10 Best Beach Towns in Maine

Maine is home to hundreds of miles of coastline with idyllic towns complete with boardwalks, drive-in movie theaters, and of course, beaches. Most of the best beaches in the state are located throughout the 50-mile stretch of the Southern Maine Coast between Kittery and Portland. From amusement parks to antique markets, the region truly comes alive during the warmer months. It offers visitors a nostalgic peek into what makes summer in New England worth waiting through every winter for. Whether planning a quick overnight trip or a week-long family vacation, these are the best beach towns in Maine, chosen by the locals who love them.

York

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York is the second-oldest town in the state, home to stunning displays of classic New England-style shingle architecture and the famous Nubble Lighthouse. Now a classic summer vacation destination, it’s a great choice for guests coming from the southern states, as it sits close to the New Hampshire border. Lauren Mendoza, owner of Slack Tide Sea Salt and York local, says, “Harbor Beach is small and sweet, Cape Neddick Beach is amazing for tide pooling, and Long Sands is our largest beach and is perfect for a morning walk.”

“Wiggly Bridge and Fisherman’s Walk is the prettiest and most peaceful walking path. It goes over a tiny suspension bridge and into the woods for a short loop,” she says. After spending the afternoon by the water, you can stop into the vintage Fun-O-Rama arcade for a quick game of Skee-Ball, and according to Mendoza, “you need to make a visit to The Goldenrod for saltwater taffy. We always stop at the windows for a bit to watch them make it.” She also recommends The Little Auk for cocktails and The Viewpoint for dinner with a fantastic view of Nubble Lighthouse.

Ogunquit

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With more than three miles of sandy beaches and a picturesque downtown, the former artist colony of Ogunquit is a long-time favorite for summer vacations. “You can catch free movies all summer long at the Leavitt Theatre along with live music, comedy shows, and more. They also have a fantastic cocktail program and delicious food,” says Jake Cryan, creator of Maine food and travel Instagram, Eating Through the Seacoast.

Ogunquit Playhouse has Broadway-caliber performances all summer. I like to go to Brix + Brine for oysters before a matinee, and then dream of buying all the art at the Van Ward Gallery next door,” says Mendoza. “Ogunquit Museum of American Art has a beautiful collection and is right on the ocean. You can walk the grounds and see their sculptures on the lawn before checking out the art inside,” she says.

Wells

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This historic town is home to four beaches spanning over seven miles — and it’s right in the heart of Maine’s antique alley. To gear up for a day on the shore or the shops, Cryan recommends a stop by Brewed Awakenings: “Start your day right with a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee from this quaint cafe. My pick is The Dude: a New York bagel, two grilled farm-fresh eggs, American and cheddar cheese, apple cider bacon, and sausage.” For lunch, pop into Billy’s Chowder House which was established in 1979 and is one of the oldest waterfront restaurants in Wells. Or, grab a fisherman’s platter from Spinnakers. “This casual, woman-owned seafood stand serves fresh Maine seafood, including fried clams, scallops, and lobster, perfect for a quick lunch or to pick up takeout for the beach,” says Cryan. Don’t miss a stop at Bo-Mar Antiques, where you can find treasures from more than 100 booths. It’s the perfect place to find a niche nautical souvenir to remind you of your time spent in Vacationland.

Kennebunkport

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Perhaps the most iconic beach destination in Maine, Kennebunkport is home to spectacular beaches, a walkable downtown, and an ever-evolving culinary scene. “The area has many beautiful beaches, the local favorite being Goose Rocks Beach. With limited parking, it feels peaceful and quiet even on the busiest days,” says Cryan. Visitors wander through the shops of Dock Square, like Daytrip Society. As for accommodations, the area has no shortage of stellar spots. The White Barn Inn boasts 27 recently refreshed rooms, as well as a variety of experiences for guests, from bike riding to visiting local apple orchards to traditional Maine lobster bakes. The Nonantum Resort is a historic property set alongside the Kennebunk River, offering guests unparalleled waterfront views. Hidden Pond provides guests with a luxurious and secluded stay, with bungalows and treetop studios nestled among 60 acres of birch groves and activities like watercolor painting and yoga in the garden.

