48 Hours in Kennebunk + Kennebunkport
These waterfront communities come alive in the summer months with bustling downtowns, white-sand beaches, and patio dining, but offseason visits also offer plenty of culinary and community appeal.
The owners of the Inn at English Meadows, Kate and David Parisi, welcome my girlfriend, Laura, and me to their boutique bed-and-breakfast in Kennebunk. David guides us through the inn to our room, Serenity, which has a private entrance, king bed, fireplace, and a bathroom that would be sizable enough to sublet as an apartment in Portland. After exploring the grounds of the inn, we head over to our dinner reservation at Ports of Italy. As we walk in, we notice a beautiful display of the restaurant’s famous roasted suckling pig porchetta. We’re quickly seated, and just the smell of the bread and olive oil on the table is enough to get our taste buds tingling. After nibbling on house-made bread, we decide on entrees. I go with a classic orecchiette—a delight, with a sauce that is easily sopped up with the house bread.
After a fantastic dinner, we head down Ocean Avenue to get a glimpse of the sunset on Parsons Beach, which is easily accessible and has parking right past the Colony Hotel entrance.
We wake up early to follow the sunrise along the coast of Kennebunk before winding our way back into town to Mornings in Paris, a small coffee shop on the Kennebunk side of the Mathew J. Lanigan Bridge. We grab a coffee and a couple of macaroons to fill us until our three-course breakfast at the inn. Laura doesn’t eat gluten, and Kate Parisi is very considerate. She substitutes gluten-free pancakes for us and later provides gluten-free chips for our amazing chilaquiles verdes. The breakfast alone is enough reason to return. We chat with David about his past career as an architect and our day ahead.
We bundle up and drive to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, which includes land in Wells, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Biddeford, Saco, and Scarborough. We find a 3.1-mile walk with stunning views along the coastline.
We’re parched upon returning to town, so we grab a drink at the Boathouse Restaurant. Next we visit some of the unique stores in Dock
Square, including Minka, Daytrip Society, Coastal Jewelers, Abacus, King’s Wharfe, and Scalawags, before making our way to the Pilot House Restaurant for a late-afternoon lunch. It’s Saint Patrick’s Day, but the crowd is surprisingly calm. We’ve noticed during our time in the Kennebunks that wall decor isn’t enough—there has to be ceiling appeal, too, and the Pilot House is no different, with flags displayed above us.
After getting back to our car, we head over to Chicks Marina. It’s a gorgeous evening with a light breeze coming from Kennebunk River. The marina is just a short drive from the downtown along Ocean Avenue. There are a couple lobster boats docked for the day, and we look along the beach back toward downtown.
Before dinner, we grab a drink at Pedro’s, an eclectic Mexican restaurant. Once we sit down at the bar, we’re greeted with offers of the daily specials, smiles, and a joke to put us at ease. Next we head to our dinner reservation at Old Vines Wine Bar, next to Pedro’s. We choose to be seated upstairs looking out onto the street. The upstairs is beautiful, with a farmhouse-style table in the center, elegant lighting, and spacious seating. We order a mezze board and small plates to share: chicken meatballs, charred carrots, and maple bourbon-glazed salmon. For dessert we settle on the Campfire Cremeux, a chocolate custard with toasted meringue, graham cracker crumble, and house kettle corn.
We gather our things from our room at the inn and go downstairs for our final three-course breakfast. As always, Kate’s dishes are delicious. We say our goodbyes to Kate and David as other guests come down for their morning meal. We make two more stops before heading home. The first is farmland near the Landing School for views of the famous Belted Galloways, sometimes called Oreo cows. It wouldn’t be a trip to the Kennebunks without stopping in Cape Porpoise. The Ramp Bar and Grill provides stunning views of Cape Porpoise Harbor, and we can watch local fishermen working. As we drive away, we keep our speed slow to pick up every salty smell, take in the gorgeous landscape, and garner an even higher appreciation for Maine. We already have plans to be back soon.