The beauty of southern coastal Maine is at its most appealing in June. All you have to do to bask in its aura is to find yourself on Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport. Drive, bike, or saunter along the spokes of Dock Square that teem with beachy buzz and cross the bridge into neighboring Kennebunk for more. These York County coastal towns become happening hamlets that don’t let up until the last lobster roll at the Clam Shack is sold.

There are luxurious boutiques, eclectic shops, gourmet ice cream parlors, classic and modern art galleries, and many fine-dining establishments to sate you for weeks. Since these are water towns, most restaurants have sprawling decks with stunning river and ocean views and sidewalk cafes. The beloved Arundel Wharf and casual Hurricane restaurants feel looser.

In the last few years Kennebunkport and Kennebunk’s adjacent Lower Village have taken on the pulse of a mini-city. With a hearty dose of independent shops filled with artisan beauty products, jewelry, and not-your-average tacky souvenirs, the Bunks, unlike some picturesque but sleepy New England seaside towns, beg for your attention. There are so many highimpact, fun summer activities available. Should you take out a kayak? Rent a bike? Gallery hop? Grab a dozen oysters by the sea or hole up in a riverside rendezvous? We decided to knock around the shops before the beach. In the height of summer, Dock Square can be as crowded as a mall, so rise with the sun to embrace it all.

This was excerpted from a story in Maine magazine’s June 2015 issue.