Your 2023 Guide to the Best Things to Do in Old Orchard Beach Maine
Maine has many great seaside resort towns that are fun to visit and offer plenty to see and do. On the southern coast, there are plenty of things to do in Old Orchard Beach Maine for everyone.
Known as one of Maine’s premier beach resort towns, Old Orchard Beach offers a wide range of activities, including shopping, mini golf, biking, amusement parks, parasailing, and weekly fireworks. The fun never seems to end here, and it’s the perfect spot for a fun-filled day trip or your next family vacation.
Getting to Know Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach is located on Saco Bay, and as its name suggests, there’s plenty of beach for everyone — 7 miles, in fact. Also known as OOB, this classic Maine getaway destination combines the best of the old and new.
The town is named for an abandoned apple orchard owned by Thomas Rogers, who settled in the area in 1657. After Rogers’ family relocated elsewhere in Maine, the orchard survived, serving as a recognizable beacon for sailors on the Atlantic Ocean.
Over the years, Old Orchard Beach Maine developed into the popular resort town that visitors know today, but reminders of its past are still present today.
For example, The Ocean House Hotel & Motel was built around 1895 and still stands on the beachfront. Likewise, Palace Playland, a 5-acre amusement park built in 1902, is still operational.
Best Things to Do in Old Orchard Beach Maine
So, what can you do once you arrive in Old Orchard Beach? Actually, what can’t you do? The town has something for everyone to enjoy, and here are 10 of our favorites.
Explore the Wonders of Palace Playland
If you’re on a family trip, one of the most fun things to do in Orchard Beach Maine is visit Palace Playland. This beachfront amusement park is the only one in New England and one of the last remaining oceanfront amusement parks in the country, complete with a pier.
Open seasonally from mid-spring to early fall, the park has an arcade with lots of fun games. But, if you like roller coasters, buckle up and ride rides like the Sea Viper, Wipeout, and the Orient Express. If you like thrill rides, try out Riptide, Power Surge, and Cliffhanger.
There are also family rides, including the Drop Zone, Dodgems (bumper cars), the Wave Swinger, and the Electra Wheel. Youngsters can enjoy kiddie rides too, such as an old-fashioned carousel, a fun house, tea cups, and much more.
Palace Playland has more than 25 rides attractions. The famous Ferris wheel, called the Electra Wheel, will bring you high above the strip for spectacular views of the beach, the Pier, and town.
Park Food & Shopping
Aside from thrilling rides, Palace Playland also offers favorite park foods, like fried dough, pizza, and famous Pier fries. There are classic midway games, gift shops, and more.
For more amusement fun, Old Orchard Beach is also located close to Funtown Splashtown USA. Find more ideas on things to do in Maine.
Relax at the Beach
We mentioned that Old Orchard Beach Maine has 7 miles of beaches. That means you have plenty of room to spread out, sunbathe, swim, and splash away. The beach has been consistently voted one of the best beaches in Maine by the readers of Maine’s largest newspaper — it offers something for everyone.
Old Orchard Beach is also the best Maine beach for families, and kids will enjoy building sand castles. If you love being on the water, you can spend time kayaking, playing watersports, or swimming in the gentle surf. You can also walk along the beach and enjoy the magnificent view of the coast.
For livelier beach activity, we suggest settling near The Pier. The famous Old Orchard Beach Pier is located in the center of the beach, with lots of exciting activities for all ages.
If you need a break from enjoying the water, take time to explore the boardwalk. Extending 500 feet into the Atlantic, The Pier features many seafood dives and restaurants, with delicious food and drinks and great ocean views. There are plenty of gift shops to visit, and there’s even a carousel.
Since most beachgoers congregate near The Pier, head to either end of the beach for a quieter and more peaceful day during the summer. If you decided to pack light — not to worry — there are plenty of local places to rent beach gear, many of which will even deliver!
The Pier at Night
At night, The Pier becomes a hot spot for nightlife and live entertainment. Venues offer comedy, karaoke, and live DJs playing the best music for your dancing pleasure.
Young adult visitors will enjoy one of the best bar scenes on the Southern Maine Coast, with lively music, dance parties, and drink specials. The Pier also hosts fireworks one night every week during the summer.
So, whether you’re on the beach or the boardwalk, there’s always something to do.
Explore the Water in a Kayak or Boat Tour
Since you’re already on the coast, one of the best ways to enjoy time on the water is by kayaking. You can take your own kayak, or rent one from several spots around town. Most rentals are affordable, and it’s a fun activity for the whole family.
