Get a breath of fresh sea air at this first-rate resort that is both fancy & family-friendly.
As soon as we set foot in the lobby of Inn by the Sea, we felt like we were being welcomed home. Located only 15-minutes from downtown Portland, this stylish resort and its attentive staff will help you experience a true getaway. There is an elegance to the Inn that may make you think that it’s more suited for a romantic getaway, but on a closer look, this place is terrific for kids, too.
Inn by the Sea offers just enough entertainment for the family to keep your kids from asking, “what are we going to do now?” without overwhelming you with options. My 11-year old daughter and 9-year-old son are extremely active and high-energy kids, and the fact that we never left the property except for taking a family bike ride speaks volumes about how well this resort met all of our needs.
Where to stay?
Inn by the Sea is fairly small and quaint, offering 61 rooms. Some rooms are in the main inn and others are beach suites and cottages. Almost all of the rooms have a view of the ocean. Our family stayed in a one-bedroom beach suite which had a luxurious king-sized bed for my husband and me; the kids shared the living room, one on a pull-out couch and one on an inflatable bed on the floor. The kids would’ve preferred their own rooms, but we were really only inside for sleeping, so it worked fine for us. The huge bathroom includes a soaker tub and a walk-in shower. We ended up eating most of our meals in the on-site restaurant, but the suite offers a fully-equipped kitchen, where you could prepare some of your meals. One of the kids’ favorite treats was the nightly turndown service which includes the delivery of water bottles and freshly baked cookies.
The five-acre grounds are beautiful and serene with an ocean view and impeccable flower gardens. The pool is warm and clean, and the wide lawn is inviting. We played several rounds of highly-competitive corn hole, and the kids played croquet while we sat in the Adirondack chairs, simply taking in the view.
What to do?
Besides swimming in the pool and playing games on the lawn, there is a 150-yard boardwalk through a wildlife sanctuary that takes you right to Crescent Beach. The staff will supply you with beach towels, chairs, and an umbrella, and will even carry and set it up for you on the beach. We visited in June, and while the ocean was cold, my son did go swimming. Crescent Beach is a state park, but the public parking lot is located on the other end of the beach, so there’s no crowded beach here.
The hotel offers free cruising bikes and helmets for guests to use, and we highly recommend going for a ride. We rode just a few miles to The Lobster Shack at Two Lights for lunch, but older kids could ride the 12-mile round-trip route to Portland Head Light, the area’s most famous lighthouse and park. The main road can be busy, so be sure your kids are able riders and can follow traffic rules.
KidTripster Tip: If you visit during the summer, consider the Lucky Catch Family Package. Your family will join the crew of an authentic, working lobster boat to learn about lobster lore and help haul in the lobster traps. Afterward, head to the Portland Lobster Company, where they’ll boil up your lobster catch. It’s a quintessential Maine experience!
Organized activities are offered on a rotating daily schedule, including yoga (some for adults, some for kids), guided nature walks, juggling lessons, and art classes.
KidTripster Tip: The lower floor of the inn includes a spa and fitness area, as well as the Sanctuary with soft music, dim lights, snacks, and comfy chairs. Use this area as a quiet time spot with your kids or as adult-only retreat.
My animal-loving daughter was thrilled to discover that Inn by the Sea is pet-friendly and even offers a spa package for dogs! While we didn’t bring our family dog this time, the inn serves as a host for a foster dog, who hangs out behind the front desk. Otis became my daughter’s new best friend. She was given free reign to walk him and cuddle with him as much as she wanted during our stay. Inn by the Sea keeps each foster dog until it’s adopted by a guest or staff member, and to date, it has placed almost 50 dogs in new homes!
Where to eat?
Except for our bike trip, we stayed on the property and ate all of our meals at the hotel restaurant, Sea Glass. We loved our fresh breakfasts on the patio with the ocean view. The kids enjoyed chocolate or blueberry pancakes, while my husband and I loved the more grown-up fare like the smoked salmon platter or the Groundskeeper Omelet.
The dinner menu, again, was both fancy and kid-friendly. The kids tried some new foods, loved the Maine blueberry sodas, and also liked having the kids’ menu staples like pasta and chicken fingers.
KidTripster Tip: Don’t get dessert at the restaurant. Each evening from 6 to 8 p.m., there’s a bonfire with a s’mores buffet next to the pool.
One of the highlights of the whole weekend was our bike ride to The Lobster Shack at Two Lights, where rows of red picnic tables sit right on the rocky bluff with the ocean waves crashing all around you. You eat whole lobster, lobster rolls, crab cakes, burgers, or hotdogs with baskets of fries. Postcard-perfect Maine!
Room rates at Inn by the Sea vary with the season: winter rates start at $219/night, spring/fall rates start at $249, and summer rates start at $579/night. Stays in mid-June and post-Labor Day offer families the best value.
Inn by the Sea is just 7 miles from Portland and a 15-minute drive from Portland International Airport.
Emilie Brand Throckmorton is a teacher, writer, and most importantly, a mom to 9- and 11-year old kids, who love to travel far and wide but also within their home state of Maine.
This writer received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.