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Close-up on Kittery, Me.

A nice outlet

Besides shopping, the town is rich in history

Email|Print| Text size + By Sasha Pfeiffer
Globe Staff / July 25, 2007

Kittery, for better or worse, is inextricably linked with factory outlet shopping. The town's main drag, Route 1 , has discount versions of scores of big-name chain stores, so tourists flock here year-round to empty their wallets on bargains. But if you come only to shop, you will miss the best of what Kittery has to offer. Maine's oldest incorporated town was settled in 1623 at the mouth of the Piscataqua River and was once a center for shipbuilding. It remains home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard , which now primarily repairs submarines. Kittery Point, the town's seaside district, is leafy, quiet, slow-paced, and blessed with beautiful seashore vistas. Believe it or not -- and this can be difficult to grasp when you are weighed down with shopping bags from the outlets -- Kittery radiates old New England charm.

Do

Despite its small size, Kittery has a vibrant artistic community, including two galleries: the Haley Farm Gallery (178 Haley Road, 207-439-2669, haleygallery.com), in a turn-of-the-century renovated barn, and the Kittery Art Association (8 Coleman Ave., 207-451-9384, kitteryartassocia tion.org), which also runs musical programs. Both are worth visiting.

No trip to Kittery is complete without roaming around Fort McClary (Route 103, Kittery Point) on the Piscataqua, a fortification that includes a blockhouse dating to 1844.

There's more history at the Kittery Historical and Naval Museum (Rogers Road Extension, 207-439-3080), which documents the town's rich maritime past, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (near Wallingford Square, 207-438-3975, ports.navy .mil), the Navy's oldest continuously operating shipyard.

Rugged Seapoint Beach (off Route 103 at Kittery Point toward Gerrish Island) offers summertime swimming and year-round walking, and it's a popular gathering spot for dog walkers.

While you're at Kittery Point, drive by two handsome examples of early American architecture, the 1733 Sir William Pepperrell House and the 1760 Lady Pepperrell House, both on Pepperrell Road.

Rest

Kittery has two cute year-round B&Bs: the Chickadee Bed & Breakfast (63 Haley Road, 207-439-0672, chickadeebandb.net), in a comfortable Colonial home (with swimming pool) just off the town's main shopping drag, and Enchanted Nights Bed & Breakfast (29 Wentworth St., 207-439-1489, enchanted-nights-bandb.com), an 1890 Princess Anne Victorian at the beginning of scenic coastal Route 103.

Across from the Kittery outlet malls is the Coachman Inn (380 US Route 1, 207-439-4434, coachmaninn.net), which offers free continental breakfast.

Each of the private cabins at Litson Villas (127 State Road, 207-439-5000, litson-villas.com) has a porch and kitchenette, and daily and weekly rates are available.

If you prefer chain lodging, two choices are the Super 8 Motel (85 US Route 1 Bypass south, 207-439-2000, super8.com) and Rodeway Inn (2 Gorges Road, 207-439-5555, choicehotels.com).

Party

Kittery is a pretty sleepy place in the evenings, but on some Friday nights the Kittery Art Association (8 Coleman Ave., 207-451-9384, kitteryartassociation.org) hosts a series that has featured violinists, Celtic musicians, singer-songwriters, maritime music, and even a special reading by Maine's poet laureate, Betsy Sholl . Check the association's website for an upcoming schedule. Most events are held at the association or nearby First Congregational Church (23 Pepperrell Road). For information about other performances, including music and dance, contact The Space (2 Government St., 207-439-6611, thespace-kittery.com) .

Although it's primarily a restaurant, Cap'n Simeon's Galley (Pepperrell Cove, Route 103, behind Frisbee's Market, 207-439-3655, capnsimeons.com) sometimes has live summertime entertainment in its loft lounge. It posts the schedule at capnsimeons.com/lounge.html.

Play

Enjoy a Piscataqua River tour or catered clambake courtesy of Captain & Patty's (boat departs from the town dock on Pepperrell Road, Kittery Point, 207-439-8976, capandpatty.com). On the ride, you see points of interest on the Maine and New Hampshire shores, including historic forts and scenic lighthouses.

