Looking for the best things to do in Old Orchard Beach Maine? We’ve got you covered!
The story of how Old Orchard Beach became a beach resort destination off the Maine coastline has more twists and turns than the iconic roller coaster sitting seaside. Known colloquially as OOB, it’s really more of an “OMG” as you learn the history and evolution of this unique seaside town.
This carnival and pier atmosphere gives off Jersey Shore vibes, but it’s truly a Maine treasure with Old Orchard Beach secrets, fun activities, and iconic fair foods along 7 miles of beach heaven facing Saco Bay.
Old Orchard Beach | The Apple of Maine’s Eye
OOB is named for the old apple orchard that sat atop a cliff in the 1650s. For 150 years, it was an old-school GPS signaling to ships on the Atlantic Ocean. Even when a forest fire ravaged most of the county in 1780, the orchard was spared.
That stroke of good luck first made Old Orchard Beach a tourist destination, but that lucky streak was short-lived. If you learn nothing else from OOB, take with you the resiliency of a beach town that was forced to rebuild after massive fires and storms.
Each one could have proved catastrophic and left this land as nothing more than a barren stretch of coastline. Each time, the memories and magnitude of OOB fueled the inspiration to rebuild.
After nearly 200 years of being a resort destination, Old Orchard Beach is now a premier summer beach retreat. International visitors come from as far as Europe, and French Canadians flock to the nostalgic sands.
Stories of Charles Lindbergh, Frank Sinatra, and Stephen King are told among the locals. Breathing in the salty air or munching on salted famous French fries, a trip to Maine’s coastline isn’t complete without a stop at OOB.
The Weather in Old Orchard Beach
OOB is primarily a summer destination, with the year-round population of 20,000 swelling to five times its size as tourists start the beach pilgrimage around Memorial Day and the crowds die down after Labor Day.
Summer at Old Orchard Beach
June, July, and August bring the best temperatures, averaging in the upper 70s and low 80s (Fahrenheit). Nighttime temperatures can dip down to the 50s. May and June are typically more cloudy than sunny, with July through October offering the best sunny skies.
Fall at Old Orchard Beach
During the transition from High Season to Shoulder Season in September, temperatures still average 73 degrees during the day and 51 degrees at night. October’s temperatures drop about 10 degrees for day and night, and peak fall foliage starts around mid to late October.
NOTE: Hurricane season runs from June through November.
Winter at Old Orchard Beach
You don’t have to write off OOB in the winter, even with many of the shops, rides, and restaurants closing for the season on the second Monday in October (Columbus Day).
Several of the resorts are open year-round, and you’re close enough to Biddeford, Saco, and Portland to enjoy beach walks and Maine’s winter wonderland. Be sure to layer up because temperatures hover at or below freezing for much of the season.
Outdoor Things to Do in Old Orchard Beach
This town was made for beach days and summer nights, but the excitement goes beyond the sand and water. Whether you want to kick back and relax or kick it up a notch with an adrenaline rush, there’s something for everyone and incredible food to fuel the next adventure.
Old Orchard Beach Pier
The Old Orchard Beach Pier has been standing since 1898 but has gone through several iterations since the first 1,825-foot-long pier was first built.
A casualty of intense storms and fires, each version of the rebuilt pier brought something new. As it stands in 2023, it’s 600 feet long and was ranked as the No. 5 Best Beach Boardwalk by Reader’s Digest in 2021.
The pier offers lobster shacks, sit-down dining with Oceanside tables, a nightclub, and souvenir stands. For the best views, plan at least one meal here. You won’t get many sweeping views just by walking the pier because of the number of restaurants and vendor booths along the way.
Repeatedly touted as “New England’s Only Beachfront Amusement Park,” Palace Playland guests can explore 5 acres of an oceanfront amusement park that has also weathered the Maine weather and fires.
Nearly 30 rides and the largest arcade in the state make this a family-friendly destination. Rides are designated as Kiddy Rides, Family Rides, and Coaster/Thrill Rides. The newest roller coaster is the Sea Viper with speeds up to 44 mph and a maximum height of 70 feet.
The arcade has some of the trendiest games of modern arcades but throws in some nostalgia with Zoltan the Fortune Teller and “Grandma,” a 1950s vintage machine that gives advice.
MORE: Sign up for the Palace Playland Fun Club to get discounts and details on new attractions.
Old Orchard Beach is known for its 7 miles of sandy beachfront, a novelty among Maine’s mostly rocky coastline. The long stretch is so well-known that, throughout history, it was used as a racetrack and a landing strip for airplanes.
While the area around the pier can quickly become crowded, feel free to spread out along the entire stretch of sandy beach if you want a quieter spot. And, here are some things to know when spending time at the beach:
- Parking costs are at a premium, so consider purchasing a parking permit.
- You can use the seasonal trolley service to get around OOB, Saco, and Biddeford while also eliminating parking problems.
