When you find yourself in Maine in the vicinity of Casco Bay, be sure to take some time to explore the rich natural beauty of Cape Elizabeth. This intimate little town is quintessential coastal Maine: rocky bluffs providing panoramic views, sandy beaches, and grassy dunes, all surrounding a salty bay.
Of its 46 square miles, most of which is water, 923 acres are preserved, making it the perfect location for respite from the rigors of day-to-day life, yet offering easy access to city life and modern conveniences.
Cape Elizabeth is at the southern end of Maine, just under nine miles from the vibrant, coastal town of Portland, 35 miles south of Brunswick, and about 60 miles north of Portsmouth, NH. Sitting on a peninsula with a number of quiet coves, you can greet the waves of the Atlantic as they grace the shore and picture Spain somewhere over the horizon.
This area is known for its conservation and care of the land, and Cape Elizabeth boasts a few pristine parks of its own. Two Lights State Park, the inspiration and subject of painter Edward Hopper's "Lighthouse at Two Lights," is a popular haven for both Mainers and visitors from afar. While neither lighthouse at the park is viewable by the public - one is now a private residence, and the other is still an operational lighthouse, continuing to guide boats home safely - they serve as an aesthetic backdrop for a day spent on the hills of the park. Pack your lunch and enjoy an afternoon picnic while you take in panoramic views of Casco Bay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, followed by a stroll along the rocks.
Crescent Beach State Park, with its mile-long sandy beach, provides a superb spot for beach strolls, swimming, sunbathing, bird and boat watching. Make a day of it and come prepared to take a hike across a meadow for spectacular views. See Monarch butterflies in the fall and small sea creatures year round. After you've explored Crescent Beach State Park, head to adjacent Kettle Cove for more hiking to a hidden cove and exceptional tidepool viewing.
Surrounded by the jagged allure of rocky cliffs, Fort Williams Park is home to the Arboretum Project, which is striving to manage invasive species to the area. Spend the day here and wander through distinct ecosystems while you take in grand ocean views. And of course, you'll want to visit the Portland Head Light and Museum for more remarkable views and to learn about the history of the area. For more seashore and heritage, you might check out our homes in historical Boothbay Harbor.
Cape Elizabeth and surrounding towns, like beautiful and diverse Old Orchard Beach offer fun opportunities to explore the area in unique ways. If your vacation happens to fall in August, do the Beach to Beacon 10K run. This race begins at Crescent Beach State Park and ends at Portland Head Light, bringing runners from across the U.S. and around the world. Bring your running shoes, meet and mingle with the locals and out-of-town visitors, and make some new friends while you're at it!
Rent a bike in town or in Portland or bring yours with you, and pedal your way around the thirty-mile loop from Cape Elizabeth to Portland and back. Head to the coast after you traverse the Casco Bay Bridge over the Fore River, making pit stops on your way to experience the stunning parks, beaches, and lighthouse museums. Stop now and then to sample the local fare at restaurants you find along the way and visit Prouts Neck, the home of late artist Winslow Homer.
Since its inception in 1957, Alewives Brook Farm has ridden the fluctuating tides common to the local farmer. From initially supplying produce to large local grocers, then direct retail, then farmer's markets, Alvin E. Jordan and his son, Jodie, have continued to delight locals and visitors alike with quality produce and more. Stop by one of their multiple farmer's market locations in Cape Elizabeth, Portland, and other nearby towns, for their delicious produce, fresh lobster, clams, and eggs.
If it's just the two of you, take a scenic cruise through Casco Bay and catch Portland Head Light, Spring Point Ledge Light, Portland Harbor Breakwater Light, and Ram Island Ledge Light while you catch glimpses of seabirds, seals, forts, and working lobster boats.
This gorgeous area abounds with opportunities for rest, relaxation, and outdoor activities that you'll remember long after you've returned home. Treat yourself to this beautiful part of the world. Your next memorable Maine vacation awaits.
Photo Credit: Jiawangkun via Adobe stock