The Haley Art Gallery (see above) offers a host of children's activities, including art workshops and tea-time birthday parties.

At The Space (2 Government St., 207-439-6611, thespace-kittery .com), short for Space for Performing Arts and Cultural Exchange, you can attend classes and performances in dance, music, and other arts.

To get a taste of Kittery's natural beauty, visit the Cutts Island Trail in the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (just off Route 103 at a curve in the road along the water where Chauncey Creek Road turns into Seapoint Road ), a wetlands preserve of several hundred acres that offers walking trails.

Spend

The plethora of outlet stores lining US Route 1 includes large chains such as Banana Republic, Crate & Barrel, Old Navy, and J. Crew. But clothing and home accessories aren't all you can buy. When Pigs Fly (447 Route 1 , 207-439-3114, sendbread.com) sells old-world-style artisan breads at its Kittery company store.

The Russell Stover Candies factory outlet (Kittery Place Mall, 336 Route 1 , 207-438-9350, russellstover.com), sells factory overstock items and seconds, which taste just as good but might be shaped a bit imperfectly.

Yummies (384 State Road, 877-498-6643, yummies.com) boasts that it has more than 10,000 pounds of candy and nuts on display.

Fresh-caught lobsters and shellfish are shipped nationwide by Taylor Lobster Co. (32 Route 236 north, 207-439-1350, taylorlobster.com).

Off the main strip, Just Us Chickens (29 Government St., 207-439-4209, justuschickens.net), is an artists cooperative selling handmade jewelry, paintings, and other crafts.

And besides stationery and greeting cards, Papers, Ink! (64 Wallingford Square, 207-439-1955) also stocks "fun things," such as alligator heads with jaws that remove staples.

The granddaddy of the Route 1 shopping strip may be Kittery Trading Post (301 Route 1, 207-439-2700, kitterytradingpost.com), a clothing and outdoor store open since 1938 that's Kittery's equivalent of L.L. Bean.

Fuel

There's excellent eating in Kittery. Beach Pea Baking Co. (53 State Road, 207-439-3555) makes artisan breads, pastries, and sandwiches, which you can enjoy on its outdoor deck.

Terra Cotta Pasta Co. (52A Route 1, 207-475-3025) makes homemade pastas and sauces in a takeout shop crammed with enticing prepared foods.

At Bagel Caboose (176 State Road, 207-439-5099, bagel caboose.com), the spreads include boursin and apple butter, and you can buy egg breakfast sandwiches, lunch , and truffles.

Bob's Clam Hut (315 Route 1, next to Kittery Trading Post, 207-439-4233, bobsclamhut.com) is a charming little place that's been serving seafood since 1956.

Even older is Warren's Lobster House (11 Water St., 207-439-1630, lobsterhouse.com), a 350-seat restaurant perched above the Piscataqua since 1940.

For ultra-cheap eats, visit the Dog House (Kittery Traffic Circle, 207-439-1559), a minuscule hot dog hut, and Loco Coco's Tacos (36 Walker St., 207-438-9322, locococos.com), a tiny taco shack.

At chic Anneke Jans (60 Wallingford Square, 207-439-0001, annekejans.net), you can order fancy, pricey bistro fare.

And it's tough to beat the waterfront view at Cap'n Simeon's Galley (Pepperrell Cove, Route 103, behind Frisbee's Market, 207-439-3655, capnsimeons .com), which serves seafood, meats, pasta, and sandwiches .

Lobster is on the menu at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier (16 Chauncey Creek Road , 207-439-1030, chaunceycreek.com), open mid-May to Columbus Day .

Enoteca Italiana (20 Walker St., 207-439-7216) is a gourmet take-out shop selling wine, cured meats, and other picnic fare.

Crooked Lane Cafe (70 Wallingford Sq., 207-439-2244) offers baked goods and sandwiches.

Rising Tide Natural Foods (165 State Road , 207-439-8898) is a market that makes vegetarian foods, such as mango chili.

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