This comprehensive Kennebunkport Travel Guide is written by a local and lists where to eat, where to stay, and what to do in Kennebunkport.
Is there anything more idyllic than summer in Kennebunkport? It’s a lovely coastal town with a balance of beautiful nature, charming restaurants, and darling locally owned shops and art galleries. It’s the perfect destination for the traveler who wants to relax.
I grew up in Kennebunk/Kennebunkport. My childhood was spent playing in tidepools at the beach, taking tennis lessons, and biking around town. When I was in high school and college I built up a resume of summer work ranging from working in tee shirt shops to serving food at weddings for a catering company. I moved to Chicago after college, but my parents and sister still call Kennebunkport home.
Now that I am experiencing the town as a visitor and not as a local, I get to see a different side of things. I have an appreciation for the slower pace of life, the cotton-candy-colored sunsets, and the quiet that falls over the town at night.
Mainers take great pride in their state. We use the motto “the way life should be” since we think our way of life is pretty great. I am always excited to hear that someone is planning to visit my hometown. When I came to town this summer, I started to get messages from connections on Instagram who will be visiting this summer. This made me realize that it is time to update my Kennebunkport Travel Guide.
This guide focuses primarily on business and things to do that are walkable from Kennebunkport. Some are just over the bridge in Lower Village, Kennebunk.
Last updated: August 2022
Kennebunkport is a coastal town in Southern Maine. It is about a 40-minute drive south from Portland, Maine, and a 1-hour 45-minute drive north from Boston.
The easiest option is to fly into the Portland Jetport. From there you can rent a car or take an Uber to Kennebunkport. Flying into Boston is often a more affordable, yet less convenient option. If you happen to be near Boston, I recommend taking the Amtrak Downeaster train to Wells.
Note: The train isn’t a great option if you are south of Boston since the trains to Maine leave from North Station while all other Boston trains operate out of South Station. So, for example, if you were traveling from New York City to Maine on the train you would have to get off the train at South Station, travel to North Station, and get on the Downeaster.
The unofficial summer season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This is high season. The weather is warm enough to go to the beach and all businesses and restaurants are open.
September through mid-October are still lovely, but cooler. Mid-October is perfect if you want to see the fall foliage. Hotels often have more affordable rates during this time of year.
From the end of October through the end of November town is quiet and the weather is starting to get cold. Many businesses and restaurants have abbreviated hours or aren’t open every day.
The town’s Christmas festival, Christmas Prelude, takes place during the first two weeks of December. It is a magical, yet cold, time of year. The hotels, shops, and restaurants are open and busy again during these two weeks.
After Christmas Prelude, Kennebunkport is very quiet until late Spring. Winters are cold and many businesses close for the season.
Things slowly start to open up again in the Spring. Spring can be cold and rainy.
The Kennebunk River divides Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. The bustling downtown of Kennebunkport extends into the Lower Village section of Kennebunk.
Lower Village is the part of Kennebunk that is directly across the bridge from Kennebunkport. It’s an extension of downtown Kennebunkport.
Arundel is inland just north of Kennebunkport – it’s a short drive away (not really walkable). Historically, Kennebunkport was part of Arundel. Some businesses, like the Arundel Wharf and the Cape Arundel Inn, are in Kennebunkport.
Cape Porpoise is a small village within Kennebunkport with a few shops, restaurants, and a lighthouse.
Goose Rocks is another section of Kennebunkport that is home to Goose Rocks Beach, a large sandy beach.
Dock Square is the town square in downtown Kennebunkport. The monument can be found in the center of Dock Square, and during the holidays, this is where the town’s Christmas tree is located.
The summer is generally warm; not too hot or humid. Expect temperatures to be in the mid-70s on average. It cools off at night, and even in the summer, you will want a light sweater or jacket. The spring and fall are crisp and cool. Winter is very cold, and many hotels, restaurants, and shops are closed during the winter months.
It is Kenny-bunk-port. It isn’t Ken-a-bunk-port. And Arundel is Ah-run-del and not Arin-delle.
What to Know About Kennebunkport:
During the summer there can be a good amount of traffic getting in and out of Kennebunkport. This is because there is one small bridge connecting downtown Kennebunkport with Kennebunk.
The restaurants in Kennebunkport get very busy in the summer. You will want to make reservations in advance.
If you plan to stay at a hotel within walking distance to Dock Square and the beaches, you probably do not need to rent a car. You could take an Uber to and from the Portland Jetport and then get around town on foot or by bicycle.
