I am not a camper, in any sense of the word. Unlike my husband, I didn’t grow up doing it, and as an adult don’t really see the appeal in sleeping anywhere but my comfortable bed in close proximity to, you know, indoor plumbing? But he really wants to introduce our kids to the joys of communing with the outdoors. So, we compromised: I found a glamping campground in Kennebunkport, Maine that just opened this summer – we’d be sleeping in a tent yes, but on a bed with sheets (and air conditioning)! And but we still
had to got to pee in Dunkin’ Donuts cups in the middle of the night, which was arguably my first-grader’s favorite part of the whole experience. Want to see some pics?
Originally I wanted to stay in this luxurious boho glamping tent, but my husband wanted something a bit more masculine (eyeroll), so we ended up with this gorgeous tent, which still had earthy boho touches like a pretty light fixture, lots of patterned and textured pillows, but fewer tchotchkes. Definitely a smarter choice with kids.
Besides the cozy bed, plush rugs and really nice-smelling Beekman 1802 Goat Milk toiletries, our tent had a bookshelf full of interesting reads (including this charming, modern Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts, which my 6 year old couldn’t put down and How to Be a Parisian Wherever You Are – Love, Style, and Bad Habits, which I loved!) I think the dehumidifier/air conditioner was the key to the whole thing – the worst part about camping (for me), is the dampness and sleeping on clammy, musty sleeping bags. It was also excellent white noise – a lifesaver since both kids are used to sleeping with one on. (Almost loud enough to drown out the birds at the crack of dawn!) The changing area with a dresser in this tent was great for anyone wanting relative privacy since the kids were constantly opening the tent flaps when going back and forth to the little porch out front.
Of course s’mores were on the menu! There’s a gorgeous green space in the middle of the glamping tent area where a bunch of campers gathered as soon as the nightly campfire was lit at 6pm. The night ranger came around to meet everyone and couldn’t have been nicer. (Annika was obsessed with the fact that job exists, and what it entails. We explained how he helps campers and makes sure everything’s safe during the night, then she asked “Mommy, in the night if we just whisper “night ranger” does he appear all of a sudden?” The campground setting felt so magically Wes Anderson movie-esque, it’s actually plausible). There was such a nice family atmosphere when we stayed during the week, he said on weekends it does get a little rowdier so keep that in mind if you go!The common areas are beautiful. We spent a lot of time in the heated saltwater pools – there’s even a 1.5 foot deep mini one for the toddlers. There’s a cute art tent and playground area behind the pools, and a general store with all the groceries and toiletries you forgot, plus souveniers and educational toys. The weather was gorgeous so we didn’t spend any time inside the lodge but there are tons of comfy places to sit and play board games or read if you get rained out and need a change of scenery from your tent. The lodge is also handicapped accessible, with a special wheelchair elevator.
We had amazing weather so took full advantage of the nearby Goose Rocks beach. It has the softest white sand and interesting tidepools with tons of shells, hermit crabs and different types of seaweed to explore. Keep in mind there’s no shade situation, so bring an umbrella or pop-up beach tent (we have this Coleman one). There also are no bathroom facilities – the closest porta-potties are at the Goose Rocks Beach General Store, where you have to purchase a daily parking pass. Pro-tip: Try to park close to the store since there’s a short path to the beach nearby.
On the way back to the campground, we stopped at Cape Porpoise Kitchen for lunch – great place for fresh salads and other “real” food when you’re tired of seafood shacks and all the fried stuff. They also have a great cheese, snack and booze section, and cute nautical-themed gifts like my favorite Sea Salt soap (graphic design lovers, rejoice!). While my husband ordered lunch/kid-wrangled, I couldn’t resist popping outside to take some pics of the quaint town. Cutest library ever, no? There’s also a cool cafe, Musette, down the street which I’d love to try next time.
It’s summer in New England, there will be ice cream. Fortunately, Goose Rocks Dairy is right across the street from Sandy Pines campground, and it’s one of those great places that has a flavor list a mile long and kiddie sizes bigger than your head. It gets busy right after dinner, so go early to avoid the rush! Plenty of seating options and a big parking lot, cash only as are many places in the area. (Top picks: Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip frozen yogurt, Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel, Coffee Oreo or Peanut Butter Oreo ice cream.)
Some places we’d recommend for dining with kids in Kennebunkport, ME:
Breakfast: All Day Breakfast – great kids menu (giant Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes in three flavors), fresh brewed iced-tea and all the breakfast faves. Try the blueberry french toast – I don’t even like breakfast food and this was amazing!). Cash only.
Lunch: Cape Porpoise Kitchen or Musette, fresh salads, smoothies, sandwiches and other gourmet yummies, on the way back from Goose Rocks Beach. Less crowded than in-town locations and a quaint New England small town feel.
Dinner: We ran into a lot of long waits in Kennebunkport, even on Monday and Tuesday nights. Tip: find a place that takes reservations, or go early – like 5pm on the dot. We had a great meal at Ports of Italy, (if you’re there on Sunday, do not miss the brunch, especially if you’re a seafood lover. Unbelievable!) it was a casual-upscale place with plenty of kids. Hurricane Restaurant and David’s Kennebunkport are absolutely delicious but pricier and a little fancier than I’d feel comfortable bringing my toddler and grade-schooler to at the ‘witching hour’.