A piece of quintessential Maine vacation includes beachy vibes, great food, antiquing, and, at the end of the day, glamping — a little luxurious camping spot to rest your head. Beautiful Kennebunk, Maine, is an enjoyable spot to relax and enjoy a quiet getaway stay.
You may hear Kennebunk and Kennebunkport used interchangeably; they are both, however, separate and distinct destinations. Originally settled in 1621 as a ship-building hub, Kennebunk is a charming town centered around life on the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers.
Grab a slice of down east Maine and enjoy a New England coastal vacation.
Note: Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. The Beaches
A string of three great beaches — Gooch’s Beach, Middle Beach, and Mother’s Beach — graces Kennebunk’s shoreline. The Kennebunk Beaches are strung together along Beach Avenue, connected by a winding sidewalk. These classic Maine beaches — a little sandy and a little rocky — are fun spots to catch a few rays and fritter the afternoon away with a good beach read and sandy summer fun.
Gooch’s Beach, commonly known as Kennebunk Beach, is the most popular. It is always filled with families and friendly groups of beach goers enjoying a day in the sun. Mother’s Beach is more protected and offers tidal pools. Its playground makes it attractive for young families.
When it’s time to stretch your legs, you can enjoy the path along the beaches. It is a wonderful way to get your steps in while taking in the panoramic water views.
Pro Tip: There is parking along Beach Avenue, or you can park in the beach lot with a beach pass. Non-residents can purchase a temporary pass at the beach kiosk or through the PassPortParking Mobile app.
2. Maine Art Hill
Art lovers will be delighted at the gallery options in Kennebunk Village. Maine Art Hill showcases a collection of artists in a variety of venues. Clustered together within a village block, you will find a variety of artistic styles, one that will certainly suit your personal taste.
The Gallery, where you can peruse a display of talented artists year-round, is the main artistic venue. Contemporary and traditional artistic exhibits give viewers a peek into the artists’ creative minds.
Seasonally, the Winds Sculpture garden and gallery at 10 Chase Hill offers viewers a cozy spot to view a select collection of celebrated artists. The small gallery rooms offer a cozy atmosphere to contemplate each piece.
The Grand Hotel is the seasonal venue for solo shows featuring one of the Maine Art Hill artists.
Lastly, The Studios is a group of seven connecting cottages housing individual artisans. Each building is home to a unique artistic perspective.
3. The Old House Parts Company
Antique lovers and salvage hunters will adore The Old House Parts Company. The front yard is filled with porcelain finds displayed to inspire your artistic side. Sinks spilling over with a water flow of colorful flowers and old metal goods serving as welcoming decorative lawn ornaments entice you to venture forth into the building.
Once inside, you are confronted with where to start. There is so much to see, your inner decorator will be jumping for joy. Stained-glass windows are horizontally stacked three and four deep, boxes of sorted reclaimed door knobs line organized shelves, and restoration bric-a-brac fill every nook and cranny. It is a cornucopia of reclaimed treasure awaiting a new and better life.
Decorators with an artistic eye, hunting for a unique piece to repurpose, will spend hours scouring the racks and shelves at The Old House Parts Company. It is nothing short of overwhelming in the best way possible.
4. Wonder Brook/Murphy Preserve
“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees”Henry David Thoreau
A walk in the woods is always good for the soul. Wonder Brook/Murphy Preserve takes you on a short but well marked, 2.5-mile loop hike (one of several) through a picturesque Maine woodland. Trickling brooks and streams with fern-covered banks create a serene and peaceful landscape. Whether you will emerge taller is a matter up for debate.
Pro Tip: The parking lot is fairly small, but the trail is used mostly by locals, so there is usually a parking spot. Dogs are welcome guests; they will enjoy the sensory overload.
5. Wedding Cake House
Claiming to be “the most photographed house in the state of Maine,” the Wedding Cake House is a beautiful example of over-the-top, frosting-like trim — it covers every inch of the house and barn roof line. The Federal brick house was a wedding gift to George Washington Bourne and his wife in 1825. In the 1850s, the icing-like trim was added to the house giving it a Gothic style inspired by the Cathedral in Milan.
The magnificent house is undergoing painstaking renovations and is currently closed to the public. The goal is to have the mansion reopened by 2025, until then, it is definitely worth a drive-by. Students of architecture will love the elaborate decorative elements dripping from the house, so much like icing on a cake.
6. Mornings In Paris
Start your day off with breakfast at the Mornings In Paris Cafe. It is a little slice of Europe planted in the Lower Village of Kennebunk. A perfect cup of coffee paired with a delectable pastry is the only way to start a getaway weekend. You will love this charming little cafe and the delicate pastry offerings.
After your sweet breakfast treat, you can explore Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. The cafe is located right near the bridge that connects the two villages allowing you to traverse between them and enjoy the best of both.
Sometimes, all you need for your getaway meal is a great bottle of wine and a curated board of cheeses, meats, and crackers. When you can add in a little sweet treat for dessert and get everything in one stop, it makes your vacation shopping experience a pleasure.
Cheries is an elegant provisions establishment providing shoppers with everything you need for your getaway nosh. You can purchase yummy handmade sandwiches, entrees, wines, baked goods, charcuterie components, sweet treats, and more.
Pack up all your selected goodies and head out for a picnic at the beach or an evening by the campfire — there is a lovely glamping option highlighted below.
8. Brick Store Museum
The Brick Store Museum houses the historic preservation of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport history. Through exhibits of local artifacts including decorative arts, photographs, furnishings, and other artistically crafted pieces, the museum is the keeper of the Kennebunks’ historical and artistic collections.
Rotating exhibits keep the museum’s offerings fresh and new. On select Friday nights (5 p.m.–7 p.m.) between June and September, the museum is free to the public. You can enjoy a nice stroll through the exhibits before you head off to dinner.
9. Sandy Pines Campground
When ingenious campgrounds mashed together the gifts of camping outdoors and the luxury of a four-star hotel room, glamping was created. It was the answer to all the comforts of a home-away-from-home in the woods.
At Sandy Pines Campground, you can enjoy this creative alternative to traditional camping. No need to drag along all the camp gear — not to mention the camper — just show up with your suitcase, some provisions (see Cheries above), and a bit of firewood. Everything else you need is in your decked out cabin room — electricity, towels, a plush mattress, and fluffy pillows. Imagine sitting by a fire, gazing at the stars while enjoying a glass of wine and a casual dinner. Afterwards, retire to your private cabin kitted out with crisp sheets, soft pillows, and a light to read by. It’s camping nirvana.
If you want to try a more traditional camping-like experience, you can reserve one of their fun and funky Conestoga wagons, a tricked out Airstream, or a rustic Shepherd’s Hut. Sandy Pines Campground is a wonderful spot for family reunions and group camping trips; you could rent several Family Glamp Tents that sleep four, or a few Couples Safari tents that sleep two, and get everyone together for some down east fun.
Pro Tip: Sandy Pines offers traditional campsites for campers and tents, has a beautiful pool, and a well-stocked general store.
Kennebunk is a charming spot where you can enjoy a few relaxing days exploring the beaches and the great outdoors. You will love the antique hunting, art galleries, and foodie haunts. It is time to visit Kennebunk and give glamping and Maine your undivided attention.
Pro Tip: Explore coastal Maine with a fun day trip from Kennebunk to Portland. Just a half hour north, Portland also offers fun experiences and is a well established foodie destination — think excellent lobster rolls. You can drive a bit farther north to Freeport and enjoy a shopping experience at the LL Bean Flagship Store.
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