York Beach vacations provide a wonderful and relaxing atmosphere. This Maine peninsula has two main beaches – Long Sands Beach on the southern side and Short Sands Beach on the northern side. Downtown York Beach offers shopping amidst old fashioned buildings and one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world lies on the end of the York Beach peninsula. There is plenty in the area to keep you busy, but York Beach vacations are also the perfect way to step away from the hustle and bustle of life.

What to Do in York Beach

york beach zoos

York’s Wild Kingdom

Noted as Maine’s largest zoo and amusement park, York’s Wild Kingdom sees approximately 200,000 visitors each year. There are several exotic animals on display, including the only white Bengal tiger in the state, Rewa, who gives daily performances. The amusement park has several rides and attractions, including a merry-go-round, ferris wheel, bumper cars, funhouses, miniature golf, a train ride and haunted house. There is a butterfly exhibit, petting zoo, elephant ride and several animals from all over the world for all to see. Visit YorkZoo.com for coupons and discounts.

Candlelit Ghost Tours

This inexpensive activity is enjoyable for both adults and children. Provided through Gravestone Artwear, a local store in York, Maine, during the months of June through October you and your family can enjoy a walk by candlelight through historic York Village. Tour guides share local ghost stories and folklore, mild enough for children to hear.

york beach horseback riding

Mount Agamenticus

Travel west on Mountain Road from York Beach for approximately five miles to find Mount Agamenticus Park, where you can tackle hiking, biking and horse riding trails through forests, wetlands and vernal pools that take you all the way to the summit, providing a great view.

Water Activities

York Beach vacations are not complete without enjoying some fun summer water sports. Long Sands Beach, on the southern side of the York Beach peninsula, has designated surfing areas available. Charter a boat for a fishing expedition on the Atlantic Ocean. Drive 30 minutes north along the coast to Kennebuckport to experience fun activities at Kayak Excursions. Of course, there is always swimming in the ocean tides on the beach, building sandcastles and basking in the sunlight. Local shops sell and may even rent beach gear, such as snorkels or knee boards for additional activities.

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What to See in York Beach

Nubble Lighthouse

On the tip of York Beach peninsula, down Nubble Road in Sohier Park, is Nubble Lighthouse (also known as Cape Neddrick Light Station), noted as one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. Nubble Lighthouse was built in 1879 and the original lighthouse still stands today with few modifications. No matter what time of year you visit, Nubble Lighthouse and the original caretaker residence offer a beautiful picturesque scene.

Historical Buildings

The Old York Historical Society of Maine keeps up with several historical buildings in the York Beach area, such as Jefferds Tavern, the John Hancock Wharf and America’s oldest jail, the Old Goal.

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Where to Shop and Eat in York Beach

york beach restaurants

Downtown York Beach has a lot to offer for someone looking for a bit of a shopping excursion. There are several unique stores, like The Little Bull offering Native American arts and crafts or Woods to Goods that offers items made by inmates in Maine. There are also many gifts shops and national chain stores of every kind. Best of all, you get to enjoy the old downtown buildings as you shop.

York Beach restaurants offer several top notch, one of a kind dining experiences, such as those listed below.


Goldenrod is not your average restaurant – it’s also a great place to get homemade candy and ice cream. Established in 1896, you can find Goldenrod on Short Sands Beach. The restaurant offers breakfast, sandwiches, salads and other daily specials. Enjoy a casual dining experience while you watch Goldenrod Kiss, the famous salt water taffy, made right before your eyes.

Fox’s Lobster House

In Sohier Park, Fox’s Lobster House is a local landmark because it is located on the end of the York Beach peninsula, providing a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean during your seafood dining experience.

Inn on the Blues

Tourists on travel websites highly rate Inn on the Blues. This high-end dining establishment offers a jazzy atmosphere, often providing live music to enjoy during your meal. You can dine on the wrap-around porch or inside. The Inn on the Blues chef won the York Lobster & Seafood’s Chef of the Year award in 2008.

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When to Visit York Beach

The best time to visit York Beach is, of course, during the warmer months. Only then can you utilize all of the great activities that the area has to offer, such as beach activities, York’s Wild Kingdom amusement park activities and hiking up Mount Agamenticus. Spring, summer and fall months often have several local activities, such as the York Days Craft Fair just down the road in York, Maine every August.

There is also a summer concert series every year under the gazebo at Ellis Park in York Beach. If you’d like to see Nubble Lighthouse at Christmas time, but don’t want to come during the cold months, visitors can enjoy the Christmas in July celebration each year during the week long York Days Festival, where the lighthouse is decorated just as it is for the holidays.

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What to Bring to York Beach

Pack clothes appropriate for your visit. Even in the summer, it’s a good idea to bring a light jacket on your York Beach vacation, since the nights get a bit cooler. You should always bring sunscreen, especially during the summer months when you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors.

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Local Services in York Beach

Several services in the area help to make York Beach vacations even more relaxing and fun. Local day spas and salons help you to release stress. Many local stores offer supplies to complete your vacation or stock up on items you may have left behind (like sunscreen). Local grocery stores give you the chance to stock some of the shelves in your vacation rental with snacks.

You can also be sure to feel safe in York Beach. The York Hospital is just down the road, less than 10 miles away. The York Beach Fire Department services the area with three full-time firefighters/EMTs that work in 24 hour shifts, making sure the station is staffed every hour of every day as well as at least 50 volunteer firefighters ready to serve and protect.

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What to Know About York Beach

Unfortunately, Nubble Lighthouse is not accessible to the public for tours because it is still in active use. But you get a fantastic view from Sohier Park on either side of the lighthouse cliffs. There is also a gift shop available to purchase souvenirs to remember wonderful York Beach vacations.

It’s also important to note that, while you can scuba dive or swim at Sohier Park, city ordinance prohibits you from doing so on Sundays or during state and national holidays. Dogs must be on a leash in the park. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the park.

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Getting to York Beach

The closest metropolitan area is Boston, Massachusetts. You can fly into Logan International Airport in Boston from most any other airport on virtually every passenger airline. From Logan, you can rent a car to drive to York Beach, approximately an hour and a half away. Travel north on Interstate 95 then take exit 7 to U.S. Highway 1 North. Turn right onto Animal Park Road and follow that into York Beach.

If you’re driving from elsewhere in the nation, rather than flying in, there are several options. Northern Maine residents can take Interstate 95 South to Highway 1. East bound New York state residents can take Interstate 90 East to Interstate 95 North. Anyone southwest of New York state has several options for driving to the area, including Interstate 80 East to Interstate 81 North followed by Interstate 84 East to Interstate 495 North, which leads to Interstate 95 North.

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Why York Beach vacation rentals?

Experience York Beach vacations in the best possible way by staying in a local vacation rental. These cabins, cottages and condos offer amenities and features you won’t find at the local cramped hotel or the over-hyped luxury of local resorts. With multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, York Beach vacation rentals allow plenty of space to accommodate large traveling parties comfortably, while still giving everyone their own space.

Most every York Beach vacation rental offers a fully-equipped kitchen, giving you a great opportunity to save money on dining expenses and creating memories by cooking some of your meals together. Additionally, unlike most hotels and resorts, some vacation rentals are pet-friendly, allowing you to bring your four-legged pal along to enjoy the sandy beaches. Other possible amenities include hot tubs, private parking and a washer and dryer.

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