Maine Oceanfront Vacation With Children
Traveling to Maine for vacation can be a great experience for families, especially kids. The Maine coast creates magical memories and the relaxed pace is refreshing. Spending your time off in the northeast can be well worth the trip.
The state of Maine has been a vacation destination for generations. From the mountains to the ocean, and throughout the year, there are activities for everyone to enjoy. Maine has 5,500 miles of coastline, making oceanfront vacations a favorite with visitors. Adults may enjoy leisurely oceanfront dining, antiquing and taking in the beautiful scenery, but children need more engaging activity than simple sightseeing. If you are planning a Maine oceanfront vacation with children, consider some of these destinations.
The York Beach area consists of two beaches, the historic Nubble lighthouse, and a busy downtown on the oceanfront. On the East is an enclosed cove called York Harbor Beach, also known to locals as Mother's Beach since it is ideal for keeping children contained. Traditional beach treats like ice cream and pizza are available on the beach, but the real local treat is saltwater taffy. Children can watch it being pulled in the storefront window just as it has for over 100 years before trying some for themselves. Nubble Light sits just off one end of Long Sand's Beach. Children may be excited to know that NASA sent a picture of the lighthouse into space for aliens to find. Families looking for a break from the waves can head inland just a few miles to visit York's Wild Kingdom, a wildlife exhibit, petting zoo and amusement park.
Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach is a classic boardwalk beach community, offering seaside fun for families for over 170 years. Children flock to Palace Playland Park, an amusement park right on the sandy beach, and the main street is lined with souvenir shops, beach eateries and arcades. There are concerts and events throughout the summer season, as well as a fireworks show each week. The Pier extends almost 500 feet out into the Atlantic, and is covered end to end with shops, restaurants and games. Families who want to explore the ocean even further can take a whale watch cruise or go fishing.
Ft. Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth
Nothing embodies the Maine oceanfront so much as a lighthouse atop a rocky shore; Maine has more than 60 of them along its coastline. At Portland Headlight, located inside Ft. Williams Park, children can climb the rocks at the ocean, looking for periwinkles and starfish in tidal pools, and the shutterbug in the family will be hard pressed to take a bad shot. There are nature trails to explore as well as the ruins of the Fort for which the park is named. The park hosts events throughout the warm season, generally from May to October. Be sure to ask about the parrot who spoke like a pirate and how it saved a little boy when visiting the lighthouse museum.
The jagged Maine coastline consists of more rocky shores than sandy beaches, but oceanfront vacations are available on any terrain. In Boothbay Harbor, children can visit the Maine State Aquarium. The aquarium is small, but makes up for its size with hands-on accessibility. Children can see blue Maine lobsters, pet dogfish sharks, or touch starfish or other coastal creatures in the tidal pool. Boothbay Harbor also hosts the Boothbay Railway Village. More than a museum, this restoration of a 19th Century town is wide open to explore either on foot or from the narrow-gauge train that winds through the whole village.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park, located on one of Maine's 2000 coastal islands, offers families the opportunity to enjoy the Maine oceanfront from both the beach and the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Thanks to its location and elevation, Cadillac is the first place in the United States to see the sunrise during certain times of the year. Many visitors hike up the mountain before dawn to catch the view, but the sunrise hike is only one of 125 miles of hiking trails available. Children may not fully appreciate the sunrise, but they can spend the rest of the day taking part in Acadia's Junior Ranger Program, or visiting any of the numerous local museums. Bicycles, kayaks and other outdoor equipment are readily available for rent, as are lessons, so a vacation at Acadia with the children can be one adventure after another. To enjoy the Maine oceanfront from another angle, consider taking one of the cruises around the island to see local sea life from starfish to seals.