- Public restrooms are few and far between, one of the biggest challenges of spending time at OOB. Businesses mostly offer restrooms for customers only. Go every chance you get, but know there’s a plan to include more public restrooms in 2023 and beyond.
The Eastern Trail runs 65 miles from Kittery to Portland, with a stretch running through OOB. It’s also part of a 3,000-mile trail from Calais Maine to Key West Florida.
Visitors can travel by foot, bike, or horse to explore the many sections, including scenic vistas, unique Maine flowers and plants, and a mix of paved and unpaved sections over rivers.
One of the best-kept Old Orchard Beach secrets is a community tucked away from the crowds and distractions. Ocean Park is a Chautauqua-by-the-sea location between OOB and Saco. The public is welcome, but the value and traditions of this dry, wholesome community are firm.
Generations of families have found respite in this beachfront neighborhood, with shuffleboard being as exciting as a night gets around here.
Ocean Park, or OP as the locals call it, was established in 1881 by the Free Will Baptists. The community isn’t a traditional tourist trap, but it does offer the relaxation and escape that many beachgoers are looking for on a trip to Maine. It’s a nice complement to the more touristy side of OOB.
Indoor Things to Do in Old Orchard Beach
Rainy days, blustery winter storms, and sunburns don’t mean that the fun stops at OOB. There are several indoor options to explore when you can’t spend time outdoors.
It might be smart to start your trip to Old Orchard Beach at the Harmon Museum, which is hosted by the local historical society.
The historic moments of the beach community are carefully displayed and restored at this goldmine of memories. You can see the different iterations of the pier and disaster photos of several fires.
“It took awhile to get everyone’s attention, but within three minutes the area was bursting and exploding like World War II… within a couple of minutes the whole of Noah’s Ark was engulfed in flames and people were running, screaming off the pier right past the flames.”Dave “The Guesser” Glovsky, 1909-1997, of the 1969 fire that tore through the Playland and pier
You’ll see amazing photos of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh standing next to the Spirit of St. Louis airplane after an unscheduled landing.
“He never looked at the crowd nor did he betray the slightest consciousness of an audience. He stood looking out to sea, the surf tumbling in cool green rollers at his feet and the wind blowing his hair. He picked up a handful of seaweed and tossed it into the air to show the direction of the wind.”Elise Fellows White as written in her diary in 1927
Learning about the Blizzard of 1978 will make you appreciate the pier that much more while offering a cautionary tale never to let Maine storms be underestimated.
A few hours at this museum, and you’ll see why this city is so much more than a fun beach town — it’s a Maine icon.
Jungle Adventure 3D Mini Golf
Any town can have miniature golf, but have you seen indoor mini golf illuminated with blacklights? That’s what you’ll get at the Jungle Adventure 3D Mini Golf Course just blocks from the beach. An arcade inside offers yet another great opportunity with much smaller crowds than the beachside arcade.
Libby Memorial Library
The town library is filled with exciting games and events in addition to being supplied with bestsellers and old classics. Events include things like giant Scrabble, storytimes, and Lego club.
You’ll feel the unique vibe of the Libby Memorial Library before you even walk inside. And, check out the detailed mailbox and hand-carved icons above the entryway.
Other Things to Do Near Old Orchard Beach
OOB is a niche location with mostly outdoor activities related to the beach, pier, or carnival. When you want to explore more, you have several cities close by too.
Saco (“sock-oh,” not “say-coe”) shares a border with OOB, and you might be surprised to find that places like Funtown Splashtown are actually in a different city since it’s so close to Old Orchard Beach.
Usually, Saco & Biddeford go hand in hand (or on the same page of travel magazines) because the two were industrial behemoths powered by the Saco River. Biddeford is just across the river from Saco, with Factory Island between the two.
Schedule a run-in with a moose made of chocolate at Len Libby Candies. It’s the world’s only life-sized chocolate moose. Chocolates, taffy, and fudge satisfy every sweet tooth at this Scarborough staple. Don’t forget a bottle of Maine maple syrup.
Delicious OOB Maine Restaurants
From finger food to fancy dining, Old Orchard Beach has meals for everyone, with local options covering breakfast all the way through to late-night snacks.
Pier French Fries
When you eat at the original Pier French Fries, you’re taking a bite out of a tradition more than 90 years in the making. Fried dough and hot dogs are two other popular staples of this historic dining icon.
After making it through many fires and several storms, it was the Blizzard of 1978 that sent the food shack to the main road of Old Orchard Street and off the pier for good.
Dining on the Pier
The OOB Pier is still standing despite many fiery, windy, and watery disasters. You can dine at the Pier Patio Pub or dance the night away at the Top of the Pier Nightclub. It’s casual dining with elite views of the water, energetic music, and plenty of conversations between friends and strangers.
Joseph’s by the Sea
The classic and upscale Joseph’s by the Sea is more traditional Maine than OOB’s carousels and corn dogs. Whether you want a burger, truffle fries, or filet mignon, you’ll also have a tough choice between indoor water views, patio seating, and rooftop tables.
