For a fantasy family weekend with nothing but walks on the beach, board games, spa time, and lobster at every meal.
When I think back on all of the places that we have explored in New England, I have a very deep soft spot for Inn by the Sea, just south of Portland, Maine in an area called Cape Elizabeth.
For our first visit, I had a quick staycation with my two kids at the end of June, the day after school got out. My goal was to kick off summer, slow down and connect with them after those final few meters to the school-year finish line, which we finally crossed, perhaps with a slight limp in our step.
I had never previously been to Cape Elizabeth, which is a charming community filled with Maine summer residents and Portland commuters. Inn by the Sea is located next to a strawberry farm that, during our first visit, was welcoming its first pick of the season, and its location on Crescent Beach is flawless. Southern Maine beaches are sandy (not rocky), peaceful, and filled with birding opportunities.
I genuinely cherish the ability to travel to places that offer the chance to connect us as a family on a deeper level without the distractions of our everyday lives. Inn by the Sea, a Preferred Hotel, is a perfect place for just this kind of peaceful adventure.
We have now cherished our stays at the inn during three different seasons, too.
Let Luxe Recess book your stay here for free added perks
like daily breakfast, resort credits, and room upgrades!
We returned to this boutique hotel a second time for a fall break. A true break. I wanted to cleanse from screens, sugar, get more sleep, and slow down after the hectic beginning of a new school year.
Restore By the Sea
The resort’s structure is a subtle U-shape facing Crescent Beach. Framed by the building is a great lawn with a heated pool, a fire pit for nightly s’mores and live music, and games like croquet and beanbag tossing. In fine weather, the spectacular views from the restaurant’s outdoor patios are captivating enough to enjoy all three meals at the same table.
And although the water is seen in the distance, one of the magical treats of the Inn by the Sea is the path that guests take to reach the ocean. What starts as a boardwalk along a wetlands area becomes a dirt path through a vernal, topiary-like forest.
What takes only five minutes to walk creates a magical and transformative experience. With each step, guests’ blood pressure drops, breathing slows down, and senses awaken. My children enjoyed this path to the beach almost as much as the beach itself. It is scenery that children’s literary classics are made of.
The beaches are peaceful and quiet, and fertile with birding opportunities. My children ran to birders who were photographing some Piping Plovers, an endangered species that had recently returned to Southern Maine. My daughter poked me at the hip: “Mom, that man’s lens is much bigger than yours.”
Although my children found the water cold at the very beginning of the summer, it didn’t stop them from playing happily in the sand for hours on end during our weekend.
Family Activities at Inn By the Sea
The resort provides children their own birding binoculars, balls, Frisbees, and other games as part of their beach service of chairs and umbrellas. Attendants will carry gear for you, if requested. There are welcome kits for children that feature sand toys, coloring books, sunglasses, and local treats. We even tried blueberry beer. When in Maine….
During July and August, there are special weekly activities for children and families like nature hikes, arts & crafts, family yoga, but there’s not an actual kids’ club. The resort has a babysitting service with whom they coordinate so parents may escape to the spa or have dinner alone.
But families who are seeking to spend restorative time together will find this hotel encourages connection in its cozy simplicity.
We were lucky on our first visit at the end of June to be at the hotel during the season’s first strawberry picking at neighboring Maxwell’s Farm. It is an incredible, unplugged vacation day to have breakfast with breathtaking ocean views, take a walk on the beach, pick strawberries, swim, have lunch, swim some more and enjoy s’mores after dinner.
A Maine Lobster Boat Adventure
The resort has a relationship with the Lucky Catch lobster fishing boat experience which departs from the main docks in downtown Portland located just a short drive (about twenty minutes) from the inn. I will admit that after a busy morning and with the skies turning gray, I had to rally my kids who were a bit ambivalent about getting up close to fish they thought were creepy.
But we ended up loving every second of the boat ride. The lobster fisherman had a great passion for explaining everything… from sites in Portland’s harbor, the area’s marine life, how to bait a lobster trap, and how to trap lobster sustainably. The two-year-old to the fifty-year-old were engrossed as we learned to measure the lobsters and place bands on their claws.
The Lobster Company is adjacent to the dock, and guests can buy their lobster on the boat at wholesale prices and deliver it to the counter at the restaurant for them to steam.
Inn By The Sea is the best hotel for dogs. Period.
Inn by the Sea has taken pet-friendly to a different level. Really. This is one of the best hotels for dogs in the country. What other resort devotes their pool for one week each year just for their canine guests?
The inn is crazy about dogs. If your family has a pooch, this place may treat your fur baby so well that your kids will get jealous.
Inn by the Sea has a wonderful foster program with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland who send dogs to live at the hotel until a guest adopts them. The dogs stay behind the front desk and are collectively walked outside by the staff and those guests who inquire.
