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Old Orchard Beach

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Old Orchard Beach [1] is a city in the Southern Coast region of Maine.

History[edit]

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[edit]

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 [2] 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.

Understand[edit]

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.

Old Orchard Beach is a vacation spot. It is very accommodating to families or couples and offers plenty to do. Whether, you enjoy lounging on the seven mile long beach, enjoying the quiet, or exploring neighboring Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach accommodates everyone.

Get in[edit]

By Car Old Orchard Beach is located in Saco, Maine. It can be accessed by I-95 N. All points North. Boston to Old Orchard Beach is about 2.5 hours depending on traffic. There’re several tolls, make sure to have cash on hand or by an E-ZPass.

By Train Amtrak Downeaster makes scheduled stops from May to October. For information on the Downeaster, call Amtrak 1-800-USA-RAIL (800-872-7245) or visit them on the web [3]

Get around[edit]

  • Summer Trolley is $1. Buses to Saco and Biddeford all year $1.25. [4]
  • Motorcycles are popular
  • Mopeds and bikes available to rent
  • Walking is best in and around town

See[edit][add listing]

  • Old Orchard Beach is located on the Atlantic Ocean
  • The sand is a light brown with remnants of broken clam and mussel shells.
  • Looking out at the ocean, you can see sailing boats in the distant
  • Walking in the morning is very popular, you can see people looking for quahaugs or playing with their dogs
  • When walking either East or West along the beach, you can see private properties
  • Visit the last remaining New England beachfront amusement park Palace Playland
  • On Thursdays during the summer, watch fireworks on the beach at 9:45 starting after the Fourth of July. Also, there is a giant fireworks show at 9:45 on the Fourth

Do[edit][add listing]

Go to the beach. If it's crowded, head north. Early morning beach fishing is great. Beaches start filling up early; families usually arrive around 9-10am

If beaches get to crowded try Pine Point heading into Scarborough, watch the boats and have lunch

Camp Ellis is a throwback to a simpler time, stop by the general store, watch lobsterman, sing-up for private cruises around Saco, and charter a fishing boat, and offers new parasailing excursions

Head to the Scarborough Marsh and take a canoe ride or go clamming.

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.

Bring your dog to the beach. Between Old Orchard and Ocean Park there is a dog friendly beach.

Visit Ferry State Park

Saturdays and Mondays visit the American Legion on Imperial Street for Bingo

Visit the shops in town

Cascade Flea Market on Portland Rd. Saco, Maine

Play pitch n’ Putt golf on First Street, Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Public Library has free wifi. Hit the park and check your on your email :) (bathrooms also in the park)

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

Go Surfing!! Winter Storms? zero degree weather? hit the surf. or go for the Lobster Dip for charity Jan 1.

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[edit][add listing]

Harold’s, 11 E. Grand Ave, Old Orchard Beach (207) 934-4382. Sells everything from live hermit crabs to beach apparel.

Nestling Duck Gift Shop, 350 Pine Point Road Scarborough, Maine 04074 (207)-883-6705. Sells souvenirs, gourmet food items and home decor items.

Dickinson’s Candy, 42 Old Orchard Street, Old Orchard Beach (207) 934-7507. Sells nostalgic candy like flying saucers, jaw breakers, cotton candy, homemade fudge, and candy and caramel apples.

The Pier, is a highlight and throwback. The pier has food, drink and small unique shops like leather, hair braids and OOB souvenir shops.

Wholesale Books, 15 Old Orchard Street, Old Orchard Beach, (207) 937-2491. Great place to go and find books of a wide variety at a decent price.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Old Orchard Beach has the best snack food and incredibly fresh seafood. Breakfast in Old Orchard beach can be a quick coffee and bagel or a leisurely sit down breakfast. Some key places are Beach Bagels, Tom’s Restaurant, and JJ’s Eatery Too.

Lunch and dinner choices in & around OOB

Fat Bellies Deli, 33 W. Grand Ave, Old Orchard Beach (207) 934-0484. Very cheap yet tasty food with a casual feel. Close by to the beach to grab a quick sandwich like a lobster roll, club sandwich, hamburger or hot dog.

