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Albuquerque, NM

Among many other things, the American Southwest is famous for its adventure, its spirit of fun, and its beautiful scenery. Nowhere do all these things come together like on a family vacation in Albuquerque, New Mexico...

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Kennebunkport, ME

Kennebunkport is located along the Kennebunk River York County, ME, about one mile from the river’s mouth. Historically a shipbuilding and fishing village, for well over a century the town has been a popular seaside tourist destination.

Kennebunkport has a small district of souvenir shops, art galleries, seafood restaurants, and lodging. Many large seaside estates along Ocean Avenue draw wealthy people from across the Northeast to vacation in the summer months. Kennebunkport is a frequent stop for tour buses showing visitors New England’s colorful fall foliage. Famous residents include Pulitzer Prize winning author Booth Tarkington and the family of Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush.

On both sides of the river, historic waterfront buildings showcase fine gift shops, clothing and jewelry boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Walk through the shopping village of Dock Square, ride bikes around the fishing harbor of Cape Porpoise, or take a trolley around town to visit boutiques and restaurants. Driving the coast is a great way to visit antique shops, famous lighthouses, golf courses, and amusement parks. Whatever your pleasure, Kennebunkport offers classic Maine coastline, beaches and boating for sea lovers, shopping from art galleries to outlets, and waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood in all seasons.

History

Thousands of years ago, Native Americans made seasonal hunting trips to the Kennebunk Plains, and the name “Kennebunk” is believed to be an Indian word meaning “long cut bank”. In the early 1600’s, Europeans explored the Kennebunk River, and by the 1620’s, early settlers built sawmills along the rivers.

Shipbuilding continued into the early 20th century, making the area’s shipbuilders, merchants and sea captains wealthy men. Their prosperity is evident in the beautiful mansions along Summer Street. As shipbuilding was waning in the early 1800’s, new industries were already flourishing along the Mousam River, water-powered factories that made cotton, thread, twine, shoes and even trunks.

By 1872, the Boston & Maine Railroad was carrying a new cargo on the three-hour trip to and from Boston: tourists. Just as today, tourists came to this “watering place” to swim in the ocean, canoe on the rivers and enjoy the simple elegance of the towns. That same year, the Kennebunkport Seashore Company bought more than 700 acres along five miles of coastline to create the ideal vacation spot. The group of “cottages” that started going up at Cape Arundel in 1874 represents one of the finest examples of a turn-of-the-century colonial in Maine.

The number of large hotels dwindled with the increasing popularity of the automobile and the opening of the Maine Turnpike. Vacationers now could come and go on their own schedules, and soon extended stays became weekend visits or daytrips. Those changes led to the profusion of charming inns, B&Bs, and tourist cabins for which the Kennebunks are famous. Kennebunkport has maintained its “old Maine” charm with scores of historical buildings on lovely elm-lined streets. Few destinations offer visitors the opportunity to experience hundreds of years of America’s past in one intimate town.

Maine's Cuisine

Just the mention of Maine conjures up images of meaty lobster dipped in melted butter, fried clams, hearty fish chowders, plump shrimp with cocktail sauce, soft scallops and much more. The local produce is booming with fresh produce in demand and local farmer's markets becoming increasingly popular. All sorts of specialty foods, microbrews, and beverages, often made by small businesses or even in home kitchens, are winning national and regional awards. And foragers are finding an array of wild edibles that offer new taste sensations to adventurous eaters.

Millions of people visit Maine each year to enjoy the state's rugged beauty and indulge in the legendary seafood at restaurants where lobstermen and fishermen bring their fresh catch daily. The bet part, you don't have to spend a fortune or go someplace special to find fantastic food!

Museums and Sights

The local Historical Society has a collection of buildings and displays that trace the evolution of the town from its origins as a booming ship building and marine trade port to one of the wealthiest towns in New England. In addition to the exhibits and historic buildings that make up the Society’s center, an hour-long walking tour of the town starts at The Nott House in the heart of the village. A guided tour of the Nott House itself gives an intimate view of life in Victorian times. The home is uniquely authentic in that all the carpets, furnishings, wallpaper, and artifacts are original to the house.

In a block of 19th century buildings in the heart of Kennebunk’s historic district, The Brick Store Museum preserves and presents the rich culture, history and arts of the Kennebunks through year-round exhibitions, public programs and educational opportunities. Research archives features maps, prints, photographs and genealogical materials.

