The Top Interesting and Fun Things to Do in an Amazing Coastal Setting
There are a ton of fun activities to enjoy during your vacation stay at Old Orchard Beach, whether you’re indulging in adventurous rides at the local amusement parks or simply want to enjoy the stunning views across Saco Bay. But so much variety can make it difficult to know what you should do first. Well never fear – we’ve compiled a list of the ten best things to do while you’re here!
These are the most popular tourist activities in Old Orchard Beach and surrounding areas, and every attraction is well worth a visit if you have the time. Just remember that many of the local attractions in southern Maine are seasonal, so make sure to check the business websites if you are visiting in the off-season.
It’s got the word “beach” in its name for a reason! The town is the center point of a gorgeous 7-mile coastline that runs along Saco Bay. While Old Orchard Beach tends to be the main attraction due to its vibrant beachfront and iconic pier, it is actually only one of a whopping nine beaches that comprise the sandy 7-mile stretch of Saco Bay.
These beaches include Pine Point Beach, Bayview Beach, Grand Beach, Surfside Beach, Old Orchard Beach, Ocean Park Beach, Kinney Shores Beach, Ferry Beach, and Camp Ellis Beach. Each one is unique and offers its own kind of experience, depending on what you’re looking for. You can find peaceful nooks away from the throngs of summer tourists, places to go fishing and kayaking, lively beach communities, and more!
The Old Orchard Beach pier is a veritable icon of the area, an instantly recognizable 500-feet of timber jutting out across the Atlantic Ocean. Built in 1898, the pier has seen its fair share of celebrations and disasters – from raging fires to thunderstorms and blizzards, it has been rebuilt three times over the years. This beach town just can’t do without it!
Today there’s plenty to love about the old pier. Not only is it a great place to take in some of the history and atmosphere of the area, but there are great seafood restaurants, lively bars, and frequent live music performances to keep you entertained all day (and night!).
Right beside the entrance to the Old Orchard Beach pier sits Palace Playland, otherwise known as “New England’s Only Beachfront Amusement Park!” It was built in 1902 and has been entertaining local families and holidaymakers for generations. You can enjoy such classic rides as the Power Surge and Pirate Ship while gazing out over the Atlantic ocean.
The Palace Playland offers 28 rides in three categories: for kiddies, for families, and thrill rides for adrenaline junkies. The site also offers one of the largest arcades in New England, with over 200 arcade games. Park admissions are seasonal, so the site is closed from early September to late May.
At the southern end of Saco Bay sits Ferry Beach State Park, a close and convenient place to explore the local wildlife. It’s a great way to spend a peaceful few hours away from the more tourist-focused areas. Here you can enjoy the stunning beach views and enjoy a picnic or explore the nearby protected Tupelo swamp and sand dunes at the edge of the beach.
It’s also a popular place to find beginner to medium-level hiking trails, through pine, oak, and hemlock forests. You can also go to the park’s nature center to join a guided program through the forested nature trails. During the off-season, the park is closed, but the beach and trailhead can still be accessed on foot.
Enjoy the best of both worlds at Funtown, Splashtown, USA, where you can have tons of fun at an extensive waterpark and an amusement park, all in one site. This attraction draws tons of groups from all over due to its nine water slides, swimming pools, and Pirates Paradise, which dumps up to 500 gallons of water over visitors! Not to mention you’ll be guaranteed to have a blast at the Funtown amusement park.
The amusement park has 28 different rides on offer, and two are totally unique to the site. The Excalibur is the only wooden roller coaster in Maine, and the log flume ride, Thunder Falls, is the tallest ride of its kind in New England!
Admission is reasonably priced, and there’s more than enough to keep you and the kids entertained for the whole day. Both sites are open over the summer, and Funtown, Splashtown, USA is just a short drive from the center of town.
If Splashtown USA wasn’t enough for you, don’t worry – there’s plenty more aquatic fun to be had just up the road at the Aquaboggan Water Park. The first water park ever built in Maine, it’s the perfect place to splash around with friends and family. Take a dip in the famous 750,000-gallon Wave Pool, or try out one of the adrenaline-inducing waterslides while the kiddies are busy at the Toddler Splash N’ Play. And if you want a bit of fun on dry land after that, why not try a round of mini-golf or take a whirl on the Grand Prix Go Carts? A general ticket gives you all-day access to every pool and slide on site.
The Eastern Trail is an off-road 8-mile hiking trail, that connects OOB to both Saco and Scarborough. The trail is part of the East Coast Greenway and is a great way to experience the geography and biodiversity of the area on foot. Take in the beautiful views of the countryside and forests, and prepare for a stunning sight as you reach the Scarborough salt marsh estuary.
It’s a fairly easy trail to walk and is accessible for hikers of all skill levels, so don’t be discouraged by the length of the track. If you need to stop and rest there are plenty of picnic benches and seats along the trail.
For those interested in local history, or who just want to enjoy a scenic day on the coast, nothing beats a day trip to Fort Williams State Park. Here you’ll find the decommissioned military fort that has been turned into a picturesque park and recreational site by the town of Cape Elizabeth. You can visit the picturesque Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine, and the Keeper’s House which currently contains the award-winning Portland Head Light Museum.
There’s also a lovely park with tennis courts, basketball courts, and a baseball diamond, as well as picnic benches where you can enjoy a lobster roll or gelato from one of the park vendors. Cap off your day with a brisk walk along the coast and a quick stop at the Goddard Mansion.
If you’re a fishing hobbyist, or simply want to experience one of the most beloved Maine past time, then you’ll be pleased to know that there are a multitude of fishing charter services you can hire during your stay in OOB. During a charter fishing trip in the Saco Bay area, you’ll be able to try more relaxed, scenic cruises, intensive deep sea fishing for more experienced anglers, and even lobster and shark fishing.
Explore the depths of Pine Point with Reel Salty Fishing, enjoy a scenic ride and lobster fishing with Hat Trick Fishing Charters, or join a customizable, family-orientated expedition with Maine Way Outfitters. Other charter services include Hat Trick Fishing, Maine Tuna Fishing, Saco Bay Stripers, and more.
What if charter fishing isn’t to your taste, but you still want to see more of the waters surrounding OOB? In that case, a whale-watching tour might be right up your alley. That’s right – just off the coast you can watch whale pods as they cruise through Casco Bay. These include humpback whales, minke whales, and pilot whales, not to mention you’re likely to catch a glimpse of other ocean residents such as dolphins and seals.
It’s a glorious display of nature, and as an extra, you’ll also get some of the best views of Old Orchard Beach from the ocean! The best time to whale watch is from April to October when the pods come closer inland to feed. Keep in mind that some whale-watching tour companies are seasonal, and you may want to make reservations well in advance. Whale watching is one of the most popular tourist activities, and spaces are limited.