Driving along the I-95 in New Hampshire, you will cross a bridge and enter the beautiful state of Maine. A small green sign discretely lets you know, you’ve arrived in Vactionland.
It has become a small tradition for my parents, sisters, and significant others to make an annual pilgrimage to this lovely state for a week of lobster eating, beaching, shopping, rest, and time together. I just got home over the weekend and have been slowly returning to the real world – but wanted to pause and share some treasures from my time there. (Sidebar: Is it possible that every person, at some point in their life, has a desire to become a travel journalist or work in some field that allows them to travel copiously? I definitely had this dream in my younger years, but more recently learned that I wouldn’t want to travel full time; it turns out that I am not a huge fan of flying.)
We rent a house steps from the beach near the very charming town of Kennebunkport. The beaches are absolutely gorgeous. There are many to choose from: Fortune’s Rock, Goose Rocks, Biddeford Pool, and many more that I haven’t even had the chance to visit. While the water is very cold this late in the season, we usually get some hot and sunny days, on which we dig into the sand with some blankets, beach chairs, bocce balls, and Scrabble.
Lobster is a must, obviously. We’ve got some Maritime blood in us, so we’re all huge fans of lobster, either freshly caught and cooked or in a classic lobster roll. There are countless delicious places to eat and I could probably go on for quite some time about each and every dish that I’ve tried (either myself or picking off my family’s plates), but I might start drooling all over my keyboard, so I’ll just give a few highlights.
Nunan’s: Literally a lobster shack, with the freshest and tastiest lobsters out there. I hear that there are huge lines to get in during the high season in the middle of the summer, because it is THAT good. They serve the lobsters on a tin tray with a small bag of chips, a dinner bun with butter, and some pickles – and lobster bibs, you will need them!
Federal Jack’s: Overlooking the water in the heart of Kennebunk, the men in my life love this place for the large variety of draft beers, made on site. They usually enjoy pub snacks and a few cold ones while the girls enjoy the many adorable shops in town. We’re always wowed by the special patrons who have a beer mug on the wall, put aside just for them – we don’t know much about this mug club, but the guys want in one day!
The Ramp: A new favorite in our family, one of the best things (besides the mouth-watering menu) about this place is waiting for your table. The restaurant is quite tiny, but well worth the wait – especially since you can grab a drink on their patio and watch the sun set over a multitude of rainbow colored fishing boats and houses. We love the menu because there’s something for everyone, especially those who don’t adore seafood.
Tides Beach Club: This is a lovely old hotel across the street from the beach, updated with a really modern, relaxed beach vibe. Their menu features ingredients sourced from local farmers, and the cocktails are really fantastic. On our last night before heading home, we enjoyed drinks on the patio ahead of our small feast in the dining room.
Cape Porpoise Kitchen: We can never resist visiting the Cape Porpoise Kitchen at least a handful of times – they craft gourmet sandwiches that are always wrapped up perfectly for a picnic on the beach. “Great food to go” is their slogan, and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. In addition to the sandwiches (that we can never get enough of), they have beautiful salads and catering. They also sell amazing dips, chips, crackers, cheeses, cooking sauces, wines, and so much more…how I wish I had stocked up before I came home!
The above shot is back home in my kitchen. We always grab sandwiches for the road on our drive home, which we eat glumly as we cruise through the mountains of Vermont. It is never easy to leave Vacationland, after all.