Old Orchard Beach is a city of 8,800 people (2014) in the Southern Coast region of Maine. Old Orchard Beach has a seven-mile stretch of wide-open beach. There are 25 rides and arcade games at Palace Playland, its seaside amusement park. Funtown/Splashtown USA is home to one of the largest wooden roller coasters in the country, and to a ride featuring a 200-foot free-fall descent.
Visit in June, Late August or Early September. Avoid the holiday weekends, You will not regret missing the crowds. The water is also warmer in the late season.
Old Orchard Beach has an incredible past, dating back to 1653. Its first settler, Thomas Rogers established "Garden by the Sea" in 1657. The "old" apple orchard from which the town got its name Old Orchard Beach, was a landmark to sailors for many years, it was on high land above the long sand beach. The owner of the orchard saw the potential for a summer resort and built the first Old Orchard Beach boarding house.
That was just the beginning. As more people found leisure time, and wanted to escape the rat race pace of big city life, they looked to Maine, and specifically to Old Orchard Beach. Accommodations and attractions of all sorts were built to bring in the tourists. Stores, amusement parks, a racetrack and various other attractions were built to attract the masses, which came to include entertainers like Duke Ellington, Guy Lombardo and public figures like Charles Lindbergh and wealthy families like the Fitzgerald's and the Kennedy's.
The town has preserved some of the town's history, a conscious effort to revitalize the downtown area and its immediate surrounding Historic District buildings such as the Thomas L. Cleaves Home (now the Atlantic Birches Inn Bed and Breakfast) was built in 1902 by renowned architect John Calvin Stevens. This re-vitalization effort a has resulted in new Victorian lighting, wide, brick, tree-lined sidewalks and an outside dining courtyard complete with fountain in Town Square and a newly renovated Town Hall.
If you are looking for the "quieter side" of Old Orchard Beach, try camping, hiking or biking in the nearby Ferry Beach state park in Ocean park, canoeing and bird watching in the saltwater marsh nature center area of Scarborough/Pine Point. There are few experiences that can compare to the peacefulness and privacy of strolling the sands of Old Orchard Beach looking for seashells and then coming back to relax and revitalize yourself at the Atlantic Birches Inn bed and breakfast.
1892 electric trolley cars replaced horse drawn trolley cars to Biddeford and Saco.
1898 proved to be an unfortuitous year to complete the first Pier. Built of steel and measuring 1,770 feet long and 20 feet above the tides, the Pier was severely damaged in November of that same year by an early winter storm.
1900 brought the first town hall and 1902 the first amusement area complete with roller skating, merry-go-round, rides, games, and refreshment stands. The Portland to Old Orchard Beach Electric Railway opened in 1903 where 14 miles of track were traveled in under one hour for $.20.
In 1907, the Great Fire [dead link] destroyed the entire beachfront as firemen from Portland, Biddeford, and Saco rushed to the beach but struggled to contain the blaze, hampered by low water pressure. Rebuilding began at once, and one project "the standpipe" assured adequate water for all.
Summer Trolley is $1. Buses to Saco and Biddeford all year $1.25. Motorcycles are popular, but walking is best in and around town.
Leave your car at home. The train stops right in OOB, its a little bit pricier than the cost of a gas ride up from lower New England but the money you save getting around on foot and on the bus will make up for it. not to mention you'll be doing the beach a favor by not adding to the pollution.
- The Arcade, Main street.
- The Ferris Wheel.
Go to the beach. If it's crowded, head north. Early morning beach fishing is great. Between Old Orchard and Ocean Park there is a dog friendly beach. Pick up all of your trash, especially cigarette butts. Protect the beach! Do not go into the Dunes. They have a tough enough time with the construction. They are a last stand at a habitat for the local wildlife.
Go Surfing! Winter storms? Zero degree weather? Hit the surf, or go for the Lobster Dip for charity Jan 1.
Bring your bike and take a ride up Portland Ave, Ross Road, Rte 9. or head up Cascade Ave and check out the woods and the waterfall.
If you do bring a car take a through Cape Elizabeth. Check out the lighthouses and stop to pick strawberries on your way back.
Make sure that if you need cash, you get it in the town or elsewhere before going out for a night on the pier. The only ATM there has a surcharge of $4.50 and can have quite a line in the evening.
