The Maine Beaches
Maine’s southern gateway is bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by New Hampshire. It is an area with broad white sand beaches, great shopping and historic coastal villages.
Shortly after crossing the towering steel bridge that spans the Piscataqua River between New Hampshire and Maine, you arrive in Kittery, one of Maine’s most popular shopping destinations. Visit more than 120 outlets and restaurants, including the Kittery Trading Post.
From Kittery, you may choose to venture inland along the historic Piscataqua River Valley with its colonial era homes including the Hamilton House with its lovely Georgian architecture or the home of noted author Sarah Orne Jewett in South Berwick.
A little farther north is the Willowbrook Museum, a complete 19th Century restored village with 27 buildings displaying horse-drawn vehicles, tools, household and farm items, an historic carousel, restaurant and authentic country store.
In the fall, enjoy the annual apple festival in nearby Cornish. Head east towards Portland on Route 25 and visit the Daniel Marrett House in Standish where many Portland banks stored their money during the War of 1812.
The region’s second option is a tour up the coast through many historic towns. York was settled in by English colonists in 1630, then became America’s first chartered city in 1642. The Old York Historical Society boasts buildings dating back to the early 1700s. The Old Gaol (jail) was built in 1653 following an act that established it as the first Royal prison in the Province of Maine. In 2000, the Old Gaol celebrated its 100th anniversary as a museum of American history.
York is well known for its lovely beaches and the Cape Neddick lighthouse, commonly referred to as “Nubble Light”. Downtown York is home to Goldenrod kisses saltwater taffy, a chewy sweet that has been made here since 1896.
Ogunquit is a well-known artist colony with more than 50 galleries. Its famous summer theater neatly fronts a spacious white sand beach. Groups may enjoy a leisurely stroll along Marginal Way to Perkins Cove, where they will find a collection of interesting shops and restaurants.
Wells is home the Wells Auto Museum with more than 80 antique automobiles and a fine selection of working antique arcade games and nickelodeons. You will also find the Lighthouse Depot, the world’s largest lighthouse gift store.
Kennebunkport has been in the spotlight since George Herbert Walker Bush became president and spent time at his summer home here, but the town originally prospered as a result of the shipbuilding industry in the 1800s. This history is displayed at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk. A number of elegant captain’s mansions may be toured in the area or take an architectural walking tour of the community.
The oldest and largest electric railway museum in the world is located in Kennebunkport. The Seashore Trolley Museum has over 250 transit vehicles from throughout the world. Visitors can even take a ride on one of these historic vehicles.
Taking its name from an apple orchard that sat on a hill overlooking the beach, Old Orchard Beach quickly became a tourist destination following the introduction of steam train service between Boston and Portland in 1842. In 1853 a new rail service connected Old Orchard Beach to Montreal establishing it as the closest and most convenient beach to Canada’s largest city. The French Canadian influence is still prevalent today.
In 1898 a 1,770-foot pier was built out over the water, but was severely damaged by weather that same year. The pier was later reduced to 700 feet. During the Big Band era, visitors could dance to the sounds of Guy Lombardo, Rudy Valle, and Duke Ellington at the Pier Casino.