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Deb Collins

Deb is a New Zealander, aka Kiwi, who lives in Maine with her husband, Mike, and her happy-go-wiggly Labrador Retriever, Ted. In 2011, Deb launched her own online business. HappyME, to celebrate happy Maine stuff and exploring Vacationland with your dog. Deb will be blogging about everything dog and sniffing out fun things to do with your wag. More at | On Facebook at | Follow on Twitter @happyMEstuff

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Posted: August 14, 2014

5 dog-friendly things to do in Kennebunkport before the end of summer

Written by: Deb Collins

Kennebunkport is not just known as a destination fit for a President, this southern Maine location is also renowned for its dog-loving vibe. Here are five fun dog-friendly Kennebunkport activities to put on your summer bucket list.

MORE FOR THE DOGS! Dog-friendly Maine Guide: Dog beaches, travel and adventures

1. Ride The Atlantic Shore Line Railway

Seashore Trolley Museum: 195 Log Cabin Rd., Kennebunkport, Maine | Hours: Memorial Weekend to Columbus Day – 10am – 5pm  (last trolley at 4:15pm) Admission: Adults: $10 Seniors:(60+) $8 | Children (6 to 16) $7 |  Kids under 5 & dogs are free.

Seashore Trolley Museum - Ted meets the Conductor.

Seashore Trolley Vintage Street Car – HappyME Ted meets the Conductor.

If you and your dog are partial to historical adventures, then a visit to Seashore Trolley Museum is a great way to kick-off a day out in the Kennebunkport area. Founded in 1939, the Seashore Trolley Museum has grown into the largest electric railway museum in the world, with a collection representing almost every major American city that had a streetcar system. You will discover the beginnings of mass transportation from the omnibus to the emerging electric streetcar and onward to buses, light rail and rapid transit cars that we know today.

The highlight of this destination for our Ted, aside from the bowl of ice cream that he was greeted with by Museum Executive Director, Sally Bates, was riding the Interpretive Railway on the vintage street car. There’s just something special about being greeted by the conductor, along with all the on-board bells, whistles and views, that feeds the soul of an adventure seeking dog. Throughout the railway journey, we were fed snippets of history by our learned trolley guide as we zipped along the old roadbed of the original Atlantic Shore Line Railway and got a sense for a bygone era when trolleys were a ticket to the good life of living in the suburbs.

Seashore Trolley Museum - Four-paw riders waiting patiently.

Seashore Trolley Museum – Four-paw riders waiting patiently – “All they need is a deck of cards”.

The Seashore Trolley Museum raised its dog-friendly flag in June of 2013, after hosting a Seashore Trolley Dog Day, now an annual event that celebrates everything dog. Since that successful game-changing day for dogs, every day is dog-friendly and there is always a new event and reason to check out the fun.

Seashore Trolley Museum - Conductor Ted

Seashore Trolley Museum – Conductor Ted

On Friday August 22, there is a Seashore Trolley Speakeasy event where attendees can relive the era of Prohibition that existed between 1920 to 1933 with signature cocktails, food, live music and silent movies. Organizer Sally Bates playfully suggested a Jack Russell Terrier would be the perfect event pairing but all well-behaved dogs are welcome to join in the woof.

2. Take a hike on the Kennebunkport Trails

Edwin L. Smith Preserve Trailhead : To access — Take the Seashore Trolley Museum Street Car or park in Kennebunkport Conservation Trust Edwin L. Smith Preserve designated parking lot on Guinea Road Trailmap Trail Rules

The Edwin L. Smith Preserve is Kennebunkport Conservation Trust’s largest landholding, featuring over 1,100 acres of forested landscape with 10 miles of recreational trails, babbling brooks and zen spots for picnicking. This preserve is part of a rare 3,000 acre block of undeveloped land that is home to an abundance of Maine wildlife, so having your dog on a lead or under voice control is requested for everybody’s sake.

If you have an admission ticket for The Seashore Trolley Museum, you can ride the railway and hop off at Talbott Park and head-off on a nature hike and then return by rail to the Seashore Trolley Visitors Center. Alternatively, you can drive your own vehicle to the designated Kennebunkport Conservation Trust parking lot and proceed on foot from there.

