I first discovered Old Orchard Beach, Maine on the way back to Pennsylvania from a camping trip in Canada. We had stopped at Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor earlier and we were looking for a place to park our camper van for the night. My girlfriend at the time had heard of OOB from a friend and suggested we stop there.
I was expecting Old Orchard Beach to look like the rest of the Maine coast and was surprised to see that it had miles of sandy beaches. It centers around one main street with lots of shops and restaurants. The shops are like the ones you’d expect to find at any beach town. They sell things like bathing suites, beach towels, and souvenirs. At the end of the street, extending five hundred feet into the Atlantic, is a long pier with more stores and places to eat. Old Orchard Beach also has an amusement park and lots of hotels. If you’re on a budget, camping is definitely the way to go. It’s much cheaper. The place where we camped was nice, clean, had hot showers, and was within easy walking distance of the beach and town. No matter where you stay you’ll want to check out the weekly fireworks, and of course eat some Maine lobster.
Besides not expecting Old Orchard Beach to have seven miles of sandy beaches, I also didn’t expect to hear so many people speaking French there. OOB is sometimes called the Québec Riviera because so many people from that Canadian province flock to the Maine beach in the summer. Many hotels have signs out saying On parle Français or have an En français tab on their websites. I guess it makes sense since it’s really the only sandy, ocean beach anywhere near the big cities of Montréal and Québec.
It was 1997 the first time I visited Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I’ve gone back three more times since then, with my daughter, and always enjoyed the relaxed family atmosphere there. If you’re planning a trip to the Maine beach you should know that there’s a pretty small window of time when the weather is good for swimming in the ocean. I’ve usually gone in July and it’s been great weather then. The Old Orchard Beach tourist board suggests it’s best to visit between the 4th of July and Labor Day when the ocean water is a little warmer. If you want to brave the Maine coast in the winter you’ll be rewarded with great prices.
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There’s also alot of nice day trips you can take from Old Orchard beach. We’ve gone for a hike in New Hampshire, seen horse races, explored nearby Portland, did some hiking on the coast, and gone seal and whale watching, all on day trips from OOB.If you’re a person who only likes hot weather and palm trees at the beach, Maine may not be your ideal destination. But if you think combining the sandy beach, hiking, canoeing, and Maine lobsters sounds like a good time then you’d prabably enjoy Old Orchard Beach, Maine.