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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.