strolling the shops, the Marginal Way and having fresh seafood at area restaurants. It’s even better to spend a few days or a week exploring the entire area, including Ogunquit and nearby towns like Wells and other nearby coastal towns. Somehow I never even stepped foot in the area during my last visit.

I must confess that during my previous trip to Ogunquit I never even knew Perkins Cove existed. It was Israeli-born neighbor Chaim who sang the area’s praises, insisting that we visit the next time we traveled to Maine.

We had an amazing dinner at MC Perkins Cove (, which I must recommend as “the spot” to dine there. It offers spectacular ocean views with contemporary American food created by James Beard Award winning chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier of Arrows Restaurant. The upscale casual setting offers a raw bar, lounge, two bars, two beautiful dining rooms, and a private dining room all overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. MC offers lunch and dinner as well as a bar menu throughout the evening, a full bar and extensive wine list.

Hats off to their manager, Norman Dufour. On the night we visited the lineup to get in was out the door. Despite the hectic pace, Norman handled the anxious diners with style and made sure everyone got seated and served. Members of our party started off with the Caesar Jai Lai Palace Salad and an amazing clam and haddock chowder, with potatoes, yams, saffron and tomato cream. For the main course there was so much to choose from: shrimp, lobster, fish (rainbow trout, plank roasted Atlantic salmon, swordfish brochette), chicken, steak and hamburgers. Well two of us had the steamed whole Maine lobster, served completely out of the shell in garlic butter with delicious jasmine rice on the side. The other order was an MC lobster “mac and cheese” elbow macaroni with cheddar, lobster and herb bread crumbs. We had just enough room to share an amazing homemade dessert, warm Maine blueberry and peach crisp with vanilla ice cream. Be sure to make reservations in advance at 207-646-6263. Arrive early, park and explore the area.

Maine: Old Orchard Beach

Old Orchard Beach is a great place to spend the day or evening, but I would strongly suggest for accommodations purposes you stay 25 minutes away in Portland, as we did at the Embassy Suites (

It’s almost impossible not to have fun at Old Orchard Beach. The low surf makes this a favorite spot for swimming, sunbathing, and making new friends. When the kids get hungry they can explore the boardwalk for pizza, french fries, hot dogs, cheeseburgers and even poutine, or you can choose from the many family style restaurants around town. Try your luck on the video games, jump on a ride, treat yourself to an ice cream or a cold soda. Thrills, chills and frills-take your pick or do it all.

Catering to tourists and families is a way of life in Old Orchard Beach. The beach, the arcades and amusement rides, nightly entertainment, auto races and harness racing are favorite activities in the Old Orchard Beach area. Old Orchard’s Pier is the center of the recreational activities. Extending nearly 500 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, it features shops, fast food, and games of skill. During the summer many special events are planned to entertain and mesmerize everyone in the family festivals, fairs, free concerts, street dances, and fireworks most Thursday nights. Besides the Pier, the beachfront businesses offer gift and souvenir shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and arcades.

Old Orchard Beach is easy to reach by the major highways in Maine. Exits 36 and 42 off the Maine Turnpike (I-95) take you quickly into our popular seaside resort, as does the access from U.S. Route 1.
South along Route 9 lies the quiet seaside area of Ocean Park, a historic cottage community noted for its religious, educational, and cultural programs. The Ocean Park Association sponsors numerous lectures, concerts and other events. At the southern end of Saco Bay lies Camp Ellis. Here the mouth of the Saco River meets the sea, and memorable sailboat, whale watching expeditions, or deep-sea fishing trips await. You will also find several interesting shops, a couple of restaurants, and a long breakwater to walk.

The cities of Biddeford, Saco and Scarborough are immediate neighbors, offering a variety of services and shopping. The Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford provides quality medical care for the region. In nearby Prout’s Neck is the Winslow Homer studio where the artist worked at the turn of the century. New England’s largest salt marsh is off Route 9 in neighbouring Scarborough with guided walks and canoe tours.

