I go home for the Kennebunkport Festival every year. I don’t like to go more than six months without seeing my parents, and the Kennebunkport Festival is both well timed, and the most fun week to visit my hometown.
This year, after a few years of convincing, my siblings joined me for the trip. I enjoyed a four-day trip home, where we explored town and attended Kennebunkport Festival events.
Are your parents still living in your childhood home? This trip, instead of going to the home my family lived in for 29 years, I checked into the Kilburn House, my family’s new inn situated in downtown Kennebunkport.
I thought that it might be sad to go to a new and unfamiliar home, but we all loved it instantly. I am actually a little annoyed that they didn’t move downtown sooner. It’s the ideal location – just beside Dock Square and a short walk to the beach.
The Kennebunkport Festival is a weeklong festival celebrating food, wine, and art. And now that my parents have relocated, many of the events are walkable from home. My parents and I love attending the Spirit of Maine party on Thursday night. It takes place in a giant tent just on the Kennebunk side of the bridge.
There were small plates from a variety of restaurants, wine, local beer, music, and fire pits where you could make s’mores.
We are also big fans of the Grand Tasting – where we had the chance to try bites from restaurants from the area, and Brew and Tunes – an outdoor concert and beer fest.
This year at the Grand Tasting we loved the plantain pancake with chorizo from Sur Lie,
the veal ravioli from Ports of Italy (even though I had a not-so-great dining experience there),
the chicken lettuce wraps from M.C. Perkins Cove (they previously owned Arrows),
the cupcakes from Portland’s East End Cupcake, and of course,
the ice cream from Rococco, the Goat Cheese, Blackberry, and Chambered flavor was my favorite.
Brews and Tunes is the most laid back, inexpensive, and family friendly event of the festival. Lots of families set up blankets and beach chairs and spend the afternoon listening to the live bands. Several food trucks pull up to the park so that attendees can buy food. This year the music at Brews and Tunes was amazing. The Fogcutters – an 20-person ensemble wowed the crowd. The cool thing is that we could even hear the music from my parent’s house!
My family and I were busy with a wide variety of activities in addition to the KPT Fest. Friday my sister, Kelly, her friend, Jonathan, and I went antiquing…. until we literally couldn’t fit another thing in the SUV. We bought a vintage sled that my parents will use as Christmas décor during Christmas Prelude, an old wooden hand pulled wagon, like the one my Dad used to pull us around town in when we were kids, plus a cool copper bucket for drinks, and a mirror from the late 1800s.
There are dozens of antique shops along Route 1 throughout Kennebunk, Wells, and Ogunguit, and antiquing was a fun way to spend a day that wasn’t warm enough to be a beach day.
While antiquing, we found ourselves passing by our favorite ice cream shop, Big Daddy’s. My family has been going there my whole life, and I remember how special it was when my father would announce that it was a “Big Daddy’s night” and we would pile into the car, drive to Wells for ice cream, and then park by a field and watch deer graze. The Coffee Heath Bar is our favorite flavor.
After antiquing we stopped by a food truck that is known for their lobster rolls. It’s a bit off of the beaten path at the intersection of Route 1 and Ross Road in Kennebunk – but definitely worth the drive since it’s an opportunity to see the mansions on Summer Street.
The truck is called Ocean Roll and it claims to be the oldest working food truck in America and they specialize in lobster rolls and fried seafood.
On Friday night Kelly, Jonathan, and I stopped by Salt & Honey for happy hour. This new-ish restaurant is basically in my parent’s backyard, and it’s the best restaurant to come to Kennebunkport in some time. The bartender is an old family friend, and it seemed like we knew half the people that walked in the door. We were giving out hugs to so many people that walked through the door that strangers wanted to hug us (and did and it was hilarious).
Salt & Honey has excellent drinks, and I was blown away by their Haddock Taco. The chipotle sauce had just the right balance of heat and creaminess, and the fish was fresh and flakey and ever so lightly battered and fried. It’s something I probably won’t have ordered myself (my friend sent the tacos out for me) but I would definitely order it again. I also stopped in for breakfast one morning and their Huevos Rancheros is wonderful.
After Salt & Honey we made our way to The Ramp. It’s located in Cape Porpoise (a tiny town next to Kennebunkport) for sunset.
It’s in the prettiest views of the lighthouse and harbor.
The Ramp is a casual local hangout decorated with buoys and Boston sports memorabilia, and the food is excellent.
Jonathan had his second lobster roll of the day, Kelly had haddock, and I had a chicken and mushroom linguine, and we all loved what we ordered.
On Saturday, I visited another new restaurant in town is the Spirit of Massachusetts. The restaurant is on a historic schooner named the Spirit of Massachusetts and it’s a beautiful ship that has already become a landmark in the Kennebunk River (the river which divides Kennebunk and Kennebunkport and empties into the ocean).
My Dad and I broke away from the family after Brews and Tunes and before dinner to check out the place and we loved the atmosphere and the snack we ordered. We had the Chicken Satay Tacos while we waited out the rain – lucky the boat is covered. The upstairs of the space is a casual bar, while the downstairs is a dining room. It’s definitely a place you need to visit when you are in Kennebunkport, it gives you a perfect vantage point of the two towns and the river.
After dinner, Kelly, Jonathan, Dad, and I went to Bandaloop, a cozy little spot oozing charm that mixes up some of the best cocktails in town. We grabbed seats at the bar and sipped on drinks and my Dad told stores of Kennebunkport in the 70s. My Dad says that the bartender, David, makes the best motijo in town (and my father knows these things).
To recap: Visit Kennebunkport, I promise you won’t be disappointed, go for the Kennebunkport Festival, stay with my parents at the Kilburn House, and dine at Salt & Honey and The Ramp, and go antiquing.
The Kennebunkport Festival takes place during the second weekend in June. You can find more information here.