January 9, 2017

Travel Guide: Visiting the Kennebunks in the Winter.




     This is a post that is probably much overdue (as in, by several years) on Southern Belle in Training! It was my most recent trip home a few weeks ago that finally inspired me to write it, and I'm so glad that I finally was able to put something together.


     If you're a newer reader friend around the blog, let me fill you in a little bit. I've called North Carolina home since I moved here for college in Fall 2012, but whether I like to admit it or not- I'm a native Mainer! This is how my blog got its name- "Southern Belle" is for me living in NC now and having an affinity for all things Southern, and "in Training" comes from the fact that I'm from Maine. My parents and most of my mom's side of the family still live in Maine, as do my friends from high school.

     I'm from Kennebunk, Maine, which is a coastal town in the Southern part of the state. Kennebunk is often considered the same thing as Kennebunkport, which is a big New England tourist destination. Fun fact: they are actually two separate (but neighboring towns) towns! Kennebunkport is the bigger vacation destination, and has more of the hotels and bed and breakfasts. It's also the summer home to former President George Bush and his wife Barbara. Kennebunk is the more residential town, and something surprising is that more of the public beaches are located in Kennebunk as well! Although I'm from Kennebunk, I've spent my fair share of time in Kennebunkport as well. I worked in retail at a small store in Kennebunkport for the three summers that I went home in college. (I'm actually still close with many of my older coworkers from there!).


On the rock jetty at Colony Beach in Kennebunkport {Coat // similar beanie}


   In Summer 2015, the last full summer that I spent in Maine, I did a post series here on the blog called "Southern Belle in the 'Bunk." I took my outfit pictures over May and June of that summer at really unique and what I thought were naturally beautiful locations around my hometown, as a way to celebrate what where I'm from meant to me. Plus- it allowed me to get out of my comfort zone a bit in picking locations for blog photos! (You can find all of the posts by clicking the Southern Belle in the 'Bunk label on my blog's sidebar.) But surprisingly, I've never actually done an actual "travel guide" blog post for my hometown area.

     I realized in 2016 how many bloggers were taking vacations to the area that I call home. I had so much fun seeing Instagram photos and reading blog posts and recognizing all of the locations in different people's photos! It made me realize though that it was much overdue to write more about where I'm from, and not just shoot outfit photos there. ;-)

    While Maine is more traditionally thought of as a summer vacation destination, it can be a great place to take a little trip to if you're looking for a little taste of a New England winter experience. Without further ado, my travel guide:





{Dock Square Christmas Tree, Kennebunkport}


To Do: 

My number one tip for visiting Maine in the winter season is below:

    Visit the Kennebunks during Christmas Prelude: Christmas Prelude is a special celebration that runs for two weekends each year in early December. All of the hotels, shops and restaurants in Kennebunkport all get completely decked out the celebrate the beginning of the holiday season, and it really is a magical time to be in the area! The main event is the lighting of the Dock Square tree (pictured above - it stays up into January). There is caroling in the streets with local choirs, special events open to the public at many of the hotels, and just a feeling of holiday magic throughout the town. I only made it home for Prelude once in my four years of college - usually my final exams ended too late in December for me to make it home. I wasn't able to make it this year either- but I'm hoping that I can in a future year soon! 


And if you're interested in visiting Maine in other parts of the winter (of which you still have many months to choose from), here are some other activities: 


     Walk on the beach: There is nothing quite like Maine beaches. While my heart will still always long for beaches with tropical ocean temperatures and palm trees, Maine beaches are truly one of a kind and I do love them as well. They're naturally beautiful and have a rugged feel to them, and very few of them are built up. Many are more rocky than sandy, but Southern Maine especially does have it's share of sandy beaches also. 
In the summer, most of Maine's beaches have permitted parking, and they're also often overcrowded between both locals and tourists who are trying to make the most of the short summer season. Winter really is the time to enjoy the beach for all that it is! While it is way too cold for any sort of summer activities, there is really nothing like a long winter beach walk. And parking (at least in the Kennebunk beaches) is free from mid-September through I believe mid-June, so that definitely covers the winter months. My favorite beach Kennebunk beach is Gooches Beach, and my favorite Kennebunkport beach is Colony Beach. Both beaches have a rock jetty that visitors can walk out on - it's a great way to really experience the ocean and waves.

     Shop in Kennebunkport: Kennebunkport has the most charming area of little shops, called Dock Square. While the area certainly hits its peak in the summer months, most of the stores do stay open year round (or at least through Christmas Prelude - see above!). You can find just about anything in Kennebunkport: typical touristy items,  coffee shops, art galleries, jewelry and clothing stores, and plenty of made-in-Maine gift shops, with unique items that you won't find anywhere else! One of my favorite discount jewelry stores called The Best of Everything, which is kind of like a local version of Charming Charlie, is located just over the bridge from Dock Square on the Kennebunk side (there is a river and bridge separating the two towns). Some of the Dock Square stores do close during weekdays in the winter, but a good amount of them do stay open during weekday weekends, even into January and February. 

     Cross Country Skiing at Harris Farms: This activity is actually located about 30 mins away from Kennebunk, but if you're in Maine when there is enough snow on the ground then I promise that this is something you won't regret trying your hand at! This was one of my favorite winter activities growing up, and I have so many fond memories of my mom and I going to do this each year. Sadly I haven't made it out to do this on any recent winter trips home to Maine, but I know it will happen again one of these years.
Harris Farms is dairy farm that's located in the nearby town of Dayton, and they offer cross country skiing (and ski rentals) all over their beautiful trails and acreage in the winter months. A lot of Mainers are big down-hill skiiers- my family and I aren't, but I do very much love cross country skiing. The trails and Harris Farms are so beautiful, and it's a great workout! 



