York Beach is the premier New England beach experience. York, Maine, offers tons of family fun, great food and drinks, and excellent beaches, not to mention the plentiful options in nearby Kittery and Ogunquit. Only about an hour north of Boston, it is a relatively easy jaunt up to a great destination.
I’ve been lucky to spend a lot of time in York over the years thanks to my grandparents’ hard work, savvy land-buying choices, lifelong friendships, and generosity! They built — with their own hands — a tiny cottage in the 1950s that my mom and her siblings got to spend every summer in. It is now a shared favorite place amongst them, their 13 kids, our 15 kids, and countless pets. Such a favorite that I got engaged there, we were married there, and we had newborn photos done there. We have endless stories and memories with generations of friends that we all treasure.
I’m excited that I have become known as somewhat of a York whisperer for friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. My little family has been able to try some new things lately in addition to our old favorites, and I’m happy to share them with you all! Here are my top 10 recs!
Stones Throw is one of our family’s go-to spots for lunch or happy hour. Located right on Long Beach Road across from Long Sands Beach, Stones Throw is aptly named. It is on the first floor of a boutique ocean-front hotel (expensive but worth an off-season overnight). I highly recommend the beach wings and a “painkillah.”
Located right downtown with both indoor and outdoor/tented seating, York Beach Beer Co. is a great option on a less-than-ideal beach day. They often have food trucks and live entertainment — and some great pretzels. It’s kid and dog friendly, and my toddlers love running around the outdoor space while mom and dad have a relaxing beer flight. You can also visit their sister location, SoMe.
St. Joe’s Coffee is a must-do every trip for my husband. Located on Route 1, across from Hannaford, they have huge biscuit breakfast sandwiches, bennies (their version of a zeppole or beignet — delish!), and the best coffee around.
When you think “New England beach day,” you may not immediately think of Chinese food. But Green Leaves is excellent. Every person I bring there is impressed by how fresh and delicious the food is, and the scorpion bowls (which they offer to-go too!) are an added bonus. It has become one of our staples.
Great for a date night. Excellent food and cocktails. Off the beaten path — more of a locals spot. The Central doesn’t take reservations and can get pretty busy, so plan ahead. We like sitting at the bar if we can wrangle a sitter!
This is a very cool ropes course on Route 1 that is great for older kids and for a beach alternative, if needed!
For outdoor, casual dining that is very kid friendly, try Lobster in the Rough. They have bocce courts, cornhole, and live music daily. I think it is an underrated fried seafood option!
At the Wiggly Bridge Distillery, you can book a tour or a tasting, or just pop in to sit at the bar or play board games on their comfy couches.
There are two main beaches in York — Long Sands and Short Sands. In my humble opinion, there is only one choice, which is Long Sands. While Short Sands is part of the downtown area, and there is a lot within walking distance, it is small, as the name indicates. If you can get there early to stake out some sand and a parking spot, I think Long Sands is a more relaxing and spacious beach choice. I recommend parking/sitting near the bath house for maximum convenience.
OK, hear me out. There is really only one grocery store in York proper — Hannaford. No shade, but it is a million times more expensive than the Market Basket located in nearby Portsmouth, NH. If you’re visiting York for a weekend or more and need to pick up groceries, this is the premier grocery purchasing option. There are also some excellent farmstands along the main roads that I fully encourage supporting!
As you can see, there is a food and beverage theme here, but I think you can cultivate a pretty amazing and delicious day trip or overnight in York. This list is my gift to you. Don’t tell my family I shared all our secrets!