Road tripping coastal Maine with kids


During the summer, we try to go on a road trip every weekend.   You would think that there are not that many places we have not visited within a two-hour drive of Boston.   Yet, last weekend we have made several “discoveries” in the nearby Coastal Southern Maine! We are happy to share them with our readers before the summer is over.


Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 3.18.32 PM
Our weekend in coastal Maine



We left our suburb south of Boston around 8:30am and arrived at Nubble Light House, our first destination of the day in roughly 1.5 hours.

I have chosen York, Maine as our first stop on this weekend road trip.  York has great beaches, picturesque coastal walks and history. The town of York is one of  New England’s earliest colonial settlements and is America’s first incorporated city (1642).  “Museums of Old York”  society has several historical buildings in their care that are available for public touring for a small fee (some are free).  For specific touring hours and building locations, use this link.

York's old town hall
York’s old town hall

We visited on a very hot summer day in August, and although we stopped at the Old York Museum Center to get the maps, we decided to leave the touring of the Museums for the colder months.

During this visit we stayed closer to the water:

Nubble Light House.  When you think of coastal Maine, you probably picture a lighthouse in your mind.  York has (arguably) the most photographed lighthouse in Maine – Nubble Light House.


Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids
Nubble Light House

To see the light house, park at Sohier Park off Nubble Road in York.  We arrived shortly after 10 am on a Saturday and did not have a problem with finding a space to park.   (as we were exiting in about an hour, we saw cars waiting to get in).

Other than looking for a best position to take your own shot of iconic Maine, there are a couple of benches to take it all in for a few minutes, a small gift shop, and a restaurant with an outside self service window.

 Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.

When we felt that we have taken enough pictures, we headed to our next destination-

Fisherman’s Walk. To get to the Fisherman Walk from the Light House, we drove along York Road, passed a busy York Beach that seemed to attract many families.   We parked further along, next to the beautiful little free Mason Reservation (be sure to read the most interesting historical note next to the entrance).  A short walk down, was a small picturesque Harbor Beach.


 Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.
Mason Reservation: Harbor Beach could be seen below

Here, you have a choice to either walk the Cliff Walk (on your left) or Fisherman’s Walk on the right.

 Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.
Cliff Walk, York


We chose a family friendly (flat) Fisherman’s Walk along York River that starts at Harbor Beach and runs for about a mile to Wiggly Bridge. You can also start the walk in the other direction – at Wiggly Bridge (park at Lilac Lane – route 103).

 Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.
Fisherman’s Walk


 Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.
Wiggly Bridge

There are boats on the river, but no commercial activity on shore, so we had the road all to ourselves.

 Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.
Fisherman’s Walk



We booked our overnight lodging in the town of Old Orchard Beach, less than thirty-minute drive North of York. I have to admit that Vit and I did not find our lodging (or the town) particularly charming.  That said, I am sure that plenty of families love the area and come back year after year (back home in the old country we had our own share of family memories built at the simple seaside places on the Black Sea).

Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.
Old Orchard Beach

The town’s sandy beach is a winner with families.  It offers miles or walking (seven miles, to be exact) and “gradual” ocean entrance is appealing to families with young children.  There is a busy pier and an amusement park right on the beach.  The two seven-year old girls in our party were so busy building their sea tunnels that they failed to notice the amusements from the distance (I am sure they would find them calling!).  We have had a busy day and were too tired to visit the park.  (Next time we are passing the area, we will give the Pier a chance, I promise. )  We did not feel too bad about missing on the beach amusement park – we had plans to visit FunTown SplashTown USA in nearby Saco on Sunday afternoon.

Note to those timid around dogs: in the summer, dogs are allowed on the beach after 5pm.


We will tell you more about Portland in our next installment on Maine.  This weekend we have parked at the Casco Bay lines pier on Commercial street and bought ferry tickets to Peaks Island (a neighborhood of the city of Portland), just three miles (15-minute ferry ride) away.  The company runs a variety of “runs” to Casco Bay islands, including a daily three-hour mailboat run with stops on several islands, but we opted for a nearby Peaks Island.   There are hourly weekend departures to and from the island (be sure to check fares and full schedule here).


Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.
Peaks Island Pier

Once on the island, you can walk the entire 4-miles perimeter (or rent a bike).  We stocked on some fruit and drinks in the supermarket just left off the Pier and then walked to the picturesque Sandy Beach where we spent a couple of relaxing hours.

 Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.
Sandy Beach, Peaks Island, Portland


 Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.
The view onto the water from Sandy Beach. Peaks Island

Back on Portland’s Commercial street we could not leave without tasting the lobster rolls ($17) at the Portland Lobster Co. further down Commercial street.  It was a lively place with live music and water views and casual counter self-service (they page you when they are ready to help you with a table – a little unusual but it worked for us: we found the table before we had our food).  The rolls were great if only small.

Aqua Play Area/Splashtown 



The kids were wonderful all weekend and deserved a fun stop of their own!  FunTown Splash Town USA was a convenient 30 minutes drive from Portland (in Saco, Maine, on route 1) – and back towards Boston.  It was a perfect summer family stop with both amusement park and a water park in one place.  We made it to the park shortly after 3 pm and headed straight to the water park (Splashtown).

Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids
Splashtown is a perfect stop on a family summer roadtrip

In addition to nine water slides with various degrees of thrill, there is a Pirates Paradise AquaPlay area with smaller slides for kids of all ages, as well as several family pools (no wave pool though).

Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.
Aqua Play Area/Splashtown

Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids.

In the three hours, our girls had all the fun they had in them and were ready for the FunTown part.  I hate to disappoint you, but we sticked to the kiddie favorites here.  There are over a dozen thrill rides for those willing!

Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids
We sticked to kiddie favorites in Funtown

The Splashtown closes at 6pm, while the FunTown stays open until 8 or 9 pm in season.  Check website for hours and tickets options (they are single park and combined with discounts for later admission).  Thank you, Funtown/Splashtown for inviting us to check out the park!

This was a weekend trip that pleased the entire family (yes, I do believe that our teen secretly enjoyed the coastal walk).


Road tripping Coastal Maine with Kids


For our recent couple’s roadtrip through mid-coast Maine, check out our youtube video

This article may contain affiliate links to a hotel booking site.  Clicking (and booking) on these links will not cost you any extra.



  1. What a charming lighthouse, I can see why it’s iconic! Sandy beach looks quite nice too, the surrounding area looks quite interesting. Not being from the states, I’ve only heard of the Lobster Rolls, so it’s definitely on my list for when I finally get a chance to visit. I always enjoy being shown places I wouldn’t normally hear about, so thanks for sharing!

  2. We travelled around this area a few years ago and have such fond memories, I especially remember all the beautiful lighthouses. It seems there is plenty to do with kids and I would love to return there one day with them – thanks for all the info! #The WeeklyPostcard

  3. I love Maine in the summer, definitely want to go back and check out more lighthouses. I think my favorite memory is the time I went on a lobster boat and learned about how that works. Thanks for linking up with #theweeklypostcard

  4. My fiance would love to explore more of Maine so I have done a bit of pinteresting around and maybe we will go one time when we head back to the states! #TheWeelyPostcard

  5. I love the idea of roadtripping every weekend. I try to do that too every other week, when I have Fridays off. Love you discoveries along the Maine coast. Sometimes we end bumping into new places even though we think we know places very well.

  6. I like the idea of taking a trip every week-end. It’s great for everyone in the family, but especially for children. We used to do that when our son was young. Even now that he moved out, we still like to plan something for the week-end. Maine looks so beautiful. I think both you and I are very lucky to live on the coast. I love the charm of the East Coast.

  7. Hello neighbor- I’m in Southern NH:) It is amazing how much there is to explore in New England. I’ve lived here all my life and still find something new every day. I agree with Old Orchard- not my cup of tea:) I love Ogunquit for family fun or couple time- artsy community and super clean beaches. I’ve never been to Peaks island- will have to check that out. For lobster rolls my favorite is Beach Plum in N. Hampton, NH- you can get 6,8 or 10 oz or even a large sub- 20 oz! Expensive but worth it. Also has amazing ice cream that is worth saving room for. I look forward to checking out your blog to see where else in New England I should go- I have Acadia on my list as well as a trip to RI.

    1. Victoria@celebratetheweekend

      Thanks for the lobster tips, Cathy! I like Ogunquit too- been there for a couple’s weekend. For me, it is difficult to go wrong with the coast, even if it is not my cup of tea (like Old Orchard) – the beach was still pretty good:)

  8. I’d very much like to go to Maine again and explore it as you have. The scenery looks lovely and I know my son would also love a trip to the Splash Park!

  9. Pingback: Summer Weekend Trips from Boston

  10. Very useful resource! Thank you! We were driving from Acacia to Boston a day earlier than planned because it started raining in Bar Harbor. On the way I looked up this blog for ideas, and found this post. We enjoyed the lighthouse view and will come back to explore the area when it’s a little warmer and less windy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *