Southern Maine is a terrific family destination. You’ll find tons of things to do; here is a small sampling.
York. The town of York, Maine feels like an old-fashioned beach town. The town boasts two good beaches separated by a rocky area. Both beaches can get quite crowded, especially at high tide. Long Sands Beach is the bigger of the two and is closest to the main hotel area. From Short Sands Beach, you can walk into town to visit the shops. Kids love The Goldenrod, where they can watch taffy being made (and buy a large box of it to take home). There’s a popular video arcade right next to the beach if your kids get antsy. Young children will enjoy a visit to York’s Wild Kingdom, which has several amusement rides, in addition to animals. We also enjoy driving out to see Nubble Lighthouse, where the kids like to clamber around on the rocks looking for tide pools (it’s best to go at off-peak hours since the parking lot is pretty small). If you’re visiting during the holidays, be sure to stop by to see the lighthouse lit up
Kittery. Most people visit Kittery for the long line of outlet malls along Route 1. We enjoy visiting Kittery Trading Post which sells practically everything, from kayaks to long underwear to chocolate lobster candy. Nearby Bob’s Clam Hut makes an easy lunch stop and its casual atmosphere is great for kids, as is the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream counter inside. If you want something more off the beaten track, eat at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier. It’s set along a creek with brightly colored picnic tables, and though hot dogs and pizza are the only standard children’s fare offered, you’re welcome to bring outside food.
Wells. Wells has nice beaches and the accommodations are cheaper than nearby Ogunquit. Best of all Wells has two important Maine institutions: the Maine Diner and Congdon’s Doughnuts. The Maine Diner is so popular that if you arrive at peak times (which is pretty much anytime) you’ll be given a pager to signal when your table is ready (spend your wait in the gift shop). Kids will like the all-day breakfast selections and the children’s menu is inexpensive. The hot lobster rolls and seafood chowder are especially good. Congdon’s Doughnuts is a great place to pick up a picnic breakfast before hitting the beach. Be sure to try the buttercrunch and chocolate chocolate varieties.
Ogunquit has our vote for the best beach in the area, a beautiful 3 mile crescent of white sand that rarely feels overcrowded. Tides often create little pools where younger kids can splash in relative warmth and safety. When we’ve had enough beach combing we enjoy walking the Marginal Way, a path that travels from town to Perkins Cove. Along the way kids can explore tiny beaches, look for crabs in tide pools, and enjoy sweeping ocean views. Perkins Cove has great little souvenir shops, including a candy shop with good taffy and chocolates. You can walk back along the Marginal Way or along the main road through town to explore the shops there.