Family Reunion Vacations: Kennebunkport, Maine, The Colony Hotel

Family Vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine

My family is in California and I’m outside of Boston.  So, to see my mother, my brother and his family, and my sister and her family, I have instituted a complex bi-annual process called:  The Family Reunion Vacation.

It’s a complex decision with factors and players that takes many iterations to actually materialize:

  • Location
  • Price
  • Activities
  • Dates
  • Availability of person AND hotel AND airlines (if needed)
  • Ground transportation options
  • Personal referrals
  • Guarantee of Fun for All
  • Varied menu options
  • Entertainment day and night
  • Exercise options
  • Redeemable Miles Points
  • Discounts

Our first attempt at this behemoth challenge materialized in a trip to San Diego.  It went well except for the poor planning on our part that landed us, starving, in San Diego at 1:00 a.m. our time.  This was not a pleasant parenting experience.

Our second Family Reunion Vacation trip was to Kennebunkport, Maine and it was based on two previous pleasant summer seaside vacations.   I have to say that results were so good that I recommend The Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine if you are looking for a New England Beach family reunion destination.  Here’s why:

  • The Colony Hotel. Think Grand Dame in its time but now a bit shabby.  Hey, that is actually great because you don’t need to worry about breaking or spilling things.  This is a KID and DOG friendly hotel!!!  It’s about 1.5 hours drive from Boston.
  • Kennebunkport.  Yes, it does have generations of Bushes (George and G. W.)  who have staked out this town, but they are there for a reason.  It Never Gets Too Crowded!  The People Are Really Nice There! My pet peeve on vacation is dealing with people at shops and restaurants who are crabby such that you can tell that they wished you were not there.  I won’t go back to a place like that!
  • Private Beach.  It’s not a huge beach; it’s actually quite small.  Technically it’s semi-private.  But you can walk from the hotel easily by just crossing one small street and you are on the beach.  It’s a New England beach so it’s not white sand or pink sand, or even fine, smooth sand but there are TIDE POOLS!  We spend our day on the beach catching critters and then releasing them back at the end of the day:  crabs of all sizes, small fish, sea snails, and more.
  • Olympic-Sized Pool.  It’s heated but it’s salt water.  Bring goggles for little ones who don’t like their eyes to sting.  The great news here is that they serve a very pleasant lunch poolside and there are plenty of table and lounge chairs.  Nothing worse than fighting for tables on vacation.
  • Breakfast buffet included and it’s a real meal not that Minimalist Continental Breakfast Crap!  Breakfast is a pleasant affair.  You get seated quickly overlooking the ocean with a huge breakfast buffet with an immense amount of choices.  You will notice scores of other Family Reunions taking place with multi-generational families who, if you talk to them, have been coming for decades!  Yes, the grandparents came as tikes back in the day.  It’s so Normal Rockwell you can’t help but love it!
  • Putting Green and Shuffle Board!  My kids love both these options so we play shuffle board for hours and have a family putting tournament.  It’s all free!  You can get putters from the front desk.
  • Dog friendly hotel!

Caveats (i.e. Quirks to The Colony Hotel):

  • There is NO TV or Air Conditioning in the main hotel building.  We brought portable DVD players for our kids which worked great because normally hotel TV programming doesn’t match our kids’ interests.  The kids would watch together in different rooms so it was a nice way for the cousins to spend quality down time.  Normally, there’s a breeze so the AC isn’t as critical as you might think but on muggy days, you might be a little hot.
  • There IS TV and A/C in the other building but it resembles a cheap motel and it actually was a cheap motel back in the day before it was acquired.  You might resent paying the $$ to be in a cheap motel setting but, then again, the TV and AC may be a necessity for some people.
Where to Eat:
  • Noonan’s Lobster Hut. 9 Mills Rd, Kennebunkport, ME.  (207) 967-4362. My five-year-old discovered his great love of lobster here!  You need to drive from The Colony Hotel.  It also has big bench tables to seat large parties.  It’s actually in Cape Porpoise which is one town up from Kennebunkport.  You’ll need to drive there.  They do not take reservations so go early or really late as they get really busy.
  • Mabels Lobster Claw.  124 Ocean Avenue, Kennebunkport, ME.  (207) 967-2562.  Make a reservation as they book up fast.  Walking distance from the Colony Hotel.  Great food and nice people.  It’s a small restaurant so if your party is big, this isn’t a great choice unless you are willing to sit separately and go early because they also do not take reservations.
  • Arundel Wharf Restaurant.  They take reservations and can handle large parties AND have parking so we ate here twice.  We also spotted a cousin of George W. Bush here eating next to us on the outside patio.  The food is good but not amazing, but when you have half a dozen small kids, you can not be waiting around for an hour to get seated.  (Can you spell MELTDOWN?!).

What To Do With Kids If It’s Raining:

  • Shop at Toys in the Attic.  There is a cute toy store in town at 15 Ocean Avenue and we let the kids buy a toy there to keep themselves entertained the rest of the trip.  It takes them a long time to decide but the people at the store are really nice and tolerant.  There is also an ice cream store across the street to round out the trip.
  • There is a great Children’s Museum in Portland, Maine.  142 Free Street.  207-828-1234.  We have actually never been there; knock on wood, but the weather held up for all our trips so far but I’ve heard over and over again from friends that it’s a great little children’s museum.  It’s about 30 minutes one way to get there.
  • Southworth Plantarium.  96 Falmouth Street, Science Building, Univeristy of Southern Maine.  207-780-4249.  We haven’t been here but this would be a good bad weather option as long as your little ones are not scared of the dark.

We are coming back this summer right before school starts and we’ll keep adding more restaurants and things to do as we discover them.  This also makes a great family vacation!

p.s.  If you like this post, you might like Family Reunion Vacations:  Kennebunk, Maine Part 2 (surfing, tide pools, fishing and more)

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. My wife and I got married up in Kennebunkport. Her family vacationed there for generations, quite literally, and we spent a great deal of time there while we were dating.

    If you have a chance, check out Goose Rocks Beach – it’s about 5 miles outside of the village. That’s the actual spot where we exchanged vows, and it’s one of the most beautiful beaches I have been to in New England.

    Also, Allison’s is a great little restaurant for typical NE fare.


  2. Oh, and keep an eye out for any plays at the Ogunquit Playhouse. They have great children’s plays

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