Many canoe and kayak tours and rentals explore the Saco River and nearby Scarborough salt marsh where you may encounter some unexpected wildlife sightings. Bird watchers will love the extensive Scarborough Marsh, which is a habitat for a vast array of aquatic and Maine bird species.
Fishing Charters & Lobster Tours
Also, several boat companies charter rafting tours, lobster tours, fishing tours, and more! Beginner and expert anglers will enjoy a chartered fishing trip from Pine Point or Camp Ellis with experienced captains, who will ensure that you have a successful fishing trip.
Don’t be surprised if you end up catching striped bass, bluefish, or mackerel since they all inhabit the Saco River, a prime fishing spot. Some charters even offer kid-friendly tours that include viewing sea creatures like crabs and starfish.
Lobster boat tours are a fun way to experience the daily life of a lobsterman by watching them pull traps and learning all about Maine lobster.
Try Some Delicious Maine Seafood
Eating seafood in any coastal Maine town is an absolute must, and Old Orchard Beach Maine is no different. Seafood restaurants are abundant in town, and they serve some of the freshest, most delicious food that you’re likely to find anywhere.
The best restaurants in Old Orchard Beach line Main Street and the beachfront. This resort town is famous for its fresh pizza, Pier fries, lobster rolls, and fried clams, but you can also find fine dining in sit-down restaurants with freshly prepared seafood, steak, Chinese, Greek, and Italian cuisine.
You can opt for an upscale seafood meal at Joseph’s by the Sea. But, many places in town, such as Jumpin Jakes Pizza and Seafood, The Shack, and Surf 6 Oceanfront Grille & Bar, offer affordable meals that are a perfect addition to a fun-filled day.
Try a delicious handheld Maine lobster roll, share some lobster dip with family and friends, go all-in for a seafood dinner, or have a bowl of clam chowder!
Bike Along the Eastern Trail
Hopping on your bike and hitting the trail is a great way to enjoy the outdoors anywhere you go. That’s especially true in Southern Maine where you can bike along the Eastern Trail.
The trail stretches over 28 miles and goes through Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Scarborough, and Portland. The terrain and elevation don’t change much, so it’s considered an easy trail to ride. On top of that, it’s kid and dog friendly, so the whole family can explore.
Play Miniature Golf at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Park
Mini golf is a wonderful family activity on vacation, and in Old Orchard Beach, Pirate’s Cove Adventure Park is the place to go.
If you hadn’t guessed by the name, the entire 18-hole course is pirate-themed. Open from spring until late fall, try your hand at exciting, yet challenging, holes that include mountain caves, footbridges, and much more. It’s sure to bring out some friendly competition if you’re playing with a group.
Visit Dunegrass Golf Club for a Round of Golf
Staying in Old Orchard Beach, Dunegrass was a good choice for golf close-by. It was 91 and humid the day we went, but we were really up for it! The staff was friendly and we pretty much had the course to ourselves. We enjoyed playing near homes developed around the course, which reminded us of several courses we play in Connecticut and Massachusetts. We enjoyed the course layout and found several pretty challenging holes. Really glad we found this course!AnnMarie via TripAdvisor
If you’re a golf enthusiast who enjoys playing new courses during your travels, you’re in luck. Dunegrass Golf Club in Old Orchard Beach offers rounds of golf on a pristine course with challenging conditions.
The course is just a few minutes from the beautiful sandy beach and consists of rolling greens, picture-perfect fairways, and the tranquility that comes from being on the golf course for a day. If you prefer an indoor golfing experience, Dunegrass has several golf simulators for use during the off-season.
Old Orchard Beach is home to over a dozen 18-hole courses within a 30-minute drive of the beach, making it an ideal place to play a few rounds and still have time to relax on the beach.
Cool Off at Ocean Park Soda Fountain
If you’re hungry and looking to get out of the sun for a while, Ocean Park Soda Fountain is the perfect spot. It serves all your favorites — burgers, French fries, breakfast sandwiches, and, of course, ice cream. Try some of the unique flavors, such as Dinosaur Crunch and Graham Central Station.
Pay a Visit to the Ocean Park Temple
Located in Old Orchard Beach’s Temple Square, this is the perfect spot to visit if you’re a history buff. The Temple, Bell Tower, Porter Hall, and Jordan Hall all stand in the square. All of the buildings are still standing despite dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The famous octagonal-shaped Temple was built in 1881 and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It was originally established as the centerpiece of a summer camp meeting for Free Will Baptists and is a favorite sight of many visitors each year.
