Saco + Biddeford
On either side of the Saco River, historic mill buildings anchor Saco and Biddeford’s charming downtown areas. A decade of slow-but- steady redevelopment has brought new life to the mills and fueled a local manufacturing boom, replacing the old textile factories with high-end and artisanal producers as well as sleek residential spaces. At the river’s mouth, Biddeford Pool and Ferry Beach offer coastal escapes, with beautiful sandy beaches and scenic stretches of rocky shore.
Maine Seaside Rentals is providing my fiancé Sarah, my daughter Aubrey, and me with our home for the next two days: a cottage on Biddeford Pool’s spectacular South Point. Marysue Emhiser greets us at the company’s office near Pool Lobster and provides us keys and directions. I know this will be a great weekend the moment I pull into the driveway. The front porch has a view of the ocean, and the grill is ready to go.
I don’t have to go far for provisions that will let us take full advantage of the beach and the dynamic view over dinner. Pool Lobster, a staple in this community, is a fabulous lobster pound, general store, and cafe. We grab some prepared salads, seafood, and other food for our grilling needs. We are all set for our own little lobster bake.
After we finish dinner, we hit Biddeford Pool Beach for a sunset walk. My daughter, Aubrey, races the waves up and down the beach as the sun begins to set. As we make tracks for our beds, we plan out the rest of our weekend exploring Biddeford and Saco.
It’s relaxing to wake up to the sounds of waves crashing. After watching cartoons with Aubrey we head into town to find breakfast. Biscuits and Company in downtown Biddeford comes highly recommended by friends, and it does not disappoint. The breakfast and lunch menu revolves around the restaurant’s huge, delicious biscuits, which make a great base for local eggs, cheese, and bacon. We’re excited to come back for one of the restaurant’s Saturday Suppers.
Since it’s a warm summer day we head to Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco. This is a great place for a family outing. We start on the Funtown side, where we conquer roller coasters and race go-karts. As the temperature approaches 90 we head over to Splashtown to cool down with some water attractions and water slides.
We’ve built up an appetite at the amusement park. At Portland Pie Company, which opened its seventh location in Biddeford’s Pepperell Mill Campus in 2015, we dive into a hummus plate and our pizza, the County, a mash- up of pizza and a twice-baked potato.
After lunch we do some shopping downtown. Our first stop is Suger, a boutique that is the retail outlet for Anglerox, a line of women’s clothing and accessories made down the street in one of the Biddeford mills. Angelrox designer Roxi Suger owns the store with her husband, Julian Schlaver, and curates a gorgeous array of gifts, jewelry, and accessories, along with a selection of Angelrox’s distinctive dresses and wraps. I pick up a Garden State bracelet crafted from a license plate from my home state of New Jersey.
We stop into Elements for an afternoon boost of coffee and book browsing. The warm, well- designed coffee shop, bookstore, and beer cafe serves one of my go-to java choices, Bard Coffee, alongside other local roasters. The coffee menu lets you pick a single-origin varietal for a pour-over, order the brewed roast of the day, or choose a well-made espresso drink. There’s a variety of snacks and treats as well, many home-baked by co-owner Katie Pinard. The robust used and new book selection gives us plenty to browse while we sip.
After making use of the hammock on the porch, I wake up from a nap excited to meet our friends in the Kinney Shores area of Saco.
We arrive at home of Jim and Lynn Godbout to enjoy some pre- dinner cocktails overlooking the ocean. Jim owns Jim Godbout Plumbing and Heating in Biddeford, and he and his wife are active citizens who are pillars of the local community. Jim is also co-chairman of the Biddeford- Saco Rotary Club’s Red Ribbon Committee.
Jim calls ahead to make sure we can get a table at Huot’s Seafood Restaurant in Saco. This restaurant, in the beachy Camp Ellis neighborhood, has an expansive menu of fresh fare from the nearby ocean, as well as kid- friendly options. I order the baked scallops dinner, which is topped with bread crumbs and served with my choice of sides: garlic mashed potatoes and rice pilaf.
After dinner we walk across the streettoauniquelittlegiftshop called Sea Hawk Shop. You can find nautical-themed gifts and other trinkets to remember your trip by.
We stay in for breakfast to enjoy this view a little longer and to go for one more walk along the beach. Afterward we make our way into downtown Biddeford to tour the Pepperell Mill Campus. The vast former textile mill has been converted to a mixed-use facility housing a variety of light-industrial and artisanal production spaces, retail shops, and apartments with gorgeous original floors and soaring ceilings.
We cross the RiverWalk Bridge, which connects Biddeford and Saco. The RiverWalk, which now includes this pedestrian bridge as well as a recently completed amphitheater, is one result of local citizens’ efforts to promote walkable, dynamic downtowns on both sides of the river. The bridge takes us to Saco’s Main Street. It too is seeing some exciting growth, including a trio of new coffee shops (Quiero Cafe, the Rugged Spruce, and CIA Cafe), each with its own spin on high-quality brews and locally made treats. Our destination, however, is the Run of the Mill Public House and Brewery. The brewpub is housed in another former mill building and features an outdoor deck, overlooking the churning river that once powered the facility. While enjoying the pub-style fare from the varied menu and the in-house brews, we discuss what we did over the weekend and ideas for our next trip to the region.