Kennebunkport is a scenic seaside town in southern Maine. Known for its beaches, Sea Captain's Mansions, lively downtown with shops and galleries, and dockside scenery, Kennebunkport has long been a popular summer vacation destination and is even the summer home of the Bush Family. With such Presidential appeal it’s no wonder that it has been ranked as "Maine’s #1 Best Beach" according to U.S. News and World Report.
Geography and Surrounding Area of Kennebunkport
Located along Maine's southern coastline where the Kennebunk River meets the Atlantic Ocean, Kennebunkport covers about 18 square miles. It borders the towns of Arundel to the northwest, Biddeford to the northeast and Kennebunk to its immediate West. Kennebunkport is about 25 miles south of Portland, 140 miles north of Boston, and 230 miles from New York City making it a convenient day or weekend drive from large cities.
With a year-round population around 3,500 that swells to over 10,000 in peak summer, Kennebunkport consists of several regions like the Cape Porpoise village and Goose Rocks Beach and downtown Dock Square. The scenic Cape Arundel area features the historic Colony Hotel and Cape Arundel Inn with 200 degree views of the Atlantic Ocean.
5 Fast Facts About Kennebunkport:
- Summer population swells over 10 times the year-round population in peak tourist season
- Home to Walker's Point estate of George H.W. Bush family
- Regarded as best place to see New England Shingle-Style architecture
- Only 1.5 hour drive from Boston
- Goose Rocks Beach rated one of Maine's best by Travel & Leisure
While tourism drives the economy, there remains some lobster fishing and boat building activity. The town retains fine examples of Shingle-style architecture seen in many shops and hotels including the storied Talbot Cottage. Kennebunkport is said to have the best concentration of residential Shingle-style architecture in the country and is on full display with the likes of the Sea Captain's Mansions on Pleasant, Pearl and Maine Street. With two riverfronts, scenic beaches, and vibrant downtown Kennebunkport offers outstanding sights all within walking distance.
Things to do in Kennebunkport, Maine
Visitors enjoy whale watching and sailboat charters on the Kennebunk River. Top attractions include the expansive Goose Rocks beach, shops and restaurants in Dock Square, walking along Ocean Avenue to see the grand Sea Captain’s Mansions, visiting Cape Porpoise pier, and checking out the Bush Estate. There are also plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, golfing, biking and even playing lifesize chess! The area also features walking and mountain biking trails, kayaking, fishing charters, galleries, a museum, and more.
Planning for the Weather All Year Round
Kennebunkport enjoys pleasant seasonal weather typical of coastal southern Maine. Summers are mild, with average high temperatures ranging from the mid 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit. However, the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean has a cooling effect, with nighttime lows dipping into the 50s and 60s. Bright, sunny days are common, although the obligatory coastal fog can roll in as well. Winters are cold but generally sunny, with averages highs in the 30s. Several storms track up the Northeast coast each winter, sometimes brushing Kennebunkport with heavy snow, wind, ice, and blizzard conditions. Coastal flooding can accompany bigger storms. Spring and fall are transitional seasons, with a mix of mild and cold weather. Overall, Kennebunkport’s weather shifts with the seasons but maintains the classic variability of a New England coastal town.
Best Accomodations in Kennebunkport
From historic inns to beachfront resorts, Kennebunkport offers no shortage of places to rest your head after a long day exploring this classic New England beach town. In the heart of Dock Square downtown, visitors will find accommodations like the stately Captain Lord Mansion set back from a tree-lined street dating from 1814. Or stay right on Ocean Avenue at The Colony Hotel near the action of the village center. Beach lovers can choose hotel options like The Tides Beach Club or The Cape Arundel Inn with sunrise views over Goose Rocks Beach and Colony Beach respectively. Farther inland rest additional historic accommodations like the romantic White Barn Inn spanning several classic New England farm structures and pastoral scenery, or the quiet Breakwater Inn & Spa nestled along the Kennebunk River. From budgets to luxury, Kennebunkport delivers with hospitality, charm, location, and ambiance all its own.
Dining in Kennebunkport
The culinary scene shines with an array of high-end restaurants at area resorts plus casual fresh seafood shacks near the docks. Enjoy fine American Farm-to-table dining at Earth at Hidden Pond, (Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice of 2023), or more casual fare like lobster rolls at local staple Stripers Waterside Restaurant.
For fine dining, the White Barn Inn Resort hosts a wine cellar with over 400 labels and a menu focused on seasonal New England cuisine served in a scenic barn-board room or outside patio. In the heart of Cape Porpoise village, the relaxed atmosphere at The Boathouse welcomes guests for waterfront dining on options like fish and chips, seared salmon, and authentic Maine lobster bakes. Visitors can enjoy a pre-dinner craft cocktail on the porch of the historic Captain Nathaniel Lord Mansion before sampling their menu of savory locally-sourced American dishes. From quick bites to fine dining, Kennebunkport delivers memorable food with hospitality as rich as the history shaping this village by the sea.
Q&As for Kennebunkport:
- What is there to see in Kennebunkport? A: Scenic beaches, vibrant downtown district, dockside scenery, grand sea captains' mansions, and amazing sunrises and sunsets over the Atlantic.
- What are top things to do in Kennebunkport? A: Relaxing on Goose Rock Beach, shopping and dining downtown on Dock Square, walking down Ocean Ave to see historic mansions, going on fishing/whale watching charters, visiting Cape Porpoise fishing village.
- When do most tourists visit Kennebunkport? A: Peak tourist season is from late June through Labor Day weekend. Summer weather is ideal though some still visit in spring and fall.