Kennebunk and Kennebunkport came into world prominence in the 18th and 19th centuries when the shipbuilding industry flourished along the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers.
Their colorful history along with the blessings of stunning coastlines, natural beauty and historic landmarks helped build the Kennebunk’s – as they are called for short – into a popular vacation destination.
Kennebunkport offers three distinct tourist areas – Dock Square, Cape Porpoise and Goose Rocks Beach.
In and around Dock Square you’ll find inviting gift and antique shops, art galleries, restaurants, marinas and whale watching, sight seeing and fishing boat excursions. Some of the opulent buildings that date back to the prosperous 1800’s have been refurbished as inns and bed and breakfasts and are a short walk to town attractions.
Cape Porpoise village and harbor may be one of the most picturesque New England sights you’ll ever see. It has restaurants, galleries, a working pier and a stunning view of Goat Island Lighthouse.
Goose Rocks Beach offers an out-of-way spot for swimming and sunning on its one mile long beach of fine sand.
Adding to Kennebunkport’s acclaim as a holiday destination, former President George Bush has a summer home on Walker Point, a small rocky peninsula off Ocean Avenue. “Bush watchers” can take souvenir photos of the compound from a vantage point across a short stretch of ocean cove.
You can see a majestic sunset from Parson’s Way and relax in a ride around town on a horse drawn wagon. Or catch a trolley and immerse yourself in some local folklore as you view the sights. A way to experience the times of a by-gone era is to ride the rails at the Seashore Trolley Museum where volunteers restore vintage train cars with loving care.
Stroll across the Kennebunk River bridge from Dock Square and you’ve arrived in Lower Village. This charming section of Kennebunk offers more eye-catching shops, galleries, restaurants, inns and boating excursions.
From here it’s a short ride to the ocean and a choice of three beaches. Gooch’s Beach is great for swimming, sunning and surfing. Middle Beach is a rocky stretch with tidal pools where kids can finds urchins and other sea treasures. Mother’s Beach is a favorite for families with smaller children. Further south you’ll find Parson’s Beach, another gem for seaside fun.
On the way to the beach you pass by the Franciscan Monastery, a 20 acre retreat and shrine open to visitors.
Getting to Downtown Kennebunk you’ll pass the “Wedding Cake House.” This often photographed private home has achieved national acclaim because of its decorative and flamboyant trimmings. A legend sprang up that the house was built for a forlorn bride left by her sea faring husband on their wedding night. While this fable is imaginative, the authentic story of its design provides another romantic notion. Its ornate motif was inspired by the gothic spires, turrets and pinnacles of the Cathedral in Milan, Italy. It was constructed from 1852-56 by the prosperous ship builder George W. Bourne.
Near downtown Kennebunk you’ll witness more grandeur. Wealthy Sea captains and ship builders constructed stately mansions designed in elegant Colonial, Greek Revival, Victorian and Federal styles.
Downtown you find a classic New England tree lined main street with the famed Brick Store Museum. Across the street is a church with a Christopher Wren style steeple and bell cast at the Paul Revere foundry. Nearby is Lafayette Park which honors the French nobleman who became Washington’s aide during the American Revolution.
Is it any wonder that the eye-catching scenery and life style has motivated a talented colony of artists, writers and crafters? For sports enthusiast you’ll have ample opportunities to golf, bike, hike, play tennis, go fishing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding along with other sports.