Inland, just off the turnpike, Kennebunk’s downtown is a dignified, compact commercial center of white clapboard and brick. If you’re a history buff, the Brick Store Museum, 117 Main St. (www.brickstoremuseum.org; tel. 207/985-4802) should be your first stop in town. The museum hosts showings of historical art and artifacts throughout the summer, switching to contemporary art in the off season. It also holds considerable local archives. The museum is housed in a former brick store plus three adjacent buildings, all renovated and re-polished. Adult admission costs $7.50, seniors $6, and kids age 6–16 $3. Half-hour walking tours of the downtown cost $5 per person additional. (They’re a must, if you have time and interest.) The museum is open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 4:30pm, Saturdays from 10am to 1pm.
When en route to or from the coast, be sure to note the extraordinary homes that line Port Road (Route 35). This includes the famously elaborate Wedding Cake House, which you should be able to identify all on your own. Local lore claims that the house was built by a guilt-ridden ship captain who left for sea before his bride could enjoy a proper wedding cake.
Kennebunkport is the summer home of former President George Bush (the elder), whose family has summered here for decades, and it has the tweedy, upper-crust feel that one might expect of the place. This historic village, whose streets were laid out during days of travel by boat and horse, is subject to traffic jams. If the municipal lot off the square is full, go north on North Street a few minutes to the free long-term lot and catch the trolley back into town. Or walk back—it’s a pleasant walk of 10 or 15 minutes from the satellite lot back to Dock Square.
Dock Square has a bustling, mercantile feel to it, with low buildings of mixed vintages and styles. The boutiques in the area are attractive, and many feature creative artworks and crafts. But sometimes it gets a little overcrowded or tacky here. Kennebunkport’s real attraction is found in the surrounding blocks and side streets, where the side streets are lined with one of the nation’s richest assortments of Early American homes. These neighborhoods are especially ripe with examples of Federal-style homes; many have been converted to fine B&Bs.
A Peek at the Bushes
Ocean Drive from Dock Square to Walkers Point and beyond is lined with opulent summer homes overlooking surf and rocky shore. You’ll likely recognize the family compound of the former Presidents Bush right out on Walkers Point when you arrive. If it’s not familiar from the time it has spent in the national spotlight, look for crowds with telephoto lenses. If they’re not out, look for a shingle-style secret service booth at the head of a driveway. That’s the place. There’s nothing to do here, though, but park for a minute, snap a picture, and then push on.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.