A Newcomer’s Guide to Exploring the Kennebunks

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Are you thinking of exploring the Kennebunks this summer? I grew up in Maine but I have a shocking confession to make: until recently, I had never been there. 

Coastal Gems

I always knew that Kennebunk and Kennebunkport were charming places to visit. But when college and graduate school took me even farther north in Maine, and after graduation I settled in the Midwest, I missed out on these coastal gems. Huge Mainer fail. 

Now a mom of two small boys, it wasn’t until my family moved to Kennebunk this past October that I finally began to discover all that these incredible towns have to offer. As a new local, here are my non-touristy recommendations for things to do in and around the area while exploring the Kennebunks: 

Exploring the Kennebunks: Best Beaches 

You can’t talk about the Kennebunks without mentioning the stunning beaches.  It’s just not allowed! Check out Mother’s Beach of Kennebunk Beach for a fabulous spot to take the kiddos. The tidal pools are lots of fun and the oceanside playground is a genius idea. 

Playground at Mother’s Beach in Kennebunk.
Mother’s Beach in Kennebunk.

Another beautiful spot is Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport. I am obsessed. This beach has soft, fluffy sand and is the perfect place to play and relax.

Parking is very limited in the summer months, so arrive early to snag a spot and grab a parking pass from a kiosk or the Goose Rocks Beach General Store. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but worth it if you’re making a day of it. Parking along the road is free for Kennebunk and Kennebunkport beaches after Labor Day and until Memorial Day. 

Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport.

Best Bakery 

Hands down the best bakery we have come across is Boulangerie in Kennebunk. It rivals our original favorite, Beach Pea, in Kittery. The staff members are friendly (and great with kids!) and the baked goods are amazing. Try the sourdough bread, a blueberry apple scone, and a chocolate croissant. You will not be disappointed.

Best Seafood Markets and Takeout in the Kennebunk Area

All Kennebunk newcomers need to know where to find the best – and most reasonably priced – seafood options! 

Port Lobster Co., Inc. in Kennebunkport is my favorite. The seafood is fresh and delicious, the prices are great, and the staff is friendly and helpful. My kids loved it—everyone was so kind to them and even gave them an impromptu lobster lesson when we were there. The haddock and mussels we bought were some of the best I’ve ever had. Bonus: take home two cooked lobsters, chips, and coleslaw for $20. You can’t beat it. 

Mussels bought at Port Lobster Co., Ink. and cooked at home.

Another great option is Mike’s Seafood and Lobster Pound in Wells. Not far from Kennebunk, the seafood selection is solid and the prices are good. We bought steamers and they were absolutely delicious. 

Steamer clams from Mike’s Seafood and Lobster Pound.

Best Whoopie Pie 

It was a hard job, but someone had to test and compare Maine’s most famous dessert! I have sampled many whoopie pies in my day, including my own homemade version, and I can confidently say that one of the best I’ve ever tasted can be found at Congdon’s Doughnuts. Located in Wells, it is worth the drive from the Kennebunks. While you’re there, sample any doughnut and a cheddar biscuit. Out of this world!

A whoopie pie from Congdon’s Doughnuts in Wells.

The Runner-Up Award goes to The Landing Store in Kennebunk. Their whoopie pie is totally delicious and I can’t get enough. 

Exploring the Kennebunks: Best Casual Restaurants and Taverns 

Sadly, due to the pandemic and having two young children at home, my knowledge of this category is a little weak. However! I have discovered the delicious takeout offerings of The Village Tavern in Kennebunk. I highly recommend the pecan-crusted haddock. It’s amazing. 

A great lunch takeout spot is Wishbones in Kennebunk. The food is fresh and tasty, and there’s something on the menu for everyone. I’m particularly fond of the Mean Green Salad with tuna. 

Lunch from Wishbones in Kennebunk.

Cherie’s in Kennebunk is another breakfast treat and takeout lunch spot that’s in our regular rotation. The sandwiches are great and the baked goods change often, offering an impressive variety of homemade deliciousness. 

