The Kennebunks - Kennebunk & Kennebunkport
Kennebunk is located on the southwesterly coast of Maine just 90 miles north of Boston and 25 miles south of Portland. Like many of Maine’s coastal towns, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport first prospered as a shipbuilding center. In the late 1800s, affluent summer visitors would arrive by train from Boston and stay at more than 30 grand hotels and mansions along the coastline in the two towns. They came to enjoy the beaches, rivers, and small town life. The nature of tourism in Kennebunk gradually changed with the arrival of the automobile. "Touring" and "day tripping" led to the disappearance of the many large wooden hotels that lined Kennebunk's beaches, replaced by tourist cabins and more recently with today’s inns and bed and breakfast.
One of most revered more recent developments (1985-1995) has the designation in 1974 of a historic district, which runs from Main Street to Kennebunk Landing's village. This pointed the way to an appreciation of the architectural riches of the town. Today, the town remains a popular year-round tourism destination offering a vibrant downtown shopping and dining destination. Soon, train service from Boston will once again bring visitors to Kennebunk station and the thrill of the train whistle will once again launch an exciting vacation for visitors.
There’s plenty of outdoor adventure well beyond the downtown sections too. Maine has more than 5000 miles of waterfront and The Kennebunks are bordered by some of the most beautiful and accessible beaches on the Atlantic Seaboard. Year round visitors often plan a beach day at one of several beaches in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, sunning on the talcum powder sand in summer or a brisk walk with a four-legged friend in winter.
In Kennebunk, Mother's & Gooch's Beach on Beach Avenue, off Routes 9 & 35 are the perfect place to walk, sun yourself, play in the surf, look for sand dollars or just enjoy the sight of the waves rolling into shore. According to the local chamber’ there's no better place to be on July 4th, when fireworks explode overhead in a myriad of glittering lights.
Goose Rocks Beach on King's Highway, Off Route 9, North of Kennebunkport Village is a favorite with walkers as well as the sand pail set. It's 3-miles long with a wide, smooth and sandy, and offers up views of Eastern Goose Rocks and Timber Island, just off the coast.
Some call the Kennebunkport Beach the "Kennebunk Workout." We call it spectacular. This area offers some sandy and some rocky beaches that stretch along Beach Avenue from Gooch's Beach past Lord’s Point and are all connected by sidewalks. Take an early morning stroll past long stretches of beach, shorefront homes and inns before the sun worshippers spread their towels on the sand. Enjoy the warmth of midday or the romance of an orange and purple sky reflecting off the water at sunset. Kennebunk Beach is readily accessible. There are plenty more beaches for consideration. Simply click here for more information and directions. Please note parking passes may be required for some beaches. Talk with your innkeeper about access to the beaches.
DINING & SHOPPING
While you'll find plenty of fine dining in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, you can also still find moderately priced places to enjoy too. Some of the best spots to dine are low-key lobster pounds where you can find great food at a good price. Choose from casual fare to candlelit ocean front options. When you check into your inn, talk with the innkeeper about your dining preferences. Inns Along the Coast innkeepers are “in the know” about local dining, often including special offers and two-fers, depending upon the time of year.
For shoppers, The Kennebunks offer an eclectic and upscale collection of galleries, apparel shops and souvenir or t-shirt options too. Unique shops in both towns abound, from Minka, a modern boutique featuring all-natural, locally made accessories, home goods and apothecary, Maine-ly Drizzle with over 50 olive oils and vinegars to taste and buy, to Maine Art with wind sculptures by Lyman Whitaker.
Hoping to visit a Maine lighthouse? Take a drive along Ocean Avenue, which runs along the Kennebunk River to the ocean, eventually arriving in Cape Porpoise, a small coastal village with a view to Goat Island Lighthouse, built in 1835. Other lighthouses within a short drive from Kennebunk/Kennebunkport accessible by foot or boat, are the Nubble Light, Wood Island, Portland Head Light (commissioned by George Washington and the second lighthouse ever built in the US), all within about a half hour drive of Kennebunkport.
If the outdoors calls you, try fly-fishing on the Mousam River, hiking and biking trails, a lobster boat, sailing or whale watching cruise anytime from May through October. Bicycle and scooter rentals are always an option or if you wish to get out on the water, rent a kayak locally too.
MUSEUMS & HISTORY
There are two museums you won’t want to miss when visiting the Kennebunks. Open from May through October, the Seashore Trolley Museum includes rides on a restored and an extensive collection of locomotives, Interurbans, trackless trolleys and other vehicles. Arts and heritage attractions provide alternative visitor enjoyment at the Brick Store Museum or the historic White Columns. Open year-round, the Brick Store Museum celebrates the human experience in the Kennebunks through art, history and culture, while the Nott House, or “White Columns”, built in the late 1800’s by a wealthy shipbuilder, offers tours and a wonderful carriage barn gift shop.
We can’t deny that Kennebunkport has become a recognized destination due to its connection to the Bush family. The Nott House is home to The First Families’ Kennebunkport Museum-a photographic exhibit of Kennebunkport’s two US Presidents. Photos of both Presidents Bush and their families at Walkers Point, their summer home located along Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport, are displayed. Take a drive along Ocean Avenue and you’ll easily spot the Bush compound from afar. And that’s just about as close as you’ll get to it! You’ll get a flavor for life there though.
EVENTS & FESTIVALS
To round out the year in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, Christmas Prelude is a family holiday affair with tree lightings, holiday fare and entertainment, live nativity, caroling, holiday shopping and a magnificent fireworks display. Filled with plenty of Santa sightings, and signature tours, this festival inspires the holiday spirit in everyone who participates.
The Kennebunkport Festival in June offers a week-long celebration of foods and wines too. For six days each year this festival celebrates the excellence of Maine’s chefs, artists, musicians, wine purveyors, and beer makers while surrounded by the beautiful scenery, people, and enduring charm of Kennebunkport. Demonstrations, tastings, art tours, and more from the finest in Maine talent are showcased during this chic event.
Harvestfest in Kennebunk offers up a traditional fall festival with costumes, crafts and food. This year, the Zombie walk and food drive was added making for some colorful photos.
Your Inns Along the Coast innkeeper is there to help assist you in planning and booking your activities during your stay. You’ll find plenty of brochures and materials about what to do in the region, and better yet, a wealth of knowledge from your innkeeper about how to fill your day for a memorable getaway.