Some of my formative summer seasons were spent in Rhode Island and since Block Island and Newport were within close driving (or ferry) distance, it never occurred to our family to visit Kennebunkport too. Well, during all those summers, we were definitely missing out!
My husband and I were invited up for a friend’s wedding and after a short 1 ½ hour drive from Boston, we found ourselves on a relatively deserted Middle Beach (in Kennebunk) alongside some other families with young children who were very excited to find snails that were hiding – but really hunkering down in the rocky shore – and awaiting the next high tide.
As we strolled through Kennebunkport and saw children on bicycles dashing by and old friends saying hello, it surprised us how few people there were in the middle of August – until we realized that this was the way summer getaways were supposed to be. They are supposed to be full of charm and quaintness as well as be crowd-free!
It is the simple pleasures of summer – getting an ice cream at Rococo or a whoopee pie at Chase Hill Bakery, biking along the path on Ocean Avenue, having a meal with a view at Pier 77, taking an ecotour paddling trip along Cape Porpoise to check out the Goat Island Lighthouse and the indigenous marine life – that epitomize pure family fun.
But, the real treat was staying at Nonantum Resort. Since 1884, this resort, which has been certified by the State of Maine as an Environmental Leader for is sustainability practices, has welcomed guests by offering locally sourced food, wine & jazz dinners, kid’s programs, fishing charters and sailing cruises directly from their own dock, shuffleboard and a heated swimming pool. Nonantum is relatively easy to reach by train and the gardens of the resort are peaceful and (of course) environmentally conscious in their care methods.
One unusual aspect of this resort is its Green Room Project which over the years, has invited a group of local 8th grade students to experience a real-life lesson in budgeting and interior design by providing them with a $5000 budget to redecorate a hotel room using only environmentally friendly artistic and decorating techniques. The project is so successful that there are plans for it to continue until all guest rooms have been redecorated.
Our corner room within the original inn that was the home of Captain Henry Heckman (Carriage House Inn) was very comfortable and spacious, and had a great view of Kennebunk River. Perhaps it was the humidity or the salty air, but we woke up each morning quite ready for breakfast which consisted of unusual items such as coconut blueberry pancakes or the more typical made-to-order omelets alongside fresh pastries and fruit. A nice touch was that all guests were personally greeted by the manager who stopped by each table to ensure everyone’s stay was pleasant and to offer suggestions for enjoying the day.
Three very relaxing days later, it was time to depart our newly found gem of a summer getaway. We’ll be back and I invite you to check out Kennebunkport for yourself. But remember, don’t tell anyone else lest it becomes crowded!
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