Fuel up before a long day on the beach at Bev’s Cafe. “It’s the perfect spot for breakfast and brunch. The breakfast burrito, with housemade sausage, bacon, tater-tots, spicy ketchup, scrambled eggs, and pepper jack, always hits the spot,” says Cryan. When it’s time for lunch, don’t miss The Clam Shack, which is located on the bridge over the Kennebunk River. This no-frills classic is the perfect stop after a long day at the beach, and in my opinion, the clam cake burger is criminally underrated. When dinner time rolls around, pop by Rosella, says Cryan. “This sustainably focused sushi hotspot serves fresh, locally sourced seafood. Make sure to catch surprising favorites like red grouper nigiri, housemade fish sausage sliders, and pickled Maine mussels.” And for a cocktail or expertly brewed pilsner? Cryan suggests Batson River.

Biddeford

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Once a bustling mill town with a robust textile manufacturing industry, Biddeford is home to a thriving culinary scene, a newly opened boutique hotel, and some of the best beaches in the state. Start your day with a stack of the world’s greatest flapjacks at Palace Diner, grab a sandwich for the beach at BiddoBanh, and end the day with award-winning cocktails, fantastic food, and unparalleled hospitality at Magnus on Water. My favorite summer spot in town is the Biddeford Pool, which offers ample parking and a wide beach so that no matter how busy it is, it never feels too crowded.

Saco

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Saco has the best of both worlds: peaceful beaches and family-friendly amusements. Ferry Beach State Park is a 100-acre area with a sandy beach and vast nature trails, while nearby Camp Ellis is at the mouth of the Saco River with longtime local favorite Huot’s serving up fried seafood. For travelers with kids, or just kids at heart, nearby Funtown Splashtown USA is a local amusement park with a shockingly fantastic wooden roller coaster, and neighboring Aquaboggan Water Park offers water slides and mini-golf. Don’t miss the revived Saco Drive-In, which offers double features almost every night.

Old Orchard Beach

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This seven-mile stretch of beach is the perfect destination for visitors who are looking for a classic beach boardwalk vibe. Operating since 1898, the pier at Old Orchard Beach hosts several bars and vendors, while the neighboring amusement park has rides, carnival games, an arcade, and weekly fireworks throughout the summer. Looking for a snack? Be sure to grab some Pier Fries and stop by Lone Pine’s beer garden.

Cape Elizabeth

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If lighthouses and lobsters come to mind when you think of Maine, head to Cape Elizabeth. Home to the state’s oldest lighthouse, this town has several beaches, including Crescent Beach State Park, with its namesake mile-long crescent-shaped beach, and Kettle Cove State Park, with oceanfront walking trails and tide pools. Fort Williams Park is a 90-acre area where you’ll find the Portland Head Light and food trucks like Bite Into Maine. Nearby Two Lights State Park is home to the first twin lighthouses on the coast of Maine and The Lobster Shack at Twin Lights, which has been serving fresh seafood since the 1920s.

South Portland

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According to Carla Tracy, South Portland resident and hospitality publicist, “the Willard Beach neighborhood in South Portland becomes a summer beach town the first day temps hit the mid-70s.” She notes that Willard Beach is unique because it’s one of the only area beaches that allows dogs (during regulated hours), has amenities including a snack bar, lifeguards, showers, bathrooms, and a playground on the beach, and offers free parking. Top places to grab a bite include SoPo Seafood’s oyster bar and market, Cafe Louis, and Bistro Leluco. Leave room for a sweet treat from Willard Scoops and Scratch Baking Company.

Scarborough

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Just a short drive from Willard Beach is Scarborough, home to Scarborough Beach State Park and Higgins Beach, where you’ll find “longer stretches of beach, killer waves for surfing [and] body surfing, and lots of room for sandcastles and more,” Tracy says. “Ferry Beach in Scarborough is a personal favorite for sunsets and leisurely swimming. The calm waters and dramatic high and low tides are perfect for beach lovers of all ages.”

Want to hit the waves? Tracy recommends Lady Slide Sessions, run by the Maine Surfers Union for women during the summer on Wednesdays at Higgins Beach. She also says the Higgins Beach Market is the perfect place to pick up all the provisions you’ll need for a great beach day.

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