Looking for the best things to do in Kennebunkport Maine? We’ve got you covered with the best attractions, activities, dining, lodging, and more!
Kennebunkport Maine is widely known as one of New England’s most popular tourist destinations. But, this charming coastal town isn’t just a great place to vacation. It’s also full of history!
In fact, Kennebunkport is one of the oldest European-settled towns in the United States. If you’re planning a visit to this coastal Mecca, we have all the best things to do in Kennebunkport Maine listed right here.
Explore Kennebunkport Maine
Life in Kennebunkport is quiet, unique, and insulated. People in Kennebunkport are usually very friendly, and in such a small community, many people know each other. They also strive to support their community by buying locally and supporting public resources.
You can expect the coastal town to be pleasant and interesting but also peaceful and unique. It has a particular way of life and is oriented around community living. However, the locals are also used to tourists and will probably be able to tell the difference between tourists and townies.
From gorgeous beaches and scenic lighthouses to boat tours and unique shopping boutiques and restaurants, there’s something for everyone!
The Kennebunk River runs through Dock Square, separating the towns of Kennebunkport and Kennebunk. It’s just one mile from Dock Square to the breakwater where the Kennebunk River meets the ocean.
Fun Fact: The Kennebunk River flows 17 miles through Southern Maine before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.
Both the river and the ocean have played an important role in the development of the region as a shipping and fishing area. The river is still a main feature in downtown Kennebunkport, with some buildings built right on the water.
Fueled up for sun & fun? Go get your sand time at Kennebunkport’s best beaches during the summer months, which are actually on the Kennebunk side.
Gooch’s, Middle Beach, and Mother’s Beach (aka Kennebunk Beach) are each unique and spectacular, from sand to stones to tidal pools. Just follow Beach Avenue, and you’ll see all three.
Colony Beach, a 150-foot stretch of sand located at the mouth of the Kennebunk River, is named for its location in front of the grand old Colony Hotel, usually offering small waves along its rocky sands. You can walk on the breakwater rocks to view boats in the harbor. It’s also a popular place for locals to fish for stripers.
Goose Rocks Beach is arguably the most scenic beach in Kennebunkport Maine, located a few miles from the center of town in a more secluded and residential area beyond Cape Porpoise. The soft, flat sandy beach is ideal for walking or relaxing and enjoying the beautiful views of nearby Timber Island and the coast.
Arts and Culture in Kennebunkport
Kennebunkport has also become well known as a hub for arts and culture. With inspirational scenery everywhere, it’s no surprise that it has an artist community.
In fact, artists have flocked to the town for years for its scenic beauty, and now Kennebunkport is home to many art galleries and museums. Some of these are dedicated to the works of local artists, while others showcase the history of the region.
The town is loaded with shops, galleries, and studios featuring paintings, photography, wind sculptures, and more. You can even find jewelry and kaleidoscopes created right here. All of these are great ways to take a Maine memory home with you.
Check out Kennebunk and Kennebunkport’s best art at Landmark Gallery, Northlight Gallery, Chris Becker Photo Gallery, Sue Rioux Designs, and many more.
Kennebunkport Maine Shopping
Kennebunkport has many interesting and unique shops. The community values locally sourced goods, so you can find many stores that specialize in items from nearby farms, collectors, and creators. The downtown area is a good place to explore if you’re interested in shopping in Kennebunkport!
You can browse all the great local boutiques, in Dock Square, from Daytrip Society for trendy gifts, to Compliments Gallery, Minka, and Abacus Gallery for locally made jewelry, crafts, and candles.
Also, head to Dock Square Emporium for local Ts and to Dock Square Clothiers, Green Tangerine, Zen and Company, and PJ’s Unique Peek for that must-have Maine sweatah (that’s with a Mainah accent, like lobstah & chowdah).
History of Kennebunkport Maine
Kennebunkport is one of the oldest European-settled towns in the United States. It was first settled in 1653 as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, though its current name and town center were established in 1821.
The town went through many names (including Arundel) over the centuries before finally being named Kennebunkport in 1821, drawing its new name from the nearby Kennebunk River. The river and the ocean played important roles in the town’s development as a center for fishing and shipping.
