Insider Tips for Visiting Old Orchard Beach

This lively beachside town is known for its summertime cocktail of amusement park rides, boardwalk kitsch, fried food, and, of course, a seven-mile sandy stretch that has drawn tourists for as long as Maine has been a state. We spoke with Old Orchard Beach resident Gabe Bornstein, who is a partner and director at Rove, a creative production studio, about how to make the most of a day at OOB.


The key to any good beach day is finding the perfect home base. Bornstein suggests parking at the Milliken Street lot, which is steps away from a section of the beach with fewer people yet only a ten-minute walk from the downtown activities and food.


If there’s only one thing you do at Old Orchard Beach, make it this. Bornstein recommends loading up your box of Original Pier French Fries with plenty of salt and vinegar, grabbing a slice from Bill’s Pizza, and finding a bench on the walkway to JJ’s Eatery: “Watch the Amtrak cruise by and the local Elvis impersonator make the rounds, and you’ve got yourself the quintessential OOB experience.”


If you prefer your sunset with a cocktail in hand, head up to the roof of Joseph’s by the Sea, which has one of the best views in town, Bornstein says. For a more dynamic view, check out Palace Playland and catch a ride on the Ferris wheel at sunset.


There’s nothing wrong with spending all day at the amusement park and arcade, but when you want to get away from the crowds, Bornstein suggests walking a few minutes north to Walnut Street and grabbing a bucket of beers at the Pirates Patio and Galley, a beachfront dive bar housed in an old boat. If you want to stay on the beach, keep trekking north to Pine Point Beach, where the crowds are more mellow and spread apart. Or walk south to the tidal area around Goosefare Brook.


Visit the 500-foot wooden Pier for a view to the south of beachgoers with Palace Playland in the background or look out toward the ocean from the back deck. “Don’t be alarmed by the fact that you can see the ocean through the floorboards of the Pier,” Bornstein says. “It’s part of the experience.”

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