Old Orchard Beach
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Jess Goodwin, Production Manager
Jess Goodwin, Production Manager
My fondest memory of Old Orchard Beach is as a 10-year-old, piling into the car with my best friend and her family on a summer night to escape the heat with roller coaster rides and ice creamit was an absolute blast. I call up one of my best gal pals, Nova, and tell her to meet me there. Im heading down early to catch some sun before the forecasted rain hits.
5:00 p.m. @ The Beach Wood
I check into my room that is upstairs and facing the water. It is bright, cozy and equipped with a modern kitchenette, but for the moment I am more interested in the incredible view. I pour myself a glass of wine and step onto the balcony to ogle at the ocean view that will be my backyard for the next few days. The motel (not the kind of mediocre chain I stayed in to pinch pennies on a cross-country road trip) is an updated, comfortable, family friendly establishment. There are two hot tubs, a heated pool, and a courtyard/BBQ patio for grilling.
7:00 p.m. @ JJs Eatery
Between the murder-mystery dinner party and a packed bar full of locals, we are lucky to snag a table in this bustling place and a few frozen margaritas. Ive never been a huge fan of steamers but we order them anyway. The owner delivers them and I admit I dont really know how to eat them, so she shows us, and by the end of our bowl I am a believer.
10:00 p.m. @ Last Call
The season here officially kicks off Memorial Day weekend, but we are enjoying having the misty, sleepy streets all to ourselves. Inside this gem of a dive bar, however, the crowd is anything but sleepy. A live band plays 80s rock classics bringing many off their seats to an unofficial dance floor. Nova and I grab a cider and challenge each other to a game of pool. She wins, but only by a small margin. Outside, a monsoon has started, so we pull up our hoods and make a mad dash back to the room, which is luckily close by. No late night swims tonight!
7:30 a.m. @ The Beach Wood
I am awoken by the howling wind and huge, aggressive rain drops slapping at the windows. I peek outside and decide its too early to get up anyway so I crawl back into bed. The wind softens and I can hear the surf againthis soothing weather was made for napping.
10:00 a.m. @ Yellowfins Restaurant
We are on a serious brunching mission and Ive got my heart set on a crab cake benedict I spied on their online menu. We are sad to discover that although Yellowfins is open year-round, brunch is only served on Sundays. Josephs by the Sea is also on our list of places to visit, so we head down the road. Strike two! Josephs is a popular private event destination and they are hosting a bridal shower today.
10:30 a.m. @ Big Daddys
Famished, we saddle up to the bar at this neighborhood favorite. Their eclectic menu offers fresh, delicious grub with some healthier options if you have overdosed on Pier fries. They also have a great selection of microbrew on tap. We scarf down our eggs benedict, and Nova has to jet off but I am in good company. I have made friends with Kelsey, the pleasant bartender taking care of us, and the owner, Guy. He tells me that the space used to house a carousel, explaining the awesome, high vaulted ceilings. Kelsey and Guy order lunch and offer me a bite I cant resist. Its a burger on a buttery brioche bun with homemade kimchi and Sriracha mayo, which is just as delectable as it sounds. I could hang with these guys all day, but the fog is starting to burn off and I want to get out into that sweet, salty beach air.
12 p.m. @ East Grand Avenue
I stroll down the main drag snapping photos of retro motel signs and some fabulous typography on old, hand-painted signs. I pass retail shops that many storeowners are open for the first time this season today.
1:45 p.m. @ Ocean Park
Its worth checking out this quaint, historical community just five minutes from downtown OOB. The town square has a vintage ice cream parlor, a small grocer, a gift shop and public shuffleboard courts.
1:50 p.m. @ Cottage Designs
My friend from California had visited me the weekend before and had been on the hunt for a buoy to bring home. We (somehow) failed to find her one, but as soon as I walk into this cute gift shop I spy a lime green buoy with her name on it.
Rachel Carson’s National Wildlife Refuge
1:30 p.m. @ Rachel Carsons Nature Preserve
A little further down the road is a beautiful nature preserve with a marsh to the west and a sparkling blue inlet to the east. I pass a handful of people on their bikes, which reminds me that I cant wait to get back on mine. There are some really nice routes near the coast that connect the surrounding Southern beach towns.
2:30 p.m. @ The Pier
The sun has come out and along with it all walks of life. A pack of Canadian motorcyclists, an elderly couple eating ice cream, barefoot teenagers…you could people watch for hours. But I dontthere is a mini Beerfest happening at Lindberghs Landing so Kelly, her boyfriend Sam and I grab some samples of Allagash Saison and make our way to a picnic table at the end of the pier.
5:00 p.m. @ Surf 6 Grille and Bar
Lobster rolls and Bahama Mamas on the beach!
8 p.m. @ Lisas Pizza
A Biddeford Little League team is celebrating their victory with mounds of fries and Lisas famous pizza. My boyfriend, Seth and I wait in line, smiling at the little leaguers pure joy in gobs of ketchup. I imagine my 10-year-old pals and I probably looked something like this.
10:30 p.m. @ The Arcade
One must not leave without playing several games of Skee-Ball, at least one video game that you actually have to climb into, and a shooting game or seven (Big Buck Hunter is my go-to) and then capturing it all in the photo booth.
9:00 a.m. @ the Beach
I make some coffee and head downstairs to my beach of a backyard, which is a whopping seven miles long, and dip my toes in the water. As a Mainer the Arctic-like temperature comes as no surprise. Its windy but the sun is warm so I walk a ways past a volleyball game and other people taking it slow on this Sunday morning, all thankful for fairer weather.
10:00 a.m. @ Hoss and Marys Tasty Grub
Featured on The Travel Channels Man Vs. Food, this place offers a plethora unique, deliciously sinful roadside grub. The Flaming MOO, for instance, involves a hamburger dipped in buffalo sauce and topped with nacho cheese and bacon.
11:00 a.m. @ (rE) Salon and Wellness
From the cute cushy beach chairs to the smooth rocks under my toes and hand picked retail items, this is a quality spa experience. I enjoy every minute of my manicure and pedicure, and leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
12:30 p.m. @ Beachology
You wont walk out of this gift boutique shop empty-handed. There are dozens of unique items, many of them locally made. I end up with those paper lanterns that you light with candles and float off into the sky, a chili pepper plant starter kit, and a silver initial necklace charm.
1:00 p.m. @ Old Orchard Beach Airbrush
Before I leave town, I need to do one last thing. A weekend here is just not complete without an article of clothing customized by Paul Carney (who has worked here since 1988!) and runs, as he and many people say, that one airbrush stop in OOB. I immediately see the design I wanta beach scene that reads Old Orchard Beach, that I ask him to paint onto a T-shirt and add 48HRS to it somewhere. As he paints my shirt, he asks me how my weekend has been and as Im going through my itinerary, I realize that it was not so different from my when I was a kid. I may be 26 now, but I still played with my friends under the same neon arcade lights, laughed so hard it hurt, and indulged in far too much fried food. I will definitely be back this summer.