The 1870s saw the rise of the town as a summer destination, a reputation it still enjoys to this day. The mild weather, abundant food, and proximity to the ocean make Southern Maine a wonderful place to visit in the summer.
Architecture & Museums
History buffs will love viewing the historic sea captain mansions that line Summer Street and local museums, including the First Family Exhibit on the Bush family with a tribute to the Presidential Bush compound, amid the splendid summer cottages that grace Ocean Avenue.
Stroll back in time at White Columns, the 1853 Greek Revival sea captains’ home, now home to the Kennebunkport Historical Society and the First Family Museum — a tribute to President and Barbara Bush and their family time at the “summer white house” at Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport.
Also, drive to the Wedding Cake House on historic Summer Street to see Sea Captains’ mansions lining the Kennebunk River banks. A wonderful collection of historical artifacts are kept at the Brick Store Museum and the Nott House, while train enthusiasts will love the world-famous Seashore Trolley Museum.
Best Things to Do in Kennebunkport Maine
Hit Gooch’s Beach
There are several beaches in Kennebunkport, but not all of them are created equal. Gooch’s Beach, a sandy strip just outside town in Kennebunk, is one of the most popular.
It not only has soft sand (rather than pebbles like many Maine beaches!) but also welcomes leashed dogs. Gooch’s Beach also has lifeguards on duty throughout the summer.
Tour St. Ann’s Church
St. Ann’s Church is a popular tourist attraction in Kennebunkport. The main rectory was built in 1891 and was originally a family home before being turned into a church in the 1970s. Today, St. Ann’s is an active parish where everyone is welcome to worship and tour the historic grounds and architecture.
Visit the First Families Kennebunkport Museum
Kennebunkport has been a historic spot for presidential families to vacation for many decades. Both President Bushes visited Kennebunkport regularly with their families.
The Bush Family Exhibit, located in the historic White Columns building, displays fascinating artifacts and other interesting information from the First Families’ experiences in the area.
Kennebunkport was also the summer home of former President George H. W. Bush, and his family continues to reside at Walkers Point. Locals referred to him affectionately as No. 41, and George W. as No. 43. The Bush family has a private estate on Walker’s Point, built in the early 1900s.
The property juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, and visitors can climb on nearby rocks for photographs and scenic views. Additionally, you can visit the “Anchor to Windward,” a beautiful monument donated to President Bush, a favorite Kennebunkport resident, by the townspeople.
On your way out Ocean Avenue, a very scenic drive, you’ll pass Ganny’s Garden, located on the green in front of the Captain Lord Mansion.
This garden was dedicated to former First Lady Barbara Bush for her service to the community of Kennebunkport, complete with a tribute to her passion for mismatched Ked sneakers and books, of course.
Barbara Bush was an avid celebrity guest reader at Kennebunkport’s Graves Library and did extensive charitable work for the town and nearby hospitals.
Go Whale Watching
Some lucky tourists might get the chance to spot a whale. Common species on the Maine coast include humpbacks, finbacks, pilots, and minkes, though you may also catch sight of orcas or sperm whales!
There are many opportunities for boating adventures, located directly in town. Whale-watching tours are popular attractions in Kennebunkport for visitors who hope to catch a glimpse of one of these large and magnificent creatures out at sea. They travel about 17 miles to Jeffrey’s Ledge to spot whales.
Take a Boat Tour
Get out on the water! The best way to see the Maine coast is from the sea! If you prefer sailing, The Pineapple Ketch offers a beautiful sail on a black-hulled sailboat with dramatic red sails.
Those who love to fish can be hooked up on a private charter with Captain Bruce aboard Libreti Rose II! Kennebunkport also offers scenic sailing cruises, such as on a beautiful Maine schooner or windjammer, that travel along the coastline for a relaxing day trip or sunset sail.
Other Kennebunkport tour boats take guests on one to two-hour fishing or lobstering excursions, where you can experience the life of a fisherman firsthand and get a close-up view of Walkers Point where President Bush resides. You can even experience pulling up a Lobster Trap.
From The Nonantum Resort, get on your choice of a lobster boat, sailboat, or fishing charter. Rugosa Lobster Tours offers 1.5-hour excursions on a classic red lobster boat. You’ll get a tour of the Kennebunk River, head out the breakwater toward Walkers Point and Goat Island Lighthouse, and pull up a lobster trap.
