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The Ultimate travel guide for Kennebunkport Maine
Welcome to the charming coastal town of Kennebunkport, Maine, and one of my favorite stops on our ENTIRE road trip! Before we went on our East Coast road trip in 2021, I had never been to New England, and let me just tell you, Kennebunkport encompassed everything I envisioned the magical place of New England to be.
Between the picturesque, quaint towns lined with white picket fences and hydrangeas to the scenic coastal landscapes around every corner, New England has quickly become one of my favorite places to vacation. And don’t even get me started on all of the delicious seafood readily available everywhere you go! A lobster roll a day keeps the doctor away right, haha?
In this post, I’m going to cover EVERYTHING you need to know about this coastal gem in Maine, including fun Kennebunkport things to do, the best restaurants in Kennebunkport to check out, including where to find the best Kennebunkport lobster roll, places to stay in Kennebunkport Maine, and so much more!
Planning in a hurry? Check out these quick links!
- Skyscanner (find the best rates on airplane tickets)
- Discover Cars (compare rental car prices and save $$$)
Best Kennebunkport tours to book in advance:
- Walking tour of Kennebunkport (likely to sell out)
- Kayak/SUP rental in Cape Porpoise Harbor (3 hour rental)
- Luxury catamaran sunset sail (beautiful views + wildlife)
Best hotels Kennebunkport:
Things to know before you go!
Getting to Kennebunkport Maine
There are several ways to get to Kennebunkport, Maine, depending on your starting location and preferences. If you’re traveling from a distance, Portland International Jetport (PWM) is 30 miles North and is the closest major airport near Kennebunkport.
However, if you’re interested in a New England road trip, I HIGHLY recommend flying into Boston and traveling by car, as there are MANY amazing scenic drives and charming towns along the way (check out my post here that shares some of my other favorite places to visit in New England).
Need a rental car? You can compare the best prices through Discover Cars, which is ALWAYS my go-to when we travel.
Getting around Kennebunkport ME
Even though many of Kennebunkport’s popular attractions are within walking distance of the town center, I still recommend renting a car. This will give you the freedom and flexibility to explore the area on your own schedule and check out other places along Maine’s coastline that may not be easily accessible by public transportation.
Here are some other popular destinations near Kennebunkport that are definitely worth exploring during your visit if you choose to do so:
- Portland, about a 30-minute drive North, is Maine’s largest city and offers a vibrant food scene, many historic sites, and a lively waterfront. Visit the Old Port District, explore the Portland Museum of Art, take a scenic harbor cruise, or enjoy fresh seafood at the city’s renowned restaurants.
- Ogunquit, Maine, about 20 minutes South of Kennebunkport, is a popular seaside town known for its stunning sandy beaches, picturesque Marginal Way coastal trail, and vibrant arts scene. Stroll through the charming town center, catch a performance at the Ogunquit Playhouse, or relax on the beautiful Ogunquit Beach.
- Cape Porpoise, just a short distance from Kennebunkport, is a charming fishing village known for its picturesque harbor, lobster boats, and lobster shacks. Visit the Goat Island Lighthouse, browse local shops and galleries, or enjoy a delicious seafood meal overlooking the harbor.
- Portsmouth, New Hampshire, just across the state border, is a charming historic city with cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and a bustling waterfront. Explore the Strawbery Banke Museum, take a harbor cruise, visit art galleries, and indulge in the city’s lively dining and shopping scene.
Planning a road trip? Make sure to check out my New England Fall road trip packing list to help you prepare!
Best time to visit Kennebunkport
The best time to visit Kennebunkport largely depends on your preferences and what you’re looking to experience during your trip! Summer is the peak tourist season, with warm Kennebunkport weather and plenty of outdoor activities. However, keep in mind that popular attractions and accommodations might be crowded and more expensive.
We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Kennebunkport in Fall! Not only is it a leaf peepers paradise this time of year, but the whole town of Kennebunkport was decked out in Fall and Halloween decor, which made our visit especially magical. Fall in Kennebunkport also brings cooler temps, making it a comfortable time to explore the town and its surroundings.
If you don’t mind the cold, winter brings a serene and quieter ambiance to Kennebunkport. However, some local businesses may have reduced hours or be closed for the season. Spring is also a lovely time to visit if you prefer milder weather in Kennebunkport and fewer crowds. It’s an ideal time for exploring coastal trails and enjoying seasonal seafood.
Need help packing for your trip? Check out my Amazon storefront filled with packing lists for every season and travel essentials to help you stay organized throughout your trip!
Map Kennebunkport Maine
Planning a New England road trip? Check out these related reads!
