Cape Elizabeth was named in 1604 by Captain John Smith to honor Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King James I and Queen Anne of Denmark. This beautiful headland is located five miles south of Portland on the southern Maine coast. Its craggy shores and unspoiled sandy beaches extend twelve miles into open ocean forming the entrance to spectacular Casco Bay.
In 1828 the first pair of Cape Elizabeth lighthouses was built to mark the entrance to Portland Harbor. The 65-foot rubblestone towers served as range lights: mariners approaching Portland Harbor would line them up to know they were on course. The lights were considered among the most important on the coast. The original towers were replaced in 1874 by 67-foot cast-iron towers, which have been painted white since 1902. Like most promontories, the Cape Elizabeth area has borne witness to a number of shipwrecks, one of which bestowed the area with the beloved friendly spirit of Lydia Carver, a bride-to-be who perished in an 1807 storm. Her small antique grave lies near the Inn and has captured the romantic imagination of visitors and residents alike.
The area is not only known for its famous Two Lights—one of which is featured in Edward Hopper’s timeless painting “Lighthouse Hill”—and Joan Benoit Samuelson’s “Beach to Beacon” annual road race, but also for its pristine undeveloped beaches, bird sanctuary, spectacular ocean views, family farms and the unparalleled hospitality at Inn by the Sea.
In 1985, Inn by the Sea was built as an intimate coastal inn, replacing the former Crescent Beach Inn. Nationally recognized for its eco-friendly and pet-friendly practices, the Inn and its grounds have enjoyed a complete multi-million dollar renovation in the spring of 2008, elevating it to into Maine’s premier luxury beach destination. A second renovation was completed in 2012 growing the Inn's total room count to 61. Also in 2012, the Inn partnered with Crescent Beach State Park on a habitat restoration project that gave land back to the endangered North American Cottontail.