Kennebunkport is a small, picturesque coastal town about half an hour South of Portland. As long weekend trips go, this destination is always at the top of our list. It’s a place where time seems to stand still and the hustle of city life becomes a distant memory. The slow pace of this beach town allows you to completely relax and unwind without being totally off the grid. If the name of the town seems familiar to you, maybe it’s because it’s where the Bush family spends their summers. The Bush family compound is located at Walker’s Point, a beautiful bluff extending out into the ocean. A few hours in town and you’ll understand why they chose Kennebunkport to return to year after year. The town center, named Dock Square, proudly flies the American flag high into the sky. Locally owned boutiques, bakeries, art galleries, and restaurants line the streets, and the harbor is filled with boats just returning from a morning of lobstering. You could spend hours meandering the storefronts and walking along the water. Be sure and build up an appetite because Kennebunkport is chock full of decadent lobster joints. The lobster is served in a simple style, which is perfectly fitting and reflective of the town itself.
What to DO in Kennebunkport
The Beaches: Goose Rocks Beach is our favorite patch of white sand on the Kennebunkport coast. The 3-mile stretch is a popular place to walk, affording great views of Timber Island and Eastern Goose Rocks. At low tide, the beach nearly doubles in width – really cool to watch. The Tides Beach Club sits directly across the street from the beach and is the perfect place to grab lunch or dinner after a few hours in the sun. Kennebunk Beach is actually a string of beaches, connected by sidewalks. Here, you’ll find sand dollars, plenty of kids playing in the surf, and lots of people getting their daily cardio in. It’s a great beach to walk along, keeping one eye on the beautiful blue ocean, and the other on the gorgeous beach front homes lining the road. Bring a picnic if you plan to spend the day here because there are no restaurants along the water.
Dock Square: The center of town is filled with adorable shops and boutiques. Daytrip Society is our favorite shop in the area, filled with unique travel-related items like backpacks, clutches made from lobster nets, and fun locally made paper goods. At Home Ingredients, you’ll find fun, indie tchotchkes. It’s a great place to load up on hostess/birthday/housewarming gifts, too. Pop in The Candyman for some of the best fudge ever and keep your eyes peeled for a rickety staircase leading up to The Good Earth. Opened 35 years ago, the husband-and-wife store owners make the prettiest pottery. From the vases and coffee mugs to the platters and berry bowls (we’ve used ours nearly every day) each piece of the hand-crafted stoneware is unique and beautiful.
Sunset Cocktail at The Tides Beach Club: Judging from the amount of Instagram pictures related to this subject, this is a must when visiting Kennebunkport. But, popular as it is, it’s not a tourist trap. Locals are mixed in equally with out-of-towners and the drinks are strong. Go at sunset and relax on the front porch in one of their adirondack chairs with a cocktail and watch the sky light up in cotton candy colors as the sun goes down.
Lobster Tours, Whale Watching, and Kayaking: When summer rolls around, spending time on the water is a fabulous way to enjoy an afternoon. Coastal Maine Kayak offers 3 hour long guided kayaking tours that go out to the Cape Porpoise Lighthouse. Southern Maine is also a great place for whale watching. Nick’s Chance Whale Watching tour cruises from Kennebunkport to the summer feeding grounds of Finbacks, Humpbacks, Minke’s, the rare Blue Whale and the endangered Right Whale. You may even see some dolphins, too. Meanwhile working out of the same outfit, Kylie’s Chance Lobster tour will show you what Maine is most well known for: lobsters. The hour and a half excursion brings you past Walker’s Point (Tell H.W hi for us!), and they’ll bring whatever is found in the traps on board.
Where to EAT in Kennebunkport
The name of the game in New England is lobster, and there are no shortage of awesome lobster joints in Kennebunkport. Here are our favorites:
The Clam Shack: As the name suggests, it truly is a shack, stationed on the Kennebunk Bridge. You’ll know The Clam Shack from the epically long lines out front. Don’t let that deter you; the line moves fast and the food is worth every waiting second. Tossed lightly in both butter and a little mayo, The Clam Shack’s lobster roll has won the Tasting Table Lobster Rumble several years in a row. The sandwich is full of huge chunks of claw meat and served with a lemon slice. We recommend a side of fried clam strips, some french fries, and a cold beer to wash it all down.
Nunan’s Lobster Hut: Open for over 60 years, the motto of Nunan’s Lobster hut is “We catch em. We cook em. We crack em. You eat em”. According to our server, they’re serving their lobster dinners now the same way they were when they opened in 1953. Skip the single lobster dinner and go big. Order two 1 1/8 lb lobsters (no sharing, but you wouldn’t want to anyways) steamed and served with drawn butter and a bib. It comes with chips, a roll, and a couple pickles. Finish with a slice of their blueberry pie (another Maine staple) for one of the best meals you’ll ever have.
Earth at Hidden Pond: This ‘farm-to-fork’ eatery at Hidden Pond resort promises an unforgettable dinner from a James Beard Award winning chef. The food is fresh and simple, tomatoes grown by a local farmer and lobster caught that morning. Herbs and greens are picked from the on-site garden and used in nearly every dish, and the wine list is extensive and dynamic. The decor inside is chic but woodsy with lots of candle light. Sit outside and listen to the quiet, while enjoying a beautiful meal and the gorgeous landscape. (Bonus fact: the private dining room called the “Potting Shed” is where our 41st President celebrated his 90th brithday)
Where to STAY in Kennebunkport
Hidden Pond: Nestled in the Maine woods, just minutes from downtown Kennebunkport, Hidden Pond will make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, while still dousing you in luxury. For families, there are 2 bedroom cottages available and the bungalows are a couples dream. Each comes with a cozy screened in porch, fireplace, sitting area, king bed, huge bathroom, and an outdoor shower. Each morning you’ll find freshly baked pastries and a canteen of hot coffee in a bag hung from your doorknob just after sunrise, by what could only be Kennebunk elves. The resort offers morning yoga, several walking trails, bikes to use on and off the property. It also runs a shuttle to town and the beach anytime you need. The garden is beautiful, at one end you’ll find a potting shed filled with vases and clippers so you can bring a bouquet back to your room. There are two pools at the resort: one appropriately named the Serenity Pool, where kiddos aren’t allowed, and the is more lively with plenty of room to splash. This pool is set right next to the fire pit, where s’mores are made every night compliments of the resort. A massage at the Tree House spa and dinner at Earth round out the slice of heaven that is Hidden Pond. It is romantic and beautiful and one of our favorite places on the planet.
Tides Beach Club: The Victorian-style inn has been hosting guests since 1900 and became a sister property of Hidden Pond in 2011. The TBC is equally beautiful and relaxing, but has one thing the bungalows in the woods don’t: the beach. Tides sits right across from Goose Rocks Beach and is the perfect mix of beachy and chic. The beachfront hotel has 21 rooms, all with beds covered in Frette linens. Wake up rested and walk across the street to spend a day relaxing in the sand, while beach tenders bring food and drinks at your leisure. The sister properties allow their guests access to eachother, so if your tired of the beach, head to the pool at Hidden Pond. On the first floor, The Tides Beach Club restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, serving some of the freshest seafood around alongside deliciously creative cocktails. The front porch is the best place in town to watch the sunset, curled up with a blanket and a glass of wine to cap of a relaxing day.
Photo Cred: Maine Office of Tourism, Tides Beach Club, Kennebunkport Maine Lodging, Visit Maine, Compass + Twine
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