There is a taxi service that uses large golf cart-style vehicles called Ride Maine. You can call (207) 502-5067 to arrange a ride.
Where to Eat in Kennebunkport and Kennebunk:
This is a list of restaurants in Kennebunkport and Kennebunk that my family and I recommend. One thing to know is that lobster prices can vary greatly. As of summer 2022, they are high and most lobster rolls are about $30.
This very casual Cape Porpoise lobster hut has been around for nearly 70 years and is known for serving fresh classic lobster dinners. They close for the season in mid-October and are cash-only.
A seafood restaurant on Ocean Avenue near Colony Beach. There is a takeout window beside the restaurant. Charles loves the Lobster Cobb Salad.
A family-friendly restaurant/bar with a menu that features lots of seafood.
This tiny lobster shack on the edge of the Kennebunk River beside the bridge is one of the most iconic places for a lobster roll. The lines do get quite long, so be prepared. In addition to their lobster roll, order fried clams, and french fries.
A fine-dining destination at the Hidden Pond Resort in Goose Rocks – and one of the hardest reservations to get. Plan far in advance – it’s worth it.
An exceptional, elegant, and romantic restaurant that offers both a prix fixe fine dining menu for $165 and a lobster menu for $245. You will need reservations in advance.
The White Barn Inn’s casual restaurant is a personal favorite. I love the atmosphere and the menu features perfectly executed items like a lobster roll and a wagyu burger.
A formal restaurant with stunning ocean views that is ideal for a special occasion.
This charming French restaurant is tucked away in the heart of Dock Square.
A restaurant and wine bar in Lower Village that serves sharable small plates. I think it is one of the best places in town.
A new Italian restaurant in Lower Village that serves dinner plus brunch on weekends.
A new restaurant in the old On the Marsh space that has a menu featuring house-made pasta and grilled meats and seafood.
Located beside the river with waterfront views, this restaurant has a seafood-focused menu and a popular happy hour.
Stripers has river views and serves seafood and pub fare. A separate lighter menu with seafood appetizers, a lobster roll, a burger, fish and chips, and cocktails is served on the lawn beside the river.
A casual spot with incredible views of Cape Porpoise harbor.
A Dock Square restaurant with river views and American cuisine with lots of seafood.
A restaurant in Goose Rocks Beach that serves classic seafood dishes and that has a live music happy hour from 3-5 on Sundays.
This beloved restaurant moved from Dock Square to a larger location in Arundel. It’s a quick drive – but too far to walk from Dock Square. The food is fresh, seasonal, and creative.
Breakfast and Coffee Options:
A popular French bakery and cafe in Lower Village with delicious croissants and pastries. This is the best place to grab a quick breakfast – but the lines can be long on weekends. It is open all year.
A small coffee shop with some pastries. It is open seasonally.
A tiny doughnut shop that sells mini doughnuts with various toppings and coffee.
Fia Fia serves healthy fare like acai bowls, avocado toast, and smoothies plus coffee. They are open for breakfast and lunch and are located on the corner of Spring Street and Temple Street just outside Dock Square.
This Kennebunk restaurant serves breakfast and some lunch items from 8 am until 2 pm daily.
A spacious cafe with a big lawn that serves healthy meals like toasts, smoothies, acai bowls, rice bowls, and wraps.
Best Take Out and Delivery Options:
This company delivers boxes of cheese and charcuterie. I was impressed with the portions and think the prices are reasonable.
Talula’s Market Table
A bakery in Lower Village that sells ready-to-bake appetizers and entrees. It’s a great option for people staying in a rental house.
Owned by Kitchen Chicks Catering, this cafe has soups, sandwiches, gourmet meals to go, wine and cheese.
A family-owned Thai restaurant in Lower Village that is very good. They do have some seafood options in addition to classic Thai dishes. Online ordering is available, but know that they can get very busy.
Located a short drive from the Kennebunk Beaches, this is the best sandwich shop in the Kennebunks. They are known for their cheesesteaks, although you can’t go wrong. They do have online ordering which I recommend because it does get busy at lunchtime.
Whole Foods will deliver to Kennebunkport.
Kennebunkport doesn’t have a grocery store, the closest one is Hannaford in Kennebunk. It’s about 20 minutes from Kennebunkport – without accounting for traffic.
Located in Lower Village just before the bridge, HB Provisions has a mix of select grocery items, wine, and beer. You can find the basics here but it won’t replace grocery shopping.