Many guests arrive with one dog, and end up leaving with two, or those who live in the area frequently come to Sunday brunch knowing there is the chance of heading home with a new family member. The Inn by the Sea has found over 100 homes for shelter dogs via this program.
The Best Family Rooms and Suites
Rooms at Inn by the Sea are incredibly generous in size with many duplex lofts and suites available. There are less than 100 rooms at the resort, so it feels quite intimate. Families will want to book the Cove or Beach Suites. These two and three-bedroom suites offer plenty of space, with full kitchens, dining and living areas and spacious outdoor decks (but no washers and dryers).
Our Cove Suite was fabulous. It contained a large bedroom with one of the best beds my husband and I have ever slept on. Given how many nights we sleep in hotels, this is saying something (it was a Simmons Beautyrest Recharge). Seperated by a large bathroom, the second bedroom in this class of beach suites offers two queen beds. The living, dining, and kitchen areas were charming, with stocked shelves of games and stylish design accessories. There was a wonderful gas fireplace and a furnished deck, too.
The touches that let you know you are in Maine are twofold: the “Do Not Disturb” lobster which guests hang on the door and the (coffee maker at the ready) fully-stocked kitchen’s drawer devoted to lobster crackers and forks… and nothing else.
We cocooned in our room after some beach walking to enjoy a whole family game of Risk. My husband and I agreed it was the most relaxing and joyous time we had spent together on a vacation.
Other family suites at Inn By The Sea
On our second visit, we booked one of the spa suites, a two-story loft with a main bedroom that overlooks the living room below (which features a sleeper sofa). The scale of the bathroom inspired my children to play “day spa,” so they set up a multi-sensory experience for me, sending me downstairs as my daughter prepped the bedroom and bathroom with soft music and low lights as they both squeezed every ounce of the hotel’s lotion samples onto my feet and ankles.
Their desire to pamper me was moving and so sweet. I credit the Inn by the Sea for putting me in such a delightful mood that my children thought I deserved such special loving care. And while my youngest had yet to show any promise as a reflexologist, I found his, “Mama, how did you like your treatment?” question to be one of my favorite memories from the trip.
Their Best: The New Beach Suite Guest Rooms
The inn’s newest building offers large, beach-facing suites with the option of two or three bedrooms. These are far from traditional guest rooms, they are stunning suites with large bathrooms (soaking tub and walk-in shower) and warm living spaces with hardwood floors, tasteful rugs and fireplaces.
Sea Glass: The Inn By The Sea Restaurant
The on-site fine dining restaurant, Sea Glass, is a foodie destination in the area for a reason. Our meals were wonderful, showcasing many local ingredients such as strawberries, tomatoes, and of course, lobster. I made it my mission to consume as many berries and lobster on my weekend as possible. The lobster scramble with wilted spinach and hollandaise on grilled sourdough was worth having both mornings. We shared the blueberry French toast bread pudding which was outstanding.
My children were always able to find healthy choices they liked, too.
Spa and Wellness
Yoga classes are available on the lawn many summer mornings, and I confess I enjoyed watching their sun salutations from my balcony in my robe with coffee in hand.
The Inn by the Sea has a spa on its bottom floor that offers excellent massages and facials. The spa specializes in ninety-minute, ocean-inspired treatments using products with different sea ingredients, a popular option for couples on romantic getaways. The gym facility is small but outfitted with a state-of-the-art on-demand video training system.
Let Luxe Recess book your stay here for free added perks
like daily breakfast, resort credits, and room upgrades!
10 thoughts on “Inn By The Sea, Maine: Where To Go To Reconnect”
As always your photos are beautiful and really capture what a special place this is! I think we would have to time our visit for strawberry=picking season too as my eldest LOVES strawberries (seriously, I think he’s eaten them every day of his nearly nine years on earth!). Sounds like a magical hotel in a stunning part of the world.
Thank you, Katya, for the kind photo words! I hope you get to pick strawberries in Maine on day!
I adore a good resort by the sea and it doesn’t get much better than one in New England.
Robin, so happy to read about your amazing experience. We are planning our first trip to Maine next summer and will plan to check this beautiful place out for ourselves!
Woooow… I hadn’t heard of Cape Elizabeth before, but these sun-drenched photos are the definition of summer happiness, and the details about the resort itself… adding it to our list of “must visit!”
You’ll love it, I promise!
Very lovely Inn! Looks very relaxing and I so get it about the path to the sea!!! I just experienced something similar in Martha Vineyard. You totally need this path to get transformed- it is like a destination in itself!
Oh I agree and wonder where your path on the vineyard was. I hope to see that path at different seasons now, so experience the journey in its different stages.
WOW……..amazing photos and presentation of a wonderful New England resort. Thank you!
Huge thanks for the tip on trying this place! My husband and I had a WONDERFUL visit, and highly recommend it for a romantic getaway.