A Maine Mainstay
The summer retreat of the first president George Bush (and sometimes of the second, though W. more commonly heads to his ranch in Texas), picture-perfect Kennebunkport is the setting for The White Barn, one of New England’s most special inns.
The converted 19th-century farm is comprised of four buildings dating to the 1820s, including a gatehouse, carriage house, May’s Cottage (where the inn’s original owner once lived), and the main building, a classic autumn-gold clapboard with white trim. Spread among these buildings, twenty-five meticulously appointed European-style guest rooms are done up with four-posted, canopy, and sleigh beds, and modern amenities including Jacuzzis. A pool offers an alternative to sandy Gooch’s Beach, within walking distance but with water that’s almost always too cold for swimming.
A highlight of any stay is the inn’s restaurant, widely considered the best dining room north of Boston. Rustic and refined blend seamlessly in a setting of two lofty barns (one relocated here from the surrounding countryside), with creaky floorboards and locally crafted antiques, all glowing with candlelight.
Succulent lobster appears in many guises on the menu, sometimes center-stage as an entrée and sometimes as a base for chunky minestrone soup. For a more casual feast, try the old-fashioned Mabel’s Lobster Claw, near the Bushes’ secluded compound on Ocean Avenue. Sit outside on a little porch with your simple feast of seafood or their legendary lobster roll, and be sure to save room for the homemade peanut butter ice cream.