If you’re overdue for a date with nature, there are few places more wondrous and worth the trek in summer than woodsy Cape Elizabeth, a quiet coastal hamlet just five miles southeast of Portland, Maine.
Cape Elizabeth is a nature lover’s paradise, and the cozy Inn by the Sea encapsulates and protects all that is wonderful about the area. The 30-year-old property on Bowery Beach Road is a quintessential New England seaside building, with the exception of a recent multi-million dollar remodel that took it down to the studs, restoring all the charm along with a full eco-friendly design, from the dual-flush toilets to the Biofuel heating system.
This is natural luxury at its finest, a charming property that encompasses a mile of private, unspoiled beach and five acres of indigenous gardens certified as a wildlife habitat.
The inn’s motto is “Preserve, Protect and Inspire,” and everything about it does just that. At Sea Glass, the inn’s restaurant that looks out at the picturesque lawn with views of the Atlantic beyond, Executive Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich turns out simple but sensational dishes using only the freshest of ingredients. He spent his first months in Maine making the circuit to farms and fish markets to ensure that the restaurant stays local and sustainable; he has partnerships with everyone from farmers to mushroom foragers and one can taste the freshness in every vibrant, delicious dish. Equally luxurious—and sustainable—is the state of the art Leed-certified Spa and the Inn by the Sea, with its recycled floors, chemical-free products and full menu of natural and maritime-inspired treatments.
But the star of this green inn (whose traditional guest room rates begin at $299/night) is the natural setting it does so much to protect. Just a short walk down a lush, private boardwalk is a beautiful expanse of New England beach, and even closer to home are the colorful, all-local gardens that provide a habitat for a variety of species—including the endangered Monarch butterfly (the inn is a certified Monarch way station). Guests of all ages are invited to stroll the grounds or partake in the larger, more organized inn events. For the little ones, fun events like the “Bug’s Life Tour” introduce the environment and eco-friendly practices in exciting and interactive ways, and for their parents, classes are available on planting indigenous gardens or zero waste corporate seminars. The whole family can get in on the action with seasonal events from beach cleanings to pumpkin carvings.
Less then a mile from the inn is the Great Pond, the area’s largest wetland and a lovely spot for a leisurely hike through diverse flora and fauna—keep your eyes peeled for beaver dams. Also nearby is the Audubon preserve and the historic Fort Williams Park, home to grassy rolling hills, a 19th century military fortification, and Portland Headlight, the oldest lighthouse in the state.
Portland itself is a wealth of food and shops, and just a 20-minute cab ride away. But the Inn offers much to do, whether it be relaxing on the lawn or roasting marshmallows by the fire in the evenings. There’s likely no better way to usher in the chill than with one last trip to the sea. . .
Visit innbythesea.com for special deals like the Seascapes Package (from $290/night, two-night minimum) that waterfront accommodations, gourmet breakfast, rum cocktails, and two ticket to the Portland Museum of Art exhibit “Weatherbeaten: Winslow Homer and Maine.”
How to get there: The Amtrak Downeaster runs from Boston’s South Station to Portland (2 hours, $24 each way). To get from New York to Boston take Amtrak from Penn Station to (approximately 4 hours, around $80 each way or $145 each way for the high speed Acela train). Bolt Bus (34th St at 8th Ave., $20 each way) goes directly to South Station. Or consult our Boston Transportation Guide for more travel options. From the train station in Portland, a cab into Cape Elizabeth’s town takes approximately 30 minutes and costs around $30.