Some people prefer the beaches while others prefer small coastal towns when they look for a place for a sea shore vacation getaway. York, Maine is just such a place. On Route 1A, a pair of fine sand beaches – Long Sands and Short Sands – provide sun and splash time in the cool waters of the Atlantic. A few miles to the south on Route 1A, York Village and York Harbor are small, filled with history and tied to the tidal York River.
A Pair of Uncrowded White Sand Beaches
York’s two broad sandy beaches are family-friendly stretches of fine white sand and, except at high tide, the beaches are wide with plenty of places for grabbing a few rays of sun. Long Sands, the southernmost of the two, is bounded on the south by a rocky shoreline and on the north by the imposing bluffs of the Cape Neddick peninsula. Short Sands lies between the north side of the peninsula and the resumption of the rocky coast that Maine is so well known for.
A Beach Drive, Famous Lighthouse and Ice Cream
Along both of these beaches there is surprisingly little commercial activity. A few eating places, motels and hotels are in sight, but there is little of the honky-tonk that characterizes many other beaches. The road runs between the beach and the cottages, a raised barrier that separates the beach from the village. In between the beaches, the peninsula is worth driving around. Its most famous attraction is Cape Neddick Light, better known to locals as Nubble Light because of the island it sits on. The light is motif #1 along this entire coast. Almost as well known as the postcard-perfect lighthouse is Brown’s Ice Cream, a couple of hundred feet north on Nubble Road.
York Village and York Harbor
In the days when colonial and early American history was being made, York Village and York Harbor were active coastal shipping ports, sending lumber and local produce to the growing cities south along the Atlantic coast. Their ships also imported goods from the same cities, carrying imported fabrics, metal wares and coal to Maine communities.
Things to Do in York, Maine
Today these two towns provide a more relaxed and quiet getaway than the beaches, but with many other outdoor activities. Off Route 1A, look for the Steedman Nature Preserve and walk along a causeway on the north side of Route 103. Park further down Route 103 on Harris Island Road, near the Town Dock, where there is also a good put-in for kayaks or canoes. Rent a kayak or take a guided tour with Harbor Adventures. Look too for the beginning of the cliff walk across Route 103 from the Steedman causeway. It hugs the shore through the harbor and a park and continues out along the rocky coast, a delightful walk past York’s Newport-style cottages built at the turn of the 20th century. There is a fine choice of Maine outdoor activities, it’s a shame not to take advantage of them. The closest lodging to the Town Dock is Dockside Guest Quarters. It’s within walking distance, but guests can also put-in right at the inn. They also have a full service restaurant, their own docks and a marina.