WHAT TO DO: While Old Orchard’s seven-mile long stretch of wide sandy beach is understandably the major attraction, there is a full range of other things available to see and do in and around the area. Palace Playland ( is New England’s only beachfront amusement park. It features a giant arcade, beautiful carousel, a kiddieland, a new ferris wheel and the galaxi coaster. It is open Memorial Day to Labor Day and features fireworks every Thursday night by the Pier. What’s great about this place is that you do not have to pay for admission, just for the rides. This can be done by buying tickets or a wrist band for unlimited access. There is no particular entrance or exit, so you can take a break anytime you want and explore the Old Orchard beach strip of shops and restaurants or take a walk on the Pier.
The park is owned by businessman Joel Golder. His son Paul serves as executive vice-president and his brother Fred handles business affairs.
Paul’s wife Silvia works with him at the park. So do his mom Harriet, sister Stacey and Fred’s wife Caron. His Aunt Carole operates two food stands as a tenant in the park. Her son, Adam, works with her, with his wife Thea.

Every effort is made to accommodate special needs patrons. The park itself is easy to navigate in a wheelchair. Individuals with a physical handicap will be given special access to rides when possible.

In 2012 the park added two brand new rides, Riptide and an upgraded kiddie Frog Hopper. Another new addition for the kids is called Dizzy Dragon. It was previously operated at an indoor entertainment center. The new ferris wheel offers a spectacula light show. I was happy to reconnect with Paul, who is very hands on where this park is concerned. We met during my last trip in 2009 and have since corresponded via Facebook. Let me tell you that Palace Playland is a real “upper” on a nice evening and fun for all ages. My favourite experience of the night was Cascade Falls, in which you are pulled up to two steep hills and then dropped down through a stream of water. Be prepared to get soaked. On a warm night, it is an amazing way to get cooled off. There is plenty of parking on adjacent streets for about $5. Take some time to walk the touristy streets where you can buy souvenirs ,beach girl and sample a lot of fun food.
Palace Playland is the perfect place to spend the evening with family and friends. In the summer you are sure to hear a lot of French being spoken as Quebecers travel to this particular part of Maine in drov es.

HISTORY: The earliest records of the Old Orchard Beach area date back to 1653. The first settler, Thomas Rogers, established “Garden by the Sea “in 1657. A few years later ten militiamen repelled 150 attacking Indians near the beach, but a relief party of townspeople coming to support the malitiamen were killed in an ambush, and Roger’s home was burned. The “old” apple orchard, from which the town took its name, a landmark to sailors for many years, was on high land above the long sand beach. In 1820 Maine, formally part of Massachusetts, became a State by act of Congress. In that same year the first Publick House (inn) was opened serving coach travelers and other transients year round. In 1837, E.C. Staples was coaxed into taking summer boarders at his farm for $1.50 per week. Convinced of Old Orchard Beach’s potential as a summer resort, Staples built the first Old Orchard Boarding House near the top of today’s Old Orchard Street. 1842 brought the first steam railroad from Boston to Portland with a station just 2 miles west of town. The first restaurant to sell seafood treats and “shore dinners” opened in 1851 near Staples Street. The Grand Trunk Railroad opened in 1853 connecting Montreal to Old Orchard Beach, enabling Canadian visitors to flock to this closest beach to Montreal and avoid the long carriage trip.The Civil War began in 1861 followed by years of growth and building of homes, streets, stores, livery stables, and beachfront hotels. 1873 brought the Boston & Maine Railroad passing right through Old Orchard Beach and stopping on the site of today’s Chamber of Commerce. In that same year a group of Methodists formed the Old Orchard Campground Association. The Ocean Park Association built “The Temple” in 1881, and nationally known speakers were heard every Sunday all summer.
In 1892 electric trolley cars replaced horse cars to Biddeford and Saco. 1898 proved to be an unfortuitous year to complete the first Pier. Built of steel and measuring 1,770 feet long and 20 feet above the tides, their Pier was severely damaged in November of that same year. 1900 brought the first town hall and 1902 the first amusement area complete with roller skating, merry-go-round, rides, games, and refreshment stands. The Portland to Old Orchard Beach Electric Railway opened in 1903 where 14 miles of track were traveled in under one hour for $20.00. The great fire of 1907 destroyed the entire beachfront as firemen from Portland, Biddeford, and Saco rushed to the beach but struggled to contain the blaze, hampered by low water pressure. Rebuilding began at once, and one project “the standpipe” assured adequate water for all. March 1909 brought another damaging storm destroying “White City” at the end of the Pier and reducing the Pier to 700 feet. An international auto race was held on the beach in 1910 with Dave Lewis winning the 100 mile race. The 1920′s and 30′s were the Big Band era. All the famous dance bands, Guy Lombardo, Rudy Valle, Duke Ellington, and more visited the Pier Casino each summer, and thousands danced over the waves under the revolving crystal ball.

