Boston Traveler: The Kennebunks, Maine

Glamping, live music, and next-level seafood: This is August on Vacationland’s newly hip southern shores.

Sun and sand on Goose Rocks Beach. / Photo by Robert Dennis


Leave early or late to avoid gridlock on the hour-and-a-half drive north—or ditch the summer traffic altogether and book a ticket on Amtrak’s Downeaster, which runs regularly from North Station to Wells, Maine. From there, it’s a quick 15-minute cab ride to downtown Kennebunk.


Even the most reluctant camper will enjoy a night “glamping” at Sandy Pines Campground, about 5 miles from Kennebunkport. Its designer-decorated tents provide the comfort of a four-star hotel, with far more whimsy (think: Turkish towels, king-size beds, and dramatic chandeliers).

A glamping tent at Sandy Pines Campground. / Courtesy photo


Hidden in plain sight on the second level of the Union Square Shops in Dock Square, Salt & Honey is beloved by locals and summer visitors alike for its hearty, locally sourced, and always delicious takes on the most important meal of the day. Dishes such as braised short-rib hash and a French toast bake with peach butter are hearty fuel for a bike tour of the idyllic coastal landscape: After renting wheels at Coastal Maine Kayak and Bike, pedal along Ocean Avenue out to Walker’s Point, where you can ogle the Bush family’s summer compound. Of course, no visit to the Kennebunks is complete without a stop at the beach: Goose Rocks, north of Cape Porpoise, boasts 3 miles of smooth sand.


Head back into town for cocktail hour at Maine Mead Works’ recently opened tasting room, which reintroduces the ancient fermented-honey elixir to modern tipplers. Then it’s time for (what else?) seafood: After operating Pearl Oyster Bar in New York City for 20 years, last year esteemed chef Rebecca Charles opened a second location in the town where she and her family have summered for decades. Standouts include the smoked-Atlantic-salmon johnnycake—and, yes, the exceptional lobster roll. Spend the rest of the evening rocking out at the Vinegar Hill Music Theatre, which showcases both regional and national acts in a restored barn with exposed wooden beams, then swing by Old Vines Wine Bar’s fireside patio for a creative nightcap.