The Kennebunks

Beauty and the beach blend in what locals call 'The Bunks'

Almost everywhere you look in the Kennebunks there’s another Instagram-worthy scene: wide beaches bordered by wild roses, winding streets lined with classic New England homes, hand-painted signs pointing the way to galleries, shops, and restaurants. Separated by the tidal Kennebunk River, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport have been popular summertime destinations since the mid-1800s. Today, visitors come almost year-round for weekend getaways.

Those lucky enough to live in this scenic place are accustomed to welcoming out-of-town guests. Interior designer Louise Hurlbutt, who lives in Kennebunk with her husband, Ralph, has a regular route she takes to introduce visitors to the community. “I always love to walk out our back gate and show my guests the Webhannet Golf Club, a beautiful 1890 club house with spectacular grounds,” she says. A short walk leads to Trinity Chapel, where antique ship models are displayed on the walls. Next, it’s on to Lords Point, a spit of land extending into the ocean, with stunning, shingle-style homes on either side of its dirt road.

Hurlbutt and her guests then visit the beaches. “We walk across Gooch’s Beach and all the way to the Kennebunk River, recounting all the history along the way—in my childhood there were 14 hotels on this side of the river,” she says. Next, the tour heads across the river to Kennebunkport, turning onto Ocean Avenue and stopping at the Arundel Yacht Club. “Everyone loves seeing the interior of this old wooden building with all the festive colored burgees hanging from the rafters,” Hurlbutt says. Just down Ocean Avenue is the grand Colony Hotel. “It’s always a treat to take friends into the lobby and back to another era.” Across the road on the ocean side is Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church; the historic stone chapel is an especially popular spot for weddings. The final stop is another lovely old hotel, the Cape Arundel Inn and Resort, which has a view of the open ocean and of Walker Point—the summer home of Kennebunkport’s most famous residents, the Bush family. “The porch at the inn is the place to be on a summer evening,” Hurlbutt says. “It’s a perfect spot to have a drink, breathe in the salt air off the ocean, and feel truly grateful for where we live.”

11,380 (Kennebunk) 3,612 (Kennebunkport)
Local icon
The Wedding Cake House, a Gothic mansion on Summer Street in Kennebunk, was built in 1825 by shipbuilder George W. Bourne for his wife, Jane. It is said to be the most photographed house in Maine.
Annual event
Named one of the “Top 10 Christmas towns in America” by HGTV, Kennebunkport draws thousands of visitors for Christmas Prelude, an 11-day event featuring parades, tree lightings, and Santa’s arrival by lobster boat.