By Allison Tibaldi, Taking the Kids correspondent
Kennebunkport is loaded with New England charm. The pedestrian-friendly streets are brimming with retro sweet shops, folksy art galleries and authentic lobster shacks. Its sandy beaches are as pretty as a postcard, beckoning visitors to partake in a brisk swim or build sand castles. It’s a classic family town that feels as old-fashioned as the lemonade and ice cream stands that dot the landscape.
My family and I had the chance to get acquainted with this corner of Maine on a recent June weekend. It seems entirely fitting that this quaint village is home to the Nonantum Resort. It’s the kind of place where guests gather for a nightly sing along and marshmallow roast after a friendly game of beanbag toss or a twilight dip in the heated pool. With a waterfront location this serene, it’s no wonder the resort’s complimentary morning yoga class is so popular.
Family Owned and Operated
The Nonantum Resort opened in 1884. This seasonal hotel welcomes guests from mid-April until mid-December. The 109 rooms blend traditional decor and modern comforts, with spacious room configurations that are just right for families. The peaceful grounds include a whimsical Fairy Garden and dozens of Adirondack chairs gracing the back lawn.
It has been owned and operated by the same family for generations, so expect genuine attention to guest comfort. Many employees have worked at the hotel for decades and this breeds a welcome familiarity that is hard not to notice. I think the high level of service is a big part of why we met so many satisfied guests who return to the hotel year after year.
In an age when even tiny tots are tech-savvy, nostalgic activities for kids abound at the Nonantum, encouraging even the most wired child to unplug. For a stroll down memory lane, try your hand at one of the lawn games such as ping-pong, shuffleboard or corn hole toss. Arts and crafts and face painting are low-key options. Active families should enjoy a leisurely paddle in one of the resort’s single or tandem kayaks or hop on a candy-colored cruiser and peddle the short distance to town.
For a memorable Maine experience, participate in morning or afternoon crabbing or take a ride on the Rugosa, a working lobster boat that cruises the coastline. Sit back and watch as they haul lobster traps or get in on the action and try your hand. It departs twice daily from the resort’s own dock.
When parents crave some kid-free time, there is a nightly supervised drop-off activity that includes dinner for children age 4-11, for an additional fee.
Book you room directly on the Nonantum’s website and you’ll get a bountiful breakfast for the entire family included in your rate. My teenagers ravenous appetites were challenged by the hefty buffet table brimming with eggs, blueberry pancakes, bacon, donuts, fresh fruit and more.
The hotel’s restaurant, 95 Ocean, has a children’s menu and a fairly priced nightly special.
No Car Needed
The Nonantum’s efficient shuttle will whisk you to any of the town’s picturesque beaches, so you may save the costly parking fees. The hotel is walking distance from town, but if little legs get tired on the stroll home, the shuttle is happy to give you a lift.
If you don’t own a personal vehicle, you may catch the Amtrak Downeaster train from Boston’s North Station. The journey to Wells, Maine takes around 100 minutes. The Nonantum will pick you up at the train station.
Photo credits: The Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce, the resort and the author.