*York Beach (Southern Maine): This beach town is actually a set of three towns; head for Short Sands with the kids, where they can watch a taffy-pulling machine, play video games in an arcade, ogle seashells in a trinket shop, or scarf cotton candy at a small amusement park. The Long Sands section is ideal for tanning, Frisbee tossing, or kite flying; nearby is Nubble Light (a scenic lighthouse) and a kid-friendly ice-cream shop.
*Old Orchard Beach (Southern Maine): This place has sort of a carnival atmosphere—there are french fries, hot dogs, and fried dough galore. Though it might be a bit much for stodgy adults who can’t embrace the pure camp, the kids will probably love it.
*Freeport (Lower Midcoast): It’s almost impossible to knock Freeport as a family vacation spot. We’re talking about a town with loads of shopping, outdoor music in summer, about a half-dozen L.L. Bean stores (including nearly a whole floor focused on kids’ outdoor wear), and tons of quick eats and chain hotels. Plus lobsters. Plus a souvenir shop with a moose theme. Heck, there’s even a McDonald's—tastefully designed, of course. About the only thing this place lacks is a go-kart track and an Elmo theme park. And that’s a good thing.
*Monhegan Island (Lower Midcoast): The mail boat from Port Clyde out to Monhegan is intriguing, the inns are a rustic overnight adventure, and the smallish island’s scale is perfect for kids to explore, especially kids in the, say, 8-to-12-year-old range.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.