Nearly four years ago we made a weekend summer getaway to the small town of Kennebunkport, Maine. Growing up in the South, MacKay and I had never had the chance to make it up to that part of the country and we were very excited to explore. As soon as we crossed the bridge and saw the shops, people strolling, and the gorgeous architecture, we knew this was a place we would quickly fall in love with. And we did. We’ve been going back every summer since.

While Maine is known for their lobster (and I’ll get into some of our favorite places to get some) there is also so many great things to do and explore while visiting Kennebunkport. Check out  some of our favorite places and things to do in Kennebunkport.

 

Where to Eat:

We’ve always taken the kids with us to Kennebunkport, so all of these restaurants are kid-friendly. We’ve yet to take a date night, sans kids, but it’s on our list to do next time we go!

The Clam Shack

One of the most popular spots in Kennebunkport, The Clam Shack has been featured in many national publications for having the best lobster roll. A super casual spot that has you order at the window and either enjoy your meal to-go or outside on the picnic tables, The Clam Shack has all of the fried seafood you could ever want and yes, their famous lobster roll (served cold, which is how they do it in Maine). For those that don’t love seafood, they have hamburgers, grilled cheese, and hot dogs. You can even step inside their seafood market and order a whole lobster (you get to pick how big) and they will take it fresh from what they caught that day and steam it for you. You can’t get much fresher than that! During peak eating hours, be prepared for a line (although it does move rather quickly).

Mabel’s Lobster Claw

One of my favorite restaurants in town, this quaint restaurant that’s just a mile from downtown Dock Square is a must-visit. Only open during season, Mabel’s has indoor and outdoor seating. It’s a small restaurant, so I definitely recommend reservations for dinner or arriving early. While we waited for our meal, we snacked on their delicious blueberry bread and corn muffins (which you can also purchase to take home). Their kids menu has the traditional kids favorites, while the adult menu is filled with all of your seafood favorites (they get their lobsters from the pier across the street). I’d definitely recommend to start out with the Stuffed Mushroom Caps, and always go for the special (I had the lobster risotto last time we were there and it was incredible.) If you’re looking for the traditional steamed lobster, they have that too. Our kids love lobster, so we’ll order it lazy style (all of the meat taken out) and let them share. If you leave room for dessert, you can step outside to their ice cream bar, where you can cool down with a tasty treat. If you’re in a hurry, the walk-up bar also let’s you order take-out with a limited menu. With the delicious food and the family-friendly feel, this is a restaurant you don’t want to miss.

Alisson’s

A popular restaurant located in the middle of Dock Square, Alisson’s is a casual spot that has all of your American favorites, and of course, plenty of lobster. With it being in the middle of town, Alisson’s is quite popular. It doesn’t accept reservations, so be prepared to wait if you stop by during the prime lunch and dinner hours. On our last trip, we went between lunch and dinner and were promptly brought to a table upstairs. A few trips prior, we went for dinner and waited for an hour. Thankfully they text you when your table is ready, so you can walk around Dock Square while you wait for the table. I typically always get some sort of lobster for every meal while we’re in Kennebunkport (because it’s just that good) and I’ve only ever gotten an entire lobster while visiting Alisson’s. MacKay has had their lobster rolls and lobster mac and cheese, both of which were fantastic. The kids menu is pretty traditional, but they do offer a small lobster roll, which is great for kids, like mine, who love to indulge in lobster. They’ve got a pretty extensive beer menu and some great cocktails for those who like to enjoy a great drink with their meal.

Federal Jack’s Brewpub

A place with a great view of the Kennebunkport River, Federal Jack’s has traditional pub food, with a Maine flair. If you’re a beer drinker, this place is home to Shipyard Brewing Company and has many of their handcrafted beers (their menu even tells you what kind of beer will pair best with your meal). This place is super kid-friendly and has a huge kids menu that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. We always start out with their fried pickles (a southern favorite of mine) before moving onto the lobster. On our last trip, the weather was quite chilly, so I had their lobster bisque and it was probably the best I’ve ever had. It was creamy and had big chunks of fresh lobster. They have several styles of lobster rolls (including my favorite, warm lobster on a toasted roll). There’s plenty of non-seafood options for you to choose from.