In July 2021, a fire tore through the building, but in classic Old Orchard Beach style, the owners rebuilt. Within a year, the restaurant was restored to its former glory.
Mainely Lobster Cafe
Of all the lobster shacks in Maine, you have to walk up to this one. Like Bubba Gump listing off the various types of shrimp, Mainley Lobster Cafe offers a similar list — lobster rolls, lobster spring rolls, lobster mac & cheese, lobster BLT — but don’t stop there.
The freshly harvested ingredients mean the menu changes daily. Lemon-charred octopus, scallop tataki, and a tuna bowl were the top choices for the summer of 2022.
There’s one thing you won’t find here — a fryer. No fried food options are on the menu, offering a healthier choice in a sea of deep-fried delights. Don’t forget to try the Frose, which is a frozen wine drink in several flavors.
It’s hard to find a bad seat at The Brunswick (The Wick, as locals call it) since it offers the largest oceanfront patio bar in town. The carb-rich menu will stave off the effects of the Brunswick Voodoo Bucket of booze, at least briefly.
Outside, you’ll find live music with lunch and dinner. Inside turns into a nightclub and dance floor with musical geniuses catering to the crowd with unique twists on every tune.
Alouette Beach Cafe
Touted as one of the best Old Orchard Beach secrets, the Alouette Beach Cafe is within a resort but open to the public. The robust breakfast menu with hearty portions makes it a popular stop in the morning, even during the winter doldrums.
Also, the cafe is off the main pier path, so there are smaller crowds and more elbow room to dig into that Texas French Toast or enormous omelet.
Myst Oceanside Restaurant & Bar
People watchers will love Myst Oceanside Restaurant & Bar’s perfect location. Views of the crowds and the pier entrance will keep you entertained while you indulge in the popular Frozen Watermelon Martinis and Fish Tacos, or any of the other comfort foods with beach flair on the menu.
Drinks, spirits, and beer are also available to go.
Hotels in Old Orchard Beach & Other Lodging
Whether you want an inn, resort, campground, or cottage, there’s a “pier-fect” place for all travelers in Old Orchard Beach Maine.
The Sea Star
When you want to be in the center of everything that OOB offers, The Sea Star could be your five-star destination. Townhouses and penthouses all have beach views and central A/C.
Guests also get a reserved private section of the beach while still being close enough to smell the fried dough from the pier. With such large accommodations, you get a full kitchen with accessories and utensils as well.
Sea Cliff House Motel
When you want a spot on the beach away from the pier beach crowds, consider Sea Cliff House Motel. Centered near a quieter stretch of the 7-mile beach, you are still just a short sandy walk to the pier and Palace Playground.
Choose from rooms with kitchenettes, jacuzzis, two-room units, or suites. The property even has a pool and hot tub.
Alouette Beach Resort
Alouette Beach Resort caters to all budgets (at least by Maine standards). On-site concierge service provides restaurant and attraction guidance as only a local can provide. Indoor/outdoor pools make a splash in all seasons, and pet-friendly rooms are also available.
An interactive map on the website allows you to see the exact location of your room, whether it’s on the beach, facing the woods, or near the laundry rooms. Choose between the beach resort and Beach Walk Oceanfront Inn, each under the Alouette brand.
BillowHouse Oceanfront Motel & Guesthouse
Nestled in the quieter Ocean Park community, BillowHouse Oceanfront Motel & Guesthouse is small enough to enjoy the sounds of the ocean. You can also get tranquil views of the sunrise before making your way to the carnival crowd. And, it’s closer to Saco and Biddeford than any other OOB options.
When renting one of the 14 unique rooms, guests get free Wi-Fi, free washer and dryer access, free passes to the Portland Children’s Museum, and seaside massages at a reasonable price.
Red Squirrel Lodge
If you’re traveling with a large group or family, the Red Squirrel Lodge was made for you. This eight-bedroom, three-bathroom retreat is closer to the natural wonders of Scarborough but still within walking distance of the pier.
All the amenities of home are included, and games, Wi-Fi, and a sun parlor offer fun for children and adults of all generations. A grill and wood-burning fire pit create extended spaces outdoors.
Old Orchard Beach Campground
The Old Orchard Beach Campground is so much more than some plots of land to set up a tent. It’s large enough to have its own neighborhoods and intuitive enough to offer cabins, rental homes for snowbirds, RV sites, and traditional campsites within the different sections.
With more than 40 years of happy campers under its belt, this is one campsite that really knows how to cater to rustic and non-traditional Maine travelers.
A Trip to Old Orchard Beach Is Worth It
Yes! The history of OOB is as impressive as its unique statue among Maine’s coastal cities. You won’t find another place like it in New England, and it’s worth a visit. Our guide to the best things to do in Old Orchard Beach will help you enjoy the popular places but also find respite in the quieter neighborhoods.