Old Orchard Beach

Old Orchard Beach is a city in the Southern Coast region of Maine.

Understand

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.

Old Orchard Beach is a community in which residents and tourists alike may take full advantage of a restful day on our seven-mile stretch of wide-open beach. Enjoy any of the 25 rides and arcade games at Palace Playland, our seaside amusement park. Funtown/Splashtown USA is home to one of the largest wooden roller coasters in the country as well as a new ride featuring a 200 feet free fall descent.

If one is 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.

Historical Events

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.

1907 The Great Fire 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.

Get in

Amtrak's Downeaster provides seasonal train service from Portland, Maine and Boston.

Get around

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.

See

Do

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.

Buy

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.

Eat

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.

Drink

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.

Sleep

Do not wait to book a room until you get here, unless it is the off season.

Connect

The Public Library has free wifi.

Go next

If you find the beach itself to be too crowded or dirty (the town has done a great job with trash pickup from where it was five years ago, 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 and technically in Scarborough, 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


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, January 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.