Maine features a variety of beaches and other interesting sites, many of which are open year round. Acadia National Park is a popular day trip for students. While it is relatively close to the University of Maine, it is only one of many parks located in the state.
Maine’s Popham Beach State Park is located in southern Maine. Labeled “Maine’s busiest state park beach” by Maine.gov, the park is open year round for people to come and enjoy. It features a long sand beach, although the geography of the beach often changes due to the tides. While the water is cold this time of year, the beach is open for swimming, paddling, surfing, hunting and picnicking.
Until April 1, the beach is available for all pets so long as they are leashed. Horses are included in this, although a permit is needed.
A number of islands are within view of the beach, making it popular for sight-seeing. One of these, Fox Island, can be walked to at low-tide. Trying to reach the island at high tide, or trying to come back after the tide comes in, is highly discouraged. If you want to walk out to the island, be aware of the time.
In addition to Fox island, the Pond Island Lighthouse is often visible from the beach.
The park is open 9 a.m. to sunset and has a $6 entry fee for resident adults, $8 for non-residents.
If you want more adventure, continuing on past the beach will take you to Fort Popham. The old fort is available to walk around in, and is considered a historic sight.
Fort Popham dates back to the Civil War. Construction began on the site in 1861 and finished in 1869, leaving the structure permanently unfinished. Parking at the fort is somewhat limited, although this does not tend to be a problem in the winter months.
The park is a little over two hours south of UMaine. It is about an hour away from Portland. The park is listed as being in Phillipsburg, just south of Bath, which is also home to the Maine Maritime Museum.
Popham beach is located at the point where the Kennebec river meets the Atlantic. While the river doesn’t reach Orono, the name may be recognized from Kennebec Hall.
Popham itself lies on an outer portion of land, being a far distance from most things. If heading out for a day trip, bringing your own food is recommended. There are a few scattered restaurants about 15 minutes away and most everything else requires the 20 to 30-minute drive back towards Bath. Once in Bath, all sorts of options are available. There is a large quantity of local seafood restaurants for those interested in Maine’s specialties.
If you want something other than seafood, Byrnes Irish Pub is a great place to grab a bite. The pub has two locations: one in Bath and the other in Brunswick. As the name suggests, their specialty lies in sandwiches and other pub favorites like poutine or bangers and mash. Fitting to their Irish heritage and themes, Byrnes is a popular place to visit on the upcoming Saint Patrick’s Day.
Taking a different route out of Bath leads to another popular beach, Reid State Park.
Reid State Park is temporarily closed due to construction on a new bridge. Maine.gov listed the park being closed through February at the least and gives no exact date for its reopening.
Unlike Popham, Reid states that it allows cross-country skiing, giving an incentive to visit in the winter season once it reopens. The park has a 1.5-mile beach, allowing for a large quantity of visitors at one time.
These two state parks offer basic amenities like bathrooms and changing rooms, although they do not have any sort of food for sale. Those going should not expect to be able to get anything other than what they brought.
While visiting in the off-season makes for an interesting and uniquely pretty sight, keep in mind that it is no warmer on the beach than it is anywhere else. The beach is often colder and windier than inland areas so remember to dress warm.