Cape Elizabeth for the 99 Percenter . .

Whenever I travel around the state and tell people I live in Cape Elizabeth, the first thing they do is look at my shoes to see if I’m wearing Johnston and Murphy or my shirts to see if they’re from Mercer and Sons. Cape’s reputation as one of the wealthier communities in the state precedes it and I’m not sure people outside of southern Maine expect to see someone from the town dressed out of Reny’s via Marden’s. Of course the ocean side of town—Shore Road—is home to the big rockpiles and estates built by and for such luminaries as the architect John Calvin Stevens. But those of us who live in what’s affectionately known as Baja Cape (or NoSpur—North of Spurwink) know there are plenty of pleasures available to the day tripper and resident hoi polloi.

While not exactly prohibited from the private drives along Shore Road, visitors are more encouraged to visit the free and public park at Portland Head Light, head lightthe iconic lighthouse depicted in advertisements for everything from Reny’s advertisements to cell phones.

Fort Williams Park, which contains the lighthouse, also houses a gorgeous cliff walk, with views of the ocean and the cities of Portland and South Portland, as well as some of the best lobster rolls in town. Parking and entrance is free; lobster rolls are not.

Walk off your crustacean-induced coma a short jaunt south on Shore Road at the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust trails in Robinson Woods, with free parking available at the road side. Robinson Woods contains over 145 acres of land with walking trails, fields, ponds, and woods. Because the land was never suitable for farming, much of it is in the same state as it has been for centuries. Massive trees, streams, wildflowers, and ferns grace your path as you feel your cholesterol-fuelled pulse return to normal. The Land Trust has numerous other parcels in Cape Elizabeth also suitable for walking. See this list for trust logo

Moving farther south on Shore Road, be sure to take a long look at the view from Pond Cove on the left, another Land Trust parcel that hosted some of the earliest settlements in Cape Elizabeth.

Ready for a beach day instead? No problem. Continue up Shore Road to the intersection with Ocean House Road (Route 77) and take a left.

Cape Elizabeth has two state parks with excellent sand beaches. Kettle Cove and Crescent Beach are next to each other, just off Route 77 to the left about a mile or so beyond the “center” of town. Kettle Cove is the smaller of the two parks, with a small well-protected beach and walking trails. Take the left off 77 just before the Kettle Cove Creamery (ice cream later!) kettle-cove-cafe-creamery-bluberry-ice-creamand follow the road out to the parking lot. To reach Crescent Beach, which is larger and has shower, changing, and restroom facilities, continue down 77 to the sign. Both beaches are State Parks and have entry fees, though Kettle Cove’s fee is on the honor system—please pay it!

Rainy day. Tour the local farmstands—Jordan’s Farm and Alewive’s Brook Farm (don’t mention my name to Jodie!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA) for almost anything in season and Maxwell’s Farm. Lunch at C Salt Gourmet Market (year-round) for good sandwiches or Two Lights Lobster Shack (seasonal) for the best fried clams in town.

Of course the best places in Maine are only known to the locals and Cape Elizabeth is no different. We have one of the best Transfer Stations (aka The Dump) around and a Swap Shop, where residents leave and retrieve all kinds of treasures, from furniture to paperbacks.Swap Shop_sml

Many’s the good find come from the Cape Elizabeth Swap Shop
but you need to get there early on Saturdays—the ambience is reminiscent of Filene’s Basement on the pre-Christmas sales. You’ll have to find someone with a resident sticker to take you, though. In Cape Elizabeth, our junk is for us . . .

About Richard Cass

Dick is the author of the Elder Darrow Jazz Mystery series, the story of an alcoholic who walks into a dive bar in Boston . . . and buys it. Solo Act was a Finalist for the Maine Literary Award in Crime Fiction in 2017 and In Solo Time won the award in 2018. The third book in the series, Burton's Solo, came out in 2018 and Last Call at the Esposito in 2019. Sweetie Bogan's Sorrow was published in 2020, to thunderous pandemic acclaim. The sixth book in the series, Mickey's Mayhem, will come out in 2021. Dick lives and writes in Cape Elizabeth.
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3 Responses to Cape Elizabeth for the 99 Percenter . .

  1. Amber Foxx says:

    I felt like a Maine insider when I recognized Reny’s and Marden’s. Fun post.

  2. Heidi Wilson says:

    I’m printing out and keeping all these wonderful Maine posts for future visits. I wish I’d thought of this earlier in the season, but as more places are covered, how about putting in dog-friendly venues and activities? Especially those where Fido can get down to the ocean!

  3. Gram says:

    It sounds like our transfer station (dump) with it’s swap shed.

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