Sparked by Lindbergh’s daring flight, many Trans-Atlantic flights took advantage of Old Orchard Beach’s long stretch of wide hard packed sand to attempt their own crossings. The storm of February 1978 almost demolished the Pier, and a new pier was immediately planned. Today’s Pier opened in June 1980.

Maine: Ogunquit, Wells and York

Known to the Abenaki tribe as “beautiful place by the sea,” Ogunquit is a beautiful town of Maine featuring a world-class beach and magnificent coastline that attract visitors from around the globe.

The mouth of the tidal Ogunquit River separates three miles of white sandy beach from the craggy granite ledge which dives into the Atlantic. Millions of visitors have walked the Marginal Way, a scenic cliff-walk that meanders along the ocean for over a mile.


Ogunquit has everything for every type of traveler. Theatre lovers flock to the many playhouses for the summer stock performances. Shoppers rave about the assortment of galleries, boutiques and gift shops and discriminating diners have an abundant selection of fine restaurants to satisfy nearly every taste – including lobster! Sailing, sea kayaking and whale watching are popular activities as well as hiking nearby Mount Agamenticus or the Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm.

PERFORMING ARTS: Located just South of Ogunquit Village at 42 Main Street, surrounded by pastoral fields and scenic woods, the historic Ogunquit Playhouse ( continues to create some of the most vibrant and exciting summer theatre in the country. One of the few remaining summer stock theatres of the legendary straw hat circuit, the Playhouse continues its 76-year tradition of bringing the biggest and best shows of Broadway to the beach. Each summer the Playhouse produces a five show subscription series along with its unique and growing Children’s Theatre Program.

The 2009 roster featured A Chorus Line, Shout! The Mod Musical, Guys and Dolls, Singin’ in the Rain and the Elvis Presley filled All Shook Up.

We had the good fortune of seeing Guys and Dolls, starring Tony award winner Christian Hoff and Richard Kind of TV’s Spin City fame. It was a fabulous show, with great sets and a real professional look. There is free parking, book your tickets in advance and arrive at least 15 minutes before showtime,

Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays, from Memorial to Columbus Day weekends. Main Stage ticket prices range from $39 to $58 per show. You may purchase tickets on-line or through the box office at 207-646-5511.

The humble beginnings of this theatre go back to July 1, 1933 as a crowd filed into a renovated garage in the town’s square is there for the opening night of a new venue. Few, if any, realized they were also witnessing the birth of a playhouse that would soon earn and later sustain its title as “America’s Foremost Summer Theatre.” Broadway showman Walter Hartwig had a dream: good theatre could thrive outside of New York. With his wife Maude he knew Ogunquit through participation in the Hoyt’s Lane Art Center. The town’s reputation and popularity as a summer resort convinced him to bring his Manhattan Theatre Colony to Ogunquit, and he persuaded such legends as Maude Adams, Ethel Barrymore, and Laurette Taylor to star with a resident company.

The theatre’s enormous success brought the need for larger quarters. Hartwig bought the old Ware Farm on Route 1, just south of town, and built the new Ogunquit Playhouse, unique for its spacious comfort, convenience, superb acoustics, and up-to-date equipment. The playhouse opened on July 17, 1937, and with top stars in the best plays it indeed thrived. After Hartwig’s death in 1941, his widow Maude took up the producing reigns, and was joined in 1950 by John Lane, a young actor and general manager. He acquired the theatre and land from the retiring Maude in 1951. Joined by a new business partner, Henry Weller, they embarked on a long-range plan of modernizing and improving the building and grounds, and, without missing a beat, enhanced the tradition of excellence and excitement in entertainment. Through his dedicated direction, professional integrity, and impeccable taste, generations of theatre goers have enjoyed the brightest stars and finest professional actors performing in Broadway’s best dramas, comedies, and musicals.

After four and a half decades as owner and producer, John Lane had earned his desired retirement. To perpetuate the playhouse, in 1994 he spearheaded the formation of the Ogunquit Playhouse Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to “preserve and maintain the Ogunquit Playhouse as a community-based performing-arts center.” John Lane pledged to transfer ownership to the foundation if it raised $500,000 within three years to ensure the longevity and maintenance of the theater and grounds.

