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Kennebunkport is a world-famous vacation spot and one of the state’s most popular day-off destinations for Mainers. It’s a beach town, but so much more—a place for foodies, shopping and art lovers, history buffs and outdoorsy types.

They say the best things in life are free, and in Kennebunkport that’s true of a drive along the coast. You’ll get a feel for the character of this seaside village—with no shortage of people-watching this time of year. Head from Dock Square down Ocean Drive, where blowholes, churning waves and ocean vistas give way to a view of former President George Bush’s summer home, Walker’s Point.

Photo by Lauryn Hottinger

It’s plain to see that Kennebunkport—or “K-port” as some locals are fond of saying—has been a place for the elite since the late 1800s and early 1900s, but before that it was a fishing village and a center for boatbuilding. All this plays into the mix of what Kennebunkport is today—a place where you can spend the day on a commercial fishing boat (Nor’easter, noreasterfishing.com) or lobster boat (Rugosa Lobster Tours, rugosalobstertours.com), then clean yourself up and head out to a five-star restaurant (White Barn Inn, whitebarninn.com). Or, wait in line at one of the country’s most beloved clam shacks (The Clam Shack, theclamshack.net), sip some Shipyard at Federal Jack’s while watching the boats on the Kennebunk River (federaljacks.com), then take a trolley to Gooch’s Beach and watch surfers catch some waves.

The Kennebunks are artsy communities, with no shortage of original art galleries and quaint gift shops to be found around Dock Square, the Lower Village and downtown Kennebunk. Head to The Waterhouse Pavilion at 1 Summer St. on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the Community Market of the Kennebunks, where you’ll find musicians and metalsmiths alongside fishermen and foragers. There’s also a more typical farmers market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Garden Street Municipal Lot in downtown Kennebunk.

Other highlights in the Kennebunks:

Kennebunk Land Trust protects 3,400 acres of land in the Kennebunk and Arundel area, much of which is open to hikers. For detailed information: kennebunklandtrust.org/property-map

MaineStage Shakespeare puts on the Bard in free outdoor performances at The Colony Hotel and Lafayette Park, through Aug. 12 (mainestageshakespeare.com).

The Brick Store Museum, a local history museum, is hosting the Southern Maine Steampunk Fair on Aug. 5 (117 Main St., Kennebunk, brickstoremuseum.org).

The Seashore Trolley Museum

The Seashore Trolley Museum is the largest and oldest museum of public transportation—and a visit includes a train ride (195 Log Cabin Road, Kennebunkport, trolleymuseum.org). “Downeast Meets Dixie” is a costume party/dinner fundraising event for the 21+ crowd on Aug. 18.