Summer Fun on Maine’s South Coast: Kennebunkport and York
Miles of white sand, saltwater taffy, long estuaries to explore by kayak, one of Maine’s most iconic lighthouses – what’s not to love about that stretch of shore between Kennebunkport and York?
The quartet of beach towns — Kennebunkport, Wells, Ogunquit and York — couldn’t offer more variety. Wells and York are all about families kicking back. Kennebunkport and Ogunquit are known as more high-end enclaves, although their beautiful beaches are open to all and each offers a wide range of lodging and dining choices.
Near scenic Cape Porpoise in Kennebunkport, the affordable Rhumb Line Resort caters to families, with large indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Stop at Cape Porpoise Kitchen for take-out and picnic at Cape Porpoise with views of Goat Island Light. Or head a mile or so north to Goose Rocks Beach, less known than the popular ones along Beach Avenue.
For a traditional shore dinner go to Mabel’s Lobster Claw (www.mabelslobster.com); if you’re lucky, the signature Lobster Milanese – grilled shrimp and lobster – will be on the day’s menu. On Route 1, taste craft beers at Sebago Brewing.
Get a different view of Cape Porpoise or the Kennebunk River on a guided tour with Coastal Maine Kayak and Bike in Kennebunkport or join them for paddleboard lessons or tours. They welcome all skill levels, and offer bike and scooter rentals, too.
The best beach at Wells is the four-mile stretch north of Mile Road (park on Mile Road or Atlantic Avenue). Only a mile from the beach and on the handy trolley route, Wells Beach Resort & Mini Golf has drive-through RV sites with full hook-ups, cable TV and wi-fi. There’s a big pool, an 18-hole mini-golf course, two playgrounds, a rec room and volleyball, basketball and bocce courts.
The 220 grassy sites at Sea-Vu Campground include shaded tent sites as well as RV sites with full hook-ups, TV and wi-fi. Everyone loves the setting overlooking the ocean, and families appreciate the large pool and mini-golf course, as well as the trolley stop at the front gate for car-free beach access. Sister campgrounds of Sea-Vu West and Sea-Vu South are nearby. Sea-Vu West offers spacious sites with full-hookups, WiFi and cable, a pool and kiddie pool, recreational facilities, and is on the trolley route.
If camping’s not your style, Sea Mist Motel on Route 1 is reasonably priced and has in-room kitchenettes and an indoor pool. A bit more upscale are the condo suites at Misty Harbor Resort on Mile Road.
Experience a different coastal environment at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge on Route 9. A mile-long interpretive trail winds through a coastal forest and along tidal marshes where sightings of heron, egrets and sea birds are common. Just across a tidal creek, the Wells Reserve at Laudholm has seven miles of walking trails.
The Maine Diner on Route 1 in Wells is no secret: for more than 30 years it’s been serving fried clams, chowder, blueberry pie and all the other Maine coast favorites: Get more suggestions of things to do at the Wells Chamber of Commerce visitor center.
Don’t think all the fun is within sight of the sea.
Head inland to Sanford to find Mountain View Golf Range, a family-friendly center with mini-golf, a driving range and batting cages.
York is a family favorite, not only for its beaches (descriptively named Long and Short Sands), but for Maine’s most iconic lighthouse, Nubble Light at Cape Neddick. Add The Golden Rod, famed for over a century for its saltwater taffy, and New England’s only zoo/amusement park at York’s Wild Kingdom,
and you have a winner.
You can’t camp closer to the beach than at Libby’s Oceanside Camping in York Harbor, overlooking the mile-and-a-half Long Sands. Owned by the third generation of the family that founded it in 1923, Libby’s offers full hook-ups, TV and free wi-fi, but best of all are the ocean views from nearly every site, and direct beach access.
— Text: Bobbie Randolph
Bobbie writes about her favorite Maine experiences, from camping and kayaking to skiing and dogsledding.