Jimmy the Greek’s, 215 Saco Ave, Old Orchard Beach (207) 934-7499. Has excellent food, not what you’d expect on the coast of Maine. Mediterranean themed menu plus gyros, paninis and burgers. Plenty alcoholic beverage options.

Bills Pizza not to be confused with Mr. Bill’s. Bills Pizza serves by the slice and pie, but most common is a slice. Their slices are as big as the paper plates they’re served on. Their cheese pizza is the best. Bills Pizza is right next to Pier French Fries.

Pier French Fries is the best French fry you’ll ever have. So good that ketchup or vinegar is not required, but that’s just a taste difference. Most popular size is a box.

For Diner without children

For a nice quite dinner try The Landmark Fine Dining on 28 E Grand Ave in the heart of town or The Steakhouse 1205 Post Road in Wells, Maine 04090 (207) 646-4200

Rocco’s or Lisa’s Pizza has great fried dough, best with a little cinnamon and powdered sugar.

If you’re familiar with the New England style clam cake, don’t expect it in Maine. Maine’s clam cakes are flat as a pancake.

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. Great gift for house sitters!

Delivery in OOB

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.

Just Outside of Town

Golden Rooster (only open until 2 now) 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

Classics

Clam Bake Dunstan School

Drink[edit][add listing]

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[edit][add listing]

OOB offers all different types of lodging. It all depends on what your looking for. Campgrounds are available, B&B’s, beachside motels and hotels, and houses that are rented by the week, months or the entire summer. If you want to stay in the heart of town, it can be upwards of $120 per night. Most motel and hotels don’t allow pets. Call ahead to find out the pet policy. Not the best furnishings, hotels are basically used just to sleep. Most people leave the hotel for the entire day and don't come back till late.

If your traveling in a group with 6-8 people, it's best to rent a house for the week or month even. Cheaper to divide up the rent in a large group. Perfect for young people traveling in groups for a summer vacation.

  • Atlantic Birches Inn, 20 Portland Ave., +1 207 934-5295, or +1 888-934-5295 [5]. Victorian style bed and breakfast. The B&B is at the top of town near the Chamber of Commerce. If you want to be waited on and enjoy a relaxing vacation, Atlantic Birches Inn is your spot. Can be expensive.

Beach Walk Oceanfront Inn, 109 E. Grand Ave., + 1 207 934-2381. 27 units that have partial and full views of the beach. Single, double and apartments with Kitchenettes or a full kitchen. Internet access and pool. $140-$230. [6] Decent clean rooms. Gets a little loud at night.

The Oceanic Inn & One Soho Square British Style Pub, 43 W. Grand Ave., + 1 207 934-1300. 14 units, call for reservations. Owner Armand Vachon designed the pub based on what he experienced as a roadie for Paul McCartney and Wings in the 1970s. If your a night owl and enjoy the night life, this is the spot for you.

Powder Horn, 48 Cascade Road, + 1 207 934-4733. Camping and RV parking. 65 acre campground with 4 pools, 2 jacuzzis and an 18-hole miniature golf course. To get to the beach, trolleys are available that drop off at convenient locals. 
 $30-$50 [7] Affordable vacation for the whole family.

Sir Charles Motel, 90 E. Grand Ave., + 1 207 934-2727. Located on the opposite side of the beach, Sir Charles Motel has 12 units, studio, two bedroom, large balconies. The 12 units may not all offer views to the beach. Access to sister property's The Green Dolphin facilities. $100-$225. [8]

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

If you want to explore more of Maine, visit neighboring Scarborough and go to Scarborough Downs and watch harness racing. 90 Payne Rd  Scarborough, ME 04074 (207) 883-433.

The Maine Mall, 364 Maine Mall Rd  Portland, ME 04106 (207) 774-0303. About 20 minutes away.

Take a day trip and visit The Portland Sea Dogs, 271 Park Ave  Portland, ME 04102 (207) 874-9300. 30 minutes away.


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