Old Orchard Beach in Southern Maine is a family friendly beach town perfect for a summertime vacation. The 7 mile long crescent shaped beach, considered the state’s best, is of course the number one attraction here, but there is plenty more to do when the sun goes down or if the gang tires of the beach.
The casual ocean front town offers a Coney Island-esque strip loaded with touristy shops hawking everything you could ever need for a beach vacation, snack shops offering up regional clam cakes and hand cut fries by the box, an over the top mini-golf course, a seaside amusement park and 500 foot pier that has been an Old Orchard Beach destination for over 100 years.
The surrounding areas of Biddeford, Saco, Scarborough and Portland are close enough to Old Orchard Beach that families don’t have to drive far to enjoy the cycling, fishing, boat trips and historic sites they have to offer.
Here are 25 of the best things to do in Old Orchard Beach and the surrounding areas during a summer time family vacation.
1. Enjoy the 7 miles of sun, surf and sand at Old Orchard Beach, consistently voted the best beach in Maine.
2. Watch the Thursday night fireworks right next to the historic pier.
3. Take a spin on the Ferris Wheel or one of the other thrilling attractions at the Coney Island-esque Palace Playland, the only beachfront amusement park in New England.
4. Indulge in an ice cream float or another retro treat at the vintage Ocean Park Soda Fountain a mile south of the Pier in the beachfront village of Ocean Park.
5. Spend an evening at the historic Pier that juts 500 feet out into the ocean chock full of shops, restaurants and other amusements.
6. Rip into a lobster in the rough at The Lobster Claw and Pound down the road in Saco.
7. Play one of the two elaborate pirate themed mini-golf courses at Pirates Cove Adventure Golf.
8. Visit Fun Town/Splash Town amusement park home of the Excalibur the largest roller coaster in the New England.
9. Hit Old Orchard Street for a box of the delicious name sake food at Pier Fries.
10. Take a trip to York Wild Kingdom a lovely zoo and amusement park less than hour south in York.
11. Take a day trip to Portland the picturesque waterfront city 15 miles to the north offers great eating, outdoor adventures, museums and historic sites.
12. Spot an egret as you walk or canoe through the Scarborough Marsh, the largest salt water marsh in the state.
13. See seals, pull lobster traps and fish for mackerel, harbor pollock, bluefish and striped bass on Fish Lips 2 hour family focused deep sea fishing trip.
14. Find out what it is like to be a lobsterman on a Lucky Catch Lobster Trip on the Casco Bay.
15. Feed the bears, visit the moose and bobcat and other rescued animals at the Maine Wildlife Park.
16. Build a sandcastle at the annual Sandcastle Contest held over the 4th of July weekend.
17. Pack a picnic and head to Fort Williams Park, home of the historic Portland Head Light, made famous by Edward Hoppers painting of the same name and the remnants of Fort William.
18. Take a break from the sand at the with a skating session at the Biddeford Ice Arena.
19. Buy a family board game or try to pick a puzzle from the enormous selection at the excellent game store Board Silly on Old Orchard Street.
20. Spend a rainy day at staring at the stars at the Southworth Planetarium on the University of Southern Maine campus in Portland.
21. Monkey around the tree tops at Saco’s Monkey Trunks Arial adventure park.
22. Cycle your way along the Eastern Trail, a renovated rail bed that is easy enough for beginners and pretty enough to satisfy more accomplished riders.
23. Let you kite soar in the breezy sea air as the sun sets and the crowds clear out.
24. Go tide pooling for crabs and other critters along the rocky crevices of the coast in Fort William Park.
25. Splash around at Aquaboggan a small, kiddie oriented water park.