The Dog Who Went To: Cape Elizabeth, Maine
By Jane Turner
Jane Turner is the author and illustrator of The Dog Who Went to Main Street, a children’s book celebrating adventure, a perfectly imperfect dog, and Main Streets everywhere. Jane travels frequently with her Shih Tzu mix, Dozer, and shares their favorite dog-happy destinations with our readers. Dozer is a rescue, a therapy dog, happens to be totally blind, and is always ready to go.
Cape Elizabeth is the Maine coast so many of us hope to find. Its low-lying marshes, its long shoreline of sandy beach and its rock formations have been protected from commercial encroachment by the local Land Trust and a network of state parks. One happy nod to modernity is an eco-luxury oasis created in a shingle-style inn on Crescent Beach known simply as Inn by the Sea. The Inn was dog-welcoming before welcoming dogs was cool, so we made it our base for exploring the Cape Elizabeth/ Portland area (pictured here is Dozer making himself at home in the Inn's Fireplace Lounge).
The vibe: No-nonsense Maine. The unadulterated beauty seems to inspire the authentic best in everyone – artists, sports enthusiasts …even dogs. It’s no accident that this is where Edward Hopper painted his famous “Lighthouse Hill” and Olympic marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson learned to run.
A few good walks
• Bird Sanctuary to Crescent Beach. A winding boardwalk leads from the lawn of Inn by the Sea through a bird sanctuary to Crescent Beach (the beach itself is open to dogs October – April). Nature-filled walks unfold in each direction. It’s heaven for a dog like Dozer who revels in every chirp and inhales each rugosa rose. Not bad for humans either. (Nearby Ferry Beach is open for dogs before 9 and after 5 during summer.)
• Great Pond, Fort Williams and Two Lights State Parks. Trails everywhere, some with historic ruins, some with elevated boardwalks for nature-watching.
• Old Port and the art museum areas of Portland. Great city-walking with dog-friendly shops and outdoor cafes along the way (here's Dozer taking a break from shopping).
Dining with dogs: favorite Dozer hang-outs
• The Lobster Shack. A landmark since the 1920s; locals and visitors alike line up for the lobster rolls and the view.
• Mt. Desert Ice Cream (in Old Port). On a recent visit, Dozer met an XL version of himself – Ollie, a white Labradoodle. The homemade ice cream was irresistible, too.
• The Fireplace Lounge (at Inn by the Sea). When do you get a chance to savor beautifully presented farm-to-fork food indoors with your dog? With the possible exception of your own home, almost never. Here, your dog can join you amid the wing chairs and ocean views for truly memorable meals. One evening, Dozer’s fellow diners included Jake, a sweet, pony-sized Doberman, and Nigel, an English bulldog; even dogless guests couldn’t stop smiling.
Where to stay
Inn by the Sea. Thoughtful luxury rules at this Inn/Spa designed with the planet and all creatures great and small in mind. Perfectly situated, it’s steps from the beach and wildlife walks, with far-reaching views from many rooms and public spaces.
“It’s a dog’s world” cred at the Inn: Dog-friendly is kicked up a notch to dog-celebrating. A few of the grace notes…
• Dog blankets, bowls, and organic treats in your room.
• Special chef-designed “doggie menu.”
• In-room spa services available for dogs.
• Size doesn’t matter – all dogs mingle and dine in the lounge and on the outside deck.
• And when the pool closes to humans in October, it opens for dogs.
Dozer left Cape Elizabeth one happy dog. He might be missing his personal chef a bit though.
Photo Credits: Photos by Jane Turner with the exception of the one directly above, which was provided courtesy of the Inn by the Sea.