The Marginal Way: Take a Walk by the Seaside in Ogunquit, Maine

Marginal Way lit by morning sun, Ogunquit, Maine, New England.

OlegAlbinsky / Getty Images

So, you've never heard of the Marginal Way? In the artsy resort town of Ogunquit, Maine—one of the most charming towns on the Maine coast—it is fairly easy to get caught up in all the quaint little shops and galleries, high-end restaurants, and beachy hotels (compare Ogunquit hotel rates and reviews at TripAdvisor) readily offered to the average tourist. So easy, in fact, that most people tend to miss the best attraction Ogunquit has to offer, more than likely passing right by it.

This remarkable tribute to nature is the Marginal Way, a mile-long pathway that extends from its entrance at downtown Ogunquit’s main street—Shore Road—to its exit at the docks of Perkins Cove, a small resort community and shopping destination bordering Ogunquit.

With a sign partially obscured by trees marking a narrow entrance, which is barely visible alongside the boundaries of the Sparhawk Oceanfront Resort—one of the most prestigious hotels in Ogunquit where rooms are booked no less than a year in advance for the peak summer season—the Marginal Way may not look like much to the casual passerby. However, upon taking the first steps past the entrance, one is immediately faced with the seaside grandeur and inspiring vista that is truly Ogunquit in all its glory. For here along the Marginal Way, the entire town of Ogunquit can be seen from end to end as it curves toward the swirling, churning ocean in the distance.

Whitewashed seaside shops, exclusive summer cottages, and Ogunquit Beach befitted with a serenely rotating red and white lighthouse dot the coastline, and the only sounds that can be heard are the rhythmic lull of the tide, seagulls, and the occasional bell of a trolley in the distance. The smell of the ocean is overpowering and fills one with the sense of taking it all in and not having a care in the world. A small breeze goes through the air, invigorating those who have spent a long day at the beach. As the path hugs the rocky edge of a small cliff, the surrounding scenes seem so tangible one may be tempted to reach out and touch them.

Winding in gradual curves, the Marginal Way continues, bringing its travelers to panorama after heavenly panorama, providing benches along the way for one to pause and reflect on the presence of such beauty. But after what seems like a very short time, the joyous banter of civilization can be heard up ahead, and the peaceful sounds of the tide fade away as the exit of the Marginal Way approaches, conveniently leading into the Oarweed, a renowned, seasonal seafood restaurant and lobster pound in Perkins Cove overlooking the ocean and the Marginal Way.

With its all-encompassing view of the picturesque town of Ogunquit, Maine, and the feelings of total tranquility that walking the Marginal Way provides, it is a definite spot to see in New England, although it may not be obvious at first.

Love the Marginal Way? Now, you can help protect Maine's popular walkway by the sea by donating to the non-profit Marginal Way Preservation Fund.

Guest Contributor Laura Johnson wrote this piece while she was a junior at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol, Connecticut, where she was a writer for the school newspaper, the "Falcon Flyer." She hopes to pursue a career in English, whether it be teaching or writing, as she enjoys reading and writing.

More Top Ogunquit Attractions

  1. John Lane's Ogunquit Playhouse: You'll be mesmerized by the musicals staged each summer season at this historic theatre, which has been a fixture in town since 1933.
  2. Finestkind Scenic Cruises: Set out from Perkins Cove at the end of the Marginal Way in Ogunquit aboard one of three traditional, Maine-built wooden vessels or a replica of a No Man’s Land sailboat. Choose from a variety of cruises including breakfast and cocktail voyages and lighthouse and lobstering adventures.
  3. Ogunquit Museum of American Art: Open May through October, this museum is dedicated to 20th-century Maine and American art. It houses over 1,300 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints and has a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean.
  4. Ogunquit Summer School of Art: Renowned instructors carry on the spirit of the Ogunquit Art Colony and the plein air painting school established here in 1898 by Charles Woodbury. Register in advance for sellout classes, and hone your skills for painting scenes along the Marginal Way.
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