A Side Trip to South Berwick
It’s tiny, it’s not on the tourist map, and it’s not on the coast, yet little South Berwick, Maine, provides a worthwhile detour back into Maine’s colonial—and literary—history. Think about taking a few hours to explore it if raindrops happen to be pelting York Beach and ruining your beach outing.
The two most important structures in town are the late-18th-century Hamilton House, 40 Vaughan’s Lane (tel. 207/384-2454)—a solid riverside home, with fine gardens and grounds—and its contemporary, the Sarah Orne Jewett House, 5 Portland Street (tel. 207/384-2454), a 1774 Georgian where the famous Maine author lived. Her desk overlooks the village’s main crossroads.
Both homes are open to the public from June through mid-October, on slightly different schedules. Hamilton House is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 4pm, while the Jewett House is open Friday through Sunday (same hours); tours are offered on the hour at each property. It costs $10 per adult ($9 seniors, $5 students) to visit Hamilton House, and $8 per person ($7 seniors, $4. students) to tour the Jewett House.
If you’re looking for some nature, take the kids to Vaughan Woods State Park (tel. 207/384-5160), down Oldsfields Road just off Route 236 (a bit south of the South Berwick town center). Set along the quiet Salmon Falls River, the park features picnic areas and a hiking trail through groves of old-growth pine and hemlock. It’s open Memorial Day to Labor Day; the admission fee is $4 per non-Maine resident adult, $1 for seniors and children age 5 to 11.
For golfers, the outstanding The Links at Outlook golf course (www.outlookgolf.com; tel. 207/384-4653) on Route 4 is a fine, links-style track of bent grass fairways and greens. The greens fees for 18 holes will run you around $55 per person in high summer season; it’s cheaper on weekdays, afternoons, and in spring and fall. Carts cost extra.
From York, South Berwick is quickly reached via Route 91 (which shoots west off Route 1 just south of the Maine Turnpike interchange for York). It’s a ride of about 20 minutes.