If you are looking for a tasty, no-fuss lunch, I recommend The Lunch Box in West Kennebunk. A town staple for sixteen years, this cash-only food truck serves yummy burgers, sandwiches, and fries. They even offer a reasonably-priced and delicious lobster roll. Their homemade clam cakes are absolutely the best I have ever had—beating out any found at the more expensive area restaurants!

Best Farm and Farmer’s Market

We love our farms and since our move, have missed going to NH Seacoast farms like Tendercrop and Applecrest on a regular basis. Luckily, I’ve found that Chase Farms in Wells has filled the void quite nicely! This charming farm offers coffee, delicious homemade treats from their bakery, tons of fresh produce, tasty maple syrup products, flowers, vegetable plants, and so much more. Grab a snack and head around back to check out the animals. Your kids will love watching the beautiful horses and cute cows in the pasture. 

Chase Farms in Wells.

I also highly recommend The Kennebunk Farmers Market. Running every Saturday morning from May to November, this is another great spot to check out. 

Best Sledding 

I know that snow is behind us for awhile, but tuck this gem into your back pocket for next winter. The hills on Sea Road (just past the Kennebunk Transfer Station and Recycling Drop-Off Center) are a sled lover’s dream. This spot has some of the absolute best sledding I have ever seen. Your kids will love it and so will you, trust me! 

Sledding in Kennebunk.

Exploring the Kennebunks: Best Outside Walks, Hikes, and Adventures 

Saving possibly the best category for last! I reached out to fellow Seacoast Mom’s writer and former Kennebunkport resident, The Freelance Adventurer, for any suggestions that she may have for the area. Check out her favorite beach walk from downtown Kennebunkport to Kennebunk Beach(And while you’re at it, order her awesome new ebook, Seacoast Hikes and Nature Walks.)

Wells Reserve at Laudholm

We love the trails and beach at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. The hikes range from easy to moderate, are open year round, and would be great for snowshoeing or cross country skiing in the winter. The beach is stunning, with huge waves worth watching. 

Beach at Wells Reserve at Laudholm.

Timber Point Trail

Slightly north of Kennebunkport in Biddeford is Timber Point Trail. This easy, short walk offers breathtaking views of the ocean. WARNING: parking is limited! Go early to get a spot and bring a breakfast picnic. It will be worth it. 

Timber Point in Biddeford.

Ferry Beach State Park

Another northern location, Ferry Beach State Park in Saco, has become one of our favorite adventures. With options to drive and park near the beach, or take one of the multiple trails through the woods to hike there, it’s a fun place to visit. The trails are easy and flat, and there’s a pond to play at on the way to the beautiful, sandy beach.

Ferry Beach State Park in Saco.
Ferry Beach State Park in Saco.

The Rachel Carson Reserve

The Rachel Carson Reserve is also a great outside area for kids of all ages. Located in Wells, this walking path is wooded and flat, and offers beautiful views of the ocean and marsh. I bring a jogging stroller on this trail with no problem at all. 

Rachael Carson Reserve in Wells.
Rachael Carson Reserve in Wells.

Wells Parks and Recreation

There are beautiful and easy walking trails at Wells Parks and Recreation. The well marked paths bring you through the woods and along the banks of Hobbs Pond. Added fun at this location is a great playground right by the parking area. 

Wells Parks and Recreation.

Help me add to my list! Where are your favorite places to visit in and around the area while exploring the Kennebunks?

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I’m a Maine native and after a long stretch of time living in Chicago, I feel lucky to again call the Seacoast my home. I currently live in Kennebunk with my husband, two sons, and a spaniel mix who truly believes he is a furry big brother to our boys. I hold a Master of Education degree from the University of Maine and as a certified English and Special Education teacher, a passion of mine has always been helping students and connecting them to reading and writing. Free time is best spent in the sunshine with family and friends, curled up with a good book, eating my husband’s incredible cooking, running the beautiful roads of the Maine and New Hampshire coastlines, or creatively writing for the kids in my life. Being a mom is the most challenging and amazing job I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

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