Bostonians who are tired of traffic on the way to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard are heading an hour north to southern Maine for its mix of seafood shacks and historic inns. The area includes York, one of the country's oldest cities, upper-crust Kennebunkport and Ogunquit, where you can fish with a lobsterman.
Where to Stay
Black Point Inn
At this 125-year-old shingled inn, you can take in the ocean view on the veranda or by strolling along the cliff walk. Look for classic dishes like lobster Thermidor in the formal dining room; jackets are required at dinner (doubles from $129; 510 Black Point Rd., Prouts Neck; 800-258-0003 or blackpointinn.com).
The White Barn Inn
One of New England's loveliest hotels, the White Barn has 25 luxurious rooms and three waterfront cottages, butler-drawn baths and spa services like the Four Hand massage. The restaurant features contemporary American food like pan-roasted Maine salmon with tomato jus (doubles from $305; 37 Beach Ave., Kennebunkport; 207-967-2321 or whitebarninn.com).
Where to Dine
Chefs Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier take advantage of their vegetable, fruit and herb gardens in New American dishes like lemongrass-and-lemon-roasted chicken. The dining room is in a renovated 18th-century farmhouse (Berwick Rd., Ogunquit; 207-361-1100 or arrowsrestaurant.com).
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier
There's nothing fancy about this restaurant on a Chauncey Creek dock, but the clam chowder is creamy and the lobster is excellent. Regulars bring everything from wine to tablecloths, china and candelabras to dress up the unadorned tables (16 Chauncey Creek Rd., Kittery Point; 207-439-1030 or chaunceycreek.com).
Stonewall Kitchen Cafe
Known for its outstanding preserves and sauces, the company expanded its pioneer store last summer to include furniture and a white-tiled café. The menu leans toward comfort-food standards like steak frites and chicken potpie (Stonewall Ln., York; 207-351-2719 or stonewallkitchen.com).
This affordable seafood restaurant from the owners of the White Barn Inn was so popular they moved it down the street to a larger space in the newly renovated Breakwater Inn. With its stainless steel tables and its view of the Kennebunk River, Stripers is one of the best places in town for fish and chips (131 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport; 207-967-3118).
What to Do
Finestkind Scenic Cruises
As close as you can get to lobstering without a license. The company has been running its small fleet of locally made wooden boats for almost 50 years. In addition to outings with a professional lobsterman, trips include harbor-seal watching around Ogunquit's Island Ledges and sipping twilight cocktails off Bald Head Cliff (Ogunquit; 207-646-5227 or finestkindcruises.com).
Old York Historical Society Walking Tour
More than 350 years ago, York became one of America's first chartered cities, and its beauty has been well preserved. The tour includes a school, a tavern, a jail and the Emerson-Wilcox House, which has a tea table once owned by Reverend Joseph "Handkerchief" Moody, who inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil" (207 York St., York; 207-363-4974 or oldyork.org).
R. Jorgensen Antiques
The rooms of this shop are packed with Welsh cupboards, English linen presses, American Federal secretaries and 19th-century sideboards (502 Post Rd., Wells; 207-646-9444 or rjorgensen.com).