Cape Porpoise Village is built around the shores of its harbor, which a cluster of large and small islands protect. On one of them stands the baby lighthouse of the coast GOAT ISLAND LIGHT.
Cape Porpoise, near the mouth of the Kennebunk River, was named by Captain John Smith, for a school of porpoises he saw there.
Established in August 1833 for $6,000. Goat Island Light was erected to help guide mariners into the sheltered harbour at Cape Porpoise, a busy fishing center for many years. A 20-foot stone tower and dwelling were built.
Favorite thing: During the last century KENNEBUNKPORT has become a popular resort area and even more so in recent years as many sightseers come to view the summer home of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush, also visited by his son President George W. Bush and his family. The town includes Cape Porpoise, the original settlement and Goose Rocks Beach. Beautiful 18th and 19th century houses line the Ocean Avenue. Goat Island Lighthouse, just out on the water from the Cape Porpoise Pier, is a favourite viewing spot.
Favorite thing: In all of the years I have been coming to Kennebunkport, I have never actually seen Mary in the flesh, but every morning she drops her wares (giant chocolate chip cookies) to all of the local markets, shops and cafe type places. It is best if you can secure a cookie in the morning, as they are the freshest then- gooey and delicious. I would say that Mary's chocolate chip cookies are right up there with the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had, so seek one out and judge for yourself.
Most of the gift shops in Kennebunkport cover a "usual" range of items. Depending on the shop, you'll see t-shirts and sweatshirts, sweaters, pottery, figurines and assorted gift items celebrating the Kennebunks.
But, look around, and you're liable to find some really "out there" stuff. I enjoy finding the odd item that is truly unique, a true conversation piece.
Fondest memory: When it comes to "odd" and "different" items, two shops stood out.
The first is "Carrots and Company", a happy kind of store that celebrates laughter and joy, in a quirky way. I have written a shopping tip on this shop, and there are a couple of photos on this website.
The second is called "All About Me". It is the last store on the "west" side of Western Avenue before the bridge into Lower Kennebunk. (Walk south away from Dock Square on Western Avenue. About 200 feet from Dock Square on the right is "All About Me") This shop had a whimsical and slightly naughty collection of figurines and little statuettes to satisfy the closet cabaret or biker freak in all of us. Check out the nifty little biker babe / "into leather" statuette below in the photo. Spend a few minutes in this store, it's worth the time. The cashier was a little "out there", too.....in a pleasant way.
There were quite a few unique cars driving in and around Kennebunkport. Being a rich and toney destination, there were the pre-requisite batch of Jaguars and Mercedes.
But, I also saw some very nice and well-preserved older autos.
Fondest memory: The two best looking cars I saw in Kennebunkport were
(1) The antique Citroen pictured below, motoring along Ocean Drive on Sunday afternoon
(2) A hot red Dodge Viper pulling into Dock Square early one morning.
Kennebunkport may be a touristy and tweedy, upper-crust kind of town, but it's very, very friendly and hospitable as well.
All the shopkeepers, waiters, innkeepers and the like seemed more than happy to spend a little time just talking with you. We were made to feel most welcome.
Fondest memory: There were so many instances of this village hospitality. The shining example of the local friendliness would have to be our innkeepers, MaryEllen and Edric Mason at the 1802 Inn. (see hotel tips, as well as the separate travelogue)
But, every shop offered another chance to meet and enjoy the locals.
As a side note, when my love-starved friend in Tallahassee saw this photo of the lovely YOUNG lady standing under a sign that read "wishes granted here", he said that he wished she were 21. : ) Please pray for my friend.....he needs it.
They take life kind of easy up in the Kennebunks. There doesn't seem to be much happening early in the morning, so unless you're planning to take a nice pre-breakfast walk in the cool Maine morning (which is actually a good idea), go ahead and sleep a while longer.
Have a leisurely breakfast at about 8:30 or so, and then head on your day's fun. There's no need to hurry.
Fondest memory: Every breakfast we had at our B&B (the 1802 Inn, see separate accomodation tip and travelogue on this establishment) was terrific.
