Family travel doesn’t always need to include the kids and a couples’ getaway can be a chance to pursue interests young children don’t share. A weekend of gallery hopping is probably better reserved for the adults, and Kennebunkport, Maine, is the place to do it.
Spring is a good time to visit, when the weather is warm enough for strolling between galleries, but not enough to attract crowds to the nearby beaches on Maine’s southern coast. Kennebunkport’s boutiques and galleries cluster tightly around its harbor, so many of the galleries are only a few steps from each other.
Northlight Gallery is a good place to begin. Here, you’ll find vivid colors and bold lines of Christian Bergeron’s paintings, shimmering reflections of boats on the water by gallery-owner Harry Thompson and ethereal watercolors by Janet Rogers, along with other American artists. Like Thompson, David Perry Fouts is a painter and gallery owner. His Landmark Gallery, next to Thompson’s on Ocean Avenue, shows his impressionist paintings and works of other artists.
Across the bridge that connects the two sides of Kennebunkport lies Maine Art Hill, a light-filled multifloor gallery and a collection of artists’ studios. All the works are by regional artists with a strong connection to Maine. You’ll want to spend some time in the fascinating Wind Sculpture Garden.
As you walk from gallery to gallery, note two restaurants you’ll want to come back to. Hurricane sits over the water, with a protected terrace serving as the perfect place to watch the sunset. The menu is varied and creative; if you like beef carpaccio, this is the place to get it. The other one not to miss is Chez Rosa, a French-style bistro with a small but well-balanced menu of beautifully prepared dishes.
The home-away-from-home for art lovers in Kennebunkport is the gracious Waldo Emerson Inn on Summer Street. Owner and innkeeper Hana Pevny is from a family of artists, and her historic shipbuilder’s home is filled with original art. Our favorite room is a large, bright front bedroom with a sizeable early Marc Chagall on the wall.
Reminders of the inn’s history scatter throughout: adze marks in an overhead beam, fireplaces in four of the guestrooms, original pocket shutters and a hiding place behind the kitchen fireplace used as part of the Underground Railroad. Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson spent summers writing in the front parlor, hence the inn’s name.
The gardens surrounding the house provide fresh flowers for guestrooms as well as a terrace for al fresco breakfasts in warm weather. Hana Pevny is a highly trained chef, so her two-course breakfasts prepare guests well for a busy day of gallery-hopping.
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