Clean and filled with beach plum bushes at its edges, Goose Rocks Beach (King’s Hwy., off Rte. 9, Kennebunkport, no parking, catch the trolley from downtown) is one of the area’s loveliest and least mobbed.
For kids, there’s the well-kept Mother’s Beach (Beach Ave., off Rte. 9, Kennebunkport, no parking, catch the trolley from downtown), which has a jungle gym and swings.
In Saco, Ferry Beach State Park (Bay View Rd., off Rte. 9, Saco, 207/283-0067, year-round, adults $2, children $1) is a stunning natural setting: On top of the beach, there are woodland trails and marshes.
Abundant wildlife, extensive hiking and snowshoeing trails, and seemingly untouched woodlands are what make The Heath (Rte. 112, Buxton Rd., Saco, 207/729-5181, www.nature.org , sunrise–sunset year-round) a favorite destination among nature lovers. Much of the park’s 870 acres are filled with foliage, deer, and a breathtaking bog created by the accumulation of layer upon layer of peat.
One of the finest walks in the Kennebunk area is in Emmons Preserve (Gravelly Brook Rd., off of Beachwood Ave., Kennebunkport, http://kporttrust.org , year-round), managed by the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust. Its nearly 150 bird-filled acres contain two walking trails—each of which can be walked in less than two hours—and offer views of picturesque Gravelly Brook.
Get out and sailing local waters in half-day trips aboard Bellatrix (95 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport, 207/590-1125, www.sailingtrips.com , $300 for 1–6 people), a sleek 37-foot yacht.
One of the best whale-watching excursions around is operated by Nautilus Whale Watch (67 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport, 207/967-0707, 10 a.m. daily plus additional times in summer, adults $30, seniors $25, children $15). It offers plenty of commentary, lots of deck viewing, and a full galley for snacking.