York is a town with its mind firmly on the sea. Even the local mountain, stubby Mt. Agamenticus, was used by colonial mariners as a guide to navigation. York Beach has something for the whole family – soft sand, dining and shopping, and world-class seafood.
Things to Do in York
Often called ‘The Yorks,’ the town is made up of four communities; York Village, York Harbor, York Beach and Cape Neddick.
It’s easy to visit all the Yorks in a single day. Take York Beach, for example. It’s a tiny, classic village full of funky places to eat, shop and play. A long-time favorite is The Goldenrod, a candy store and café open since 1896. Salt-water taffy is made on-site, with more than eight million pieces produced annually.
York Beach is also a great place to – wait for it – hit the beach. There’s Long Sands Beach, 1.5 miles of glorious sand, popular for swimming, sunbathing and even surfing. There’s Short Sands Beach, a quarter-mile long and tucked amid the cliffs. Short Sands is in Ellis Park, with a playground, gazebo and summer concerts. Short Sands is also home to Fun-O-Rama, a classic arcade right on the sand, for folks wanting to play out of the sun.
At nearby Grain Surfboards, you can stop by and visit the headquarters, where they hand-make boards from local wood. The folks will sell you a board and even help you make one yourself.
Looking for more beaches? Nearby York Harbor has Harbor Beach, which is small and secluded. Parking there is limited.
If you’re ready for shopping, visit the flagship store of Stonewall Kitchen, the nationally known specialty food company. The York store has a cafe, cooking classes and showroom.
York hosts one of America’s most scenic lighthouses. Opened in 1879, Nubble Light (officially Cape Neddick Light Station) sits on a tiny, rocky island, or nub, right off shore. It’s so close that folks at the mainland Sohier Park easily spot lighthouse details.
For some non-aquatic fun, visit York’s Wild Kingdom. Billed as New England’s only zoo and amusement park, it includes the interactive Butterfly Kingdom, animals such as lions, zebras and macaws and an amusement area with mini-golf, bumper cars and lots of rides for kids.
Or, you can climb a mountain (albeit a short one). The Mt. Agamenticus region includes 40+ miles of trails and a 10,000 acre nature preserve. You can even try to summit the peak, only 692 feet high (imagine the view!). An easier hike is through Steedman Woods and across the beloved Wiggly Bridge.
History fans can revel in York’s antiquities. The town is the second-oldest in Maine, having incorporated in 1652. To learn more, visit the Old York Historical Society. The Society oversees sites and exhibits including The Old Burying Ground, with graves going back to the 1690s; a warehouse once owned in part by John Hancock; The Old Gaol, built in 1719; and colonial-era houses and a school.
Restaurants in York
Seafood by the sea? Lobster Cove has you covered. Breakfast by the sea? Enjoy the breakfast buffet at Shearwater at the Stage Neck Inn. There are many options for dining in York!Check out our business listings below or click here for great places to eat in York and its surrounding communities.
Where to Stay in York
There are a number of fine hotels in York, as well as other accommodations, including Cliff House, the Inn at Tanglewood Hall, the Stage Neck Inn, the Union Bluff Hotel and the York Harbor Inn. Camping near the sea is available, too, at places like Burnette’s Campground and others. Scroll through the list of local businesses below for additional ideas.