If you’re all about relaxing at our pool, read no further. If you want to fill your friends’ newsfeeds with enviable moments and come home with great stories to tell, these are the Kennebunk activities you must work into your vacation schedule.
Three of the best beaches in Maine are right here in Kennebunk, and they offer two completely different experiences. Parsons Beach is a gorgeous stretch of sand at the end of Parsons Beach Road off Route 9, where the Mousam River meets the Gulf of Maine. It’s a great place to fish for stripers, and possibly see a seal or two frolicking in the current at high tide. There are only a handful of parking spots on Parsons Beach Road. If you’re not fortunate enough to snag one, you’ll need to park on Brown Street on the other side of Route 9 and walk to the entrance. Parking is slightly more abundant at Mothers’ Beach off Beach Avenue where a lovely playground awaits when the tide is high. If you continue along Beach Avenue, you’ll find more plentiful parking on the ocean side of the street before you come to Gooch’s Beach. Gooch’s is a perfectly flat patch of sand that’s ideal for bocce, corn hole, sunbathing, and general frolicking for folks of all ages. In the summer months, leashed dogs are welcome before 9am and after 5pm.
There are all kinds of fun places to kayak in Kennebunk. If you need to rent a kayak or you want to give ocean kayaking a try under the watchful eye of an experienced guide, Coastal Kayak and Kayak Excursions have all the gear and advice you need for a great day on the water. If you own your own boat, the Mousam River kayak boat launch is right on Route 9 less than a mile from our entrance. Time the tides right and you’ll get an assist from the current as you paddle up river just shy of the dam in downtown Kennebunk and then ride the current back to the launch. From this same launch, sea kayakers can turn left, paddle under the bridge, and into the Gulf of Maine where hours of adventure await. There are two places to launch a kayak on the Kennebunk River. You’ll need to pay at the lot by Stripers Restaurant on Ocean Avenue, but once you do, you can drop your boat in to make the short paddle into the Gulf of Maine or head up river into Dock Square. At the end of Mill Lane lies a dirt parking lot that leads to another kayak launch. From here, you can either head down river past the hustle and bustle of Dock Square or paddle up river, where you’ll cruise by the Cape Arundel Golf Club, beautiful homes, and idyllic stretches of untouched nature.
The beautiful water views in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport are even more spectacular when you’re cycling by them. From our parking lot, head straight at the stoplight. Crest the hill just past Webhanet Golf Club, and in a few seconds, you’ll be cruising past Mother’s Beach. At this point, Sea Road becomes the aptly named Beach Avenue, taking you past Middle Beach and Gooch’s Beach before bringing you to a second stoplight at Western Avenue/Route 9. Here, you can either take a left and head back to The Wanderer or take a right and continue your ride through Dock Square. Take a right onto Ocean Avenue and continue past The Boathouse, The Yachtsman, and The Nonantum. As you pass the iconic Colony Hotel, you’ll soon be ascending a gentle hill that offers epic ocean views and glimpses of some of the most impressive homes in Kennebunkport. If you’ve had enough, you can go back the way you came or continue on to Goose Rocks Beach by taking a right onto Wildes District Road and then a left onto Mills Road. Less than a mile past Sandy Pines Campground, take a right onto Dyke Road and then veer left onto Kings Highway to Goose Rocks Beach where you can enjoy a lovely afternoon on the white sand or a well-earned cocktail at The Tides Beach Club.
Whether you’re looking to get a gull’s eye view of Kennebunk or want to make contact with our neighbors in the ocean, there are some fantastic local tour operators dedicated to delivering unforgettable experiences on the water. First Chance Whale Watch is our first choice for getting up close and personal with magnificent creatures you have to see for yourself to truly appreciate. Deep sea fishing means big excitement, and no one is more qualified to get you where the action is than Nor’easter Fishing where you can join one of their scheduled trips or reserve a private charter. If you’ve ever wondered how lobsters get from the bottom of the ocean to the top of every foodie’s summer bucket list, the good people at Rugosa Lobster Tours will show you how to bait, haul, and empty lobster traps and band the keepers. For a more serene experience, a two-hour cruise on the Schooner Eleanor is an elegant adventure to share with friends or a fun way to make new ones.
