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Summer Trip to Kennebunkport, Maine

The salty scent of the sea mingling with the sweet perfume of beach roses wafted into my car as I followed Route 9 past Kennebunkport, Maine — which was just named one of the best beach towns in New England in the July/August issue of Yankee— to the small fishing village of Cape Porpoise. I was in search of a hearty Maine breakfast — the kind that would fuel me through a morning of exploring one of York County’s most scenic coastal towns — which I hoped to find at the Wayfarer Restaurant.

The Wayfarer Restaurant

Pancakes and homemade corned beef hash are breakfast specialties of the Wayfarer Restaurant

Bonnie Thomas, our Crafty Yankee blogger, met me there, and we settled in to sample two of the Wayfarer’s breakfast specialties: The Raft – poached eggs perched atop a heaping pile of homemade corned beef hash with a side of toast for me, and a blueberry pancake so “ginormous” that it pushed right up to the rim of the plate for Bonnie. Neither of us was able to finish the generous portions of mouthwatering food the Wayfarer served up, and we certainly didn’t leave hungry.

After Bonnie and I parted ways, I meandered along the streets that ring the harbor. The sky was cast in gray and ribbons of fog were wafting in with the ocean breeze. Boats lay stranded on flats of mud, awaiting the return of the tide when they would again bob lazily on the waves, adding to the feeling of having stepped into a watercolor painting.

Cape Porpoise

Cape Porpoise is a charming fishing village.

There’s no better time to visit the beach than low tide, so I traveled up Route 9 to Goose Rocks Beach. At the head of the beach path, I came upon an artist at his easel and asked if it looked like a promising day to be there. He assured me that it would be as long as I “stayed in the moment” and didn’t worry about whether or not it would rain. Good advice indeed.

Despite the spotty weather forecast, the beach was buzzing with activity: mothers were making castles in the sand with their children; teenagers tossed balls and flicked Frisbees between them; clusters of folks ambled along the water’s edge; and a crew that was busily preparing for a wedding was setting up a gazebo and freeing the seaweed from the sand with rakes. The morning melted away as I immersed myself in the pleasure of being at the shore.

Rain or shine, there’s plenty to do at Goose Rocks Beach

With my stomach starting to rumble, I headed back down Route 9 to grab a late lunch. I’d intended to stop at Nunan’s Lobster Hut, but they don’t open until 5:00 PM, so I pushed on to the Port. Parking gets tight there during the summer season, but I lucked into a space at the honor system parking lot in the heart of Kennebunkport. After tucking the parking fee into the little red box that acts as toll taker, I made my way to Gran’s Chowder House for a bowl of haddock chowder. Delicious.

Nunan’s Lobster Hut isn’t open for lunch, but there are plenty of food options in Kennebunkport. Gran’s makes excellent chowder.

The afternoon was waning, so I took a stroll through Dock Square. The town boundaries between Kennebunk and Kennebunkport begin to blur at the river, and when you cross the bridge, you’re actually entering Kennebunk’s Lower Village. Should you hop aboard a whale watch or scenic lobster boat tour there, you just might hear the locals referring to this area as T’aint town, which “t’aint Kennebunk and t’aint Kennebunkport.”

Kennebunkport Bridge

Bridge to Dock Square

Boutiques and gift shops are plentiful (and quite diverse) on both sides of the river, and I couldn’t resist poking around in a few of them. My first stop was at Saxony Imports, the ultimate souvenir shop that’s stuffed from floor to ceiling with New England novelty items like lobster-claw salt and pepper shakers, picks, ashtrays and bells. Just around the corner on Port Walk is Stem to Stern, a small shop specializing in home goods whose soothing hues of blues and greens may turn your thoughts to summer homes at the sea. A few purchases later, I looped over to Ocean Avenue and popped into The Good Earth – a fixture in Kennebunkport since 1974. All of the pottery displayed there is made locally by the shop owners and is lead-free and dishwasher and microwave safe. If you fall in love with their work, be sure to leave some room in your car because they don’t ship.