Dine & Soak Up the Atmosphere at Pirates Patio & Galley
Old Orchard Beach is a great spot to get fresh, delicious seafood, but Pirates Patio & Galley Restaurant & Lounge just might offer the most unique dining experience in town.
Considered one of the beach’s hidden treasures, this place invites customers to “party like a pirate” and is decked out in pirate decor.
It’s a great spot to watch sports and have a meal, especially if you can get a spot outside on the beachside patio. The tables are right in the sand, so you can enjoy a tasty meal while you soak up the beach vibes.
Events in Old Orchard Beach
Even though it’s a beachside community, there’s still fun to be had all year thanks to Maine events in Old Orchard Beach.
Summer & Fall Events
Summer is all about outdoor fun, including a Memorial Day Parade, several 5k memorial road races, a family sand sculpture contest, A Beerfest on the Pier, Beach Olympics, and fireworks every week.
An Antique Auto Show and Vintage Car Parade takes place in September along the Strip of Old Orchard Beach’s Maine Street.
Christmas by the Sea
Kick off the Christmas season with Old Orchard Beach’s annual Christmas by the Sea celebration, including a tree-lighting ceremony, horse-drawn wagon rides, entertainment, and food. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on a fire engine to join in the celebration and festive fun.
The annual Lobster Dip in Old Orchard Beach is held on New Year’s Day, a tradition that has been around for over 20 years to benefit the Special Olympics of Maine. Over 300 participants jump into the freezing ocean water. You can watch from the beach or participate if you’re feeling brave!
Where to Stay in Old Orchard Beach Maine
There are many great lodging options to choose from for your stay in Old Orchard Beach.
Many hotels and motels are situated right on the beach for convenient access and great views. A few hotel accommodations can be found on the northern or southern ends of the beach — ideal locations during peak summer season as these areas are less populated by beachgoers.
Most lodging options offer rooms, suites, or condo-style accommodations often at discounted rates during peak season.
Cottage Rentals & B&Bs
Private vacation rentals are also popular, as there are many beachfront options, ideal for larger groups or families. Beautiful, old bed and breakfasts offer a relaxing and personal stay, where couples can view gorgeous sunsets and enjoy home-cooked breakfasts on the porch each morning.
Old Orchard Beach is also home to over 4,000 campsites and RV campgrounds, offering everything from simple tent sites to full-service hookups for RVs.
These sites can range from very inexpensive to larger full-service sites that offer pools, mini golf, boating, playgrounds, recreation facilities, and entertainment. Many Old Orchard Beach campgrounds offer shuttle service to the beach for your convenience.
Other Things to Do Near Old Orchard Beach Maine
Old Orchard Beach’s central location on the Southern Maine Coast puts it close to other charming seaside towns and beaches, as well as the city atmosphere of Portland Maine.
There are also many lighthouses just a short drive away, including Two Lights, Portland Headlight, and Goat Island Lighthouse. The town is close to outlet malls in Freeport to the north and Kittery to the south, several movie theaters, and state parks too.
Old Orchard Beach Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Old Orchard Beach Maine?
Old Orchard Beach is located in Southern Maine, less than a 30-minute drive from Portland and a little more than a 1-hour drive from Augusta.
Can you swim in Old Orchard Beach?
Absolutely. The beach is 7 miles long and perfect for sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, and so much more.
What’s the water temperature in Old Orchard Beach?
Late summer usually brings the warmest water temps in Old Orchard Beach — about 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
What is there to do in Old Orchard Beach in the fall?
One of the best times to visit Old Orchard Beach is early fall since many of the seasonal attractions are still open and you can still walk along the beach and explore the Eastern Trail, among other activities.
Start Planning Your Old Orchard Beach Maine Trip
Old Orchard Beach is the perfect seaside town to have your next adventure in Maine. It truly has something for every generation and is the perfect spot for an extended vacation or a fun day trip.
Whether you want to spend all of your time outdoors swimming, hiking, or riding roller coasters, or you want to dine on delectable seafood, or you want to simply take in the ambiance by the ocean — the birds calling, the waves crashing, and the sites, sounds, and smells of the boardwalk — there are tons of things to do in Old Orchard Beach Maine.
The Scottish Festival and Games on the first Saturday in June are a real treat !
The water in summer is freezing, but you won’t need a towel when you come out. Accomodations are pricey. Beach is huge.