If you’re planning a vacation but don’t want to leave your furry companion behind there is such a thing as luxury pet-friendly accommodation. Situated in southern Maine above Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, I found such a place called Inn By The Sea. This luxury shingle-style property with 43 one- and two-bedroom suites—all with ocean views—considers your furry friend a VIP guest. In early August my young golden retriever, Bella, and myself with husband in tow decided to hit the road and explore the state deemed “Vacationland.” We really wanted to partake in an end-of-the summer trip but not without our “ginger menace” as we so affectionately call her. So we headed up the coast to idyllic Cape Elizabeth to visit this “pet-friendly” seaside resort.
Upon our arrival, the staff cheerfully greeted us with “Welcome Bella and family”– I thought maybe it was her good looks and charm (next to two very weathered parents) which sparked such attention but soon realized it was the reason this luxury resort was named one of the top ten pet-friendly hotels by USA Today. To our surprise the one-bedroom garden suite (complete with kitchen and porch) was fully stocked with lots of goodies (special pet package) including organic dog treats, pet bowls, made in Maine doggie rain coat, and all of it personalized just for Bella. Needless to say it didn’t take long for Bella to feel right at home. Although she never had the chance to sample the gourmet pet menu, I think it would tempt even the most finicky pooch.
We spent the entirety of our trip exploring nearby Portland plus being entertained by Bella at the beach. Crescent Beach, the site of Inn By The Sea, is surrounded by a nature reserve (recognized by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat) and easily accessed by a private boardwalk to the beach and paths that run parallel from the inn. If that weren’t impressive enough, in 2006, the inn received green lodging certification from Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). As you can tell they really take pride in taking care of all living creatures, both green and furry. If you have a water dog like Bella then head to Ferry Beach (dogs allowed year-round), just a 10-minute drive and a popular meeting spot for other dog parents. There are two state parks in Cape Elizabeth, so if you are the outdoorsy type, there is plenty to explore.
In the end, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience. As a side note, if you’re city dwellers like us, don’t be alarmed when at some point during your stay you are greeted with– “Have a great Maine day!” It’s very charming indeed.
Some of the other amenities include:
- Dog sitters and walkers can be prearranged for $10 per hour; also grooming services are available
- Garden tours provided by the head gardener (check with front desk for schedule)
- Heated outdoor pool, tennis, Crescent Beach (dog restriction from April through October)
- Audubon Room restaurant
Inn By The Sea
40 Bowery Beach Road
Here are a few of our favorite stops in and around Portland for food, shopping and art:
This popular coastal city is admired for its rows of colorful Victorian cottages, and recently a new wave of young artists and foodies have arrived on the scene, creating a real metropolitan vibe.
As a dog mom I am always on the hunt for quality pet products, and I really loved shopping at Fetch, a pet store on the main street (195 Commercial Street), which has completely embraced the best of holistic and earth-friendly pet products. Even the pet placemats are made with recycled tire rubber.
We wouldn’t leave Maine without visiting a lighthouse so we drove to Ft. Williams historic park just off Shore Road in Cape Elizabeth to see the famous Portland Head Light. There is a museum and gift shop and if you get lucky you may catch one of the local historians who frequent the monument telling adventurous tales at sea. Plus there are special areas where dogs can roam off leash and you can enjoy the spectacular views.
Within Portland there are many cultural delights to enchant, including The Portland Museum of Art (Seven Congress Square; 207-775-6148; open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 5p.m. and Friday 10a.m. to 9p.m.) The museum houses an amazing Winslow Homer collection not to be missed.
Portland Museum of Art, www.portlandmuseum.org
While driving along Congress Street, I spotted Ferdinand, a hip and funky shop just waiting to be discovered. The owner, Diane Toepfer, designs most of the assembly of jewelry, stationery, clothing (especially love the organic cotton onesies featuring whimsical objects and animal caricatures), plus stocks a medley of vintage modern housewares too.
(243 Congress Street; 207-761-2151)
We couldn’t visit Maine without perusing the L.L. Bean outlet in Freeport (just 30 minutes away), which has three levels of merchandise for men, women, home and pets. Plus you might find a bargain or two at all of the other shopping outlets within walking distance.
After the first two days of traipsing around town, we couldn’t bear to leave our pooch behind for another day so we decided to embark on a short journey across Casco Bay to one of the neighboring islands, which are easily accessible from the ferry terminal in Portland. Peaks Island is the nearest destination (a quick 30-minute ferry ride) and a perfect spot to enjoy a lobster roll (at Peaks Island House, www.innonpeaks.com) followed by a stroll around its rocky shores. And, yes, you can purchase a ferry ticket for your dog for just $3.25. A visit to Peaks Island was the perfect half-day excursion and had we been sans dog, a bike ride along the five-mile perimeter road overlooking the scenic coastline would have been the optimum end to the day.