This market in Cape Porpoise has a wider selection of grocery items plus a small meat counter/deli. Going to Bradburys can be an alternative to going to the grocery store in town. They certainly don’t have everything, but they have enough to piece together a full meal.
Goose Rocks Beach General Store
A general store near the beach that sells sandwiches, snacks, and other essentials. You can purchase a parking pass for the beach from the kiosk in front.
The Little Bodega
Located by Colony Beach, across from Mabel’s, The Little Bodega sells beer, wine, and a small selection of packaged foods. It doesn’t sell sandwiches and they don’t prepare food on site.
What to Do in Kennebunkport:
There are several beautiful beaches in the Kennebunks – keep reading for a list of beaches.
First Chance Whale Watch offers tours on the ship Nick’s Chance. Prices start at $54 for adults and $34 for children.
Coastal Maine Kayak and Bike offers kayak, sup, and canoe tours and rentals.
Aquaholics offers surfing classes and surfboard rental.
Cape Arundel Golf Club has a gorgeous riverside course that is open to the public.
Tours are offered of this Greek-revival mansion that was constructed in 1853.
Professional Photography Session
I recommend Deidra Doyon who is a very talented photographer who specializes in portraits of both couples and families. She can be contacted at email@example.com and 207 229 7039.
A small concert venue in Arundel. In addition to concerts, they host drive-in movie nights.
Coastal Maine Kayak and Bike offers bike, e-bike, and scooter rentals.
There are many antique shops in the Kennebunks and Wells. A personal favorite is Americana Antiques in Kennebunk.
Walking Trails at the Franciscan Monastery
The Franciscan Monastery in Kennebunk is an easy walk from Kennebunkport and it has peaceful walking trails along the Kennebunk River.
Located a short drive away in Wells, this is a massive nature preserve with walking trails that take you through woods, beside marshes, and along the ocean.
The old grocery store in Kennebunk has been turned into a bowling alley and restaurant. This is a great rainy day activity.
Another fun thing to do on a rainy day, you can create your own custom candle scent at Sea Love.
Drive past the Bush Compound
The Bush family has summered in Kennebunkport for generations. While their home isn’t open to the public, you can drive by Walker’s Point (the Bush Compound). It’s at the end of Ocean Avenue past the beaches.
Admire the Historic Architecture
Kennebunkport is filled with historic architecture. Walk along Ocean Avenue to see the mansions along the coast, or wander small side streets like Elm Street, Green Street, South Street, and Pearl Street. If you want to head into Kennebunk, drive down Summer Street.
A theater venue in Ogunquit.
An enjoyable scenic trip from Kennebunkport to Ogunquit that lets you bypass all the traffic.
Beaches in Kennebunkport and Kennebunk:
There are two things to know about the beaches in the Kennebunks: the parking can be an issue and you need to bring food since there isn’t any sold at the beach. Parking is exceptionally scarce at Parson’s Beach – either bike there or get dropped off. Parking at Mother’s Beach, Gooches Beach, and Goose Rocks Beach requires you to pay at a meter or to have a beach permit, although you can park on side streets without a permit. If you use the parking meters, the cost is $25 a day, $100 a week, or $200 for the season.
Colony Beach is located in Kennebunkport across from the Colony Hotel. This is the only beach that is dog-friendly all day (but they must be on lease). Colony Beach is rocky with some sand towards the water. This beach doesn’t have lifeguards. Colony Beach in doesn’t have much parking, but usually, you can still find a spot. A permit isn’t required either.
This Kennebunk beach is the areas most kid-friendly beach. It is a large sandy beach with a playground.
Gooches Beach is the largest beach in Kennebunk. This beach is popular with surfers.
Goose Rocks Beach
Located in Goose Rocks, this is a big stunning sandy beach. Parking can be difficult to find.
Parson’s is arguably the most beautiful of the beaches in Kennebunk, but it can be a challenge to get there since parking is extremely limited. This beach doesn’t have lifeguards.
Shopping in Kennebunkport:
A shop with a fun mix of clothing, jewelry, gifts, and home items with a coastal vibe.
Daytrip Society’s kid’s shop has a mix of clothing, toys, games, and books.
Farm + Table has a wonderfully curated selection of home goods and kitchen essentials in Cape Porpoise.
Spaces sells home decor items plus some women’s and children’s clothing.
Bliss has trendy women’s clothing, jewelry, and accessories.
The pharmacy just recently stopped filling prescriptions, so it is more of a general store/gift shop these days. The selection of toys for kids is surprisingly great, plus you can find any personal hygiene items you may need.
