Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Cape Elizabeth, ME

  • Published 2022/11/19

Some places hold a certain charm, and Cape Elizabeth in Cumberland County, Maine, is one of those.

Located five miles south of Portland, Oregon, along the Casco Bay Islands, Cape Elizabeth is home to grand views of lush greenery and picturesque beaches.

This coastal town offers a warm vibe for travelers seeking a day’s respite or an adventure.

It has a lot to offer everyone: its trails to explore, beaches to chill in, historical and cultural sites to see, restaurants to try, and lighthouses to marvel at.

Here’s your guide to the 15 best things to do in Cape Elizabeth, Maine:

Look Out to Stunning Ocean Views at Portland Head Lighthouse

Scenic view of the Portland Head Lighthouse

CO Leong /

The oldest of its kind in Maine, Portland Head Lighthouse is a majestic site, with its iconic red roof standing tall by the waters of Portland Harbor.

Located at Captain Strout Cir, it is nestled atop an unusual rock formation of quartzite and gray phyllite, where waves crash beautifully.

The Portland Head Lighthouse was constructed during the Civil War and has long been a symbol of American military history in the area.

Top part of the Portland Head Lighthouse

Feng Cheng /

You can either walk along the paths or ride an excursion boat that will allow you to take photos of the lighthouse from the best possible angles.

Its beauty has made it one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States.

You can also visit the award-winning museum that shows the history of the place through a collection of lighthouse lenses and interpretative displays.

Aerial view of the Portland Head Lighthouse

Frederick Millett /

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Kettle Cove Ice Cream and Shack

If you’re looking for the best ice cream in town, head to Kettle Cove Ice Cream and Shack.

This nice little spot on Bowery Beach Road offers freshly made ice cream in unique, exciting flavors.

A few flavors you can try are the Two Lights (chocolate caper swirl with Andes mints and Oreos, topped with whipped cream), the Caper Swirl (choice of vanilla, chocolate, or twist soft serve ice cream mixed with your topping of choice), or the Crescent Beach (vanilla soft serve parfait with layers of butterscotch and Heath Bar topped with whipped cream and crushed Heath Bar).

They also have savory meals and other food items you shouldn’t miss.

There’s the Traditional Crab Roll or Lobster Rolls, Kettle Cove Panini, and Fried Clams Boat, all of which are made with the freshest ingredients.

The building Kettle Cove was originally on was a lobster shack that dated back to the 1960s, which was acquired and restored by the owners in 1995.

They have since been creating delicious treats for locals and tourists in the area.

Kettle Cove Ice Cream and Shack is also near popular parks and tourist spots, so it’s a perfect detour to grab something to satisfy your cravings.

Enjoy Outdoor Fun at Fort Williams Park

Rocky coastline at Fort Williams Park

Jon Bilous /

Fort Williams Park is a 90-acre land with beautiful ocean views and many activities.

Adjacent to the Portland Head Lighthouse on Shore Road, the park has a diverse natural field with recreational spots and ruins from maritime and military history.

You can join tours that take you on an informative walk around the park’s best features.

Flag of the USA along Fort Williams Park's trail

Radomir Rezny /

You can check out the Children’s Garden, frequented by families who want to go on a comfortable yet fun walk with the kids.

The beach area, of course, allows for free play in the sand and other leisure activities like swimming and boating.

Fort Williams Park is also home to military ruins like the Battery Keyes and Goddard Mansion.

Ruins of battery keyes at Fort Williams Park

Jaclyn Vernace /

Explore the Ruins of Goddard Mansion

Exterior of the Ruins of Goddard Mansion

Jaclyn Vernace /

A shell of what it used to be, Goddard Mansion on Shore Road was built in 1858 and lets you catch a glimpse of Maine’s coastal past.

It was erected for Civil War Colonel John Goddard and was acquired by the U.S. military in 1900.

Since then, its walls have seen the stories of the Army when it was manned for World War I, World War II, and even into the Cold War.

Entryway of the Ruins of Goddard Mansion

Shackleford Photography /

After this, the residents of Cape Elizabeth restored and refurbished the building to what it is today, making it conducive for visitors while maintaining most of its original structure and ambiance.

Today, it’s one of Maine’s most popular tourist destinations, where people can learn about history and take beautiful photos.

View inside the Ruins of Goddard Mansion

Kristi Blokhin /

Hike around Dyer Cove

Spend a morning hiking around Dyer Cove!

Located right by Two Lights Road, this is an easy spot to get to, especially since there’s a parking lot nearby.

Traverse the rocks and get to the edge to watch the sunlight change the scenery as the gentle waves crash.

It’s privately owned, but visitors are welcome to come by and spend a quiet moment to themselves or spend it with friends.

Dyer Cove is right by state parks and other tourist attractions, so once you’re done enjoying majestic views at this beautiful spot, you can grab a bite at the nearby Lobster Shack or walk around other trails to make the most of your day.

Enjoy a Breezy Afternoon with Barbecues at the Two Lights State Park

Scenic view from Two Lights State Park

Cheri Alguire /

Get some barbecue grilling amidst sweeping views of Casco Bay and the Atlantic at Two Lights State Park.

Located in Tower Drive, the park, spanning 41 acres of rocky headlands, is a place where you can bike, stroll, or hike along the trails or rocks by the shore.

Here, you can picnic with your loved ones across the hills while enjoying the best ocean views.

The park is also a good spot to go fishing, so make sure you bring your gear.

People at Two Lights State Park

Burcu Ergin /

Down Two Lights Road, you’ll find the famous twin lighthouses, which look out to the ocean.

These were built in 1828, and now, only the eastern light is active, while the western light closed back in 1924 and now serves as a private home.

Make sure to bring your cameras because you’ll find many beautiful spots here at Two Lights State Park!

