Welcome to Kennebunk & Kennebunkport
The Kennebunks offer visitors a world-famous vacation spot steeped in maritime history, arts and culture, and fine dining. Kennebunk has the world’s largest streetcar museum with operating trains, one of New England’s most beloved clam shacks, and two museums dedicated to the town’s history, art and culture. Just outside Kennebunk in Arundel, Vinegar Hill Music Theatre books national, regional and local music, comedic and performance talent in a historic barn setting through mid-October.
1. In-Town Trolley Tours
This 45-minute narrated sightseeing tour is a great way to start exploring Kennebunkport. Points of interest along the way include the Bush estate, the Franciscan Monastery, Spouting Rock and Blowing Cave, historical sites and hotels, restaurants and shops. Fares are good all day, so you can get off and back on at any of the stops along the route (adults $18, children $8). Tours leave the Trolley Stop at 21 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport, every hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (207–967-3686; intowntrolley.com)
2. Kennebunk Beaches
A string of three beaches—Mother’s Beach, Middle Beach and Gooch’s Beach—stretch along Beach Avenue (off Routes 9 and 35). Gooch’s is known for stellar surf, Mother’s Beach has a playground and Middle is—well, in the middle. Look for pay-to-park kiosks. Lifeguards are on duty through mid-September. Dogs are welcome on Kennebunk beaches before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. through Labor Day; after Labor Day, dogs are welcome anytime. But, please, clean up after them.
3. St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery
On a 66-acre estate off Beach Avenue in Kennebunkport, this monastery established in 1947 has lovely rolling lawns, riverside walking paths and English gardens open to the public from sunrise. The grounds are a quiet place for contemplation or to recharge after a day of sightseeing. There is a path through the woods out to the marshes with a lovely view of the river. A walking tour brochure is available at the Franciscan Guest House front desk. The gift shop is open 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Saturday (and after Sunday Mass) as well as 1–4 p.m. daily. (framon.net)
4. The Clam Shack
This small but mighty seafood shack at 2 Western Avenue on the bridge between Kennebunk and Kennebunkport was USA Today’s Maine pick for “50 Great Plates from 50 States.” The line may be long and a seat difficult to find, but this one of Maine’s most beloved stops for fried seafood and lobster rolls on freshly baked buns from a local bakery. (207–967–3321; theclamshack.net)
5. White Columns
Built in 1853, White Columns (8 Maine St., Kennebunkport) was owned by the same family for 130 years and still contains original furnishings. A house tour is a walk back in time. Docents lead tours through seven rooms of the house while talking about the three generations of the Perkins-Nott family that lived here as well as the history of Kennebunkport. Thirty minute tours run Monday through Saturday on the hour, starting at 10 a.m.. The last leaves at 3 p.m. (pay in the gift shop). No onsite parking, but free parking is available nearby at the town lot on North Street. White Columns is not wheelchair accessible. (kennebunkporthistoricalsociety.com)
6. Parsons Way Trail
Parsons Way Trail in Kennebunkport is a 2-mile out-and-back loop that runs along Ocean Avenue. Highlights of the walk along the rocky coast of the Cape Arundel area include Blowing Cave and Spouting Rock, a natural blowhole that allows incoming waves to shoot up through the rock. It also affords dramatic views of the ocean and of Walker’s Point, summer home of the presidential Bush family. Parking available at points along the trail and at public lots in Dock Square.
7. Rugosa Lobster Tours
The Rugosa is the only lobster boat tour in Kennebunkport hosted on a traditional, wooden Downeast-style lobster boat. Depart from the beautiful Kennebunk River waterfront at the Nonantum Resort and Marina for a 1.5-hour trip, watching lobstermen check their traps. Tours leave three times a day. ($35 adult, $25 child; rugosalobstertours.com)
8. Seashore Trolley Museum
The world’s oldest and largest museum of its kind—a place where streetcars are restored, operated and celebrated for their place in transit history—is tucked into the woods at 195 Log Cabin Road in Kennebunkport. There are 250 streetcars on the campus, and the highlight of any visit is riding one (or several) of the antique cars. Short demonstration trips depart every 45 minutes starting at 10:05 a.m.. The usual fleet of antique cars is supplemented with 1 p.m. appearances of more rare specimens not rugged enough to make daily runs. Pumpkins for everyone the last two weekends of September. The gift shop is worthy of browsing, even if you’re not a streetcar buff. ($12, with child/senior discounts; trolleymuseum.org)
9. Edwin L. Smith Preserve
The Smith Preserve, part of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust (KCT), includes more than 1,100 acres, 10 miles of recreational trails, quaint bridges over brooks and a forested landscape. The Smith Preserve is part of a 3,000-acre block of undeveloped land, the largest such piece between Kittery and Brunswick on the coast, and home to white-tailed deer, bobcats, coyotes, hares, owls, partridges, turtles and many other species. Ideal for hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and peaceful getaways. The trailhead is at 76 Guinea Road, Kennebunkport. (kporttrust.org/edwin-l-smith-preserve)
10. Vinegar Hill Music Theatre
The September lineup includes Bob Seger Tribute: Live Bullet (Sept. 13), VocalPlay group Naturally 7 (Sept. 14), One Night in Memphis, a tribute to Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash (Sept. 21), The Four C Notes, recreating the sounds of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (Sept. 27) and Piano Men, music of Billy Joel and Elton John (Sept. 28). The theater is at 53 Old Post Road in Arundel, just outside Kennebunk. (vinegarhillmusictheatre.com)