Cape Elizabeth is a funny, beautiful hybrid of residential neighborhoods, top rated tourist attractions, a plethora of stunning beaches and secret, local favorites. All 20 minutes to downtown Portland. I could honestly plan a day in Cape Elizabeth 5 times over and not repeat anything, so narrowing it down to one day was hard!
Cape Elizabeth really is the exception to the rule when it comes to tourist attractions in Maine....like, you really should go to them. They are famous for a reason, and truly, they shouldn't be missed. I usually like to give a hard pass and avoid anything that seems too popular in any area, but after living in South Portland (the town next door to the Cape) and getting to truly immerse myself in all that the Cape offers, you've just gotta do it folks. Embrace the people (masks and six feet, guys) and play tourist here.
However! No Adventure in my book is complete without some secrets. There are a few hidden gems that I'm going to share - and risk being vilified by my neighbors, thank you very muuuuuch - with you all.
If I didn't live here, I'd be jealous of the below adventure. Enjoy!
8AM: Grab a doughnut from The Cookie Jar
Be like a local and start your day with a delicious donut and coffee from The Cookie Jar. It's pretty impossible to choose just one thing to start your day, so I won't judge, get them all. You'll need it for adventure fuel.
10AM: Walk at Two Lights Park or Secret Beach at Kettle Cove
Kick off your Cape Adventure with a breathtaking walk at Two Lights or act like a local at Kettle Cove. Really, this is like choosing the best adventure or the best adventure - you can't go wrong!
You will not be the only person at Two Lights (again, little touristy!) but once you get here, you'll believe me when I say this is one of the places that is worth it. The ocean crashes against the rocky landscape and trails loop and bend throughout the park. Little picnic benches are hidden throughout and it's a dog and kid lovers paradise.
At Kettle Cove, there is the main beach (that's fairly popular in it's own right - with limited parking!) and then there is secret Kettle Cove part two. If you take the trail through the woods, steer to the right with every turn, and eventually you'll see a beach below some cliffs. Walk the little path down the cliffs and bam - you will likely have an entire beach to yourself. Half of this beach is private and half of the beach public, and all of it is pure secret only known to some locals. I think out of the ten times I have been here, there has been another human once.
12PM: Lunch at Bite Into Maine inside Fort Williams Park
Alright, this is all pretty touristy and all pretty much a must do. Fort Williams park is sprawling, with many different beautiful walks and sites to explore. There is a children's garden, playground, gorgeous ocean views and of course, Portland Head Light is here. I'll guess that you have seen a photo of this lighthouse somewhere, at some point. It's an iconic staple of Maine, and one that, even with the hoards of people, is worth checking out. You could easily spend a few hours roaming Fort Williams and still feel like you didn't get a chance to see everything.
On to lunch. If you are reading this and planning an adventure to Maine, you are likely going to ask everyone you can where you can get the best lobster roll. It's okay, I'm not judging you, I get it. And likely, everyone will have their opinion of where their favorite roll is.
Mine is inside Fort Williams Park at a Food Truck. Bite Into Maine knows what they are doing, people. And for me, a mayo despiser, they get me. They have multiple different ways to enjoy your lobster roll, and my personal favorite is The Connecticut - warm butter poured over and ask for some chives on top as well. You can grab a roll, set up a picnic, look out at the ocean and people watch.
3PM: Low Tide at Cliff House Beach (make sure to go low tide - move this where it fits in the schedule!)
This one might get me in trouble with the locals. But I just can't keep this little beauty a secret to ourselves! If you didn't know this was here, you'd likely never find it as it's embedded in a residential neighborhood and you only see the beauty of it when you walk down the wooden stairs to the start of the small beach. At our house, we call it "Rock Beach" as until the tide heads out, there is no beach to be found as it's covered with rocks. But at low tide, a small beach reveals itself and a few locals dot the edges of the beach. It's incredibly quiet, remarkably beautiful and you feel like you have entered a secret, private Maine cove. At this beach, we've seen every type of crustacean you can possibly imagine.
4PM: Strawberry Picking at Maxwell's Farm
Depending on season, don't sleep on the strawberry picking glory at Maxwells! This is pure family fun and these delicious little beauties are not to be missed.
6PM: Dinner & Drinks Outside at Inn By The Sea
Okay, this place might not be a secret, but I'm not sure how many people realize that you can eat here without staying here. They have an expansive lawn setup - complete with every outside dining option you can think of (fire pit seating, adirondack chairs perfect for rosé sipping, elegant tables on their deck) and of course, inside options when we are not living in COVID times. For kids, it's dreamland. They don't have to stay strapped to their seats while they wait for dinner as they can run free in the grass and get their sillies out in the most gorgeous setting. It's never overcrowded, and it's a pretty impressive place to take people visiting: outside dining, overlooking the ocean that is kid & dog friendly? I mean, sign me up over and over again.
We actually have stayed here before, long before we were Maine residents. We came here for a "babymoon" and brought our dog with us - which is not only encouraged, but honestly, the norm at this hotel. We ordered room service every night (I ate my weight in ice cream) and they have an extensive doggy menu as well. Our pup was treated like a king. We woke up every morning to the ocean breeze and nothing but time to explore and hang. It was a dream - and I've been trying to convince my husband to stay here again ever since even though we live 7 minutes down the road.
7PM: Walk the beach path from Inn By The Sea down to Crescent Beach
The Inn has an idyllic path that leads down to Crescent Beach (at the far end of it) which is pretty distant from where you'll find the majority of people at the main entrance of the park. Take a seat by the waves, collect some shells and think about how you'll have to thank that blogger (me) who pointed you in this direction. :)