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Great Fall Getaway: Portsmouth, NH
Here in the Northeast, we’re already noticing the shadows getting longer, the nights cooler, and, of course, the kids are getting ready to head back to school. But rather than mourn summer’s end, we’re getting psyched for… you got it… leaf-peeping season! My wife and I just got back from a weekend “escape from New York” to one of our favorite New England destinations, and I realized that Budget Travelers need to know: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, belongs on your autumn to-do list. We loved our stay at The Port Inn, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member, part of the Choice Hotels International family (late October weekday stays from $149/night, 505 U.S. Highway 1 Bypass, Portsmouth, NH 03801, 603-436-4378, portinnportsmouth.com), and it’s really an ideal base of operations for enjoying peak foliage season on the New Hampshire coast (approximately late October to early November). The Port Inn is one of the longest-operating lodgings in the Portsmouth area, combining the homey welcome of a family-run hotel with beautifully appointed furniture and fixtures thanks to a recent renovation. Waking up to the delicious complimentary hot breakfast (including excellent, locally roasted White Heron coffee) felt downright indulgent. We really enjoyed exploring Portsmouth’s downtown, which includes cobblestone streets and a historic wharf and must-sees like the John Paul Jones House, the preserved colonial buildings at Strawberry Banke, and the exceptional Riverrun bookstore. We’re also big fans of Portsmouth’s Flatbread Pizza, where you can watch your meal cook in an open wood-fire oven, and New Hampshire’s short-but-sweet 18 miles of coastline, especially Odiorne Point State Park and its kid-friendly Seacoast Science Center. In fall, don’t miss the Inland River & Fall Foliage Cruise for a unique way to experience the vibrant New England colors. Portsmouth's Port Inn was such a good experience, I looked into other Ascend Hotel Collection properties, which manage to combine an upscale lodging experience with authentic local flavor (not always easy to do) in prime leaf-peeping territory: They include the Hotel North Woods, Lake Placid, NY; and the Port Inn, Kennebunk, Maine. Happy autumn!
12 Things To Do In Kennebunk & Kennebunkport, Maine
Although Maine is considered to be more of a summer destination, there are still plenty of activities going on year round, even as colder temperatures rush in—there’s even a popular holiday celebration in Kennebunkport called Christmas Prelude every December. Though shops and restaurants in Kennebunk and its neighbor, Kennebunkport, may close down for the season or reduce their business hours, day-to-day offerings within both locations keep the pace going. Consider this your go-to bucket list for visiting these two towns along Maine's southern coast. Take a cooking class Started by the Kennebunkport Resort Collection in February 2015, Table Maine is a weekend culinary program of classes led by local chefs, offering kitchen techniques on food and beverage subjects (like mixology) or preparing meat and seafood dishes. Coursework includes viewing cooking demonstrations, hands-on lessons, and even local restaurants putting on tasty “pop up” dinners. Treat yourself to breakfast at Boulangerie In Kennebunk, this village bakery produces artisanal breads, croissants, baguettes, focaccia, sticky buns, meat pies, and other flour-based delights. The location is very rustic—a barn dating back to the 1900s—with indoor and outdoor seating for plopping down and savoring a breakfast treat or afternoon snack. Stop by the Wedding Cake House Referred to as the most photographed house in Maine, this Gothic style home off Route 35 in Kennebunk is literally eye candy. According to local legend, this bright yellow house with white trim was built by a sea captain as a wedding gift for his bride. Today this place is privately owned, but most people might stop by to catch a glimpse or snap a quick photo (104 Summer Street, officially called the George W. Bourne House in Kennebunk). Go for a bike ride Kennebunkport is known for having the best places to trek to on two wheels, whether you prefer to peddle alongside the water, through town, or on a nature trail—Ocean Avenue takes you on a scenic route with views of the sea, beaches, restaurants, and summer homes, like presidential Bush family’s compound at Walker’s Point. Serious mountain bikers should consider heading to the Edwin L. Smith Preserve of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, which has acquired and preserved various natural areas and trails. Not bringing your own bike? Rent your wheels from Kennebunkport Bicycle on Arundel Road. Hunt for antiques along Route 1 The Maine Antique Trail (aka. Route 1 in Southern Maine) doubles as a map for 42 miles full of more than 50 antique stores, where rare a treasure trove of rare finds, hidden surprises, and one-of-a-kind items can be discovered. Kennebunk contains a few, including Armada Antiques & Collectibles. Located in Kennebunk’s Lower Village, the shelves and display cases inside this two-level building feature old-fashioned dinnerware, books and periodicals, sports memorabilia, and an assortment of relics from another era. Taste New England favorites at Salt & Honey In Kennebunkport’s Dock Square, Salt & Honey has been dishing out comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner