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What it Feels Like to be in Kennebunkport, Maine

Dock Square, Kennebunkport MaineDock Square, Kennebunkport, Maine.

by Eric Hurwitz. Page updated on 9/8/17

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Kennebunkport receives a great deal of travel press, and with good reason:  this quaint Maine town is sort of like a "greatest hits" package of the Maine coast.

With stunning rocky coastal ocean views at Ocean Ave., plenty of interesting little, locally-owned shops and waterfront seafood restaurants in its visually appealing, colorful small downtown at Dock Square, Kennebunkport truly offers a grand introduction to those interested in visiting the Maine coast.

It's a place of grand old sea captain's homes -- some of which have become inns and bed and breakfasts -- and narrow, crooked streets to stroll by the coast.
Kennebunkport also has one of the most familiar, welcoming scenes to any town in New England. The bridge over the Kennebunk River provides a wonderful introduction of things to come for visitors to Kennebunkport with its water views and the initial distant sight of a cute little village setting with stores, restaurants and church steeple. It's truly one of those "Happy Place" scenes that never gets tired...

Welcome to Kennebunkport, Maine!
Crossing the bridge into Kennebunkport.

At times during the summer and revered Christmas Prelude celebration where the downtown is beautifully lit with thousands of lights, Kennebunkport can seem a bit hectic and not built for the crowds -- this is, after all, a small little town. Don't let that discourage you, though:
No matter how busy it gets during the summer and at Christmas, Kennebunkport feels relaxing, and offers great scenery, a friendly vibe and plenty of shopping and dining options without ever getting too touristy. Some even prefer fall and spring travel, the latter which is the least crowded time.

My favorite things to do:
1. Drive Ocean Ave. -- it's one of the most scenic ocean routes in Maine. This spectacular road includes a glimpse of the summer compound of George W. Bush, Sr., our 41st U.S. President.

Bush Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine
The Bush Compound on Ocean Blvd. in Kennebunkport.

2. Enjoy some beach time at peaceful Goose Rocks Beach, located just off the the King's Highway, with its three miles of sandy beach.

Goose Rocks Beach, Kennebunkport, Maine

Goose Rocks Beach, Kennebunkport

3. Shop in Dock Square where you'll find a delightful mix of gift and souvenir stores, boutiques, galleries, ice cream places, candy shops, and clothing stores in colorful, wethered buildings with appealing competing store signs.

Shopping at Dock Square in Kennebunkport, Maine
Side street in Dock Square.

Be sure to see Cape Porpoise with its views of Goat Island Lighthouse and the brief yet charming village mix of lobster pounds, fish markets, local stores and a few restaurants.

Cape Porpoise in Kennebunkport, Maine
Cape Porpoise in Kennebunkport.

The Huffington Post features a nice article on fun things to do in Kennebunkport. I highly suggest you read the story!  But wait, there's more to my article that you won't want to miss...

Where to eat: The Clam Shack, at 2 Western Ave. in the heart of Dock Square, stands as one of Kennebunkport's most iconic, beloved food destinations with its huge portions of fried clams, lobster rolls, boiled Maine lobster dinners, New England clam chowder and great lunch boxes of fried seafood with fries and cole slaw. Scenically located at the bridge over the Kennebunk River, this small, legendary fish shack has been around since 1968 and can often be seen with lines forming in the summertime.

The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. Photo source: The Clam Shack web site

For a greater variety of food in a larger setting, walk over the Kennebunk Bridge to Federal Jack's, at 8 Western Ave., with its scenic water views and excellent pub food for lunch and dinner. Fresh seafood highlights the menu here (and the New England clam chowder is one of the best we have tasted), but other options abound including substantial salads, burgers and of vegetarian dishes.  If 21 or over and so inclined to adult beverages, try the hand crafted beers -- Federal Jack's is the birthplace of the Shipyard Brewing Company!

Federal Jack's in Kennebunk, Maine, offers amazing water views and fresh seafood.
Federal Jack's in Kennebunk.

View from Federal Jack's in Kennebunk, Maine
View from Federal Jack's.

For an informal, retro general store experience with old-time wood-plank floors and surprisingly good food options for breakfast, lunch or a light dinner, try H.B. Provisions just over the bridge in Kennebunk at 15 Western Ave. It's hard to know what to get, but a good start would be lobster omelets, Belgian waffles with Maine blueberries, the flat bread pizza, lobster roll, New England clam chowder, Maine crab and cheddar melt, blueberry pie and Boston creme pie. I once had a special here called the maple/bacon crab meat panini, and it was simply amazing! H.B. Provisions offers limited seating and all the essentials like groceries, locally-made ice cream, wine, beer, gifts and an ATM.

H.B Provisions general store in Kennebunk, Maine.
H.B Provisions in Kennebunk.

Alisson's, at 11 Dock Square in Kennebunkport, offers an attractive downstairs/upstairs casual atmosphere and cuisine.  It's a popular dining choice with its handsome hardwood-look, prices within reason, and a little something for everyone from its extensive menu. Couples can dine on chowder and lobster for date night, bar flies can sample a brew and nachos, buffalo chicken wings and crab cakes from the pub fare, and families can delight in lobster rolls, pizza, fried seafood, chicken parmesan, chicken tenders and burgers. 

Alisson's restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Alisson's in Kennebunkport.

Where to stay: Kennebunkport has an impressive offering of hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, resorts and motels ranging from charming Federal style homes to all-inclusive destinations.

Captain Fairfield Bed and Breakfast in Kennebunkport
Captain Fairfield Bed and Breakfast in Kennebunkport. Photo source:

Here are some favorites amongst travelers:
The Boathouse Waterfront lodging with many amenities, an on site restaurant, proximity to Dock Square and the scenic ocean views along beautiful Ocean Ave.

Cape Arundel Inn and Resort Great water views, upscale rooms, an outdoor pool and highly regarded restaurant highlight this long-time revered Kennebunkport resort.

Captain Fairfield Inn This beautiful, historic bed and breakfast dates back to 1813 in the form of a federal mansion. Visitors love this place for combining old world charm with modern amenities.  Immaculately maintained, and a centerpiece of grand Kennebunkport architecture!

Rhumb Line Resort This is where we stay. One of Kennebunkport's best values, the Rhumb Line Resort goes way beyond basic lodging with its spacious guest rooms, suites with kitchenettes, air conditioning, cable television, Wireless Internet Access, direct dial phones and small refrigerators in every room.  There's also a cozy fireplaced lobby, free continental breakfast in a friendly lower-level dining room, indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, a fitness center, a summer poolside outdoor restaurant called the Admiral's Table (with lobster bakes!) and attractively landscaped grounds nestled within a four-acre wooded setting.

See all listed Kennebunkport hotels including special deals
Kennebunkport is a special Maine destination, one that we can recommend as one of the true quintessential coastal Maine towns. Hope you get to go there soon! And please write me to share your Kennebunkport experiences. I'd love to hear from you.

Best regards,
Eric at

Highly recommended reading! Please check out Megan Erhart's excellent story at the New England With Love blog on some of her favorite destinations in Kennebunkport.

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Why Kennebunkport is one of the most appealing, beloved coastal Maine vacation destinations.

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A favorite Maine snack...

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