York Beach vacation rentals
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Your guide to York Beach
Welcome to York Beach
York Beach is adjacent to (and part of) the historic Maine village of York, which was first settled in 1630 and is home to a world-class assortment of historic buildings from America’s earliest era. York Beach, which is anchored by the almost scenic Nubble Light lighthouse just to the north, consists primarily of two-mile Long Sands Beach and the quarter-mile-long Short Sands Beach. Both are teeming on sunny summer days with families and beachgoers from near and far. It’s an ideal destination for those who can’t make up their mind for a vacation. Mindless day at the beach, or a mindful day learning about the history of colonial settlement? You can do both on the same day here, or divide your activities between sunny and rainy days. York Beach is informed by a 19th-century beach town sensibility (complete with a saltwater taffy shop in the center of town), and isn’t quite as crowded as similar towns further to the north.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in York Beach
Winter can be very cold and empty, but if you’re drawn to a certain spartan beauty (and you’re well outfitted), it’s worth a visit. Spring and fall are filled with lovely days — some days in May and October can be spectacular, with sun and beguilingly warm breezes, but other days are windy and rainy and spectacularly frightful. The weather is most agreeable from late June through September, with frequent sun and daytime temperatures comfortably in the 70s or 80s Fahrenheit. The beach can be packed on weekends in July and August; arrive early or plan to visit on weekdays.
Top things to do in York Beach
Old York Historical Society
Located in the center of York, the society maintains more than half a dozen historic buildings, several of which are open to the public and all of which capture the enterprise that was a coastal town in pre-Revolutionary America. Among the more intriguing are the Old Gaol, built around 1719 with two-feet-thick stone walls, where reprobates were incarcerated. It’s said to be the oldest public building in the United States, and was in use as a jail until 1860. Nearby is the Old Burying Ground, dotted with ornately engraved early tombstones.
Tiny York Harbor is a short distance south of York Beach and serves up a large and scenic slice of New England. It’s formed where the York River meets the sea (there’s also a nice beach near the outlet), and is better known among boaters for its safe anchorage than among those traveling by car. If there’s a destination at the harbor, it’s the Wiggly Bridge, where Barrells Mill Pond intersects the York River. The narrow pedestrian bridge was built in the 1930s, and lays claim to be the world’s smallest suspension bridge.
The mile-long Cliff Walk begins at the end of Harbor Beach Road, and, true to its name, follows a cliffside trail along the water’s edge with memorable ocean views. Much of the trail crosses private land in front of impressive summer cottages, so visitors are asked to be on their best behavior. Wear sturdy shoes, as the footing can be uncertain in spots even in the best of weather.