36 Hours in Kennebunkport

July 20, 2009 by seoworks  
Filed under Kennebunkport News & Views

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July 2005 36 Hours in Kennebunkport

There’s more to Kennebunkport than pricey shops and hordes of George and Barbara Bush watchers gawking through binoculars at their Walker’s Point compound.

Exploring by foot, bike and boat reveals this old coastal town’s enduring charms. It has been a seasonal destination since the end of the last Ice Age, when Indians fished there and hunted on coastal plains. Europeans later fished the region’s rich waters, and the area was incorporated by Massachusetts as Cape Porpus in 1653. In the early 1800’s, shipbuilding boomed on the Kennebunk River, and by the late 1800’s, well-heeled summer people were building grand cottages along Ocean Avenue. Their descendants tend to keep to themselves, but you can occasionally glimpse them as they dismount large S.U.V.’s for an early morning tennis match or a round of golf.

1) Drinks, Roses and Sea Spray 4 p.m.
What better way to get into the Kennebunkport mood than by having a late-afternoon gin and tonic? You can order one at the venerable Colony Hotel (140 Ocean Avenue, 207-967-3331), a sprawling, white early 20th-century affair, and stake out a table on the poolside terrace to savor the breeze, the perennial beds and the sweeping views of ocean. Afterward, skip stones on Colony Beach and watch fishermen on the jetty. Then wander down Ocean Avenue, which follows the Kennebunk River and winds around the rocky shore, where wild rugosa roses bloom in profusion above crashing surf. If wind and tide are right, look for spectacular plumes of sea spray at Blowing Cave and Spouting Rock.

2) A Fancy Fish Shack 7 p.m.
Stripers Waterside Restaurant – at the Breakwater Inn & Hotel (131-133 Ocean Avenue, 207-967-5333) and formerly called Stripers Fish Shack – serves seafood so fresh it doesn’t need to be sauced to death. Start with a Pimm’s Cup No. 1 ($6.50) and a half-dozen oysters (market price) and proceed to a grilled halibut steak ($22.50) served with “mushy peas” (fresh peas lightly mashed with cream and mint) and Stripers fries. With windows that overlook the Atlantic and the Kennebunk River, and a well-groomed crowd in khakis, it feels more like a nice sun porch than a shack.

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