When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
This prestigious destination has been the summer home of the Bush family, including two former American presidents (George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush), for many years. The family owns a large estate there, which attracts the curious but is not open to the public.
Over the last century, the town has evolved from a fishing port to a resort town.
You will be charmed by its art galleries, its typical New England architecture, its food, its delicious lobsters and its beautiful beaches.
This region includes the summer destinations of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise . You will find several beaches, but those of Kennebunkport are generally the most popular.
Maine's best beaches can be found in three areas: Kennebunks, Yorks and Hamptons. The latter two have become a favorite spot for tourists, who particularly like Old Orchard Beach, Ogunquit Beach and Hampton Beach.
So for more peace and quiet, stick to the beaches around Kennebunkport !
Kennebunk Beach (on Beach Avenue) is very popular but is less crowded than Ogunquit and Old Orchard beaches. It stretches for nearly 3 km and is divided into three sections: Gooch's Beach is the favorite for surfing and has lifeguards on duty during the summer, Middle Beach is the perfect spot to relax to the sound of the waves, and Mother's Beach is popular with families. Mother's Beach has a children's playground and lifeguards on duty. You can walk along the sidewalk that joins the 3 sections of beach along Beach Avenue to Lord's Point (6 km round-trip). Parking is paid on site at the pay station.
Goose Rocks Beach (on Kings Highway) is a 5-km stretch of beach between Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise. It offers good views of Timber Island and Eastern Goose Rocks, a rocky formation that can be seen at low tide. A parking permit is required and can be obtained at Kennebunkport Town Hall (6 Elm Street) or Goose Rocks General Store (3 Dyke Road).
Arundel Beach (on Ocean Avenue) is also known as Colony Beach . It is across from the Colony Hotel, near the mouth of the Kennebunk River. The nearby Parson's Way Shore Walk is a scenic walk along the oceanfront that leads past a series of luxurious summer homes, including the Bush estate at Walker's Point . The view is particularly gorgeous at high tide!
Those looking for peace and quiet will appreciate the fine sands of Parson's Beach , which is just outside of town (on Parsons Beach Road, Kennebunk).
Swimming is sure to be refreshing, as the water is not very warm in the region (average sea temperature between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius in July-September)!
To enjoy the beach with maximum convenience, arrive early! Most of the beachfront parking is reserved for seasonal visitors and spaces are often limited. By arriving early at Colony Beach , you can take advantage of free parking and be within walking distance of regional attractions and great restaurants. The same goes for Parson's Beach , where there are only 25 parking spaces.
This is Kennebunkport's popular shopping district, located in the center of town. There are numerous art galleries along Ocean Avenue and Highway 35. The Kennebunkport Historical Society on Main Street is dedicated to preserving and sharing the city's history. It operates Nott House , also known as White Columns, and features several pieces of historical art. The First Family Bush Museum houses a collection of photos of the Bush family vacationing in Kennebunkport (8 Main Street / 207-967-2751 / www.kennebunkporthistoricalsociety.com/nott-house/). In addition, you will find a number of boutiques and good restaurants in this area. It's the perfect place do so some shopping!
Dock Square (near the Kennebunk River), Kennebunkport
Ocean Avenue is another good shopping option! You can also walk all the way to Cape Porpoise along the Parson's Way Shore Walk which follows Ocean Avenue, passing several luxury summer homes including the Bush estate at Walker's Point . The view is particularly gorgeous at high tide!
St. Ann's Episcopal Church
This magnificent stone chapel built in 1887 faces the Atlantic Ocean in a beautiful setting surrounded by gardens. You are sure to be charmed by the chapel's unique architecture and calm, peaceful grounds. It will be a quick visit, but well worth it! Open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. until sunset and Sundays from 11:30 a.m., all summer until early fall. (167 Ocean Avenue, Kennebunkport).