The Old Orchard Pier is famous for it's awesome beach but not so much for its cuisine. If you want a great sit down dinner head to Portland for the night. There are a few decent restaurants near the beach but they're generally overpriced and overrated.
The Fruit Stand across from Coastal Convenience offers lobster and clams at super reasonable prices (and they will steam them for you). They have the best produce in town and the friendliest help. So if you're looking for a lobster dinner, pick up a few, boil up some potatoes and corn cobs and head to the beach.
Cooking up your own clams is also a great way to have a reasonably priced dinner. Stop by town hall and ask about clamming in the area.
- Rocco's Pizza. Rocco's isn't the oldest pizza joint but definitely the best. Freshest Dough on the Beach, New Yorkish Style. Stop by and say ciao to Rocco and be sure to pick up a cannoli.
- Bayley's Seafood (Scarborough). Best seafood in the area, if you ask sometimes the trolley will take you there or you can hop the Portland Bus. It's easy enough to get to on bikes, take a drive by the marsh and stop by Dairy Corner on your way back into town. Ken's is also ok, better for families, reasonable and spacious.
- Dairy Corner (Scarborough). Best soft serve in Maine, possibly all of New England. The mint chip is also amazing!
- Bua Thai. Great Thai place; portions are on the small side but super fresh
- Lisa's Pizza. For when Rocco isn't around, they're in town and open most of the time.
- Mario's Pizza. Rocco's cousin
- David's Sub Shop. If you need lunch and have already had too much pizza or stromboli (as if that's possible) take 5 minutes to walk to David's in the Radley's Plaza. They're prices are reasonable and the food is homemade. Sandwiches and lasagne recommended.
- OOB House of Pizza. Only recommended for the burgers. They are awesome and reasonably priced.
- May Mee Chinese Food (Saco). Great Chinese food for when you're hold up in your hotel room.
- Yummy Thai (Saco). Best thai food in the area and they will often deliver to OOB.
- Golden Rooster. Best handcut french fries in the area. Need breakfast and have some time? take the bus into Saco it drives right by the rooster, you won't regret it. after filling yourself up take a quick jaunt around the shops while you wait for the bus to come back around.
- Chaba Thai, Rte 1. Great thai food
- Pier Fries. An old favorite (right on the intersection of the main strip). They taste great with just a little salt and vinegar.
- Ken's. Great clam cakes and whole belly clams. If you are into drinks, try their spicy Bloody Mary.
You will find no shortage of bars located out on the pier. Remember that you can't drink on the beach. The seasonal officers patrol the beach looking for open containers.
Do not wait to book a room until you get here, unless it is the off season.
- Atlantic Birches Inn, 20 Portland Ave, ☏ , toll-free: . Bed and Breakfast. The Victorian Main House built in 1902 by John Calvin Stevens during the beaches heyday, and the 1920s bungalow called The Cottage. Open year round. Shaded front porches.
- Edgewater Inn, 57 West Grand Ave, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Great rates, open year round and has a fantastic furnished deck for daytime sun and evening relaxing.
- Friendship Motor Inn, 167 E Grand Ave, ☏ .
- Ocean Walk Hotel, 197 East Grand Ave, ☏ .
- Royal Anchor Resort, 203 E Grand Ave, ☏ .
The Public Library has free wifi.
If you find the beach to be too crowded or dirty (the town has done a great job with trash pickup, but still has a way to go), try hunting for less-used beaches in Rye, NH or the Wells/Ogunquit area.
The northern part of the beach, also known as Pine Point is in Scarborough. It is more peaceful and usually less crowded. Coming from Route 9, when you get to the intersection with the Clam Bake restaurant, turn right onto East Grand Avenue. Try to park in a spot on the right hand side of the street, and almost all streets on the left hand side of the road are public access to the beach.
There's also Ocean Park, located south of Old Orchard Beach. It's a gorgeous, tiny little seaside town with an amazing ice cream parlor called The Soda Fountain! Don't miss Illumination Night in August either.
|Routes through Old Orchard Beach|
|Brunswick ← Portland ←||N S||→ Saco → Boston|
|Dover ← Saco ←||W E||→ Scarborough → Portland|