Fatface is the only big-name retailer in Kennebunkport. It’s a British retailer that had recently opened stores in coastal New England towns. Fatface has a great mix of men’s and women’s clothing.
Seas the Day
This is my go-to place for a Kennebunkport sweatshirt.
Minka has a selection of natural products ranging from body care to clothing, art, and decor items.
You can find women’s dresses and coastal-inspired home decor items here.
Shoot the Moon
A locally owned shop with a mix of jewelry, clothing, accessories, and home items.
If you need a bathing suit or anything for outdoor spor
A well-curated antique shop in Lower Village.
Art Galleries in Kennebunkport:
One of the larger galleries in town, Maine Art Hill represents regional artists and focuses on art inspired by the coast of Maine.
A contemporary art gallery that features the work of several more abstract artists.
A gallery run by artist Jill Thompson who is known for painting American flags. In addition to showing her own work, the Thompson & Company gallery features paintings and sculptures from a handful of other artists, many of whom focus on coastal themes.
A large gallery representing many local artists in Kennebunkport.
Artist Deborah Randall is known for her colorful landscapes and seascapes that are available in a wide range of sizes.
Bars in Kennebunkport:
Located on a hill with views of the river basin and Lower Village, Batson River serves beer, cocktails, and some bar snacks.
The Wharf’s large porch overlooking the Kennebunk River is the best place for happy hour on a sunny day.
The wine bar has a live music schedule in the summers.
A hole-in-the-wall bar loved by locals that often has live music and that serves prime rib on Wednesdays.
Ryan’s Corner House
An Irish pub and restaurant with outdoor seating beside HB Provisions.
Where to Stay in Kennebunkport:
Many of the hotels in Kennebunkport have been recently renovated. During the summer, many have minimum stays.
A beautiful historic inn overlooking Dock Square.
A luxurious resort with an exceptional restaurant located in Goose Rocks. The only downside to staying at this property is that Dock Square and Lower Village are not within walking distance.
An award-winning 27-room luxury hotel that has recently been renovated.
Located beside the Kennebunk River this hotel has wonderful waterfront views.
Lark purchased four historic inns in Kennebunkport to create the Captain’s Collection. These hotel properties are ideally located – it’s a short walk to both Dock Square and Colony Beach. Beware – the Captain Lord Mansion is considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in town.
The Cape Arundel Inn is on Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport and has ocean views. It is a 1.9-mile walk from this hotel to Dock Square.
A family-friendly hotel with a pool. Amenities include bicycles for both kids and adults and bonfires with s’mores.
A grand hotel with a saltwater pool overlooking the ocean. It’s next to Colony Beach and it is dog friendly.
This hotel offers rooms on the Kennebunk River waterfront and a pool that floats in the river.
A family-friendly resort on the river that is well located between Colony Beach and Dock Square. It’s popular for family vacations and weddings.
This is the only waterfront hotel in Goose Rocks Beach. When it comes to beach access, you can’t beat this location.
Best Activities for Children:
This transportation museum lets guests ride on and explore antique trolleys. They often host special events.
This surf shop in Kennebunk offers surfing lessons and even a surfing camp.
Kennebunkport’s public library is just outside Dock Square and they host storytimes and musical events.
The Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association is essentially a summer day camp for kids that offers dozens of classes including swimming, sailing, tennis, art, pottery, sand castle building, and marine biology. It’s located across from Mother’s Beach in Kennebunk.
A mini golf course located in Arundel that is open seasonally.
The Maine Children’s Museum is located about 40 minutes from Kennebunkport, in Portland. It’s a great rainy day activity for young children.
The annual Christmas festival takes place during the first two weekends in December and includes events like a tree lighting, carol singing, a hat parade, and Santa arriving via lobster boat.
Best Side Trips:
Here are just a few side trip/day trip suggestions.
Ogunquit is a seaside community about a 30 minutes drive from Kennebunkport when you account for traffic. There are lots of shops and restaurants, plus a scenic waterside walking trail called Marginal Way.
Maine’s largest city has a charming downtown called The Old Port and a vibrant brewery and restaurant scene.
A shopping destination with outlet stores. I recommend this over Kittery since Freeport is much more walkable, and it is home to LL Bean.
Book this excursion in advance since it does sell out. A boat leaves from Boothbay Harbor and takes you to a small island for a traditional lobster bake where the lobster and clams are steamed in seaweed.
Kennebunk locals often take the Downeaster train to Boston for daytrips. Or if you want to stay longer, it’s easy to fly into Boston stay for a few days and then make your way to Maine.