Sweet Treats

The Candyman

This place is the kids’ favorite, and it’s one of the first places they ask to visit as soon as we cross the bridge into town. It’s filled with all of the candy you can imagine, and their homemade fudge (which I highly recommend).

Right across from The Candyman is one of my favorite spots to take photos. It’s a perfect backdrop for a great family pic. We make sure to stop by every year to take photos. You can never take too many photos in front of this wall. As demonstrated below.

Okay, now back to our favorite sweet spots.

H.B. Provisions

So technically this place is a general store and has just about anything you could ever want. It’s great place to grab a cup of coffee in the morning or a sandwich for lunch. But I love stopping in for their Whoopie Pies. It’s the best thing ever and I always make sure to stock up before I go home (I’ll keep some in our freezer for those days I’m desperate for one). If you’re in Maine, you need to try a Whoopie Pie.

Where to Stay: 

We’ve only stayed in two hotels during our time in Kennebunkport. Both are great and very family-friendly.

Lodge on the Cove

If I could stay here every time we visit Kennebunkport, I’d be very happy. It’s small, incredible family friendly and has everything you could possibly need during your stay. You can see a previous visit here. It’s a modern, refurbished motor lodge, that has guest rooms the kids like to call “cabins.” There are only 30 guest rooms, so it’s quite an intimate lodging choice. The kids love to sit out on the front porch in the mornings and before going to bed. We love all of the amenities at the Lodge. There’s campfires with s’mores at night, bicycles for everyone to use, a pool, a game room, a poolside bar with plenty of food and sweet treats for all. We love the Lodge on the Cove because of the friendly staff and the size and accommodations of the hotel. It’s always on the top of our list to stay when we visit.

The Nonantum

This is a resort with one of the most picturesque views. It sits right on the water and is a great place to sit and watch the boats come in and out. A bigger resort, with many more rooms, the Nonantum has many wonderful amenities for your stay. A full breakfast is included in your stay and it’s great to get up in the morning and walk downstairs to eggs, pancakes, and fresh pastries. The kids love swimming at the pool and the pool bar offers great drinks and food while you’re there. Their kids program is absolutely incredible and there is so much to do during your stay. Our kids enjoyed watching a movie with popcorn outside and then making s’mores by the campfire. You can also book lobster tours and sail boat excursions that leave right behind the hotel. We took full advantage of the complimentary hotel transportation into Dock Square. It made getting in and out of town very easy. There is a gift shop on site that the kids love to look through each time we visit and a bar that is open late for those nights you want to get a babysitter and relax.

 

What to Do: 

There is so much to explore while visiting Kennebunkport, you’ll never hear the words “I’m bored” during your stay.

Dock Square

This is the hub of the town. It’s where most of the shopping is located and some restaurants. You’ll want to spend a day here going through all of the shops. There are plenty of tourist shops that you can grab your favorite Kennebunkport souvenirs. We love Daytrip Jr. for all of your baby and kids needs. They have the best curated gifts and clothes for little ones. Saxony Imports is another great place to pick up your favorite Kennebunkport gear. We got all the kids sweatshirts here.

Walkers Point

One of the main reasons many people know Kennebunkport is because it’s also the summer home of the 41st President, George H.W. Bush. Walker’s Point, The Bush Compound, is great to see both from the road (there’s a great scenic spot to stop and see on Ocean Ave.) and from the ocean. We got a great view of the compound when we did our lobster tour.

Lobster Tour

This was something that was so educational and fun for the entire family. We got to see how many lobsterman catch their lobsters and got to go out and see the traps and the lobsters inside the traps. If you’re looking to get out on the water while you’re visiting, I definitely recommend trying a lobster tour. There are many companies that offer it in town (just do a quick google search and you’ll find one).