{The Kennebunkport Inn}


Stay:

     I have to preface this part of the travel guide by saying that I personally have never stayed at any of these hotels! Since I am from this area, I've never actually stayed at any of the hotels in the Kennebunks. But I have attended many functions at some of these hotels over the years,  eaten in their restaurants, and know people who work for them. And know people who have stayed at them! So hopefully that is almost as good? ;-)


     If you're visiting for Christmas Prelude: Kennebunkport's two largest hotels, The Colony and The Nonantum, are both great choices for visiting the area. They're both historic properties and have great restaurants. The Nonantum is located right on the river and is less than a mile from the ocean, and The Colony has ocean views. Both of high school proms were held at The Nonantum, and one of my cousin's weddings! And one of my best friends from Maine works for The Colony. Both of these hotels do close after the Christmas Prelude season though, so they aren't open for the whole season.

     If you're visiting later in the winter: I would recommend the Kennebunkport Inn (pictured above)! This beautiful and quaint inn is located right in the center of Dock Square, so it is in walking distance to most shopping and restaurants. They also have a great restaurant in the inn called One Dock. They're open year-round. 



{Colony Beach in Kennebunkport}


Eat:

     Pedro's: This is my FAVORITE Mexican restaurant of all-time. I have yet to find better tacos than at Pedro's. I swear. You probably wouldn't expect to visit the coast of Maine and find great Mexican food, but I promise that it's here! Fun fact: Pedro's doesn't always have the best service. I've actually had to call and complain to their management before about some really bad service that I've had while eating there. Normally I don't return to restaurants where I receive bad service.... BUT THESE TACOS. Y'ALL. Order a large plate of Mexican Street tacos and you will not be disappointed.

     Federal Jack's: This is a restaurant and brewery, and it's a continued favorite spot for my high school friends to meet up at every now and then. They have a pretty extensive menu, and their restaurant is located right on the river, so the views aren't anything to complain about. In the summer their parking is a nightmare, but in the off-season it isn't usually that bad. They serve freshly brewed Shipyard beers, and one of my favorite beers of all time is a blueberry ale. I learned last year that you can actually find it at Trader Joe's stores nationwide- so sometimes I treat myself to that here in Charlotte for a little taste of home!

     Mornings in Paris: This is a little French bakery that opened in Kennebunk (very close to Kennebunkport) about four or five years ago. It's a great spot to meet up with friends at when I am home for visits now. The pastries are decent, but the best things to get there are beverages. They have several types of specialty coffee drinks and lattes, but my two favorites are the Mexican hot chocolate in the winter months, and the lavender iced tea in the summer months.




    And there you go! My guide to visiting my little neck of the (Northern) woods in the winter months. Have you visited Maine or the Kennebunks before? Are you planning any cold-weather winter vacations for this year?



     xoxo Annaliese 

22 comments:

  1. Omg the Kennebunkport Inn is so adorable! Would love to stay at a quaint little place like that!

    xoxo,
    Casey // adolescentadulthood.co

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  2. I've always wanted to go to Maine! If I ever do, I MUST try those tacos you spoke of!

    Katie | http://katieisadora.com

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  3. I've never visited Maine, but I really want to! That inn is so beautiful!
    -Anna | www.fivefootandfabulous.com

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  4. Looks like a beautiful place to visit any time!
    Kari
    http://sweetteasweetie.com/antioxidant-smoothie-post-raisin-bran/

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  5. The Kennebunkport Inn is just stunning. I want to stay in a B&B soon haha.

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  6. I will definitely have to remember this post! Andy and I had to scrap out Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine trip this winter, but we hope to go next year!

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  7. This makes me want to go back to Maine SO bad!!! I had such fun visiting your home town this fall! Hope you're doing well sweet girl!

    xo,
    Alice

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  8. Love this post! i've never been to Maine but it looks beautiful!

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  9. I love this post, Ive never been it looks so pretty!

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  10. This looks beautiful! I also love your white beanie:)

    xoxo, Hannah

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  11. My husband and I were just talking about how we wanted to visit Kennebunkport this year. Thanks for the guide!

    Greta | www.gretahollar.com

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  12. I love your outfit and white beanie! I'll definitely have to travel to Maine one day!

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  13. Love this!! The pics reminded me of a Hallmark movie! xo

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  14. There really is no place like home! I've always known Maine as a place for awesome seafood, but I never really knew how gorgeous it is. It's definitely on my travel list now!

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  15. Kennebunk looks so cute! Seriously, like straight out of a movie cute! Hopefully I can visit some day!

    Rachel | The Confused Millennial

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  16. I just bookmarked this for when I convince my boyfriend to do a long wknd in maine. I've been dying to go and I love hearing what a native has to say about it! x, nicole // www.nicoleeigh.com

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  17. SO pretty! I'd love to visit Maine (any time of the year!). And I'm actually planning a trip to NC this spring! Can't wait.

    Katie | WillowAndWhiteBlog.com

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  18. I can't believe I'm from New England and I don't think I've ever been to Kennebunk (other than driving through it)! A trip is in order. Thanks for the recs!

    Emily | www.socialdearest.blogspot.com

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  19. Honestly I've never heard of the Kennebucks before this but now it's on my list of places to see!

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  20. What an adorable little town, definitely a bucket list place to visit.

    http://adoredbyalex.com

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  21. I agree- there is something calming about walking the beach in the winter. As long as you're bundled up of course ;)

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  22. What a great travel guide! Maine looks gorgeous!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com

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