Kittery Point, Maine | A Quiet Summer Destination
The myriad retail outlets and eateries that line the southern stretch of U.S. 1 in Kittery, Maine, lure throngs of visitors to the area each year. But were you to leave the crush of shoppers scavenging for bargains and head to the town’s southernmost tip, you would happen upon the much quieter village of Kittery Point.
With an afternoon open for exploring, Jim, Brewski, and I did just that, heading south from the outlets to the Kittery traffic circle, where we picked up Route 236 South. We made our way along 236, which turns into Route 103 — seemingly without warning – past Fort McClary State Park, a historic site that offers sweeping grounds and stunning water views.
It’s a pretty drive that winds past coastal cottages stained in hues of grey, green, and blue, lobster boats bobbing in the harbor, and scores of hydrangeas and roses pushing their blossoms through the fences along the roadside. It’s the lobster traps stacked in neat rows on front lawns and buoys suspended from outbuildings that proclaim this a fishing village.
We meandered through the village center, then hooked a right onto Chauncey Creek Road and then another onto Seapoint Road, eventually ending up in the small parking area that marks the entrance to Seapoint Beach. According to the sign, dogs are allowed on the beach during the day until June 15th. According to another sign, however, only residents with valid dump stickers are allowed to park at the head of the beach after May 15th. It was an overcast Monday in early June with few people around, so we decided to roll the dice and let Brewski run around while we kicked off our shoes and dug our toes into the sand.
Much like Parsons Beach in Kennebunk, Maine, Seapoint Beach is a curving stretch of sand bordered by a salt marsh, making it a safe place to let your dog run off leash, provided he’s under control of the owner. We soaked in the salt air and beach roses as Brewski romped along the shore and frolicked in the waves with his new friend Shoalie, a golden retriever named after the Isles of Shoals. Like most people we meet when we have Brewski in tow, Shoalie’s owners assumed that we’d named him after a beverage. Not so! For the record, his phonetically spelled name is in honor of my favorite former New England Patriots player, Tedy Bruschi.
After getting our fill of the beach, we returned to the car with one happy, tired dog to discover a bright-yellow ticket stickered to the window. It wasn’t for $10, $15, or even $25, as one might expect. Nope, parking at Sea Point Beach is the most egregious parking violation you can commit here — worse even than blocking a loading zone or pulling into a handicapped space — and it’ll set you back a whopping $50. I grew up in a beach town, and I understand that parking fines are an important revenue generator. It’s one they take very seriously here, so if you see a “no parking” sign in Kittery Point, Maine, I strongly suggest you find another place to stop.
Lesson learned, we headed back toward the village in search of a bite to eat. Although Sue’s Seafood — which serves up one of my favorite lobster rolls in Maine— is located in Kittery, we opted to forgo that much-loved sandwich in the hopes of finding a venue with a more dog-friendly seating area.
The first option to present itself was Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier. If you’re looking for an authentic lobster-in-the-rough experience, this is the seafood shack for you. Lobsters, steamers, mussels, and all other sorts of fresh seafood are served atop brightly colored picnic tables on a deck overlooking the creek of the same name. It’s BYOB, and many patrons arrive toting an assortment of accessories to enhance the meal — side dishes, tablecloths, candles, bug spray. But for my money, the view of the water is what makes this an outdoor dining experience not to miss. Parking can get tight when the summer season’s in full swing, so it’s best to plan your visit before the dinner rush.
Having frequented this area on previous trips to Maine, we continued along Chauncey Creek Road to Route 103. We stopped at Enoteca, which is housed in the old Frisbee’s Supermarket location and still retains the nostalgic feel of a small-town general store. Glass bottles of Coke and Sprite fill the vintage cooler, a sparse selection of groceries lines the wooden shelves running the length of the shop, and complimentary treats for your four-legged friends are offered at the register. With the post office just across the street and the town dock tucked down behind The Captain and Patty’s restaurant, which in turn lies directly behind Enoteca, this truly is the hub of Kittery Point. Locals buzzed around us, darting between buildings to pick up their mail or grab a newspaper, many stopping to give Brewski a friendly pat on the head, while we enjoyed our sandwiches at the table out front.
Fully sated, we followed the sloping pavement down to the dock to take in one last water view before turning the car back toward New Hampshire.