In addition, there are several rental places in town that allow visitors to rent kayaks, canoes, boats, bikes, and even scooters — whether for a few hours or the whole day!
View the Art at the W. Robert Paine Gallery
Kennebunkport has long enjoyed a reputation as an arts scene. One important stop on the way is the W. Robert Paine Gallery. For more than 25 years, it has been a Kennebunkport institution, featuring the paintings and illustrations of local artist Bob Paine. He was a community art teacher for many years too.
Tour the Seashore Trolley Museum
The Seashore Trolley Museum is one of the popular things to do in Kennebunkport Maine, drawing tourists of all ages.
It features many exhibits of historic trolleys, buses, and other vehicles with fascinating information about the history of the trolley in the town. You can also play in the family area and ride a working trolley.
Hike on Parson’s Way
Kennebunkport is all about nature, and hikers will love exploring! The best hiking trail in town is Parson’s Way. This 2-mile trail winds alongside Ocean Avenue and the shoreline, offering stunning views on all sides. It’s an easy hike that will provide interest for bird-watchers, runners, and explorers of all kinds.
The trail connects Colony Beach with Blowing Cave Park and the “Anchor to Windward.”
See the Wedding Cake House
The Wedding Cake House is widely known as the most photographed house in Maine. This historic property dates back to 1825 and earns its name from its elaborate design and original purpose as a wedding gift. Over the years, the stunning house has been a family home, art gallery, and museum.
Go on a Food Tour
Kennebunkport has countless wonderful restaurants of all kinds. You’re welcome to participate in walking food tours through the main square and Lower Village. Along the way, you’ll get to sample food from Kennebunkport’s most talented and unique chefs, bakers, brewers, foragers, and fishermen.
Explore Dock Square
Kennebunkport’s Dock Square is worth a visit on its own. This historic downtown area is home to most of the town’s most interesting retail outlets and restaurants. In true Maine fashion, most of the businesses are independent and locally owned, selling handcrafted items like jewelry, decor, gifts, and more.
Dock Square is also home to many highly rated restaurants, including Stripers Waterside Restaurant where the Bush family dines and the Clam Shack that has appeared on the Food Network for its famous lobster roll, fried clams, and mouthwatering seafood.
Other local favorites include Alisson’s in the heart of Dock Square and Old Vines Wine Bar.
Go on a Lobster Tour
It’s no secret that lobster is a particular star in Maine. Just off the coast of Kennebunkport, tourists can find Rugosa Lobster Tours. It offers a quintessential Maine experience on a real lobster boat. The tour sails from the Kennebunk River to the Nonantum Marina, offering a hands-on experience.
See the Waves at Blowing Cave Park
Blowing Cave Park is an isolated nature preserve right on the outskirts of town. It draws many visitors each year thanks to its unique formation, which causes incoming tides to crash so hard into the shore that they “blow” up into the air, making a stunning spectacle. There’s a beautiful dolphin tree carving here as well.
If you’ve never been ocean kayaking, you’re in for a treat. Kennebunkport has several places where you can rent kayaks before hitting the open waves. Paddling along the coast in a kayak gives you the chance to enjoy the stunning sights of the Maine coast, including unique birds and marine animals.
Pick Apples at Spiller Farm
Spiller Farm is located just a few miles outside Kennebunkport in the nearby town of Wells. This family farm offers fruit picking throughout the year, from raspberries, blueberries, and rhubarb in the summer to apples in the fall. There’s even a farm store where you can find fresh jams, jellies, baked goods, and more.
Explore the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge follows 50 miles of the Maine coastline. Here, you can find a one-of-a-kind ecosystem with many land types, from deciduous forests to dunes, salt marshes, and more.
On top of that, the refuge is a safe channel for migrating bird species, including the piping plover, New England cottontail, saltmarsh sparrow, and more.
Sail With the Pineapple Ketch
The Pineapple Ketch is a sailing boat that has hosted tours of the harbor and coast since 2005. From its deck, you can enjoy sights of the Maine coast and the Atlantic Ocean as you’ve never seen them before. The Ketch offers morning, midday, and evening trips for up to 14 people.
