You have to wonder why New Englanders choose to live much of the year in the cold, snow, ice and darkness. One hypothesis, they live for the summer! There’s nothing quite like that short window of time between spring and fall. For gay and lesbian travelers around the world, Provincetown is paradise found. This small stretch of Cape Cod is the most famous gay getaway destination in the region, but it’s certainly not the only one. Drive just four hours north and you’ll find the crown jewel of LGBT Maine — Ogunquit.
The town has a year-round population of less than two thousand residents, but it’s in the summer and early fall that this quaint, charming beach community comes alive, catering to gay and lesbian travelers. Ogunquit differs from other resort towns in Maine in that most of the restaurants, galleries, hotels and dance clubs … that’s right … dance clubs, are gay-owned and operated.
Whether you live in nearby Portland or Boston, or you’re vacationing, your day starts the same. You lather on the sunscreen, put on your sexiest speedo and strut on down to the beach. The beginning of the beach is where the heteros station themselves, but if you walk less than a half mile beyond that you’ll find family. Cruisy older gents, sexy college studs playing volleyball and ladies frolicking in the waves, that’s the quintessential sunny day on Ogunquit Beach.
Bare in mind, this is New England and the weather can go from sunny and gorgeous to rainy and miserable at any given moment. So if you do have to make a quick exit from the beach, don’t fret, there’s a variety of other ways to occupy yourself.
If you’re a sucker for art, there are incredible galleries featuring the work of local artists, including The Barn Gallery and Art & Soul Gallery, both located on Shore Road. The great thing about Ogunquit is that most of the shops, museums, hotels and restaurants are located within walking distance to the beach. Trust me, this is a blessing because parking can be a nightmare and if you time your entrance or escape out of town at the wrong time, it could take the better part of an hour to get back to the highway.
A cloudy day is also the perfect time to check out John Lane’s Ogunquit Playhouse. Located just a few miles outside of the center of the action heading back to the highway, this is a great venue to enjoy popular shows like Avenue Q, The Music Man or Chicago.
Ogunquit may be a small town, but most of the local businesses thrive on tourist dollars, so there’s no shortage of dining options for gay and lesbian travelers looking for a quick bit or extravagant romantic meal. Angelina’s is a charming restaurant and wine bar if you’re looking for something tres romantique, Cape Neddick Lobster Pound is great if you want to experience local cuisine. Keep in mind, not all of these establishments are created equal. On a recent visit I dined at a restaurant which will remain nameless and had to tell the bartender how to make a Mojito. Something I never would have expected to happen in a town fueled by the gay dollar. After explaining the recipe, the bartender handed me a glass containing seltzer, rum and mangled brown mint leaves, #fail!
If anything can redeem a lackluster cocktail, it’s a night out on the town. Don’t be fooled by Ogunquit’s size, the clubs are incredibly fun and get packed. Front Porch is a great place to start your evening. It’s a piano bar filled with locals, Bostonians and visitors from points beyond. Even if you aren’t a singer, the mood is infectious, the waiters … adorable and the drinks are potent.
Next, head across the street and pick your poison, you have two options to choose from to prolong your buzz and dance the night away. First is the staple of gay and lesbian Ogunquit, MaineStreet. Dance music, drag shows, pool and sexy bartenders, all the prerequisites are here. There’s also a spacious porch located outside if you want to have an audible conversation with some friends.
Oxygen is close to MaineStreet. It’s that gay bar in town that’s been in business for years but constantly changes ownership. It’s a great place to end your night, whether you’re still in the mood to dance or want to grab a drunken bite at the rooftop café.
Remember ladies and gents, Maine isn’t just lobster and lighthouses! If you’re that gay or lesbian traveler who wants a change from Provincetown, Key West, Fire Island and the other typical LGBT summer haunts, Ogunquit is a refreshing option. It offers all of the trappings of most other gay resort towns with smaller crowds and lower prices.