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The Cutty Sark Delivers All That, And More!

{From the 2024 Spring magazine}

Written & Photographed By Theresa St. John

Whenever I want to take time away from my apartment in New York, I tend to look towards Maine. And when I think of Maine, I need a view of the beach, with restaurants, shops, and attractions nearby. 

It’s hard to think of a time when Maine didn’t call out to me – from when I was a young child through my teens and beyond – now somehow - in my mid-60s. Besides the fact that it is only a few hours’ drive away, seeing the sign that welcomes me back to the Pine State makes me sigh in relief – I can (and do) leave my worries behind for a little while.  

The Cutty Sark Motel is at the corner of York’s Long Sands Beach; you can see this ‘home away from home’ long before you arrive at the check-in desk, where the staff is always friendly and welcoming. One thing seems to delight the myriad of people I’ve met there – the fact that every room on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floor has a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean, with sunrises and sunsets rivaling anywhere else in the country. 

There are two buildings on the property; the Lower Building began as a private home for the owners and their young family. Eventually, the structure was enlarged to host visitors to the York, Maine area, and a third floor was added once the family moved into another home nearby. 

Later, the Upper Building was built by 2nd-generation owners, designed with the comforts any traveler might want and need in mind. Both sections boast large picture windows in rooms that overlook not only the expanse of sea and sky but spacious lawns that feature freshly mown grass, lounge chairs, Adirondack chairs, tables for eating, and a continental breakfast offered outside the office each morning during spring, summer, and fall.   

If salty sea air is your thing, enjoy a walk along the beach in any weather – people find seashells, sand dollars, and beautiful shades of colored sea glass along the rocky shorelines. Surfers greet the morning on waxed boards that ride the waves or paddle into calm mornings, contemplating life and all its grand magic. Families get up early and walk or drive to Nubble Lighthouse, just over a mile away. You’ll see photographers, fishermen, and bird watchers there, ready to ooh and aah over the beauty of this ageless sentry during the golden hour.

The Cutty Sark is a beautiful place for families, girlfriend getaways, and the romance of hand-holding couples enjoying the ocean. And it is in the center of everything, which I find invigorating.  

Right down the road, there’s a great seafood restaurant called Stones Throw. And there’s another called Lobster Cove. And yet another known as Fox’s Lobster House. Those three are my favorites. Fresh seafood, great drinks, outdoor seating in the warmer weather, and ambiance galore. 

You can find The Old Gaol in the town center, where people were imprisoned – sometimes for the littlest offenses! There are museums, art galleries, specialty shops, historic cemeteries, and Wiggly Bridge – the country’s smallest suspension bridge, to name a few things sure to keep you and your group busy during your time there.    

On Short Sands Beach, just a mile or so in the other direction, you’ll find a smaller stretch of shoreline – another perfect place to spend the day with family and friends. People pack coolers, umbrellas, children’s toys, and books to read, spreading out and enjoying a few hours -or the entire day! There are all sorts of fantastic shops, restaurants, and the famed business known as The Goldenrod. If you love salt-water taffy, homemade candies, ice cream, and delicious meals, this is a place you can’t afford to miss while vacationing.   

I love theater, and this past summer, I was thrilled to see both ‘Singing in the Rain’ and ‘The Davinci Code’ at the Ogunquit Playhouse, a few miles away from Cutty Sark. They have a roster worthy of any Broadway show, and I’m already poised to see a few more performances with my gal pals this season.  

At the end of the day, visitors enjoy watching the tide and sunset out on the lawns at the hotel. We often sit outside well after dark, with wine and a blanket if it’s chilly. I bring my tripod and set up my Canon camera, attempting to take some long-exposure nighttime photos in the pitch black. It’s pretty nice to hear parents getting ready to put their children to bed for the night, talking about sandcastles, sun-kissed shoulders, and how fun it was to swim in the ocean. 

And we aren’t the only ones who stay up late when we’re at the beach. Lounge chairs and tables are used long after the sun’s gone down. We all chat amongst ourselves or in a group about things we did and other things planned for tomorrow. Everyone is quick to offer suggestions over a beer, wine, or glass of local spirits…  Did you see this? Have you been there? 

The thing about Maine is this: spending time anywhere in this beautiful state is like filling a mental health prescription from your primary care physician. And staying at Cutty Sark Motel, with windows open to let the smell of salt air and sound of waves crashing on the beach below, is just what the doctor ordered—time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. God knows we all need it.