Lovers of antiques and unusual items will enjoy exploring the area around Kennebunkport. Many of the best antique shops in the region are in the nearby town of Wells.
Reed’s Antiques & Collectibles is particularly popular. This enormous antique store has regular sales when it offers discounts on some of the most unique and unusual items in the store.
Visit Cape Porpoise
A visit to Kennebunkport should also include a visit to Cape Porpoise Harbor. From the pier, you can view Goat Island Light just a few miles offshore. Established in the 1800s, the light is still currently active and can be seen at night or in cloudy weather.
The Cape Porpoise Pier is part of a working harbor, where fishermen and lobstermen actively travel in and out of the harbor with their catches of the day. If you can stand the fishy smell, it’s interesting to view the various lobster traps and bait barrels located by the pier.
The pier has recently become a hot spot for delicious dining, and you can dine casually on the pier with takeout-style seafood from the Cape Porpoise Chowder House or with fresh seafood and delicious burgers at The Ramp Bar & Grill. On the other hand, you could try the more upscale dining at Pier 77.
Additionally, Cape Porpoise is a popular destination for kayaking tours, which travel around the harbor and by Goat Island and its surrounding islands.
Catch Live Music
Catch live music at The Burleigh at Kennebunkport Inn, Old Vines Wine Bar, The Pilot House, Ryan’s Corner House Irish Pub & Restaurant, Alisson’s, The Nonantum Resort, or Vinegar Hill Music Theatre for a show.
Pick up the latest free, informative issue of Tourist & Town (no stereotyping — the locals read it too) to find out who’s playing when and where, or just ask a local!
Can’t-Miss Kennebunkport Events
Kennebunkport is great to visit year-round with something new to do every season at the many annual events. Kick the summer off with Kennebunkport’s annual Memorial Day Parade, where George and Barbara Bush were known to make appearances and speeches.
The Kennebunkport Festival is an early summer, weeklong festival filled with fine local food, art, and wine to celebrate the creativity and hospitality of Kennebunkport and Southern Maine artists, chefs, restaurants, inns, and hotels.
Festivities in Fall
The fall brings beautiful changing colors and foliage and festive activities for the whole family. On Halloween, Trick or Treat in the Kennebunks gives kids the opportunity to dress up as ghosts or ghouls and head to local merchants for treats and goodies.
Kennebunk’s HarvestFest brings out Zombie Walks and Scarecrows, while Kennebunkport haunted house tours are popular Halloween events in the Kennebunks. Nearby towns also hold fall festivals, including hayrides, haunted houses, and pumpkin picking.
Winter Events & Activities
In the winter, Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude kicks off the Christmas season with an annual tree lighting in town, caroling at the Franciscan Monastery, and a weekend filled with local craft fairs, shopping, and entertainment — Santa even makes an appearance, arriving on a lobster boat!
They say that February is for Lovers here in Kennebunkport, and it’s the perfect time for a romantic getaway. Several local inns, resorts, and bed and breakfasts offer special packages to fit your budget. The candlelight dinners and chocolate fests add something extra special to your Valentine’s getaway to Kennebunkport.
Winter here is quiet and relaxing. It’s a great time to browse through quaint shops and art galleries, such as the Galleries at Morning Walk. Or, enjoy an intimate and romantic dinner at a Kennebunkport cafe or wine bar.
Favorite Restaurants in Kennebunkport Maine
For breakfast in Kennebunkport, why not go to Paris? The delightful Kennebunk sidewalk cafe Mornings In Paris in Lower Village at Coopers Corner roasts and brews fantastic coffee and serves yummy pastries in a charming setting inside or on the patio where you can watch the town begin to stir.
Dock Square Coffee House is another awesome choice for a cup of joe. You can take it to go — to a picnic bench in Dock Square or down to the beach. Mike’s All Day Breakfast is where locals go for a more bountiful breakfast, so be prepared for a wait — this classic diner-style joint jams.
The best places to eat in town have lobster on the menu — 95 Ocean at The Nonantum Resort, Stripers Waterside Restaurant, Alisson’s, and The Boathouse Restaurant! Reserve a table, bring your appetite, and wear the bib if you love your lobster with hot drawn buttah! Save room for Maine blueberry pie too.