Lisa Lassey, associate director of the trust, is a regular hiker on the trails with her kids and dog, Mac, and enjoys seeing the hundreds of happy trail pictures that are captured via their on-trail game camera.

On Trail game camera snaps a shot of Doug and his dog.

Game camera snaps a shot of Doug Butler and his dog.

3. Stroll the Village of Kennebunkport

If your dog loves to mingle and sniff out local treasures, then you will love the vibe of Kennebunkport Village. Many of the shops welcome dogs and of course there are numerous pup-stops that are all about dogs. If you are looking for a guided tour for dog-lovers, you might want to co-ordinate your visit with a Maine Foodie Tours – Doggy and Me Tour which rolls on summer Saturdays, from 2:30 to 4:30pm, and gives you a chance to do some culinary adventuring with your dog. Profits from this four-paw tour benefit The Animal Welfare Society of West Kennebunkport. On this visit, our timing didn’t work for the culinary dog tour so we just free-wagged our way around town. Ted was quite taken with the lobster dining dog picnic in the window of Scalawags Boutique and popped in and met owner, Mary Beth. After treats, greets and back scratches,Ted wiggled his way around the shop. When you have a dog with a vigorously wagging long tail, you have to be sure that it doesn’t act as a shelf sweeper. Mary Beth suggested we check out the view and river access just beyond her store and of course dog-friendly Gooches Beach which was already on our radar.

Scalawags window view

Scalawags window view – Four-paw Picnic

4. Kick-up your heels on the Dog-Friendly Kennebunk Beaches

There is nothing better than strolling along a Maine beach surrounded by happy people and their dogs. The Kennebunk region is known for it’s dog-friendly culture, which gives access to some of Maine’s most beautiful beaches. It’s important to be a good dog ambassador; pick-up after your dog and be considerate of others so that the dog-loving vibe continues. In summer, dogs can be on the dog-friendly Kennebunk area beaches before 9 and after 5; off-leash play is fine, if your dog is under voice command. We find water ball action delivers fun and focus to our Ted’s beach-time.

Ball play at Gooches Beach, Kennebunkport

Ball play at Gooches Beach, Kennebunk

On this particular adventure, we walked from the southern end of Gooches Beach, which is more than 3,000 feet long and at low-tide provided plenty of room for all the four-paw visitors. Gooches Beach is the northern most beach section of what is known as The Kennebunk Beach Walk, which extends 1.5 miles along Beach Avenue, from the breakwater at the mouth of The Kennebunk River to Lord’s Point. If you head south from Gooches, you’ll find rocky Middle Beach and then Mother’s Beach, the smallest beach with a children’s playground.

Dogs of Gooches Beach

Dog Play at Gooches Beach

5. Dine By the Sea at The Colony Hotel

View to Colony

Wagging our way along Gooches Beach – the Colony Hotel beckons ahead.

As you stroll along Gooches Beach towards the Kennebunk River mouth, a castle-like resort beckons like eye-candy. This picturesque 1914 historic icon is The Colony Hotel, a dog-loving resort paradise with its own private beach and a welcoming atmosphere that makes tails twirl.

We towel dried off from our sandy beach adventure and then drove over to The Colony Hotel and caught the tail-end of happy hour poolside tunes on the ocean. We devoured a lobster dinner with sunset beach views, while Ted savored a snack as he enjoyed a constant procession of greets and kisses from an enthusiastic dog-loving hotel staff and guests. According to our server, on this early August Saturday night, about 25 dogs were staying with their families at the hotel but there was not a woof too be heard, just some tails wagging in the sunset.

Poolside dining at Colony

We needed to head back home to Portland after dinner. We left our poolside table and wandered through the garden via a candlelit wedding party procession and up the back porch stairs into the hotel. On our way out to our car, we met a couple from Quebec enjoying a little front porch culture with their dogs. Every summer, this French Canadian family drives down to The Colony Hotel, with their fur-kids, Ziah and Victoria. We vow on our next visit that we will stay overnight, maybe in October when The Colony Hotel has their closing weekend and the hotel and pool literally goes to the dogs.

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