 

Mother’s Beach

While the water is quite chilly in Maine, but don’t let that deter you from a visit to the beach. Mother’s Beach is very kid friendly and has a playground, which is always a plus on our list. You will need a beach pass to visit, but many hotels will have a trolley that will transport you to and from. If you’re renting a home, many homeowners have a beach pass for you to use during your stay.

First Families Museum

We’re a family full of history buffs and the First Families Museum is great for both kids and adults. Get a look into the First Families of Kennebunkport as well as the First Family, the Bushes. We made a visit shortly after Mrs. Bush passed away and the museum had an exhibit dedicated to her, which was quite lovely. It was a great tribute to her life. Kids are free and the tour (which leaves on the hour) is $10 per person.

 

If you’re headed to Kennebunkport this summer, I hope you try these places out. If you’ve found another spot you love, feel free to let me know! I love trying new places.

 

 

It’s taken me a while to write this post. I wanted to process what happened and not act on emotion and it’s taken me much longer than expected to do that. 

“Hello,” I answered the phone as I sat in the parking lot of Macks’ preschool. I’d arrived early that day, so decided to eat lunch in the car and catch up on emails before going into get him.

“Hi. Everything is okay, but I need you to come to my office right away.” It was the Director of the preschool. She’s never called me before. If anything, she’s texted me telling me I was late on turning in a form (which is standard as I try to juggle life with three active kids.) But she’s never called.

I knew something was wrong. I threw my lunch down and ran into her office.

“Sit down,” she prompted. “Macks is okay, but I want you to know he’s ingested some nuts.”

Tears immediately streamed down my face and hundreds of thoughts ran through my head.

“A parent brought in some cupcakes for a student’s birthday and while the teacher asked many times what the ingredients were, she forgot to mention it had almond paste in the icing.”

The tears became sobs and I pondered on what to even say.

“He didn’t show any signs of an allergic reaction, but we gave him Benadryl as stated in his allergy action plan. He’s upstairs and acting normal.”

I sat there stunned. While they might have followed his allergy action plan as stated by his doctors, they didn’t follow my allergy action plan, which was to NEVER, under any circumstance, give him outside food without my permission.

“Lauren, you should have brought something in for him to eat,” she said to me.

“I didn’t know about this celebration!” I yelled in shock, fear, and anger.

Her reaction to the situation wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Rather than give me the comfort I so desperately needed in that time, she somehow made me believe this was my fault for not bringing him a separate treat.

I ran outside of her office and upstairs to his classroom. I just wanted to see him and see with my own eyes that he was okay. As soon as he came out of the room, I squeezed him. Thankfully, he was oblivious to what happened and was a tad bit confused as to why I was in tears. His teacher was very apologetic and felt horrible about the situation. I told her it was okay (which is wasn’t,) because I didn’t know what else to say. I was still in shock.

I took Macks downstairs and into the car where I called MacKay in hysterics. I explained to him what happened and he quickly told me he’d head home from the city so we could take care of the situation. Macks sat in the back of the car and just kept telling me he was sorry, which broke my heart even more.

Macks felt safe.

School is safe. His teacher is safe.

And that’s why he took the cupcake.

This wasn’t his fault.

In the two and a half years since he’s been diagnosed with severe food allergies, we’ve been working so hard with him about what he can and cannot eat and how to react in situations with outside food. We’ve trained him to ask before eating anything. He’s been so good with it. If he can’t have a treat, he doesn’t react by being hurt, he knows that we will eventually get something for him that’s safe for him to eat. By educating everyone in our family and those close to us, we’ve been very successful in avoiding foods that could possibly give Macks a reaction.

Shortly after getting off the phone with MacKay, I called his allergist just to make sure there was nothing else I was supposed to do. This was the first time he’d ingested something we knew he was allergic to, so I’ll be honest, I wasn’t prepared on how to react or what to do. I was told to watch him, to look for delayed reactions, and to administer the epi-pen if he showed any difficulties breathing. Thankfully, none of that ever happened.