Kennebunkport Shopping

Find souvenirs at Saxony Imports, beach decor at Stem to Stern and pottery at The Good Earth

Before I knew it, it was time to meet my niece and mother for dinner at Bandaloop. This restaurant has everything you could hope for: locally sourced ingredients, a chef who puts his heart and soul into every dish, and a boisterous atmosphere where friends and families meet, the strains of their laughter drifting into the adjoining rooms. The scallops and haddock were fresh and flavorful, and the pasta is a decadent take on macaroni and cheese. Bottom line: the food’s great and it’s a fun place to be.

Bandaloop

Bandaloop uses fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

On the second day of my trip to Kennebunkport, I decided to follow Yankee’s advice and take a “two-mile jaunt” along Parsons Way. Despite having grown up in the neighboring town of Kennebunk, I had never viewed Kennebunkport’s rocky coast and stately homes on foot. It’s an easy walk that trails alongside Ocean Avenue. The path is dotted with benches overlooking jagged cliffs that slope down to the water’s edge, and it’s not hard to while away most of your day there.

Parsons Way

Explore Kennebunkport’s rocky coastline on Parsons Way

Had I not been looking for it, I might have missed the painted white arrow on the sidewalk that marks the pathway to Spouting Rock, a natural blowhole that spews waves up in an explosion of water. There was no spouting going on, but when I looked to my left, I had a good view of the house that’s rumored to have been in the opening scenes of the original Dark Shadows T.V. series. Walk a bit farther and you’ll eventually end up at Walker’s Point where the Bush compound is located.

After winding my way back downtown, it was time to find lunch. In the winter months, I might head to H.B. Provisions in Lower Village for a lobster roll or one of their panini sandwiches and a visit with my niece and nephew who both work there. But with summer being prime seafood shack season and the Clam Shack – which has won countless accolades from winning food wars on the Travel Channel for best lobster roll to being named one of the best lobster shacks in New England by Yankee – was open for business. Their lobster roll is packed with a full one-pound lobster lightly tossed with mayo or drizzled with butter and served on a round, lightly toasted bun to satisfy any craving. The lunch box of fried clams and fries is equally enjoyable, and I challenge you to finish it.

The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport

The Clam Shack serves up delicious fried clams and lobster rolls.

I made two more stops on Route 9 before ending my two-day trip to Kennebunkport, Maine, and making my way back to New Hampshire: Snug Harbor Farm – named one of the best nurseries in New England – and Antiques on 9. It would take a much longer trip to explore all that Kennebunkport has to offer, but there’s always time to go back.

Snug Harbor & Antiques on 9

Snug Harbor & Antiques on 9 offer beautiful garden and home decor.

If you’re looking for a coastal getaway, be sure to pick up the July/August issue of Yankee to see which 25 beach towns we deemed the best.

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Brenda Darroch

Author:

Brenda Darroch

Biography:

Digital Editor Brenda Darroch creates and manages content for YankeeMagazine.com, YankeeFoliage.com, e-newsletters, and Yankee's search and social media initiatives. Follow Brenda Darroch on !
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4 Responses to Summer Trip to Kennebunkport, Maine

  1. Janet Bowers June 16, 2012 at 1:51 am #

    Thank you for this tour. Having spent the best years of my childhood in Kennebunk and the Port over 50 years ago, i enjoy seeing the changes some for the better. And some make me chuckle because i knew these shop had a much more practical uses,,like barber shop which is now a pottery shop :)

  2. Jan Harman June 17, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    I spent three short days in Maine (including Kennebunkport) last year as part of my only overseas trip ever. (from Australia) I just loved Maine, and would love to visit again one day. My fantasy is to find a big pile of money and have a summer home in Maine and spend 6 months every year. Failing that, a camper van and time to wander would be my second choice. It was a wonderful three days, so thank you for sharing your story and pictures – it took me right back there!

  3. Aimee Seavey June 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    Wonderful post, Brenda! It makes me want to plan my own visit so I can eat, shop, and stroll my way through Kennebunkport, too. :)

  4. Jeff July 6, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    I don’t know how the rumor started, but the house in Kennebunkport is definitely not the house from the opening credits of Dark Shadows. The actual mansion is in Newport, RI and called Seaview Terrace (also known as the Carey Mansion). I have been seeing this rumor all over the place, it is most certainly not true. Apparently there are even tour guides in the town telling people this. I’m going to be at the actual house in less than a week.

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