Since Maine is called “Vacationland”, one might think that the state shuts down during the low season (from November to April). In fact, the Kennebunks during the winter season are actually a well-kept “secret getaway” and those who choose to visit this town, best known as a summer destination, in quieter times are in for much more than a discounted rate on accommodations.
Snowy beaches and icy boardwalks offer a serene setting for quiet, romantic and unforgettable winter walks (for example, the famous Marginal way is open year-round). While most of the tourist activities, accommodations and restaurants are closed until Easter, it is still very nice to enjoy the area while it’s not crowded. You can also take the time to smell the crisp fresh air and the ocean breeze. If you are up for it: nearby farms and cross country centers, like Laudholm Farm and Harris farm, offer Nordic skiing and snowshoeing so you can tour the snow-covered fields and winter woods before heading inside for a cup of hot coco by the fire. And, if you are not into winter sports, do not worry, there is more to do in Kennebunk during the “slow” season.
1- Paint the Town Red
Over the last few years, February has brought more than just ice and snow to the Kennebunks. Winter is long in Maine and, just like any other “winter warrior” city, they decided to make the best out of it and try to have a little fun during the cold months. That being said, their new winter tradition is called “Paint the Town Red” and aims to celebrate love, and not just around Valentine’s Day. During the entire month of February, visitors and locals will find “love everywhere” in Kennebunk, with cute photo ops, special packages and events happening until March 31st. Actually, every business that stays open during winter is participating by decorating their stores and offering special promotions and packages. Love can truly be found everywhere in Kennebunk during their annual “Paint the town red” event. Plus it is very cute (and instagram worthy!)
2- The Igloo Experience
The Kennebunkport Inn, a luxury boutique hotel that has been a part of the city’s landscape since the 1890s (which was renovated recently and now looks better than ever) is taking the Paint the Town Red festivities to another level with their new addition: the Igloo Ice Lounge popup. Installed on their (heated) porch, each igloo can host up to eight guests who can enjoy small plates and specialty cocktails while wrapped in cozy throw blankets and fur lined seats. The Igloo Ice Lounge also offers outdoor fire pit seatings, a heart-shaped Cornhole board and board games to keep guests fully entertained. The Ice Lounge is operational this season until March 31st. It is funky, original, interesting, cool, cute and cozy. Where else can you enjoy bites and cocktails in a heated igloo snuggled under a blanket while stargazing (the igloos are transparent and therefore you can fully enjoy the view)?
3- The Boathouse Restaurant
Located on the Kennebunk River in the heart of downtown Kennebunkport, The Boathouse Restaurant is one of the few restaurants in Maine that are open year-round and, guess what, it is memorable! This new restaurant, which opened during the spring of 2018, takes full advantage of the surrounding water view with a vibrant “maritime chic” interior, a lively social ambiance, and a Maine-centric menu that includes a dedicated Lobster Bar. The menu was created by Kennebunk-native Executive Chef John Shaw and is inspired by Maine delicacies and promotes local products. Good thing that a great restaurant chose to stay open all year long in Kennebunk; we then don’t have to sacrifice our love of good food… even during winter.
4- The Kennebunkport Inn
Truth: a lot of hotels and accommodations are closed for the winter season, BUT the fantastic Kennebunk Inn is not. Located in the heart of the village at Dock Square, The Kennebunk Port Inn is everything you want and dream of in Kennebunk. At a walking distance from everything, this gorgeous nautical-inspired boutique hotel offers amazing rooms brilliantly decorated, a cozy restaurant: The Burleigh, which offers classic fares, signature cocktails, and unique wines, with a daily Happy Hour. In addition, the Kennebunk Port Inn is where you will find the cool winter pop up “Igloo Experience” that proudly sits on their patio. At “the Inn”: breakfast is included, the staff is polite, the location is unbeatable and the setting is a perfect mix of luxurious and historical. The hotel was indeed brilliantly renovated and, if you stay during February, you will receive more than a great deal on your hotel room (low season rates start as low as $100/night) which is pretty much a steal compared to the high season. Getting the same perfect setting at less than half the price; and furthermore, having the entire town of Kennebunkport to yourself sounds like an amazing plan to me. To visit Kennebunk during winter is the perfect way to take a break and find peace, love, and serenity, while discovering a town that used be to known only during summer… or at least that used to be the case!