Kennebunkport, Maine is only two and a half hours from Providence, but it feels like a world away. The coastal town is best known as the summer playground of the Bush clan, but there’s so much more to this under-the-radar gem than just being a presidential pastime.
While there are plenty of grand old hotels in this seaside community, the Cottages at Cabot Cove are a chic, modern hideaway. Each cottage has been decorated by a different interior designer, creating a cozy atmosphere that feels like it belongs in a glossy magazine. We walked into the Sunset cottage, decorated in a polished coral and blue nautical theme, and were surprised at how well-appointed the place was: a full kitchen with wine glasses at the ready, a spacious living room and separate bedroom, a porch with two rocking chairs… there was even a plate of chocolate-covered strawberries waiting for us for us.
On a gorgeous Saturday in Maine, the first order of business is getting to the ocean. After checking in, we headed to the Nonantum Resort, where the Pineapple Ketch is moored. Our two-hour afternoon sail took us out into open water for an unforgettable view of the Kennebunkport coast, and then brought us in as close as possible to the Bush compound. No presidents were on view for the day, but Captain John Martin had enough stories about them that we didn’t really feel like we were missing out on anything.
The really nice part about staying with the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, which owns the Cottages we stayed at, is how guests can share resources across properties. We relaxed poolside and sipped palomas at the pool bar at The Lounge, a more family-oriented hotel next door, before heading to another KRC property, The Cape Arundel Inn, for dinner.
We expected a nice view at Ocean, but we didn’t know we’d see such a gorgeous expanse of the Atlantic from our dinner table. As the sun set, our focus shifted from the scenery to course after course of gourmet cuisine by Chef Pierre Gignac. My companion started with Lobster Thermidor, with artichokes, king trumpets, English mustard cream and parmesan gratin, and I had Sea Scallops with sauce “vierge,” tomato confit, capers, boquerones, preserved lemons and dill. For our entrees, he had the Sirloin with a foie gras emulsion, black summer truffle, garden ratatouille and garlic confit fingerlings, and I had Poached Lobster with caramelized cauliflower, pearl vegetables, coral butter, potato croustilles and chervil. The blend of classical French technique with a Maine locavore sensibility still has my mouth watering.
Even on a cloudy Sunday morning, you can't be on the Maine coast and not go to the beach. We spent the morning strolling picturesque Kennebunk Beach, talking to the parents of young surfers and collecting seashells. Charter sailboats glad it by in the distance, and it was really the perfect vista for soaking in the last bits of a New England summer.
In search of lunch, we headed into the retail part of Kennebunkport, which is really just a collection of lovely little shops. There are places to get ice cream, to buy souvenirs, even to get a fried lobster tail on a stick. Port Road and Western Avenue are the best for strolling and shopping. Take in some art at the Maine Art Gallery, stop for a glass of wine at Old Vines Wine Bar… you get the idea. We couldn’t resist stopping in at Federal Jack’s, a portside brewpub that’s the birthplace of Shipyard Brewing Company, for a pint before heading home.