By Brandon Sousa
It doesn’t get any more iconic or authentic than Kennebunkport, Maine.
Since 1653, this coastal town has become famous for its history in shipbuilding and trade. However in the early 1980s, this small town became famous for being the summer home of the United States’ 41st president George H.W. Bush and family.
The Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce invited me and seven journalists across Canada and the United States to see everything Kennebunkport has to offer.
Thanks to Ford Canada , they made sure I took the road trip down in style with an eye-catching candy apple red 2015 Mustang. Driving a Mustang is like being a part of a secret club. Other Mustang drivers wave as they drive past or stop to chat when you’re parked at a rest stop. I felt like a celebrity behind the wheel even though the car got all the attention – although a couple waitresses did smile and ask if that was my car. This classic American car was a perfect fit for such a classic American town.
I checked into The Colony Hotel, a historic landmark with a postcard view of the Atlantic Ocean. Built in 1914, this pet-friendly, vintage hotel has all the amenities you need to embrace a life of early retirement. A private beach, 18-hole putting green and breath-taking view kept me from ever wanting to leave but there was too much to see and do in town to give into those temptations.
I recommend starting off with Intown Trolley’s narrated sightseeing tour. This hour-long tour hits the eight main points of interests in the area including President Bush’s Estate, the Franciscan Monastery and Dock Square.
Now if you really want to embrace living like a local, I recommend two places over the bridge in Kennebunk: HB Provisions and Federal Jacks. HB Provisions is a warm, friendly and inviting old-fashioned general store open 365 days a year and a routine stop for First Lady Barbara Bush. Their famous breakfast sandwiches and coffee are the perfect cure for a night out at Federal Jacks. Federal Jacks (or as the locals refer to it as “Feds”) is the brew pub for Maine-craft beer Shipyard and local hotspot for the younger demographic in town. I popped in on a Tuesday night to join The Basket Weaver trivia team for a few drinks and skill-testing questions. The best part of this bar is their draft beer is directly connected to the brewery on the main floor of the building, guaranteeing the freshest craft beer in the area.
From the balcony of Federal Jacks, you have a perfect view of the Kennebunk River where local yachts and boats are docked including the Secret Service and the 41st president’s. If you’re not a sailor yourself, I suggest heading to Schooner Eleanor Sail Tour where you can enjoy a truly relaxing adventure on the water captained by Rich Woodman and his first mate and dog Hoss. It doesn’t get any better than this: http://bit.ly/1B3VwhA
Or if you’re like me and looking for a little adventure of your own, rent a kayak from Coastal Maine Kayak & Bike and hit the Kennebunk River. Talk to the guide at the shop who’ll help map out the perfect route for you to take. I highly recommend kayaking up through the Franciscan Monastery; the grounds and nature are surreal. Check it out yourself: http://bit.ly/1B0lDpX
Cap off your long day on the river with an amazing dinner at 95 Ocean in The Nonantum Resort . Get the day’s special, which for me was a beautiful prime rib (cooked perfectly bleu) on a date with a well-made Old Fashioned from their Heckman’s Pub, or better yet order what Maine does best: Lobster! Fresh from suppliers literally down the street, you can’t go wrong with lobster anywhere in Kennebunkport – from fast food to fine dining.
But really, no night is complete without a night-cap – which is why I headed to the new One Dock Prime Steakhouse . If you’re tired of all the lobster, I’d say head here for a steak done right, but the real treat is their creativity with the cocktail menu. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the classics, but their new twist on traditional cocktails will really surprise you like their Tequila Old Fashion.
Kennebunkport, Maine, is where people take Instagrams that make all their friends jealous – it’s just that beautiful of a place. There are no shortage of beautiful bed and breakfasts, activities, shops, eateries and spots to take in the natural surroundings. Pack your bags this summer because it’s only a 10-hour drive from Toronto.
Writer’s Note: This trip was sponsored by The Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce and in part by Ford Canada.
Brandon Sousa is a communications professional in his 20s who loves to meet new people. A Metroland Media Toronto paper boy as a kid, he uses traveling as a means to explore new cultures, new personalities and new adventures sharing it with insidetoronto.com Addicted to social media, he keeps a record of his journeys by tweeting every step of the way. Follow him at @brandon_sousa