REASONS TO VISIT YORK BEACH, MAINE
Photo above: Thriving York
Beach, Maine, at nighttime. That's the famous Goldenrod restaurant on
the right -- more than 100-years-old and famous for its salt water
taffy (read #7 below for more information)
1. York Wild Kingdom Zoo and Fun Park
1 Railroad Ave.
Many people don't realize how vast this downtown York Beach attraction is, thinking they'll see just a few ratty-looking animals and some anemic, outdated amusement rides. The truth is, the zoo -- along with Southwick's in Mendon, MA, and Roger Williams in Providence, RI, is amongst the best in New England, and the rides provide a more than adequate mix of traditional amusements. Along with the lions, tigers and bears, you'll find some more unusual animals like the two toed sloth, Patagonian Cavy, Capybaras, African Crested Porcupine and Patas Monkey -- as well as an impressive aviary with a tremendous variety of birds. Amusements include a merry-go-round, 90 ft. slide, ferris wheel, bumper cars and boats, a haunted house, miniature golf, batting cages, boat rides, and arcade games. Be prepared to spend a whole morning or afternoon here -- or depending upon your energy level, a full day!
2. Nubble Lighthouse
Built and established in 1879, Nubble Lighthouse majestically stands one of America's most photographed lighthouses. Perfectly framed by the often rough seas and classic rocky Maine coast, you could spend hours here sitting on a bench, climbing the rocks and just taking in the salt sea air and splendid scenery. Located at Sohier Park, which also includes a small gift shop on the premises with some fantastic regional arts and crafts items for sale (as well as some souvenirs).
3. Brown's Ice Cream (CLOSED)
232 Nubble Rd.
4. Fosters Downeast Clambake
1 Axholme Rd. (visible from
When in Maine, do as the Maine people do -- that includes having a "Downeast" clambake that includes Maine lobster, steamers and clam chowder. Fosters Downeast Clambake just might be the quintessential, Maine dining destination to make your clambake dreams come true. Walk past the lobster pools, place your order at the walk-up counter and you're on your way to a memorable dining experience; the wonderful regional seafood and indoor picnic-like seating area truly resonates with the essence of a Maine summer. Located minutes from the action of York Beach, Foster's also features a gift shop with clothing and souvenirs, and musical entertainment (we listened to a local crowd-pleasing musician who covered everything from Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" to "I'm Henry the Eighth I Am" (the slightly annoying Herman's Hermits song from 1965).
5. Short Sands Beach
Route 1A Downtown
Short Sands Beach feels like your own secluded discovery, even with the crowds of people that frequent downtown York Beach to swim, shop and surf. Relatively small for a popular ocean beach, Short Sands packs a mighty wave of appeal with a great stretch of sand, chilly swimming waters for the brave, and a perfect background of Victorian homes, rocky coast, and fun attractions -- like the bowling and arcade buildings and the Surfside restaurant for fried seafood (see #9 below). You'll also find a playground, gazebo where entertainment takes place, and a basketball court. Right off the beach is The Goldenrod for tasty breakfasts, lunches and dinners and made-on-the-premises salt water taffy (see #6 below). Also noteworthy is Joan's Beach and Gift, the perfect place to find local gifts, souvenirs and clothing -- it's more on the side of classy rather than tacky and without the inflated prices. Beyond Joan's, you'll find a mix of more souvenir and clothing stores (read about Ro's below, #10), restaurants and bars, Hotels (like the new upscale Atlantic and the older, quaint Union Bluff), two homemade fudge shops, the aforementioned York Wild Kingdom Zoo and Fun Park, and lots of places to eat ice cream. Shorts Sands Beach and its lively surroundings are equally fun whether on a hot sunny day, or at sundown when the crowds are less and the air cools down for a quiet, relaxing evening by the beach.
6. Long Sands Beach
Long Sands Rd.
This one-plus mile stretch of sandy beach is perfect for that proverbial sunset stroll, or to throw a Frisbee around, dig up clams, build a sandcastle, surf or boogie board, or just soak in the views of Nubble Lighthouse in the distance. Motels, inns, restaurants, ice cream stands and summer homes colorfully complement the beach from across the street. Perfect for the family!
7. The Goldenrod
2 Railroad Ave.
More than 100 years old, this seasonal breakfast, lunch and dinner landmark is best known for its salt water taffy-making. You can create your own tour-- as hundreds of people each day do -- by looking through the window of the restaurant where employees and efficient-looking automated machines work to deliver this delicious treat. Inside, you'll find a wide variety of this freshly-made taffy, and also other candies, ice cream, and gifts. The dining room is cozy with a high-arched ceiling and nice wood paneling, and the delightful soda fountain looks like a scene out of of the 1940s.
8. Katahdin Inn
11 Ocean Ave. Extension
What a location, with panoramic views of Short Sands Beach! Gracious owners Bob and Rae LeBlanc offer clean, pleasant guest rooms, a cozy living room with television, as well as an outdoor front porch perfect for relaxing over views of the ocean. More of a bed and beach than a bed and breakfast, the stately 19th century Victorian Katahdin Inn offers amazingly low nightly rates for such a beautiful inn by the sea. It's open year-round, and just might be as nice after Labor Day as in the summer, given the lessening crowds and still warm weather (well, in September, anyway).
9. The Surfside, Bowling and Fun-O-Rama
Route 1A Downtown
Located, as mentioned earlier in this article, on Shorts Sands Beach, this trio of businesses offers the classic beach accompaniments -- fried seafood, clam chowder, bowling, indoor miniature golf, arcade games, souvenirs, clothing, boogie boards and surfer gear. This is a true summertime staple amongst families looking for good, clean fun without the sleaziness factor.
10. Ro's Shirts by the Shore
17 Railroad Ave.
Enjoying a picnic at Sohier Park, York Beach
Fishing at Hopkinton State Park
Spring magic at Short Sands Beach, York Beach
A Long Sands Beach walk in the morning
Fun and fried food at Short Sands Beach
What it's like to be at Nubble Lighthouse, Cape Neddick
A Marginal Way summer in Ogunquit
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