Seashore Trolley Museum
Learn about the history of public transit at the oldest and largest electric railway museum in the world! On site you will find a large collection of vehicles, three exhibit barns, a restoration workshop, hiking trails and a boutique. You can also take a ride on a heritage railroad in a vintage trolley from the early 1900s. Open May-October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weekends only in early May and late October). (195 Log Cabin Road, Kennebunkport)
Maine has the largest lobster fishery in the country. A boat tour with an experienced lobster fisherman is a great way to learn all about this iconic crustacean while enjoying the magnificent Kennebunk River and the Kennebunkport coast. Rugosa Lobster Tours offers 90-minute tours from late May to mid-October, with 2 or 3 departures per day. Children under 6 are not permitted. Reservations necessary. (95 Ocean Avenue, Kennebunkport).
Portsmouth , in the state of New Hampshire, is a nice place to stop between Boston and Kennebunkport. This colonial port city has several interesting historic sites to visit.
Strawberry Banke Museum
This outdoor museum near Prescott Park and the Piscataqua River is dedicated to bringing 300 years of American history to life. You can stroll along tree-lined walkways and visit the 32 historic buildings and 8 heritage gardens. Tours are self-guided, but there is a suggested itinerary, and interpreters in period costume are on hand to answer your questions. The site includes a gift shop, a cafeteria and a restaurant. Open from May-October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (14 Hancock Street, Portsmouth).
Built in 1716, this Georgian-style historic house is the oldest urban brick house in New England. Before being transformed into a museum, it was a family home for 6 generations, over nearly 300 years. You will see furnishings and murals dating from the 18th century. 45-minute guided tours are available. Open every day except Tuesdays from June to October, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (150 Daniel Street, Portsmouth).
Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach has long been a favourite vacation destination for tourists and Maine residents alike, and is especially popular with visitors from Quebec.
Its 10 km long stretch of beach is crowded with vacationers of all kinds.
The famous Old Orchard Beach Pier extends 150 m into the Atlantic. It features many seafood dives and restaurants, souvenir shops filled with trinkets, and activities for all ages. At night, the Pier becomes a hotspot for nightlife and live entertainment. (2 Old Orchard Street, Old Orchard Beach).
This seaside amusement park has been a feature of Old Orchard Beach since 1902. It is a very lively site offering a Ferris wheel, roller coasters, rides, a giant arcade room, kids' games, restaurants and gift shops. There are even fireworks some evenings. Open every day from mid-June until the end of August from 10 a.m. (rides open at noon) and from 9 a.m. on weekends (rides open at 11 a.m.). Plan to visit in the evening. More restricted schedule in off-season. (1 Old Orchard Street, Old Orchard Beach).
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
Rococo Ice Cream ($)
This is the perfect place for delicious and original homemade ice cream. Rococo is famous for its creative and innovative flavours, such as strawberry and basil or goat cheese, blackberry and Chambord liqueur!
Open from April, noon to 6 p.m. from Sunday-Thursday and until 9 p.m. on Friday-Saturday.
Clam Shack ($$)
This rustic and authentic wooden hut has been attracting crowds for more than 4 decades with its famous lobster roll, which keeps winning prizes. Shredded lobster meat is placed in a lightly toasted burger-style bun with butter and mayonnaise and served with a wedge of lemon. Simple and delicious!
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Pier 77 Restaurant ($$-$$$)
As the name suggests, this restaurant is located on Pier 77, and it offers a splendid view of Cape Porpoise Harbour. The dining room is warm and welcoming with large windows and a piano. The restaurant serves good, creative, American cuisine at reasonable prices.
Open every day (except Tuesdays) from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays until 4 p.m.
Earth at Hidden Pond ($$$$)
This restaurant is a must in Kennebunkport for a good gourmet meal. The menu is inspired by the seasons and uses the freshest local ingredients. The décor is also beautiful both inside and out and the food is delicious: hand-made pasta, house-made charcuteries, wood-fired pizza, seafood and organic vegetables. An exceptional culinary experience awaits!
Open every evening from 5 to 10 p.m. as of May.
*** Hours may vary ***
- Very Favourable