piscataqua bridge Road Trip: Kittery, Maine

(WBZ photo)

One thing is for certain if the family is heading up to Kittery, Maine: somebody’s going shopping. With 120 shops at the Kittery Outlets alone, this town has long been a mecca for bargain hunters and fashionistas of all tastes. Over three million shoppers visit the Kittery Outlets each year.

If you are not a shopper, don’t despair. You can have a great time in and around Kittery while giving the hunter/gatherer in the family plenty of time to check out the merchandise.

Kittery is just a short drive to York Beach and the Wild Kingdom Zoo and Amusement Park. Close by are a number of other attractions certain to leave you feeling mellow and refreshed as you pack up the day’s outlet purchases and make the short trip back to the city.


Travel time (each way): About 1 hour 15 minutes.
Mileage Round-trip: About 122 miles


Put first things first and make a beeline to the Kittery Outlets where, after a full day of shopping, you will barely have scratched the surface. The Kittery Outlets is not a single entity but an association of several different outlet malls all grouped along a short stretch of Route 1.

From Calvin Klein to Coldwater Creek and Lucky Brand Jeans to Old Navy, at last count 120 shops served the needs of just about anyone who loves clothing, shoes, sporting equipment, jewelry, accessories, cosmetics, or, in the case of the Brookstone outlet, cool stuff.

More Info: Kittery Outlets Web Site

A popular favorite is the Kittery Trading Post, where on three packed levels you can get outfitted for nearly every fresh-air sport imaginable. Didn’t find what you were looking for? Relax, there’s an Orvis here as well.

There are deeper discounts available to the savvy shopper. AAA members can buy a discount coupon book for $5.00; anyone over 50 should aim for Tuesdays when most stores will give a 10% discount; and military personnel should head to Kittery on the first day of any month for an extra 10% off their purchases.


Two beaches are close by, to the north in the villages of York. Referred to, collectively, as York Beach, Long Sands Beach and Short Sands beach are divided by a rock jetty and are strikingly different in character so it’s all about what you want from your beach experience.If the kids are looking for taffy, arcades, and candlepin bowling, head to Short Sands. That way, when the tide comes in and the blanket space grows a little tighter, there will be plenty to do.

On the other hand, if you’re there strictly for sun, sand, and sea, then Long Sands Beach is for you.

Parking at both beaches is metered in the summer and free between Labor Day and Memorial Day.

For more info visit www.mainecoastdata.org


Everyone will enjoy the amusement park with its bumper boats, Ferris wheel, jungle fun house, go carts, miniature golf and more.

More Info: York Wild Kingdom

At the zoo, there are paddle boats, a petting zoo and pony rides along with dozens of animal exhibits including alligators, primates, miniature pigs, a zebra, prairie dogs, an anteater, and, of course, lions and tigers and a bear. Oh my!

You can choose from zoo-only or zoo-and-ride packages.


Portsmouth, N.H. and Kittery, Maine are separated by the Piscataqua River and connected by three bridges. Cross one and head to the 10-acre historic Strawbery Banke Museum where costumed docents will show you through its restored houses and give you a glimpse of local life between the 17th and mid-20th centuries.

More Info: Strawbery Banke Museum

There is even a room where children can try on period costumes and listen to the sounds of the town back when it was known as Puddle Dunk.

Because Strawbery Banke does not focus on a single era, but instead escorts visitors on along a continuum of time between the 1600s and the age of rock and roll, the experience is indeed unique. So even if you have been to Sturbridge Village, the Mystic Seaport Museum, or Colonial Williamsburg, you have definitely not been there, done that.


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