Maine is a bit chillier than California and Hawaii, but that doesn’t stop our local surf community from charging the nugs year-round. Gooch’s Beach draws surfers from all over New England and Aquaholics is the place to rent a board and the wetsuit you’ll most likely want even in the heat of summer. Never surfed before or concerned about how you’ll do in the cold waters of Maine? Aquaholics offers private lessons and group camps on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings and afternoons on Gooch’s Beach.
If you love riding trails under a canopy of trees, you’ll find some fun mountain biking trails in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. Let’s start with Hope Woods which has four different access points that you can either bike to from The Wanderer or ride to after parking your car in downtown Kennebunk or at Hope Cemetery. However you get to Hope Woods, you’ll find a well-marked network of mixed-use trails that provide hours of easy-going fun. Another mountain biking trail close to downtown Kennebunk is Wonder Brook Preserve. Take a right onto Summer Street and follow it for about a half-mile. Immediately after you cross the bridge over the railroad tracks, take a left on Plummer Lane where you’ll find a parking lot at the end of the street. After an extremely technical start to the trail with lots of exposed roots (for experienced riders only), you’ll enjoy 2.5 miles of moderate terrain under dense tree cover. If you’re looking to make a day of it, head to the Smith Preserve near Goose Rocks Beach where five different trails totaling 10 miles in length offer multiple loop options that rack up the miles.
Accuracy is the name of the game at the Cape Arundel Golf Club. Kennebunkport’s only golf course features narrow fairways, tight greens, and eight intimidating holes where the Kennebunk River is in play. If you prefer a longer course that’s a bit more forgiving, The Webhannet Golf Club in Kennebunk is a beautiful track with a bit more room for error despite the incredibly challenging par threes. This semi-private course offers one tee time per hour to the public Monday through Wednesday so please plan your excursion accordingly. For a more casual, yet scenic golf experience, Dutch Elm Golf Club in Arundel offers nine-hole and eighteen hole rates for walkers and riders and a pleasing mix of elevated tees/greens, open fairways, and tricky doglegs.
SHOPPING IN DOCK SQUARE
From the obligatory Maine t-shirt to one-of-a-kind works of art, Dock Square is home to a diverse group of shops and galleries. One of our favorites is Day Trip Society, which has a hip selection of coastal essentials to help you look like a local. Maine and Vine, has the best wine selection in town, and be sure to check out JAK Designs for the most creative knitwear and beautiful accessories around.
Goat Island Lighthouse
Built in 1859, Goat Island Lighthouse is the only lighthouse in the Kennebunkport area. Since it’s on an island, you’ll need a boat to get an up-close look, but the best place to view this iconic structure from dry land is from the observation area in Cape Porpoise.
You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the serenity and waterfront scenery of the Franciscan monastery. Walking distance from Dock Square with plenty of parking if you choose to drive, the outdoor cathedral made from natural elements is a sight to behold. The relaxing walking trails take you along the Kennebunk River for an altogether different view of Kennebunkport.
Nearby Wells Attractions
The best things in life are free and, that’s true for many of the best things to experience in nearby Wells, Maine.
If you’re looking for an easy going nature walk with lots of observation decks and opportunities see a white crane pluck a fish out of the tidal water below, the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is a must-do. Best of all, it’s less than 5 minutes away.
Wells Reserve at Laudholm
With lots of nearby clam shacks, mini-golf courses, gift shops, and restaurants, Wells Beach is an energetic alternative to Kennebunk Beach. There are multiple access points and parking lots for this long stretch of sandy beach, so plan ahead, pick your spot and get ready for a fun day on the sand with plenty of things to do before you head back to your cottage.
Antiquing on Route 1
From pop culture gems from the 20th century to one-of-a-kind finds from colonial times, Route 1 in Wells is a treasure trove of Maine antique stores with ever-changing inventories.
Whether you’re craving a good burger, or the classic lobster in the rough experience, you’ll find dozens of options in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport.