Old Orchard Beach
Playground in summer, peaceful in winter, this beach community is as timeless as the tides
Its beachside amusement park, boardwalk, and iconic 500-foot-long pier have made Old Orchard Beach Maine’s summertime playground for more than a century. But the town affectionately dubbed “OOB” is also a vibrant, year-round community known for its natural beauty and civic pride.
“Locals taking the time to chat is why many of us chose Old Orchard Beach as our home,” says Pat Brown, who moved to the town with her husband, James, and sister, Rosie, in 1998. A devoted volunteer, Brown is also a parent and grandparent who enjoys sharing OOB with her family. “Within minutes of their arrival, we hit the beach for a walk to check out Googins Rocks, then on to the quaint neighborhood of Ocean Park,” says Brown. Turning back toward home, they stop by Veterans Memorial Park so the kids can play before heading up Old Orchard Street. “We might stop along the way to get a slice at Rocco’s, or some Pier Fries, and we always go to Dickinson’s Candy to visit with ‘The Candy Man,’ Mike Dickinson.”
For Brown’s two grown sons, bike rides along the Eastern Trail, walks on the beach, or fishing off the shore in the evening are some of their favorite things to do in OOB. “We all enjoy the entertainment at places like the Brunswick, with outrageously good live music daily on their huge beachside patio,” Brown says. “From quick snacks and takeout, to family friendly, affordable restaurants and five-star experiences, it’s all here.”
The walkability of OOB is something her visitors truly appreciate, says Brown. “Within one and a half miles we have our Libby Memorial Library; the Harmon Museum; grocery, liquor, and hardware stores; a friendly bank; drug store; post office; laundromat; wonderful ice cream; and specialty shops like Beachology—where I find a ‘must-have’ every time I stop in.” Also nearby are the Ballpark—home of the Old Orchard Beach Surge—and the Seaside Pavilion, a seasonal outdoor concert venue operated by the Salvation Army.
“There’s a wonderful shoulder season— September through Thanksgiving—that I’ve come to love more than any other time because many of our local establishments are still open and locals can all reconnect,” says Brown. In all seasons, seven miles of beach and the open Atlantic Ocean are constants, just like this timeless Maine town.
Did you know
Old Orchard Beach’s famous pier was once more than three times as long as it is now and had a ballroom that could hold 5,000 dancers at the end. The Pier Casino, as it was called, hosted the likes of Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and Frank Sinatra.
In operation since 1902, Palace Playland has the distinction of being New England’s only beachfront amusement park. Its array of 25 rides and attractions include old-school favorites like Skeeball as well as the 70-foot tall coaster, Sea Viper, which debuted in 2018.