since it opened in May 2014. Its ever-changing menu offers staple dishes and New England favorites, featuring ingredients like Maine lobster and blueberries. Try my favorite, the fish and chips combo with a finely breaded North Atlantic haddock. Get back to nature Just about a 10-minute ride from Kennebunkport, the town of Wells has two nature reserves that are best seen on foot. The Wells Reserve at Laudholm has a network of trails that allow for strolling along the different habitats through a protected coastal ecosystem. Open year-round, trails run easy to moderate and, for the most part, are self-guided. An admission fee is charged from Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day. Not far from Wells Reserve, the Rachel Carlson Wildlife Refuge has designated visitor use areas that enable the public to do activities such as kayaking or viewing wildlife. Have lunch at Duffy’s Tavern & Grill With one location stationed in Kennebunk’s historic Lafayette Center, Duffy's Tavern & Grill offers great pub fare. The venue serves up American food for patrons of all ages: burgers, salads, apps, and wings, plus gluten-free some options, in a family-friendly, casual scene. Shop at H.B. Provisions At this general store and deli, also in Kennebunk, pick up a souvenir or order a sandwich, specialty wrap, burger, or panini. There’s table space for sitting down and just watching the shop work, or you can grab some groceries—check out the walls for photos of famous shoppers who have stopped by over the years. Learn about Kennebunk’s history Said to be one of the few U.S. museums to open during the Great Depression, the Brick Store Museum in the center of Kennebunk serves as an arts institution, historic site, and archives center. It is comprised of three buildings dating back to various periods in the 1800s—inside, rotating exhibitions highlight the town’s legacy through its residents and locations. Do dinner at The Ramp Bar & Grill Under Pier 77, in Kennebunkport’s Porpoise Harbor, the tiny yet lively waterside Ramp Bar & Grill has both a local and tourist following. What you’ll notice first are the football helmets hanging above the bar, but the lunch and dinner servings run the gamut from New England seafood favorites and finger foods to more fork-required dishes like traditional penne Bolognese and a Greek meze. Tour the Shipyard Brewing Company at Federal Jack’s At this eatery in Kennebunkport Harbor, Shipyard brewed its first craft beer in 1992. Although the main plant is now in Portland, Maine, visitors can still see and learn more about Shipyard on tours at this location in the same building as Federal Jack’s. A seven-barrel system uses state-of-the-art technology to produce house and seasonal ales, plus stouts and IPAs, and keeps its upstairs pub neighbor supplied with continuous suds.
More Places to go
Ogunquit ( oh-GUN-kwit) is a town in York County, Maine. As of the 2010 census, its population was 892. The summer resort's name means "beautiful place by the sea" in the Abenaki Native American language. Ogunquit is part of the Portland–South Portland–Biddeford, Maine Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach is a town and census-designated place (CDP) in York County, Maine, United States. The population was 8,624 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Portland−South Portland−Biddeford, Maine Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located on the inner side of Saco Bay on the Atlantic Ocean, the town is a popular summer beach destination. The downtown contains many tourist-oriented businesses, including clam shacks and T-shirt shops. A wooden pier on the beach contains many other tourist businesses, including a variety of souvenir shops. The seven mile (11 km) long beach actually covers three different towns (Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, and Saco, north to south), and is lined with many beach residential properties, condominiums, motels and bed and breakfasts.
York is a town in York County, Maine, United States, near the southern tip of the state. The population in the 2010 census was 12,529. Situated beside the Atlantic Ocean on the Gulf of Maine, York is a well-known summer resort town. It is home to three 18-hole golf clubs, four sandy beaches, and Mount Agamenticus. It includes the villages of York Village, York Harbor, York Beach and Cape Neddick. York is part of the Portland–South Portland–Biddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area.
Portland is the largest city in the U.S. state of Maine and the seat of Cumberland County. Portland's population was 66,215 in 2019. The Greater Portland metropolitan area is home to over half a million people, the 105th-largest metropolitan area in the United States. Portland's economy relies mostly on the service sector and tourism. The Old Port district is known for its 19th-century architecture and nightlife. Marine industry still plays an important role in the city's economy, with an active waterfront that supports fishing and commercial shipping. The Port of Portland is the second-largest tonnage seaport in New England.The city seal depicts a phoenix rising from ashes, a reference to recovery from four devastating fires. Portland was named after the English Isle of Portland, Dorset. In turn, the city of Portland, Oregon was named after Portland, Maine. The word Portland is derived from the Old English word Portlanda, which means "land surrounding a harbor".