Top ten things to do in Kennebunkport, Maine

Don't miss out on lobster rolls, lighthouses and a killer clam chowder.

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  • Gooch's Beach

  • St. Anthony's Franciscan Monastery

  • St. Anthony's Franciscan Monastery

  • St. Anthony's Franciscan Monastery

  • Sunset from Pier 77

  • The Clam Shack

  • Cape Neddick "Nubble" Lighthouse

  • Walker's Point

  • Portland Lobster Company

1. Bike along the coast
While there are no designated bike paths, the most traffic you’ll encounter in Kennebunkport is in Dock Square, where cars graciously yield to pedestrians. Cycle down Beach Avenue for water views and make a pit stop at Gooch’s Beach to watch retrievers—the unofficial dog of Kennebunkport—playfully dart in and out of the crashing waves. There’s no need to stop and smell the ubiquitous roadside rhododendrons on your ride; you’ll get a whiff of the flower’s fragrant perfume mixed in with the salty sea air as you whiz past them. Gooch’s Beach, Beach Ave at Gooch Ave, Kennebunkport, ME

2. Hike through St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery
Not that there’s much bustle in these parts to get away from, but stumbling upon this hushed estate is still a welcome, peaceful escape. A hidden path toward the back of the property trails through the woods along the bay, leading to a jaw-dropping view of the boats on the harbor from an uninhabited marsh. 28 Beach Ave, Kennebunkport, ME (207-967-2011, framon.net)

3. Eat breakfast at the Green Heron Inn
The owners of this welcoming B&B aren’t just gracious hosts; they make a kick-ass gourmet breakfast, too. The menu changes daily but always includes a fruit opener (like a velvety-thick mango smoothie) and a sweet or savory entree. You’ll be hard-pressed to choose between ordering eggs Benedict and pumpkin pancakes, but if innkeeper Dan Oswald senses your indecision, he’ll likely surprise you with both. The generous portions guarantee to leave you stuffed, but we’re sure you’ll manage to find room for the chocolate-chip cookies and other baked goodies set out for the taking every afternoon. 126 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport, ME (207-967-3315, greenheroninn.com; $140--$350 per night)

4. Listen to piano at Pier 77 Restaurant
This elegant yet casual waterfront eatery overlooking Cape Porpoise Harbor is a great place to catch the sunset. The only thing that steals the show from the dusky pink sky and the excellently prepared seafood is the pianist, who will dazzle you with everything from Lady Gaga to Kanye West on the ivories. 77 Pier Rd, Cape Porpoise, ME (207-967-8500, pier77restaurant.com)

5. Order clam chowder at the Clam Shack
Maine is rightfully known for its lobster, but there’s plenty of other fish in the sea, including clams. The bivalves are at their best in a not-too-creamy New England--style chowder, ladled from this tiny seafood shack in Dock Square. Instead of scooping up cubes of potato filler, every spoonful is chock-full of tender, chewy clams. On the bridge, Kennebunkport, ME (207-967-2560, theclamshack.net)

6. Shop at the Daytrip Society
This charming, well-edited store is stocked with everything you’d need for exploring the great outdoors, including camping gear, sturdy Sigg water bottles, Audobon bird calls and compact binoculars. The Daytrip Society would be a standout even if it weren’t surrounded by cluttered shops hawking Life Is Good tees and dog-themed paraphernalia. Between the darling letterpress stationery and colorful Orla Kiely accessories, even die-hard urbanites will be sure to score. 4 Dock Square, Kennebunkport, ME (207-967-4440, daytripsociety.com)

7. Down lobster rolls at Alisson’s
Having a lobster roll is practically required eating in Maine, and the top-loader ($17.95) at this pub-like restaurant is worth checking off your list: Chilled chunks of sweet lobster meat lightly dressed in mayo overflow from a pillowy, grilled hot dog bun. 11 Dock Square, Kennebunkport, ME (207-967-4841, alissons.com)

8. Visit the Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse
Situated on a rocky island, this quaint lighthouse is one of the most recognizable in New England. Although you can’t go inside, it’s still a neat attraction to see up close as opposed to in a calendar or on a postcard. Off Nubble Rd, Cape Neddick, ME

9. Peek at Walker’s Point
Hate ’em or loathe them, the Bush family certainly has a fan base in this conservative community, which is home to the Bush’s sprawling compound. Unless you plan on getting mauled by bodyguards, the grounds are off-limits, but check the fine view of the impressive estate from Ocean Avenue. Off Ocean Ave at Sandy Cove Rd, Kennebunkport, ME

10. Chow down at the Portland Lobster Company
Portland is just a short 40-minute drive north from Kennebunkport, so you can easily spend the day walking around the Old Port district. Let’s not kid ourselves: Vacations are largely spent eating, so grab a bib and crack open a whole lobster on the sun-dappled outdoor deck of this low-key waterfront eatery. Live music and the mere sight of your companion struggling to dig out fresh bits of lobster meat from its stubborn exoskeleton provide endless entertainment. 180 Commercial St, Portland, ME (207-775-2112, portlandlobstercompany.com)

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