Ogunquit (Oh-gun-quit) is a busy little beachside town that has attracted vacationers and artists for more than a century. Although it’s certainly notable for the abundant and elegant summer-resort architecture, Ogunquit is probably most famous for the 3 1/2-mile white-sand beach, backed by grassy dunes, that dominates the town. This beach serves as the town’s front porch, and most everyone drifts over there at least once a day when the sun is shining. As a bonus, a wonderful walking trail known as the Marginal Way begins at the beach, then climbs the cliffs above tide pools to great views back onto the sand and ocean.
Ogunquit’s fame as an art colony dates from around 1890, when Charles H. Woodbury arrived and declared the place an “artist’s paradise.” He was soon followed by artists such as Walt Kuhn, Elihu Vedder, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi, not to mention Rudolph Dirks, author of the “Katzenjammer Kids” comic. (During the latter part of the 19th century, the town later found another sort of fame as a quiet destination for gay regional travelers; today, many local enterprises here are still owned by gay proprietors.)
Despite its architectural grace and civility, the town is narrow—there’s only one main street—and can become seriously overrun with tourists (and their cars) during peak summer season, especially on weekends. If you don’t like crowds, best to visit in the shoulder seasons or simply hit up another destination along the coast. Other advice: If you arrive early in the morning, stake out a spot on the long beach.