The Phyllis A Maritime Heritage Association offers a historical exhibit of an eastern rigged fill netter built at the Warner Shipyard in 1925. The Phyllis A includes an exhibit of boatbuilding tools, artifacts, photo & documents related to the vessel and the Warner Shipyard. Visitors are welcome onboard, and admission is free. The Phyllis A vessel is now the site of the Arundel Wharf Restaurant, returned to the Kennebunk River where she was built in 1925. The restaurant is open to the public from mid-May to mid-October.

Kennebunkport For Kids

The Seashore Trolley Museum has 250 trolleys and offers a 3.5-mile ride through woods and fields on a restored trolley. Kids can also tour Russell Acres, a working farm, take a wagon ride at Rockin Horse Stables or enjoy a tour of Tom's of Maine, where natural healthcare products such as toothpaste are made.

Families may enjoy a day at Funtown Splashtown USA or a step back in time at the Strawberry Banke Museum (a private, not-for-profit educational institution accredited by the American Association of museums, listed on the national Register of Historic Places). The staff conducts educational programs for all audiences and ages, as well as continuously caring for and researching the museum's collections. Information is provided by Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association, the Heartwood Collage of Art and River Tree Arts. More active pursuits include tumbling at Kennebunk Gymnastics, a riding lesson at Bush Brook Stables, or a canoe or kayak ride down the Kennebunk River.

The whole family might enjoy boat excursions or a day at Mother's Beach running in the shallows, building sand castles or just relaxing. During July, enjoy the Annual Picnic and Concert on the Green. On the 4th of July, at dusk, thrill to fireworks shot off at Kennebunk Beach. Kennebunk's Annual Teddy Bear Show is in August. The show features exhibitors from as far away as California and appeals to the child in all of us.

If you are here during the winter, take a ringside seat and root for the Portland Pirates Hockey Team. If it's baseball season, catch the Portland Sea Dogs in action, one of the most talked about AA baseball teams.

If you are interested in fields, woods, and wetlands, and the birds and animals that inhabit them, the Kennebunk area has some fascinating places for you to visit.

Farm

The Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm preserves 1600 acres of salt marsh, sand dune, mixed forest, and grassy uplands along the southern Maine coast. The spectacular scenery and historic farm buildings, along with 7 miles of walking trails and myriad programs and events, draw thousands of people every year. The Reserve is open all year, with peak activity from June through August. The summer calendar is filled with tours and workshops and special programs that let children explore the estuary. Bird life gets special attention with walks, surveys, and a banding program. Hundreds of dedicated volunteers assist in running theses many programs. For three weeks each summer the Reserve hosts “Volunteers for Peace,” whereby people from around the world strive to improve the human condition through shared work camps. The weekend after Labor day is when the well known Laudholm Nature Crafts Festival is held. With about 75 exhibitors, music, children's activities, and guided tours, it is a must in your travel plans.

Within the Wells Reserve is the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. It is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, private donations, and competitive grants. Trails are open from 8am to 8pm in the summer and 8am to 5pm the rest of the year. The Visitor Center with Gift Shop is open in summer from 10am to 4pm and reduced hours in fall and winter. Call (207) 646-1555 for more details or visit www.wellsreserve.org.

The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

This Wildlife Refuge protects coastal salt marshes for wildlife in Kennebunk and other communities in southern Maine. A one-mile, accessible, self-guided trail is located at the refuge headquarters on Route 9 in Wells. It is open every day from dawn until dusk. The headquarters, where leaflets and information are available, is open from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm Monday through Friday; limited hours on weekends in the summer. 207-646-9226 (TDD/Voice: 1-800-437-1220).

The Kennebunk Plains

The Kennebunk Plains, on Route 99 several miles west of Kennebunk, are a rare treat. This 1100-acre protected grasslands habitat is unusual in a state that is so forested and hilly; it is home to several rare and endangered species of vegetation and wildlife. Also know as the “blueberry plains” by locals, it is a wonderful, wide open place to walk or mountain bike. The roads take you through vast grasslands, scrub oak woods and by ponds. It’s a favored place for birdwatchers, with dozens of species living here, including rare grassland nesting birds such as the grasshopper sparrow. Nature lovers will enjoy identifying the native bunching grasses and flowers; a special treat arrives in early August, when the extremely rare northern blazing star begins to bloom, painting the fields purple. Ninety percent of the world’s northern blazing star population is found here. The plains are also special in July, when the wild blueberries are ready for picking. Few things are as sweet a wild Maine blueberry. The Plains are monitored by the Nature Conservancy; every year, along with the Kennebunk Conservation Commission, they sponsor community field trips in mid-August. FMI call: (207) 490-4012.