Things to do in Kennebunkport Maine
Wondering what to do in Kennebunkport? Even though Kennebunkport is a relatively small town, there are still so many fun things to do, regardless of which season you choose to visit! From exploring charming Dock Square to unwinding on its sandy beaches, indulging in mouthwatering seafood, and embarking on exhilarating outdoor adventures, this enchanting New England town has something for everyone in the family.
Below are some of my favorite things to do in Kennebunkport Maine, any time of year. I’ve also included a section specifically for upcoming Fall festivities, which was when we visited.
Stroll Dock Square & go shopping in Kennebunkport
Start your Kennebunkport adventure by immersing yourself in the heart of the town, Dock Square. Wander through the charming streets lined with chic boutiques, art galleries, and specialty Kennebunkport shops filled with unique handcrafted Maine gifts and coastal-inspired treasures. Some of my favorite shops in Kennebunkport include Day Trip Society for fun gifts, The Pink Tangerine for cute Lilly Pulitzer finds, and Aquaholics Surf Shop for beach gear.
Kennebunkport Downtown is also home to so MANY restaurants, cafes, and eateries, making it the perfect place to indulge in a culinary adventure. From seafood shacks serving fresh lobster rolls to upscale dining establishments offering gourmet cuisine, Dock Square has you covered with many delicious places to keep your belly full and your heart happy. Make sure to check out some of my restaurant recs below!
Drive along Ocean Avenue
Embark on a leisurely drive along Ocean Avenue, a scenic coastal road that offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Marvel at the grand mansions and charming cottages that dot the landscape, showcasing the architectural beauty of the region. Make sure to stop at Walker’s Point, the summer retreat of the Bush Compound Kennebunkport, and take in the panoramic vistas and serene coastal beauty that surrounds this iconic landmark.
Drive to the Wedding Cake House
The Wedding Cake House was built in 1825 by a wealthy shipbuilder and is characterized by its distinctive wedding cake appearance, featuring elaborate details and decorative frosting-like trim. Although it’s currently privately owned and not available for tours, I would still stop by to grab some photos, as it stands as a testament to the architectural legacy of Kennebunkport and adds to the town’s charm and allure.
Enjoy a lobster roll
No trip to Kennebunkport is complete without enjoying the quintessential delicacy of New England, the lobster roll! There are many places in Kennebunkport that offer a variety of tasty lobster rolls (see my recs in the restaurant’s sections), but I thoroughly enjoyed visiting The Ocean Roll (pictured above), once a mobile feeding unit for the Maine Civil Defense turned into a vintage food truck. They offer a variety of seafood, from fried clams and steamers to lobster rolls, fish sandwiches, and much more!
Grab a beer at a local brewery
If you’ve been following me for a little bit, you know that I ALWAYS try to pop into at least one brewery everywhere I go. I obviously had to explore the local beer scene here too, and stumbled upon a few notable breweries in Kennebunkport that are definitely worthy of checking out.
Federal Jack’s, known as the birthplace of Shipyard Brewing Company, offers a wide range of handcrafted ales and lagers, and it’s also a great spot for lunch. Batson River Brewing has a fantastic patio (especially when it’s decorated for Halloween) and offers a diverse selection of craft beers, from hoppy IPAs to rich stouts. This is also a great dinner spot!
Check out the local Kennebunkport beaches
Kennebunkport is home to several beautiful beaches that offer a mix of natural beauty and coastal charm. Situated near the mouth of the Kennebunk River, Gooch’s Beach is a popular spot for both locals and visitors and ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
f you’re on the hunt for a more family-friendly beach, Kennebunkport Beach (aka Mother’s Beach) is equipped with picnic tables, a playground, and restrooms, making it the perfect place to post up with the kiddos.
If you’re looking for a beach that’s a little more private, Goose Rocks Beach and Colony Beach are both great options that offer a quieter and more intimate setting for relaxation and tranquility.
Heading to the beach? Check out my beach packing list filled with everything you need to ensure the perfect beach day!
Pin it for later!
Tour the Seashore Trolley Museum
Step back in time at the Seashore Trolley Museum, the oldest and largest electric railway museum in the world. Explore a vast collection of vintage trolleys and streetcars as you learn about the evolution of public transportation. Take a nostalgic ride on a restored trolley and experience the bygone era of trolley travel. The museum also offers interactive exhibits and educational programs, making it an engaging experience for visitors of all ages.
Take a boat tour
Experience the beauty of the Kennebunk River and the Maine coast by taking a boat tour. Rugosa Lobster Tours provides an authentic Maine lobstering experience where you can see lobster traps being hauled, learn about lobster biology, and even handle a lobster if you wish. I also highly recommend going whale watching in Kennebunkport with First Chance Whale Watch. You’ll have the opportunity to observe majestic whales in their natural habitat and will hopefully spot a few!