This situation was one hundred percent preventable. While our school has a no nut policy, it wasn’t properly enforced or communicated properly with parents, and therefore a mistake was made. And it was with that mistake, I became an advocate for my son.

In the weeks following the incident, MacKay and I took action. This incident should have never happened and we wanted to make sure that not only does it not happen to Macks again, but any child in our school. We did research to see what policy other schools in the area have. We met with our preschool director and insisted that the food allergy policy immediately be changed in the school.

We also wanted to make sure the teachers (and any parents that wanted) were educated on food allergies. While they do undergo training prior to each school year, this incident still happened, which means more education is necessary.

The school did change the food policy and does not allow any outside food into the classroom (other than what parents bring in for their own children,) but we are, nearly six months later, still challenging his school to do more.  We won’t back down until more action is made to keep our children safe.

I am not an expert in food allergies. I continue to educate myself everyday so I can know more and better help Macks as he takes this lifelong journey. The more I educate myself on food allergies, the more I can raise awareness with others. The more I can educate those around me. The more I can protect my son.

And that’s exactly what I was put on this Earth to do.

 

 

It’s safe to say that our winter here in Connecticut felt like it lasted forever. The snow last well into April, and we’re still waking up on some mornings need layers of clothes because there is a definite chill in the air. While the kids still have a month left of school, we’re starting the unofficial start of summer as soon as those temperatures heat up.

Last weekend proved how fickle the weather in Connecticut can be. On Saturday, temperatures were in the low fifties and we were breaking out the long pants and jackets, while on Sunday, temperatures neared 80 and we quickly grabbed our swim suits and hurried to the beach.


One of my favorite things about living in Connecticut is how close we are to everything. The “beach” (it’s really the sound, but we’ll take it) is only minutes away, we can make it to the city in less than an hour (when the traffic gods are in our favor,) and we can go snow skiing in just a short drive. I truly feel like the we the best of both worlds.

As soon as the weather heats up, most of our time is spent at the beach and at the pool. Our kids love the water and could spend nearly every waking moment of their day by the water. As they are getting older, our trips to the beach and the pool have gotten a lot more fun and relaxing. They don’t need as much assistance and can entertain themselves, while I can relax a bit and catch up on a good book or magazine (I never thought I’d see the day.)

At the beginning of summer every year, I buy the kids bathing suits. Knowing how much time we spend by the water, I not only want them stylish, but ones that will hold up to all of their swimming, jumping, and horseplay. For years, I’ve purchased Lands’ End swimsuits for the kids. Their selection has checked all of the boxes, with durability, style, and fit.

This year I decided not only to get the kids a swimsuit, but to splurge on myself a little bit and get myself a swimsuit. Lands’ End has so many women’s swimsuits to choose from. Since one-piece swimsuits are all the rage, I decided to jump on that bandwagon and get one for myself. It’s been years since I’ve purchased a one-piece, so I loved using the True Fit sizing guide. By answering just a few simple questions, they were able to tell me which size they recommend. And their recommendation was spot on! I was able to run around after the kids while still feeling comfortable and confident in my swimsuit.

With Memorial Day this weekend, it’s the unofficial start of summer. We’ve got the bags packed and ready to spend the long weekend by the water.  If you need us, we’ll be hanging out at the beach.

Lands’ End is declaring today, May 22, as National Swimsuit Day. To celebrate, all regular priced swimwear for women, men and kids, as well as swim tees, beach towels, totes and water shoes will be 50% off. To make sure everyone is ready for the start of Memorial Day Weekend, the company is also offering FREE expedited shipping for Friday delivery. The offer will be valid with promotional code SWIM and pin 2018 when ordering.

Swimsuit details: My Swimsuit  and Cover-UpHarlan’s Swimsuit | Avery’s Swimsuit | Macks’ Swimsuit and Top | Lands’ End Bag and Towel