It wouldn't be out of line to call Ogunquit the gay capital of Maine. This humble seaside town has become somewhat of a mecca for LGBTQ+ travelers looking for a beach getaway that isn't as, well, rowdy as Miami or other destinations along the coast. Ogunquit can be a quick side trip from Portland (a 45-minute drive)—after attending the Southern Maine Gay Pride event in June, perhaps?—or an add-on to Boston (90 minutes away). Many would agree, though, that it's best enjoyed all on its own. Ogunquit's convenient location right on the busy Route One makes it a popular pitstop for gay and straight folk alike. During the summer, this resort town downright buzzes with gay nightlife, and although it's much quieter during the wintertime, you can bet it's just as charming.
Most of the gay-popular hangouts in Ogunquit are concentrated in a part of town called the Village. Perkins Cove is the other area where you'd find sleepy little boutiques and eateries. Its three-mile-long sliver of peninsula is known to beckon an LGBTQ+ crowd, too, especially at about 200 yards north (the not-so-secret gay and lesbian hangout, that is). Go between Memorial Day and Labor Day for the best weather, but definitely expect a crowd.
In small towns like Ogunquit, bars and restaurants are basically the same thing. The latest a watering hole in this sleepy hamlet is open until, after all, is 1 a.m. Some even close at 10 p.m. Wind down with a martini and some live music at Front Porch Cafe and Piano Bar, a gay-owned restaurant that sits at Ogunquit's busiest intersection. Front Porch has been a fixture in this tres gay seaside resort community since it opened in 1980. It's the perfect place for a bite to eat and a low-key drink and, better yet, it's only a short walk from other Ogunquit gay nightlife options, such as Maine Street Bar. Five-O Shore Road is another hip hangout. The formal dining room in this cool little lounge has become a popular gay date-night spot. The food menu (boasting some of Ogunquit's best seafood dishes) and wine list are equally impressive. The same folks operate the gourmet coffeehouse, gelato counter, and Caffe Prego next door.
If you're looking for a more upbeat vibe, then Maine Street Bar and Nightclub might be more your taste. This gay haven is—hands down—the leading late-night venue in Ogunquit. It beckons a slew of performers, from Hedda Lettuce and other touring drag divas to piano cabaret to guest DJs. There's karaoke, pool tournaments, monthly women's parties, and more. Its on-site cafe serves light American chow, such as shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, steak tips, and burgers. The bar is just a few doors west of the village's main intersection and right beside the gay-popular 2 Village Square Inn.
Between bouts of wine tasting and dancing with drag queens at Maine Street, be sure to sample some of Maine's coastal cuisine. There are plenty of buttery crustacean dishes to be eaten. Your first stop should be Stonewall Kitchen Cafe (no need for a rainbow flag here; you can tell its gay-friendly just by its name). This lunch spot—technically in York, 15 minutes south of Ogunquit—was founded in 1991 by a same-sex couple, Jonathan King and James Stott, and has since become ubiquitous for its gourmet sauces, jams, and other edibles. If stopping by for a breakfast sandwich isn't enough, then stay a little longer to participate in one of Stonewall Kitchen's cooking classes.
For mouthwatering seafood options, look to (well, every corner in Ogunquit, but especially) Lobster Shack, a no-frills hole-in-the-wall eatery in Perkins Cove that's arguably the best place in town for a cup of clam chowder or lobster stew, and Jackie's Too, serving up seafood and pasta with an ocean view. Cleanse your palette with a pastry and espresso from Bread and Roses Bakery.
Tips for Going Out in Ogunquit
- The town of Ogunquit encompasses only four square miles, so you can trust that most restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels will be within a walkable distance.
- In addition to 2 Village Square Inn, Ogunquit Beach Inn and The Gazebo Inn are especially gay-friendly.
- Although Maine bars are now allowed to sell alcohol until 2 a.m., bars in Ogunquit typically close between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.
- Get the scoop on gay happenings during your trip via the GAY OGT Facebook page.