After a day of exploring, it’s time for some celebrating, Kennebunkport has so many fun bars with great happy hours. Old Vines Wine Bar in nearby Kennebunk is a favorite.
So are The Boathouse Restaurant, The Burleigh, and Stripers Waterside Restaurant — all three of these have beautiful water views. Enjoy a craft cocktail, local microbrew, or a glass of house wine alongside small plate tapas and some social time to tide you over until you dine!
For a cup of clam chowder or a lobster roll, we love Alisson’s in the heart of Dock Square. This is the Cheers of Kennebunkport — where the locals go and visitors feel right at home. It offers great table service, or you can sit at the bar.
You can get anything you want at Alisson’s Restaurant, as the Arlo Guthrie song goes.
Alisson’s Restaurant and Pub has been a Kennebunkport institution for more than 40 years. This family-owned eatery offers delicious New England-style pub fare with some unique specials, like lobster bisque poutine, fried clams, and deluxe potato skins.
There’s also an extensive list of beers, wines, and spirits, as well as signature cocktails.
Chez Rosa is a farm-style French bistro located in the heart of Kennebunkport. The menu combines inspirations from local farming and fishing culture, along with traditional French comfort foods.
Menu favorites at this romantic eatery include steak tartare, pollock Wellington, ratatouille, craft cocktails, and charcuterie. Chez Rosa is perfect for a romantic date night in Kennebunkport.
A hurricane is the last thing you want to experience while you’re on the coast — unless you’re going to Hurricane Restaurant, that is.
This star-studded restaurant has received accolades from food and beverage publications all over the country. The menus focus on fresh, locally sourced seafood and meats along with wine options galore.
You can’t visit Kennebunkport without trying some local lobster. Nunan’s Lobster Hut is family-owned and has been operating in Kennebunkport for nearly 70 years.
The menu keeps things simple, focusing on the classics — lobster rolls, lobster stew, steamed clams, hamburgers, wine, beer, and pies the way they’ve been made since 1953.
Cape Pier Chowder House in Cape Porpoise Harbor serves the freshest and most delicious Maine seafood right alongside the water it comes from.
You can look out over the ocean and see the lobster boats as you enjoy your food, either in the dining room or on the seaside deck. You’ll find items on the menu such as lobster rolls, fried seafood of all kinds, fish sandwiches, hot French fries, and much more.
The Boathouse Restaurant, part of the famous Boathouse Hotel, is open to guests and non-guests alike. The menu here is dedicated to a Maine dining experience with a subtle Asian fusion.
In the nautical dining room overlooking the marina, you can enjoy a full lobster bar, fresh clams and oysters, and craft cocktails.
Earth at Hidden Pond might make you feel like you’re dining in a woodland glen.
With rustic, intimate decor, fresh food, and herbaceous cocktails, the whole experience invokes wild Maine, down to the preserved apple tree in the center of the dining room. Most of the produce on the menu even comes from the restaurant’s own gardens.
Kennebunkport is also home to fancier, special event dining that’s definitely worth the extra spend. The White Barn in Kennebunk is New England’s only five-star, five-diamond restaurant, a truly unique and unrivaled culinary experience with a five-course, price-fixed menu.
Top Lodging in Kennebunkport Maine
There are plenty of lodging opportunities for your Kennebunkport visit, including waterfront resorts that offer all-inclusive packages and are located right on or nearby the beach.
Downtown Kennebunkport has many old and charming bed and breakfasts and beautiful historic Maine inns that are exquisitely decorated and offer first-class service, including gourmet home-cooked breakfasts each morning.
Private home and cottage rentals in Kennebunkport are also a popular choice, especially for families and large groups, who may choose to rent in town for easy access to shops and dining or in more secluded areas by the Goose Rocks Beach area.
Make plans to stay and play in Kennebunkport Maine soon!
The Franciscan Guest House is a part of Kennebunkport’s Franciscan monastery. All proceeds from the hotel go to charity, and the rooms reflect the tenets of Franciscan life — simple but comfortable. This is a wonderful place to stay if you’re looking for somewhere peaceful and beautiful for your vacation in Kennebunkport.