Among the best items were the asparagus and potato fritata and the waffles with pecan-maple syrup.
This was the closest available home to the Bush compound. This little place was listed at a cool one million bucks.
Although it could use some roof work, and maybe a little more yardspace, it was only about 400 yards down the road from the entrance to the Bush compound.
If you moved in, I'm sure you could occasionally borrow a cup of seafood boil from Barbara if you were to run short.
Fondest memory: I enjoyed walking along Ocean Drive and admiring the lovely homes. Some old, some not.... but all had character.
When I win the lottery, I'm buying a home in Maine. : ) .....or maybe Vermont.
I love to eat, and I also love seafood. THE local specialties, which are good everywhere, include lobster, clams, haddock and mussels.
I also love shrimp, but they don't actually catch a lot of shrimp in the K'bunkport area, so you might want to have shrimp when you're closer to the Gulf of Mexico, where THEY'RE the best.
In Maine, do as the Maine-folk do....have yourself a lobster.
Fondest memory: All of the seafood was outstanding. But, THE best thing from the sea that I had while in the area had to be "Windows on the Water"'s Thai-style lobster. Wow.
You really should zip by the Thomas Kinkade at Ocean Winds shop. There are several limited edition copies of Mr. Kinkade's work on display and for sale.
Mr. Kinkade continues to grow in popularity, appealing to the same individuals in America who love and loved Norman Rockwell.
Fondest memory: All of the paintings on display have, of course, individual lighting controls available. I find it fascinating to see how much the look of a painting changes as the light is varied.
I don't know much about art, but I spent a very happy hour at this shop.
PLEASE BE SURE TO SEE MY "SHOPPING TIP" ABOUT THE THOMAS KINKADE SHOP. It has a photo of one of Mr. Kinkade's works, "New York City". It was one of my favorites. As you'd lower the lighting, the buildings would appear to light up, due to the presence of reflective and titanium-rich paints. Very entertaining.
Kennbunkport may be the long-time home of the Bush family. But, it's not a love-em or leave-em kind of town.
George and Barbara Bush seem to be favorites among the locals, but the village itself is quite tolerant of all points of view. Political debate is a New England tradition, right?
Fondest memory: The scene pictured below from a local bookstore kind of sums up Kennebunkport. All sides get an airing.
Like any tourist town with lots of gift shops, you'll fall into the realization that most of the shops are selling the same stuff. While this is, of course, somewhat true in Kennebunkport, it's not 100% fact.
You'll find a few things in each gift shop that nobody else seems to have. So, my advice is to wander into all of them, if you're spending an afternoon walking around the Kennebunks.
Fondest memory: As an example of what I say, I saw these little "ships in a bottle" in shop called Gibran (see shopping tip), right at Dock Square. It was the only place in town that I saw them.
There are plenty of highly rated restaurants in the Kennebunks, and you'll not have anything less than a terrific meal at any of them. In some cases, you'll pay dearly for your luxury.
However, one area that's truly amazing in the cuilinary world of Kennebunkport would be the simple "clam shacks". These places sell fresh and lightly fried seafood, fresh from the cold waters of the north Atlantic.
In addition to the expected clams, one will find lobster rolls, and a very tasty version of fish and chips featured north Atlantic haddock. In almost every case, your meal was in the drink only hours earlier, and therein lies the magic.
Fondest memory: On numerous occasions, we stepped up to a local "shack" to have a lobster roll, some chowder or.....one of my favorites.....some fried clams.
Always fresh and ready to go, every single time was wonderful.
Favorite thing: Kennebunkport is filled with tourists, but it doesn't take away from it's ambience of a layed back town, you immediately relax and wander from store-to-store with all the others. If you need a respite from shopping, hop on the buggy for a ride around the town.
Favorite thing: I wish I could see the Bush compound when I was there. But it was just too foggy. I just hung around the center of town. It had a bunch of nice little shops. Both my mother and I stopped into a shop that made its own chocolate. The chocolate was out of this world. We made the best out of a foggy day.