Explore Goat Island Lighthouse
Goat Island Lighthouse, located at the entrance of the Kennebunk River, dates back to 1835 and has served as a navigational aid to mariners for many years. Unfortunately, the interior is not open for public tours. However, you can still enjoy views of the lighthouse from several vantage points, including Walker’s Point and Ocean Avenue.
Things to do in Kennebunkport Maine in the Fall
If I haven’t sold you on Kennebunkport yet, I’m pretty sure you’ll be ready to book your trip after I show you how especially magical it is in the Fall. As a Floridian and someone who doesn’t really get to truly experience Fall, it was so fun to see all of the local businesses in the town of Kennebunkport decked out with Fall and Halloween decorations.
I especially LOVED the impressive display pictured above in front of Kennebunkport Inn. If you’re looking for a good Fall photo spot in Kennebunkport, THIS IS IT!
Go on a scenic drive
Maine is known for its stunning fall foliage and has plenty of scenic drives that showcase the vibrant colors of Fall. Route 1 is best for coastline views and will take you all the way up to Acadia National Park (if you choose to go that far). That’s a little ambitious for a day trip, but it would be fun for a weekend!
Maine’s best road trip for Fall foliage is Route 302. From Kennebunkport, you’ll drive to Portland (about 40 mins) and then head to Fryeburg (about 75 mins). This route will take you by several lakes, including Sebago Lake, and many small New England towns, offering plenty of Fall foliage to see along the way.
Pick apples (or a pumpkin) at Spiller Farm
Spiller Farm, located in Wells, Maine (about 15 mins from Kennebunkport), has tons of U PICK options throughout the year. However, they offer apple and pumpkin picking specifically for Fall. This is the perfect place to bring the whole fam and grab some cute Fall family photos too!
Seashore Trolley Museum also has an annual pumpkin trolley patch where you can ride the trolley and pick your own pumpkin.
Attend a Fall festival
- Kennebunk HarvestFest is an annual festival celebrating the Fall harvest season. It features family-friendly activities for all to enjoy, including live music, local food vendors, craft beer, hayrides, pumpkin carving, and much more!
- OgunquitFest (aka Oktoberfest essentially) lasts throughout the whole month of October, featuring many different events like a classic car show, craft fair, Halloween-themed events, costume contests, parades, and much more!
- Harvest on the Harbor, located in Portland, Maine, is an annual Food & Spirits festival held from October 26-28. This multi-day event features culinary creations from Maine’s top chefs and attracts passionate foodies and drink lovers of all kinds from around the world.
Visit the Kennebunk Farmers Market
Kennebunk Farmers Market runs Saturdays from 8-12:30 pm starting in May and ending in November and features seasonal locally grown produce, a bountiful assortment of plants, fresh baked goods, and much more! This is a great way to support local businesses and enjoy some delicious Maine-grown goodies along the way.
Check out the Fall decorations in Dock Square
As mentioned above, we LOVED strolling Dock Square and admiring all the creative Fall and Halloween decorations throughout town. Kennebunkport Inn and Batson River Brewing really outdid themselves and were my two favorite spots for photo ops!
Best Kennebunkport restaurants
Now onto my favorite part, FOOD! One of my absolute favorite parts of traveling is indulging in the local cuisine (maybe I should have been a food blogger, haha), and let me tell you, Kennebunkport did not disappoint!
Whether you’re a seafood lover, a fan of farm-to-table cuisine, or prefer casual and coastal eateries, Kennebunkport offers a vibrant culinary scene and has something to satisfy every palate. Even though we were here for a whole week, I feel like I barely scratched the surface of the food scene, but below are some of our favorite restaurants in Kennebunkport that are definitely worthy of checking out.
Where to find the best lobster rolls in Kennebunkport
- No visit to Kennebunkport is complete without a stop at The Clam Shack, a beloved seafood shack that consistently ranks among the top spots for lobster rolls in Kennebunkport. The Clam Shack Kennebunkport is known for its mouthwatering lobster rolls filled with succulent lobster meat on a buttery toasted round roll.
- Alisson’s Kennebunkport is a popular local spot offering a diverse menu of American comfort food. They have a variety of lobster roll options, including a lobster roll trio (like what?!!) filled with generous portions of fresh lobster meat served on a grilled roll.
- Mabel’s Lobster Claw, located on Ocean Avenue, has been a staple in Kennebunkport since 1950. Their lobster rolls are highly regarded, featuring generous amounts of sweet and succulent lobster meat served with melted butter or mayo on a toasted roll.
- The Ocean Roll, located just outside town, offers a variety of seafood, from fried clams and steamers to lobster rolls, fish sandwiches, and much more, in their vintage food truck, once used for Maine Civil Defense.
