Kennebunk recently opened a free, open-air ice skating rink — that alone is reason to give the little coastal town a weekend visit, if you ask me. But you need more than skating for a winter adventure worth the 30-minute drive from Portland.
You’re going to want to bring your skates, grab a cocoa and head to the rink, of course, but after that you can wander a couple miles down the road for one of the best sandwiches of your life (in a general store, naturally) plus a perfect whoopie pie. Nearby you’ll find a magical home-improvement-meets-antique store and a short trail in case you want to burn off your dessert.
DESTINATION: Kennebunk, inland near downtown (30 minutes from Portland)
HOW MUCH: $12 for lunch and a treat, $2 for cocoa
WHO: Anyone who wants to ice skate and is up for some light weekend adventuring
WHY: It’s a lot of fun for not much money, plus it’s nearby
WHEN: This is a winter adventure (because in summer there’s the beach)
Here are some places to check out:
Kennebunk recently opened a free ice skating rink on Main Street. How cool is that? But let’s back up: About 300 feet down the street is Perfecto’s Caffe (41 Main St., and yes that is how they spell ‘cafe’). Perfecto’s is part of a franchise and definitely feels that way with its hospital cafeteria decor, but it’s close and has “mocha mudslide” hot coffee and cocoa, which you’ll want before heading up to the open-air (aka extra chilly) rink.
OK, now you’re ready.
For this rink, you’ll need to bring your own skates. Admission is free. More than a dozen benches corral the ice and there are some tables and chairs. On a recent Tuesday, the ice was glassy smooth (I’ve heard community members have been very excited to drive the Zamboni, which may be why it was the most perfect ice I’d ever seen). Passersby would stop to watch the skating — it felt like I was living in snowglobe-perfect New England.
Tip: Before you go, you can check to see if the rink is crowded. The town has a live web cam focused on the ice at kennebunkmaine.us. If you go on a weekday, you’ll likely be skating alone. Also, consider bringing toe warmers.
After you’ve skated up an appetite, you’re going to want to head here. It’s a 4-minute (two-mile) drive from the ice rink.
We expect a lot from general stores in Maine. We want breakfast sandwiches in the morning, whoopee pies 24/7 and overpriced dog food and toilet paper for when we run out and feel too lazy to go out of town. But even though I know this, I was surprised that several of my friends recommended The Landing Store as the place to eat in Kennebunk.
The place is what you’d expect of a small town general store: counter to the left, beer to the right, Zebra Cakes and Doritos in the middle with the jugs of coffee. But at the end of the two-aisle store is the deli where there are pre-made sandwiches and meals, plus a case of incredible-looking muffins. On a weekday afternoon the parking lot was full and six other people stood, waiting for their made-to-order sandwiches and chowder.
I chose the hot pastrami sandwich with swiss and waited a while. Everyone else got their tinfoil-wrapped food and left. When the lady called my order up, she taped the tinfoil and drew a green smiley face on it.
“Sorry for the wait, we shave the pastrami fresh,” she said. I drooled — probably visibly.
It was as good as you might assume a freshly shaved hot pastrami sandwich would be: out of this world. The meat was tender and slightly salty, the cheese melty and well integrated. It was an $8 sandwich and it lasted for two meals.
The Landing Store is known for its whoopie pies. Grab one for later.
The inside. The lines help you find what you're looking for in this labyrinth of home improvement supplies.
Here are some tubs. $300+ for the clawfoot ones.
If you walk into a store with colored tape lines on the floor to help guide its customers to the proper department, you know it’s going to be a good adventure. Tape lines tell you, “this store is so labyrinthine and full of stuff you will never, ever find your way out of this Narnia without help.” That’s what Old House Parts Company is: old-house Narnia.
You’ll find rooms of disembodied fireplace mantels, lighting fixtures, antique sinks, claw foot tubs, rooms and rooms of doors and windows and a full-size aluminum horse statue. Prices are all over the place. The horse is about $900, claw foot tubs start around $300. Doors could be anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars.
Old House Parts is directly between the ice rink and The Landing Store, at 1 Trackside Drive. It’s open every day 9 a.m.-5 p.m., except Sundays when it’s open 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
You already skated, so maybe you’re done with being active, but if you’ve got something left to give, this trail entrance is directly across the street from Old House Parts Company. The Wonder Brook trail is 2.5 miles and starts in a residential cul-de-sac. The trailhead parking is plowed in, so you have to park where you can. There are also train tracks nearby, so the beginning of the trail can be noisy, but it quickly quiets down.
Even though it’s snowy, the trail is well marked and gets some regular traffic, so you should be able to find the path very easily. Take your whoopie pie and if you have crampons, they could be helpful too. The trail was pretty flat, but I was just wearing Bean boots when I tried it and there were some scary, slippery hills.
The trail zigs and zags by brooks and frozen streams covered in rabbit tracks. There are several cute little bridges through the woods, which is surrounded by tall trees. It might be the prettiest time of year to see this trail. The forest is carpeted in snow, which can make it look like everything is glistening.
Tip: Dogs are welcome on this trail.
Get out of dodge (at least for a little while) with a mini adventure. These excursions can be done in a day – sometimes an afternoon – and will hopefully lead you to places you’ve never been. This is Maine, after all, and we all need some adventuring.