The Kennebunks are known the world over, for the seafaring heritage and as the summer home of two US Presidents. The five towns, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Cape Porpoise, Goose Rocks and Arundel, are rich with arts, architecture, luxury lodging, shopping, boating and much more.
A seaside drive over the Kennebunk River bridge into Dock Square and along Ocean Avenue will quickly demonstrate why the seaside haven of Kennebunkport has attracted dignitaries, celebrities and sea captains for centuries. As you continue out the famed Ocean Avenue you will pass the grand hotels of The Colony and The Nonantum Resort – the regal resorts of yesterday that continue to host guests, galas, and weddings on their glorious waterfront grounds.
Parsons' Way is a delightful seaside path that takes you by Saint Anne's gothic stone church and by the summer cottages – which are mansions to most. You will delight in seeing the Blowing Cave and Spouting Rock – nature's phenomenon as the sea crashes into the shore in a dramatic fashion. You will be rewarded too with a fantastic view of Walkers' Point, summer home of the 41st president of the US, George Herbert Walker Bush and his wife Barbara. The Bush compound is protected by secret service but entirely viewable for passers-by that want a glimpse of the past president and an occasional visit by his son the current President George W. Bush, as they board their fishing boat, The Fidelity, and head out to sea.
Both Kennebunk and Kennebunkport have historic districts steeped in local lore, and offer tours of the homes of sea captains and shipbuilders, some are even thought to be haunted. The Nott House in Kennebunkport is home to the Historical Society and is open to visitors. In Kennebunk, start your tour at the Brick Store Museum and then take a guided tour of the grand homes on Summer Street many of which were built by sea merchants when the Kennebunk River was a major boat launching locale.
Shoppers in search of unique gifts and treasures will find them in the charming boutiques and galleries Dock Square and in shops that line downtown Kennebunk on Main Street and Route 1. Train and trolley lovers should take time to visit the Seashore Trolley Museum in Arundel – you can even ride an old fashioned open air trolley through the Maine countryside or learn how to be a motorman.
Visitors to Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise can explore the scenic area on bike, foot, by car or by trolley. Or explore the seas aboard a lobster boat, on a whale watch, a charter sailing schooner, a kayak or a canoe – with tours and boats departing the Kennebunk River daily. Don't miss Cape Porpoise, a classic Maine fishing harbor, and the view of Goat Island Lighthouse, a real working lighthouse.
There are several beaches in The Kennebunks. In Kennebunk, the most popular for young families is Mother's Beach because of the gentle surf and fun tidal pools, plus the waterfront playground. Next is Middle Beach which offers great views of the Atlantic and soft pebbles that click softly together under the crash of the waves. Gooches Beach (often referred to as Kennebunk Beach) is a broad stretch of sand that beachcombers love. There are lifeguards in season, surfers during big wave times, and you can stroll all the way to the breakwater to watch the lobster boats and pleasure craft exiting the River to the sea. Traveling Northeast beyond Cape Porpoise is Goose Rocks Beach– a beautiful natural sand beach worth exploring.
The Kennebunks are lively and inviting in all four seasons. There are family and pet-friendly resorts, luxury hotels and romantic bed and breakfasts. Near Kennebunk Beach is New England's only five star restaurant, The White Barn Inn. For waterfront dining, you can choose from Hurricane, Federal Jack's where they brew their own Shipyard beer, Arundel Wharf, The Cape Arundel Inn, Mabel's, On the Marsh, and the list goes on. There are also delightful bakeries and cafes, seafood shanties and the famous Clam Shack, plus the River House Irish Pub, Italian, Chinese and Thai restaurants.
The Kennebunks celebrate each holiday with flair, from a traditional Memorial Day parade attended by the Bush Family, fireworks on the 4th, to the biggest seaside holiday celebration – Christmas Prelude when the town is decked with pine boughs, carolers fill the Square, a tree lighting ceremony is held and hot cider and cookies are served to the season's shoppers. Santa even arrives by Lobster boat.
February is for Lovers in the Kennebunks, this month long celebration of romance includes horse drawn carriage rides through the Port, candlelight dinners, Jacuzzis, flowers and chocolates in your room as part of your getaway. Spring is a time for special savings in the Kennebunks as the prime summer season approaches. Fall and winter bring quieter, more serene seasons for spectacular foliage, a dusting of snow on the rocky coast and walks along the deserted beach, plus great deals on lodging.