- Nunan’s Lobster Hut is a family-owned restaurant with a long-standing reputation for serving up fresh and flavorful lobster rolls filled with generous portions of lobster meat. They also have a wide selection of other seafood dishes, including fried clams, shrimp, scallops, and haddock.
Best Kennebunkport breakfast spots
- If you’re looking for a good cup of coffee, Coffee Roasters of the Kennebunks is your place! They have a great selection of coffee drinks and a fun shop filled with gifts, spices, and specialty foods, making it the perfect place to sip and shop.
- Our favorite spot for breakfast in Kennebunkport was Mornings in Paris, an authentic European cafe offering a variety of tasty coffee options, warm breakfast sandwiches, and fresh baked goods. They also offer beer and wine in the evening!
- If you’re looking for a more substantial breakfast (or lunch), Salt and Honey is a great spot! This charming New England eatery is known for its creative dishes made with locally sourced ingredients and has many delicious breakfast and lunch options, including a lobster omelet, fish tacos, burgers, and more.
Best Kennebunkport restaurants for happy hour
- For happy hour, we thoroughly enjoyed Old Vines Wine Bar, a cozy and intimate spot specializing in wines from around the world and offering a selection of small plates and artisanal cheeses. They have indoor dining in their converted bi-level rustic barn and a seasonal patio out front if you prefer to dine al fresco.
- Another place we really enjoyed for happy hour was Hurricane Restaurant, located right in the heart of Downtown Kennebunkport. It only runs from 4-5 pm, but they offer a great selection of light bites and drink specials, including select cocktails, beer, and wine. This is also a great place to stay for dinner, as they are renowned for their seafood-focused menu and have stunning waterfront views.
Best restaurants Kennebunkport for dinner
- If you feel like keeping it casual, Ryan’s Corner House Irish Pub is a fun spot, and they have a giant fire pit on the patio out front, making it an especially cozy place during Fall. They have a huge selection of beers on draft and offer traditional meals like bangers & mash and shepherd’s pie. I would also HIGHLY recommend ordering the French onion soup.
- You’ll find seafood at just about any Kennebunkport restaurant you go to, BUT if you’re looking for seafood with a view, you can’t beat Arundel Wharf. This maritime-themed eatery is known for serving a variety of seafood dishes, including lobster, clam chowder, shrimp, and more, and has a killer waterfront view of the Kennebunk River as a bonus.
Favorite breweries in Kennebunkport
- If you’re seeking a relaxed and casual dining experience, Federal Jack’s Restaurant & Brew Pub is the place to be. Located by the Kennebunk River, this waterfront eatery offers panoramic views and a laid-back ambiance with delicious pub fare, ranging from seafood classics like fish and chips to mouthwatering burgers and hearty sandwiches. Pair your meal with one of their handcrafted beers (or a beer flight, hehe), brewed on-site, for the ultimate Kennebunkport experience.
Best places to stay Kennebunkport Maine
Best Kennebunkport hotels
Kennebunkport offers a range of accommodations, from charming bed and breakfasts to luxurious waterfront resorts. Here are some of the best hotels in Kennebunkport that provide exceptional comfort, amenities, and hospitality.
The Kennebunkport Inn is a boutique hotel with a prime location in the heart of Dock Square. The inn offers stylish and comfortable rooms, some with views of the Kennebunk River. Guests can enjoy the inn’s onsite restaurant and bar, as well as its proximity to shops, galleries, and restaurants in the area.
The Colony Hotel Kennebunkport is a historic and iconic property that has welcomed guests since 1914. Set on a sprawling oceanfront estate, the hotel offers a range of accommodation options, including guest rooms, suites, and cottages. The Colony Hotel features amenities such as an outdoor heated pool, a private beach, and an oceanfront restaurant.
- The Boathouse Kennebunkport combines modern comfort with coastal charm. With its prime waterfront location, the hotel offers stylish rooms and suites with balconies overlooking the Kennebunk River. Guests can enjoy waterfront dining at the onsite restaurant and take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary bicycles to explore the town.
- Hidden Pond Kennebunkport is a secluded and luxurious resort that provides a tranquil retreat amid nature. The resort features beautifully appointed cottages and bungalows nestled in a wooded landscape. Guests can enjoy amenities like a farm-to-table restaurant, a full-service spa, and a heated outdoor swimming pool.
- If you’re looking for a unique and historic bed and breakfast in Kennebunkport, Maine, The Kennebunkport Captains Collection is your place! These four properties were formerly owned by leading sea captains and are known for their rich history, charming architecture, and warm hospitality. Each home within the Captains Collection offers a distinct experience, combining the comforts of modern amenities with the timeless allure of Kennebunkport’s maritime past.