A Weekend in Kennebunk + Kennebunkport
The Kennebunks are picture-perfect coastal towns between Portland and Maine’s southern border that deliver ocean views and plenty of dining options.
Dinner by fire
Start your weekend trip at the Cape Arundel Inn and Resort, a luxurious seaside Victorian mansion that stands out among many on Kennebunkport’s famed Ocean Avenue. Sit by the fireplace with a glass of champagne before heading into town for dinner at the Lost Fire Patagonian Grill and Bar. Celebrated Argentinian chef Germán Lucarelli’s rustic elegance and culinary prowess are apparent at this stunning addition to the Kennebunks’ food scene. From the street art murals on the building to a menu of every mouthwatering cut of steak imaginable cooked over an open flame to the waitstaff who feel like your friends, the Lost Fire is an experience. Don’t forget to check out the adorable seasonal outdoor patio, LUCA.
Seaside exploring and luxurious dining
At Cape Arundel Inn’s Ocean Restaurant, wake up to the mother of avocado toast, featuring poached eggs, ricotta, and salmon on a slab of homemade wheat bread. Enjoy your breakfast in a dining room with a view of the ocean (and of the Bush compound on Walkers Point). Then it’s off to an area favorite, Snug Harbor Farm. Botanists, listen up: this Kennebunk garden center and nursery is paradise. Half a dozen greenhouses are crawling with a jungle of tropical flora (even Venus flytraps) and parades of rare succulents in vintage terra-cotta pots. You can find a variety of plants waking up after a long dormant winter, including a monster Monstera.
Once you’ve got your green fix, a few doors down is Antiques on Nine, which has high-quality antique furniture and contemporary home goods. On your way into the village on Western Avenue is Kennebunk Outfitters, an outdoor store with two floors of clothing and gear from Helly Hansen, Cotopaxi, Patagonia, and more. Next, grab a coffee at European-style cafe Mornings in Paris to sip while you walk over the bridge from Kennebunk to Kennebunkport. The upper section of the Kennebunk River below is a prime kayaking spot (the public launch is a stone’s throw away at the old grist mill). Snap a photo downriver of the boats in the harbor, then keep on walking until you reach a sweet little window display with black and white ceramics and earthy handmade gifts from reclaimed wood. The contemporary boutique Minka, with clothing and accessories, home goods, jewelry, and other gifts, is worth a stop. Next, stop in to Live Cafe for a smoothie, or go all out with the wild flavors of Rococo Ice Cream—the sweet avocado cayenne is off the charts.
If it’s windy and rainy, take a drive along Ocean Avenue and pull over to watch the monster waves crashing into the rocks, like at the jetty on Colony Beach. Or if it’s nice out, meander down the Parson’s Way trail off Ocean Avenue for free front-row seats to the Atlantic.
After perusing the popular port, it’s time to get off the grid. Turn off Goose Rocks Road onto the gravel road of the luxury resort Hidden Pond and drive past glamorous cabins tucked into a majestic forest until, at the end, you reach the property’s restaurant, Earth at Hidden Pond. It’s here that heaven exists. The rustic sprawling space brings the outdoors in with windows overlooking a pond, a swimming pool, and tables for outdoor seating. The walls are dizzying stacks of tree stumps spanning from the floor to the ceiling. The place is drenched in modern opulence, with Edison-bulb chandeliers dangling over signature Snug Harbor greenery. But the real centerpiece is the four-course, farm-to-fork menu featuring produce picked from the on-site organic garden, such as beets, eggplants, heirloom tomatoes, herbs, and edible flowers—plus high-bush blueberries. Each bite is worth savoring for a few more seconds, such as the roe over scallops and cauliflower. Finish off what will likely be one of the best meals you’ve had in Maine with the tiramisu and Tempranillo—and you’re down for the count.
Enjoying the ocean’s bounty
Rise and shine, and start your day with a short hike. On your drive along Ocean Avenue, swing by views of the stone chapel at St. Ann’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. On Route 9 the Kennebunk Bridle Path caters to hikers and, in the winter, cross-country skiers. This scenic out-and-back trail is about three miles each way and runs along a turn-of-the-century train bed situated between two local land preserves. The trail ends near a funky architectural salvage store, the Old House Parts Company, located in an 1872 freight warehouse.
There’s no shortage of adventure in the Kennebunks, especially in Kennebunkport’s Cape Porpoise, an adorable fishing village with a touch of grit. Here, the seascape is decorated with Capes old and new, humble cottages, and mansions on stilts. Lobster fishers haul traps in this less-traveled village, where fish is fresh off the boat. Go to Langsford Road Lobster and Fish House or, if you don’t feel like cooking, to the Cape Pier Chowder House for unbeatable lobster rolls and views for days. Across the parking lot, take a seat and a peek at Goat Island Light Station on the other side of the harbor.
Then, follow the colorful buoys into Ramp Bar and Grill for an after-meal drink on a patio of crushed shells. You’ll probably catch a fisherman tying up to the dock at the end of the day. Inside, sports paraphernalia covers the ceiling of this favorite watering hole of the late George H.W. Bush and other celebrities, whose signatures you’ll find on the walls.
Of all the beautiful blues, greens, and natural hues that bring life to the Kennebunks, maybe the most striking is the pale, soft sand, still waters, piney islands, and piping plovers of Kennebunkport’s Goose Rocks Beach. Every visit is just as breathtaking as the first. As the sun falls behind the horizon, you have to say goodbye to the Kennebunks—for now.