Kittery in York County, Maine was once known primarily for its shipbuilding. Seavey’s Island and Badger’s Island in the Piscataqua River were sites where a newly independent USA constructed a number of ships to defend the country from its enemies.
Located on the border between Maine and New Hampshire, it is linked by the bridges across the Piscataqua River.
Now a town of just under 10,000 people, Kittery has a reputation as an interesting shopping destination, boasting both large department stores and malls as well as boutique craft shops.
However, there is much more to Kittery than retail; many activities are focused around the Atlantic Ocean.
Here are some of the 15 Best Things to do in Kittery if you are thinking of dropping by.
1. Maine Visitor Information Center
The state of Maine places great importance on providing tourists with information; consequently, there are several handy information centers. The one in Kittery resembles a ski chalet and is found to the north of the Piscataqua River Bridge.
There is plenty of parking outside and a host of information once you enter. A free guide will help you organize your visit, providing you with maps and brochures to plan your itinerary. This is a great first stop on your trip to Kittery.
2. Fort McClary State Park
This park takes its name from a fort that has protected the region for 275 years. McClary was a Major who was killed at Bunker Hill during the War of Independence; the fort that bears his name is a highlight of a visit to Kittery.
Local granite was essential in the construction of the surrounding wall, with modifications to the initial fort done over the years. While the fort was manned during every conflict until World War I, it rarely saw any genuine action. The oldest building still standing today is the gunpowder store, built in 1808.
3. Seapoint Beach
When the weather is pleasantly warm, you will most likely want to head to the beach for a swim. Seapoint Beach is a picturesque shoreline perfect for a dip or a stroll.
You can bring your dog along for a run, but not during peak visitor hours. There isn’t much parking available, so at busy times you may have to walk a little way to reach the beach.
The shoreline is just a narrow strip of sand, scattered with rocks and seaweed. As the only public beach in the region, it’s well-visited and offers some lovely scenic views.
4. Kittery Historical & Naval Museum
Kittery’s naval traditions are well-preserved in this iconic museum. Open from the spring, it receives plenty of visitors keen to see its exhibits and hear stories of the past.
The town has gathered an impressive number of exhibits over the years. You will learn about colonial times, regional struggles, and local shipbuilding, with volunteers and donations ensuring this precious history is preserved.
This small museum on the Traffic Circle is fairly easy to find and offers ample parking.
5. Seafari Charters
Maine is a delight for fishermen. Inshore, you have the chance to catch bass or bluefish. Further out in deep water you may score yourself some halibut, haddock, pollock or cod.
Seafari Charters also offer scuba diving from their platform, providing both facilities and instruction where requested. Numerous dive sites are in the immediate region, with interesting marine life to view.
If you’d rather stay out of the water, opt for a whale watching trip instead; this charter company has so much to offer, you may need to spend a few days with them!
6. Badger’s Island
The Piscataqua River is the boundary between Maine and New Hampshire. Badger Island sits in the middle of the river and was the site where several important boats were built many years ago.
John Paul Jones’ The Ranger was one of the most notable builds, completed in 1777. The Raleigh’ took just 60 days to build from start to finish, and America, ready in 1782, was the heaviest and biggest ship built in America at the time.
There is a marina on the island, and taking a tour of the river itself is a great way to spend time in Kittery.
7. Take Flight Adventures
If you crave an adrenaline rush, head to the adventure courses on offer here. Over 65 activities take you on an aerial route over swinging tires, suspended platforms, swings, and catwalks. The zip line is also great fun.
Vines and nets offer plenty of chances to test your climbing skills. You will receive some instruction, safety guidelines and have a chance to practice before heading off on your own.
Expert staff ensure that everyone is safe. This is an exhilarating experience for kids and adults alike.
8. Just Us Chickens Gallery
Back in 2005, locals gathered together to open this gallery to provide a vehicle for local artists to display their talents. At the time, 18 different artists were featured, offering everything from painting to jewelry.
The artists themselves now run the gallery.
If you’re on the hunt for presents for friends and family, the gallery offers a wide range of unique items, including ceramics, glassware, nature art, and basketry.
9. Chair Massage Now
At the end of a busy day, there are few better ways to refresh yourself than with a massage. The stress and ‘’knots’’ in your limbs will disappear after expert treatment at this haven on the Route One By-Pass.
Chair massages need minimal space but are delightfully relaxing and reinvigorating. The focus is on the head, neck, and shoulders – all of which are easily accessible when you are in the seated position.
10. Yoga East
This yoga facility specializes in authentic Ashtanga Yoga as you would learn it in Mysore, India, in the tradition of Sri. K Pattabhi Jois. Yoga is extremely popular worldwide. There’s no reason to miss out on your regular yoga practice while you’re in Kittery. If you haven’t tried it before, why not give it a go during your time here?
There are plenty of classes each week and you should find something to suit your level.
11. Tributary Brewing
Craft beer is extremely popular in this corner of the USA. The Tributary Brewing Company is run by an individual with an impressive two decades of experience in the industry.
Featured brews include IPA and stout, as well as beers that have their origins in Germany and Belgium. They are sold by the glass or jug with the largest 64 ozs. Some are quite strong, as you will find out if you pay a visit to this thirst-quenching place in Shapleigh Road.
12. Kittery Premium Outlets
Outlet stores stretch for a mile down this road in Kittery that is a consumer’s dream. With plenty of parking available, you can find all the famous names on this street off Route 95.
Some shoppers head there to fill their cars with gifts for Christmas or Thanksgiving, but you can head here to get some retail therapy any day of the year. Food and drink is readily available so you can make a day of it.
13. Kittery Trading Post
If you prefer shopping at a single store rather than popping in and out of the Premium Outlets, Kittery Trading Post has a huge range of items under a single roof. You will find all the famous brands of clothing, sports gear and specialty gifts for friends and family.
This is a great place if you are into outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and fishing.
Make sure to pick up some of the famous Trading Post Fudge before you leave; this delectable sweet treat is addictive and you will want to stock up!
14. The Dance Hall
One of the main aims of this hall is to provide a venue for the local talent to perform. Run by a non-profit organization, the hall is an important entertainment hub in Kittery.
Events are held to encourage local talent, but there are also classes, cultural and community programs. There is no age distinction, with something for everyone. Check the program during your visit to see if anything takes your fancy.
15. Robert’s Main Grill
The sign of a good restaurant is how busy it is. If it’s often packed with locals, you know it’s a quality establishment, just like Robert’s Main Grill. There is a bar and food options on a couple of levels, with lovely views across the river and marsh from the dining rooms.
You should always take advantage of the fresh seafood when in Maine. Here, why not try fried calamari, Maine crab cakes, oysters, or lobster? Better yet, wash it all down with a local craft beer or two. If you are not keen on fare from the ocean, there are plenty of other alternatives.