Nonantum means “blessing,” and you’ll feel blessed to have stayed at this classic 1884 resort on the Kennebunk River in Kennebunkport.
Are you ready to rest your head with a whiff of fresh ocean air and the purr of lobster boats gliding by? The Nonantum Resort is a great place to stay in Kennebunkport. It’s on the waterfront with its own marina and charter tour boats leaving daily, and the staff is the friendliest around — it’s like family.
In fact, The Nonantum Resort is Kennebunkport’s most famous place to stay. Located alongside the Kennebunk River, the resort offers luxurious rooms and amenities galore.
There’s something for everyone at Nonantum, whether you want to enjoy some watersports, go sailing, or simply kick back and relax as you listen to the waves.
Nonantum’s Chef Steve shows off his talent at the on-site restaurants — Latitudes and Heckman’s Pub. Breakfast is included too when you book direct, and the pastry chef is amazing!
There’s an outdoor pool overlooking the river, kayaks and bikes available, and nightly entertainment. Plus, it’s a short walk to town, whether you want to go to Dock Square or Colony Beach on Ocean Avenue.
As the name implies, 1802 House is a historic property located in the heart of Kennebunkport. Once a family home, this colonial-style property is now a full-service bed and breakfast.
It has stunning fixtures throughout and offers six guest rooms, each with unique decor and personality. Unsurprisingly, 1802 House is a popular spot for honeymooning couples!
Kennebunkport is one of New England’s most popular vacation spots, so there are countless options for places to stay! If you prefer a vacation rental over a hotel, this studio condo may be the perfect choice. Located in the heart of downtown, it offers a peaceful escape while close to shopping and dining.
Do you prefer to camp? Maine is the ideal travel destination for you. There are many campgrounds along the coast. You may enjoy a visit to Sandy Pines RV Campground. Of course, you don’t have to have an RV to stay. Sandy Pines also has glamping options, cottages, and tent pitches for guests to enjoy.
The Lodge on the Cove is one of Kennebunkport’s top family resorts. This hip coastal resort offers rooms for families of all shapes and sizes — feel free to bring your dog along, too! Guests will get to enjoy amenities like a heated outdoor pool, morning baked goods, lawn games, and bonfires.
Are you looking for a small, intimate coastal cottage for two? This vacation rental might be right up your alley. You’ll have access to the entire cottage, including the kitchen and bathroom. Beach lovers will enjoy being only a third of a mile from Goose Rocks Beach, which is close enough to walk!
More Fun Facts About Kennebunkport Maine
Kennebunkport is a small town in Southern Maine. It lies on the Atlantic coast and is also bordered by the Kennebunk River.
Though the small town is home to fewer than 4,000 people, it’s a wildly popular tourist destination. It has been a vacation spot for the upper class for more than 100 years and is even home to Walker’s Point, the summer home of both President Bushes.
History & Architecture
Kennebunkport draws visitors for many reasons. Its fascinating history and unique historical architecture reflect nearly 400 years of European settlement, one of the oldest in the United States.
Meanwhile, the town is also famous for its proximity to the Atlantic coast. In Southern Maine, being on the ocean means having access to great seafood, particularly lobster, clams, and mussels.
These days, Kennebunkport is accessible to everyone, with many tourist attractions. And, it has become known as a foodie paradise with an emphasis on freshly-caught seafood and lobster.
There are also many other types of food to be found, from upscale French cuisine to homestyle Italian food. Many of the restaurants in Kennebunkport value sourcing locally and use farm-to-table practices and seasonal menus.
The Southern Maine Coast is also an incredibly pleasant place to spend the summer. While Kennebunkport can be humid during the warm months, the temperature generally stays fairly mild.
The average high throughout July and August is 76 degrees Fahrenheit, and it rarely climbs higher than 80 degrees. Coincidentally, this is the busiest tourist season! During this time, average water temperatures are between 59 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
Visit Kennebunkport Maine
They say that each town has its own soul, and that’s easy to believe in Kennebunkport. This charming coastal resort town has been a beloved spot for summer vacations for a century and a half. Whether it’s your first time in Kennebunkport or your tenth, it will feel like you’re coming home.