Old Orchard Beach
Playground in summer, peaceful in winter, Old Orchard Beach is as timeless as the tides
Its beachside amusement park, boardwalk, and iconic 500-foot-long pier have made Old Orchard Beach Maine’s summertime playground for more than a century. But the town affectionately dubbed “OOB” is also a vibrant, year-round community known for its natural beauty and civic pride.
“Locals taking the time to chat is why many of us chose Old Orchard Beach as our home,” says Pat Brown, who moved to the town with her husband, James, and sister, Rosie, in 1998. A devoted volunteer, Brown is vice president of the Community Watch Council and serves as a facilitator for Old Orchard Beach Community Friendly Connection, among other efforts. She is also a parent and grandparent who enjoys sharing OOB with her family. “Within minutes of their arrival, we hit the beach for a walk to check out Googins Rocks, then on to the quaint neighborhood of Ocean Park to experience its peacefulness,” says Brown. Turning back toward home, they stop by Veterans Memorial Park so the kids can play on the swings and monkey bars before heading up Old Orchard Street to see old favorites and investigate what’s new. “We might stop along the way to get a slice at Rocco’s or some Pier Fries, and we always go to Dickinson’s Candy to visit with ‘The Candy Man,’ Mike Dickinson.” Brown likes the rides at Palace Playland as much as her grandkids do, and she praises its owners, the Golder family, for their operation of New England’s only beachfront amusement park. “Palace Playland continually evolves, so this year, the kids can’t wait to ride the brand new ‘Sea Viper’ roller coaster with Noni,” she says enthusiastically.
For Brown’s two grown sons, bike rides along the Eastern Trail, walks on the beach, and fishing off the shore in the evening are some of their favorite things to do in OOB. “We all enjoy the entertainment at places like the Brunswick, with outrageously good live music daily on their huge beachside patio,” Brown says. She notes the Brunswick’s prime rib is “to die for,” she calls the cinnamon buns served on Friday nights at Cafe 64 “renowned,” and she says the “absolute best Bloody Mary” can be found at JJ’s Eatery Too. Other favorite OOB restaurants include Big Daddy’s, Joseph’s by the Sea, the eateries on the pier, and Tami Lyn’s Place. “From quick snacks and takeout to family-friendly, affordable restaurants and five-star experiences, it’s all here,” she says.
The walkability of OOB is something her visitors truly appreciate, says Brown. “Within one and a half miles we have our Libby Memorial Library; the Harmon Museum; grocery, liquor, and hardware stores; a friendly bank; a drug store; a post office; a laundromat; wonderful ice cream; and specialty shops like Beachology, where I find a ‘must-have’ every time I stop in.” Also nearby are the Ballpark—home of the Old Orchard Beach Surge—and the Seaside Pavilion, a seasonal outdoor concert venue operated by the Salvation Army. “Years ago, OOB seemed to be a two-season community, but it has grown to be so much more,” says Brown. “There’s a wonderful shoulder season—September through Thanksgiving—that I’ve come to love more than any other time because many of our local establishments are still open and locals can all reconnect.” In all seasons, seven miles of beach and the open Atlantic Ocean are constants, just like this timeless Maine town.