Appreciate Works of Art at Holly Ready Gallery

Cape Elizabeth is home to talented artists, and you can find some of the best works at Holly Ready Gallery.

Inspired by the beautiful coasts of Maine, the gallery’s artworks showcase water, land, and sky sceneries at various points of the day and season.

All made by Holly Ready, the works represent the place and the life it presents.

The abstract shapes and lighting are perfectly captured in the paintings at Holly Ready Gallery.

When you’re in the area, make sure to drop by and peek at Cape Elizabeth and its wonders through the eyes of Holly Ready.

Soak up Some Sun at Crescent Beach State Park

Coastline at Crescent Beach State Park

Alexey Stiop /

Don your best swimsuits, find your spot, and soak up the warm sun at Crescent Beach State Park.

Considered one of Maine’s finest beaches, Crescent Beach State Park offers a stretch of fine sand, perfect for walking and sunbathing before or after your dip in the refreshing waters.

It’s also the perfect spot to take your friends and family for a nice day out, with picnic tables, grills, a snack bar, and a children’s playground located in the area.

A bird at Crescent Beach State Park

Robert A. Powell /

There are also saltwater coves, wooded areas, and rock ledges for those who want to explore and observe the beautiful landscape of Crescent Beach State Park.

Located on Bowery Beach Road, this site is one of the best destinations to experience the coastal breeze and waves, so slather on sunscreen and drive down for a beautiful beach day!

Swing by Spurwink Church

Exterior of Spurwink Church

Rich Brooks from Scarborough, ME, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Drive by Spurwink Avenue and stop by Spurwink Church, a beautiful, quaint white church.

The church was built in 1802, making it the oldest public building in the area, and it is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Spurwink Church has been restored and maintained to keep its original structure.

You can marvel at the church’s architecture, which combines Federal Era, Greek, and Gothic Revival.

Wedding ceremonies can be held in the church; you can rent it out for vow renewals, commitment celebrations, christenings, memorial services, and funerals.

Explore the Greenbelt Trails of Winnick Woods

Get a little adventurous and explore the trails of Winnick Woods!

The trail takes you on a scenic walk across woods and wetlands, with bridges and boardwalks.

There’s also a pond and meadow you can check out.

This 5.6-kilometer loop is ideal for those looking for a moderately difficult trail with beautiful surroundings.

You can also explore the trail on your mountain bikes.

The Greenbelt Trail of Winnick Woods is pet-friendly too!

Set up Camp at Richmond Island

View of a rainbow at Richmond Island

DigitalBitPro /

Spend a night or two under the stars at Richmond Island in your very own tents.

The 226-acre island off the coast of Cape Elizabeth is historic in its own right, with it being the site of Native American habitation that dates back to the 1630s.

Visitors can bring their own tents and set them up along the beaches.

The island has four beaches: Clam Cove Beach, Broad Cove Beach, John’s Cove Beach, and Breakwater Beach.

Richmond Island is also home to a rich ecosystem like sand dunes, pine forests, and grasslands, making it a great place to explore.

Support Local Farmers at Alewive’s Brook Farm

Be the first to get your hands on fresh catch at Alewive’s Brook Farm.

Agriculture is a big part of Cape Elizabeth’s growth, and one way to support the industry and its locals is by shopping from farms like Alewive’s.

This farm on Old Ocean House Road offers fresh live lobsters, clams, crabs, snails, and more.

The 90-acre farm is also a great source of fresh produce, free-range chicken, and even Thanksgiving Turkey!

You’ll have a field day exploring the farm and shopping for your produce and food.

Moreover, you may also chance upon the friendly owners and enjoy a conversation about their life on the farm.

Alewive’s Brook Farm also has a bakery where you can get freshly baked bread and goodies.

Go Surfing at Kettle Cove

The waters of Kettle Cove

Cheyenne Trynor /

Get into the water and try surfing at Kettle Cove!

Located on Kettle Cove Road, it’s a great spot to catch some waves or enjoy swimming.

You can also go fishing or try scuba diving to explore underwater life, but you must have a state park permit.

Daytime view of Kettle Cove

quiggyt4 /

Stand-up paddles, boats, and kayaks are available for rent year-round if you want a more relaxed activity.

Kettle Cove also has a walking trail you can explore while enjoying the beautiful coastal view.

Relax at Trundy Point

If you want to feel what it’s like to be on edge, trudge on to Trundy Point.

Located in the neighborhood of Shore Acres, you can walk the three-mile trail that will lead you to a spot where you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the views.

Here, you can see five lighthouses atop the rock formations.

It’s also a great spot to go bird watching, where you can catch glimpses of seabirds like the razorbills, harlequin ducks, long-tailed ducks, and guillemots.

The small cove and beach allow for a simple swimming session.

You can also relax, sit by the rocks or shore, and watch the crashing waves.

Take a Scenic Trip to Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse

Aerial view of the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse

Wangkun Jia /

No visit to this coastal town is complete without heading to the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse.

This lighthouse is the eastern tower of the twin lighthouses, with the western one discontinued in 1924.

Here, you can see vast, beautiful views of Casco Bay and surrounding areas.

Top part of the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse

Wangkun Jia /

The lighthouse is still operational, casting its light on mariners and voyagers in the ocean, keeping them guided and safe.

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse is also a great spot for taking photos with its gorgeous views.

You can also walk along its paths and maybe even sit down for a picnic.

Exterior of the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse

Richard Cavalleri /

Final Thoughts

Cape Elizabeth is a place of wondrous beauty and charm.

With historical sites, sprawling lands, and stunning beaches, it’s a great town to visit and explore.

Don’t forget to bring your cameras to record all the memories you’ll make in this picturesque place!

Try these best things to do in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, on your next trip.

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