When it comes to family vacations, there’s “getting away from it all” (read: fights over who gets the “good” canoe, tears, and more hot dogs than are medically advisable) and then there are places like Chebeague (pronounced shuh-BEEG) Island, just a short ferry ride from Portland. Aside from the Chebeague Island Inn, a 1920s Greek Revival, in the heart of the island, there’s a post office, a couple gift shops (one of which is in the post office), a gallery, a convenience store, and a part-time clam shack. That’s about it, and it’s perfect.
The Inn has 21 cozy guestrooms, furnished with queen beds and kissed by sea breezes. Downstairs, a snug parlor with fireplace is just made for cocktails or a good book (or both), while a large porch provides the ideal vantage spot for vibrant sunsets. Getting the kids outside is easy. For one thing, there are no TVs at the Inn. But there are beautiful beaches, lawn games available to all guests, as well as L.L. Bean bicycles to cruise around the island, and a nine-hole golf course next to the property ($30 fee for guests of the inn or restaurant). The island’s recreation center features a private tennis club open to hotel guests, weather permitting.
Explore: There’s plenty of walking to be done as well. A circuit around the island, which is three and a half miles long and one and a half miles wide, takes about half a day, and is pretty flat, though you can always mix things up with detours to the beaches or a hike down to blustery Deer Point, which juts off the southern end of the island and into Casco Bay. If you’re looking to get out on the water, the Inn rents kayaks and paddleboards, and guided tours are available by reservation. Want to go bigger? Charter a sunset sail aboard a 35-foot sloop to Eagle Island, complete with snacks provided by the Inn. For a fantastic day trip, take a ferry back to the mainland for a bay tour onboard one of the wooden schooners operated by Portland Schooner Company (www.portlandschooner.com).
Dine: For meals, the Inn’s restaurant is really the only game in town. While it’s a little pricey, there’s no amount of money we wouldn’t pay for its butter-poached lobster, which, frankly, has ruined most other seafood for us. Wash it down with some Chebang-ade (Double Cross Vodka, pomegranate juice, and lemon juice). Cheers!
Chebeague Island Inn
61 S Rd, Chebeague Island, ME (207) 846-5155 ; www.chebeagueislandinn.com
Distance from White Plains: 5 hours Details: Low-season rates start at $210, and peak season starts around $370/night based on double occupancy (shared bath accommodations are less expensive).