Located in southeastern Maine, York Beach offers easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Maine. Several beaches in town let you spend days playing in the surf, building sandcastles, and flying kites. Separated by Cape Neddick, Long Sands and Short Sands beaches are the two most popular places to catch sunshine. This town bustles with a variety of eclectic shops and locally-owned restaurants, where you can enjoy a lobster roll or fresh seafood dinner. Choose a York Beach vacation rental close to one of the town’s beaches, or in proximity to the downtown area. While staying in town, check out these top nine things to do with your kids in York Beach.
1. Cape Neddick Lighthouse
Settled on a small island, the Cape Neddick Lighthouse dates back to the late 1800s. Take the family out to Cape Neddick, and park close to the shore, where your family has an excellent view of the lighthouse and attached buildings. Imagine what life must have been like living on that small island while caring for the lighthouse. A small gift shop sells souvenirs to take home. This is a popular spot for photographs and picnics so pack a lunch before leaving your vacation rental.
2. York Trolley
Leave your car parked in the garage of your vacation rental, and use the York Trolley to get around town. This trolley system stops at many of the attractions, restaurants, and shops. Sit towards the back of the trolley. On warm weather days, they throw open these back windows so you can enjoy the fresh open air. On the trolley, you’ll find space to store your beach chairs and other odds and ends while you ride. The entire one-way ride takes around half an hour.
3. York’s Wild Kingdom
Part zoo and part amusement park, York’s Wild Kingdom offers a lot of fun and excitement to everyone in your family. Cat lovers will gasp at the beauty of the rare white tiger and the majestic look of the African lions, while little kids will enjoy the butterfly exhibit. Spend some time interacting with the domesticated animals at the petting zoo. Try racing at the go-karts, or work out some sibling rivalry at the bumper cars. Teens will flock to the Super Spiral coaster, and the whole family can ride the merry-go-round.
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4. Mount Agamenticus
Enjoy beautiful views and hiking trails during a day at Mount Agamenticus. This location offers several hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty, or you can drive all the way to the top of Mount Agamenticus. Dogs are welcome on the hiking trails, but you must keep Rover on his leash. Enjoy a picnic lunch, and keep an eye out for the patches of wild blueberries near the top to pick your own sweet treat. Climb to the top of the fire tower to experience views for miles.
5. Sweet Treats
You can satisfy your sweet tooth at any of several iconic places in York Beach. Start with a visit to the Goldenrod candy shop. This shop opened in 1896 and has been thrilling beach goers every year since with its Goldenrod kisses, which you might recognize as saltwater taffy. You can also enjoy a float at the old-fashioned soda shop here. Another must-see spot is Dunne’s Ice Cream. While you enjoy a cone featuring your favorite flavors or a hot fudge sundae, take in the stunning views of the lighthouse.
6. Harbor Beach
Escape the crowds when you enjoy a day at Harbor Beach, one of the smaller beaches in York Beach, giving your family more room to spread your blanket. Let the children play in the surf as on-duty lifeguards help keep an eye on them. This beach offers a bathhouse with outdoor showers, so you don’t need to worry about sand in the car. When hunger strikes, the Fat Tomato Grille delivers to the beach.
7. Steedman Woods
Take in the fresh air and beautiful surroundings at Steedman Woods. Start your journey in York village and follow the road to the right along the coastline. You’ll know you’re close to the woods when you arrive at the Wiggly Bridge, built in the 1930s. Your kids will love jumping up and down on this mini-suspension bridge as they cross. The bridge crosses the flow from Barrel Mill Pond to the York River. Once on the other side, explore the woods, or enjoy a snack at the water’s edge.
8. The Old Gaol
Located in the village of York, the Old Gaol is one of America’s oldest jails and the oldest public building in Maine. Today, it’s a museum that your family can tour. Opened in 1720, the jail has a single stone cell in the oldest part of the facility. Learn more about the jail and life in the colonies during the 1700s. Afterwards, take a walk around the downtown area of York Village, ducking in and out of the shops and grabbing an ice cream cone.
9. Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Hop in the car for the short drive to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Packing a cooler before leaving your vacation rental makes it easy to enjoy an alfresco lunch at one of the picnic areas in the park. Walk along the raised wooden platforms as you explore the ecosystem of the salt marshes, and don’t forget your binoculars to use for a closer look at the migratory birds.
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