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36 Hours in Biddeford & Saco

Activities: Walking, beachgoing, arts and culture, shopping, dining Family-friendly, perfect for a 36-hour getaway
Region: The Maine Beaches

The neighboring communities of Biddeford and Saco – both designated historic Main Street communities – are divided by the Saco River but are perfect for exploration. Check out the renovated Pepperell Mill for shopping and dining, housed in a former textile mill along the Saco River. There are many fantastic shops and galleries at this vibrant location. From June into October, walking tours are offered of the Biddeford Mills Museum. See the unique architecture of a cotton house, walk through the open rooms that were once weave sheds, and visit the underground canals where the Saco River once powered these textile mills. You can stroll along the Saco Riverwalk, taking in the sights, pop into shops or simply relax in Mechanics Park. If you’re in need of a book (or a coffee or glass of wine or beer), visit Elements on Main St. For gorgeous clothes made from plant-based fabrics, check out the boutique Suger for Maine-made fashion.

In downtown Saco, be sure to stop by the Dyer Library and Saco Museum for a peek into the past of this quaint city whose motto is “Friendly by Nature.”

If you’re looking for sandy beaches and nature walks, head to Biddeford Pool or Fortune’s Rock, popular for surfing (parking permits are required) for some great beach days. There are plenty of walking trails and nature watching opportunities as well. In Saco, Ferry Beach State Park sports a wonderful ocean beach, nature trails and a rare northern stand of tupelo (black gum) trees.

The food scene is exploding here with both brand new, and tried and true options. When you’re ready to grab a bite to eat, check out one of the many options like the acclaimed Palace Diner or Dizzy Birds’ elevated comfort food in downtown Biddeford. Two Biddeford chefs were nominated in 2022 for the James Beard Award’s Best Chef: Northeast – dine at Magnus on Water with an incredible outdoor dining area or Elda, with its fine dining prix fixe tasting menu. In the mood for casual, fresh Maine seafood? Fish & Whistle has what you crave. In Saco, there’s Latin inspired Pacifico, and local favorites Quiero Cafe, and Run of the Mill. Or try an amazing bowl of ramen at Jin Sushi & Ramen! During the summer, visit Pool Lobster at Goldthwaite's for a fresh lobster roll or other seafood in Biddeford Pool. At the end of the day, stop back at Pepperell Mill to quench your thirst at Biddeford’s first brewery, Banded Brewing or Round Turn Distilling for their Bimini gin and other bar drinks!

Enjoy a show or play at the City Theater, an historic opera house, built in 1896, and when you’re ready to call it a night, the Lincoln Hotel in Biddeford has a rooftop pool and bar as well as posh accommodations in the former Lincoln Mill.

If the Saco River has captured your imagination, consider the Saco River itinerary – three days following it upstream to the charming communities that call its banks home.

From Bangor: 145 miles
From Lewiston/Auburn: 47 miles
From Portland: 18 miles From Boston: 95 miles

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