Written by Joy McPetersThe town of Kennebunkport sits between the Kennebunk River and the Atlantic Ocean, 30 miles south of Portland and 85 miles north of Boston. Many know Kennebunkport as the summer home of former President George H.W. Bush (the oceanfront Bush Compound is set on Walkers’ Point). The town offers something for everyone, from outdoor activities such as whale watching and kayaking to great shopping,dining and art. Several excellent docking options along the Kennebunk River mean that the area can be readily explored.
Kennebunkport has a rich maritime heritage dating back to the 1600s. It was a shipbuilding center for five-masted ships and large schooners, and since its founding it has been known as a fishing village due to its safe harbor along the Kennebunk River and its easy ocean access.
These days, Kennebunkport is a full-fledged tourist destination with beautiful seaside estates that have been converted into bed and breakfasts and hotels. Dock Square, one of the liveliest areas, is filled with seafood restaurants, galleries and souvenir shops. And don’t miss the beautiful strand of sand along Beach Avenue, a short walk from Dock Square. In the off-season, bring your four-legged friends to romp on the beach, too.
What To Do
Scenic Adventures: Walk, bike or drive along Ocean Avenue to see stunning homes (including the Bush Compound), historic St. Ann’s Church and gorgeous vistas of the waves crashing onto the rocky shoreline.
Golf fun: Bring your clubs to play a round at Cape Arundel Golf Club (19 River Rd., www.capearundelgolfclub.com). The more than 115-year-old Scottish links course has 18 holes (13 with water) and is open to the public.
Boat Building: Kennebunkport is home to the Landing School (286 River Rd., www.landingschool.edu), first established in 1978 as a wooden-boat-building school.The facility has since expanded to include modern yacht design and marine systems technology.
Art strolls: Wander through town to visit the many art galleries featuring local and international artists.
River Excitement: Rent a kayak or canoe from Kennebunkport Marina (67 Ocean Drive, www.kennebunkportmarina.com) and set out along the Kennebunk River for an up-close view of the picturesque coastline.
Where To Eat
Alisson’s Restaurant (11 Dock Square, 207-967-4841, www.alissons.com) is a local institution famous for its clamchowder and fun bar scene.
Bandaloop (2 Dock Square, 207-967- 4994, www.bandaloop.biz) serves dishesmade with fresh, organic and locally grown ingredients and has many vegan options.
White Barn Inn (37 Beach Ave., 207-967- 2321, www.whitebarninn.com) is an upscale destination set in a beautifully restored barn. Be sure to try the lobster spring rolls.
Federal Jacks Restaurant & Brew Pub (8 Western Ave., 207-967-4322, www.federaljacks.com) is across the river. Enjoy house-made beer, burgers and fantastic views of the harbor.
Pier 77 (77 Pier Rd., 207-967-8500, www.pier77restaurant.com), just north of Kennebunkport in Cape Porpoise, is a great place to sample local seafood and watch the working lobster boats in the cove.
Cape Pier Chowder House (79 Pier Rd., 207-967-0123, www.capeporpoiselobster.com), also in Cape Porpoise, has lobster rolls, fried clams, an open-air deck, and views of Goat Island Lighthouse.
Where To Dock
Chick's Marina (75 Ocean Ave., 207-967- 2782, www.chicksmarina.com) set on the Kennebunk River, a half-mile from the ocean, has a fuel dock, slips for boats up to 150 feet, a service department, concierge, marine supply store, barbecue grills, sun deck and bike rentals.
Yachtsman Lodge & Marina (59 Ocean Ave., 207-967-5333, www.yachtsmanlodge.com), just a short walk from Dock Square, can accommodate boats up to 120 feet. The marina sits below the Yachtsman Lodge, where every room has its own patio overlooking the Kennebunk River. ml