The cash and pledges went over the top well before the deadline, and ownership was transferred in September 1997. John Lane’s extraordinary stewardship of the Ogunquit Playhouse ended after 46 years, but his legacy will endure for generations. Though John Lane passed away in the autumn of 2000, his Playhouse, continues to be a dynamic testimony to his commitment to live theatre, one that will continue to be enjoyed and appreciated by generations to come.

In September 1999 the Ogunquit Playhouse Foundation selected Roy M. Rogosin as producing artistic director in order to build a bridge between the legendary history of the Playhouse and the exciting and challenging future ahead. Part of this future involved the incremental restoration of the playhouse. For the 68th-anniversary year-2000 season the lobby underwent a beautiful refurbishing, thanks to the Ogunquit Playhouse Theatre Guild.

In addition, through the generosity of the Guild, a new gazebo adorns the south lawn, where wine and beer are served to patrons. The north-field parking lot was secured and made safe through the generosity of the Guild under the leadership of Ann Reynolds.

In 2002, the Playhouse restored the Colony Theatre as a center for Youth Theatre classes and performances as the Children’s Theatre Program continued to grow and prosper. Once again the dedicated Guild stepped up to assist with both funding for the Colony restoration and many hours of volunteer work to support the Children’s Theatre camp programs.

In 2004 the Playhouse embraced both new technology and old friends. With Broadway-quality productions worthy of the Great White Way itself, along with appearances by national stars such as Sally Struthers and Lucie Arnez, the Playhouse continued it’ role as “America’s Foremost Summer Theatre.” Complimenting the performances on the stage, the Playhouse installed a new sound system donated by the Playhouse Theatre Guild, along with the generous support of DC Audio of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Improvements to customer service were made as the Playhouse installed a new phone system and launched online ticket sales. Thanks in part to a grant funded by Kennebunk Savings Bank, the Playhouse now proudly proclaims, “Our box office never closes at!”

DINNER: If you are looking to catch a quick dinner before the show, then make a stop at the Old Village Inn ( at 250 Maine Street. Owned and operated by Dean Goodman, this mid -19th century inn echoes that earlier era’s gracious yet informal atmosphere which makes dining in unique charm and tasteful decor to match any mood. The varied menu offers a blend of creative and traditional American and Continental selections, all prepared to order. A carefully chosen wine list presents a wide range of selections to satisfy even the most discriminating palates. You can choose one of their many delicious entrees or go to the pub menu for something quick and convenient. We arrived less than two hours before showtime and our waitress assured us we would be served in plenty of time and could certainly choose from among their more popular dishes. That is what our party did, from the lazy man’s lobster, to some grilled shrimp served with pasta and an outstanding and crispy roasted half duck. For dessert we save room for the chocolate lava cake, made with warm melted pudding and some vanilla ice cream.


THE ZOO: York’s Wild Kingdom – Zoo and theme park ( is located in York Beach and features hundreds of exotic animals from around the world. We spent an enjoyable day there and would highly recommend it. Especially fun was the butterfly exhibit and the elephant show where we met Lydia, the 59 year old 9,000 pound elephant who can actually paint and play the harmonica. The family of lemurs were so entertaining to observe, we did not want to leave their presence. A look at the lions, tigers, bears, monkees and zebras was a thrill. And who does not enjoy walking through a sea of beautiful deers who just want you to pet and feed them. There is also a small amusement park, featuring different rides. This includes a carpet slide, bumper cars and my favorite – the go karts. Save time to visit the arcade.


SUPERB MINI-GOLF: In the town of Wells, just on the border with Ogunquit right on Route 1, you will find the Wonder Mountain Family Fun Centre and Mini-Golf. This spot is a blast! On the night we went, customers were lined up knee deep to try their luck on one of the two 18 hole courses. This is an extremely well run facililty. When they ran out of putters I figured we were in for a long evening, but things moved along a nice pace and even the wait at each hole was not too long. The people in line with us, many from Montreal, were so friendly that it was actually fun to chat between putts. Owner Andy Joakim built the first course in 1987. And the second five years later. “Large , adventure style mini golfs have been around for 30 years,” he told me. ”I happened to see one in another part of the country and built one in Wells over 20 years ago. It is a massive, risky proposition, but thankfully the project has done well.”

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