Chebeague Island Inn: A 15-minute Ferry Ride and a World Away
The New England Victorian-era seaside resort is a making a comeback. At the turn of the century, there were dozens of hotels along the New England coast where families from eastern cities would come and spend the summer. Nearly all have since vanished – burned down or have been razed long ago. Off the coast of Portland, Maine in Casco Bay, the Chebeague Island Inn has stood the test of time and is once again pampering day and overnight visitors from near and far with authentic hospitality.
The Inn, originally built in the 1880s and rebuilt in the 1920s, has undergone extensive renovations, first under the ownership of a former Lehman brothers executive. Now under the ownership and care of the Prentice family, management of the property is very much a family affair. The rooms at the Inn are simple yet elegant by design featuring local artwork. The common areas of the hotel with grand stone fireplace invite guests to linger, and the west-facing veranda featuring the best sunset viewing around, entice visitors to never want to leave. The restaurant menu rivals that of what can be found in Portland, with vistas from the Inn’s screen porch worth the trip out to the island alone. Although the service is still getting its sea legs, the setting, quality menu and wine list make the restaurant worth a trip from the mainland for a night out.
Best of all, the Inn is only a 15-minute ferry ride away from Cousins Island (attached to the mainland via roadway). Home to 350 year round residents, Great Chebeague Island is the largest (at 5 miles long and a mile and half wide) of nearly two hundred islands in Casco Bay. With little traffic and a variety of easily accessible sandy beaches, the Island is great for biking, or if you prefer, just relaxing or playing croquet on the great lawn of the Inn. If you go, there are two ferry lines that service the Island, the Casco Bay Ferry Lines in Portland (which takes over an hour) or for a more direct route, the Chebeague Transportation Company (15 minutes).