St. Anthony's Franciscan Monastery

In 1947 Lithuanian Franciscan Friars, fleeing war ravaged Europe, acquired the 66 acre Rogers Estate located at 28 Beach Avenue, Kennebunk, Maine, 4/10 mile to both Kennebunk Beach and the village of Kennebunkport. This estate located on the banks of the Kennebunk River was designed by Buffalo, New York architects Edward Broadhead Green and William Sydney Wicks for completion in 1908. "Fairfields" as it was called, was the most distinguished on the Atlantic Coast, featuring extensive grounds landscaped in the English garden tradition by Frederick Law Olmsted and Associates. The Friars, providing daily masses, occupy the handsome Tudor great house and the well-tended gardens and trails open to the public sunrise to sunset. Self-guided Ecological and Shrine tour brochures are available. No pets are allowed on the property. Public restrooms are available. Call 207-967-2011 or visit the Monastery or Franciscan Guest House for more details.

Village Walks

If you're interested in history and architecture, the Kennebunks offer a number of interesting and educational walking tours.
The Kennebunkport Historical Society publishes an excellent brochure detailing three different village tours ranging from less than a mile to 1 1/2 miles and lasting between one and 1 1/4 hours.

Bike Tours

Scenic coastal views, rural back roads and friendly motorists make cycling in the Kennebunks a must do activity. The area is relatively flat and points of interest are easily accessible by bicycle. Whether you bring your own bike or rent one from one of the local bike shops, take some time out to relax on a bike. Here are some beautiful rides, sure to please beginners and expert bike riders alike.

Ocean Avenue and Cape Porpoise (8 Miles)

Definitely bring your camera on this ride. Head out of Dock Square on Ocean Ave with the water on your right. Ocean Ave. is heavily traveled so families with young children may want to take another route. You will be riding parallel to the Kennebunk River and will see it empty into the Atlantic. Some classic coastal Maine homes are on either side of the road on the way to the Bush residence. Bear right at the Wildes District Fire Station and stay on Wildes District road all the way into Cape Porpoise. Here you will find a working fishing village with great vistas and traditional Maine fare. When you have had enough lobster, hop on your bike and backtrack your route back into town.

Goose Rocks Beach (11 Miles)

From Dock square take North Street to Arundel Rd. Follow Arundel Rd. past the horse farm and take a right on to Goose Rocks Road. Ride Goose Rocks Road to the end and go straight across Rt. 9. At the end of the Dyke Road you will find the pristine Goose Rocks Beach. There are many tide pools and rocks to play on. If you get lucky you might see one of the many families of seals at Goose Rocks. This ideal family destination usually has very limited parking, but you won’t have that problem with a bike. This also happens to be the ride with the least amount of traffic. When it’s time to return follow the same roads back to town.

Kennebunk Beach (7 Miles)

If you want to ride for an hour or so this one is right route for you. From Dock Square go up the hill to the traffic light and take a left onto Beach Ave. After a couple minutes you will see the Monastery. A walk on the grounds is well worth the time spent. Please lock your bike when you enter, as bike riding is not allowed in the Monastery grounds. Continue down towards the beach by taking a left out of the Monastery back onto Beach Ave. Kennebunk beach is now straight ahead about 1 mile. Follow the ocean for the next two miles. Where the road heads away from the ocean you will see Great Hill Road on the left. This dead end road borders the Mousam River and houses some beautiful homes. After you turn around take a left on to Boothby Road. This connects to Route 9 and will bring you back into the Port. You will be on Route 9 for only a short time. This ride is good for adults and parents with children over about 9 years of age. The beach makes a nice rest stop and picnic lunch location. There is slow moving traffic all the way but there are also some wide shoulders to ride on.

Mountain Bike Tours

There is some phenomenal mountain biking in the area. However, trails are difficult to find, often cross private land and are not marked. Your best bet is to go on one of the daily group rides held at a local bike shop or hire a local guide for a tour. The area offers fast technical and challenging terrain as well as some scenic easier off road trails. If you do want to go by yourself here are a few places that are close by and are relatively easy to find. Most people in the area will be able to give you directions.

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Featured Property

The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel
Dixville Notch, NH
United States

Realize the full Balsams experience, offering guests fine dining, inviting accommodations, a Donald Ross golf course and unlimited access to our 8,000 acre property.

The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel

Contact Information

1000 Cold Spring Road
Dixville Notch, New Hampshire  03576
United States
603-255-3400
Toll Free Reservations:
800-255-0600
Fax: 603-255-4221
General Manager:
Jeffrey McIver
Email:
info@thebalsams.com
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