Short Sands Beach in York, Maine — Photo courtesy of Mark PechenikShort Sands Beach in York, Maine defines the term “beach family vacation.” While not large in size (Short Sands is only one-quarter mile in length along the York, Maine, shoreline), this coastline area is easily accessible enough so that visitors and vacationers can leisurely walk to most of its highlight destinations.
The most dominant feature of Short Sands is, of course, the beach. Unlike the more familiar (and far more extensive) rocky Maine shore, Short Sands features a wide expanse of level, smooth sand. This makes for an ideal play area for youngsters as they enjoy searching for everything from starfish to shells. Meanwhile, adults will find its smooth surface to be ideal for calming walks along the surf. Short Sands is also located only yards away from York’s many stores and restaurants. This beach also has another important feature: Short Sands’ water temperature is uncharacteristically warm for coastal Maine. True, it is far from the welcome, warm currents of the Caribbean. However, it is possible to venture waist deep into Short Sands’ water at summer’s beginning (mid to late July) and, come late August to early September, full body bathing at Short Sands is possible. Of course, children are known to frolic in this beach’s waves from the first days of summer!Ellis Park Gazebo at Short Sands Beach — Photo courtesy of Mark Pechenik
Away from the beach, Short Sands has much to offer for individuals, couples and families alike. The downtown district is full of small, beachfront shops that have welcomed visitors for generations. Several stores sell everything from plush toys to flavored ices, salt water taffy and, of course, beach novelties such as sunglasses, hats, and t-shirts. Food choices are also “beach-centric” and include pizza restaurants, ice cream stands, sandwich shops, and similar fast foods. But don’t look for national chains like McDonald’s here – zoning laws prohibit such enterprises.
Nubble Lighthouse near Short Sands Beach — Photo courtesy of Mark PechenikThose seeking entertainment will appreciate several Short Sands icons. Fun-O-Rama, located adjacent to the beach and the downtown shopping area, features classic arcade games, amusements and a bowling alley. At the close of a very busy beach day, families can be seen spending hours upon hours at this very busy amusement center. Children enjoy the variety of activities while, for adults, the games always succeed in bringing back their own fond beach vacation memories. Another family favorite is Ellis Park which has extensive, top notch playground equipment and a basketball court that is frequented by many active youngsters with parents in tow. For adult fare, the nearby Inn on the Blues serves up some of the best blues, rock, jazz and soul performers in the New England region. This establishment also does a fine job of cooking up lobster, Mexican and other vacation-focused cuisine.
Vacationers will find plenty of lodging options near Short Sands. Among the top hotels are the York Harbor Inn, the Stage Neck Inn, the Union Bluff Hotel, and the Cliff Harbor Inn, all of which evoke the days of relaxed, elegant shoreline vacationing with premier bed and breakfast type service.
If you’re willing to venture a little farther afield, York’s Wild Animal Kingdom is always a big hit with animal lovers, both young and older, and also has amusement rides for youngsters. Finally, Nubble Light, which has been the subject of countless photographs and paintings, is a huge draw for sightseers. On any given summer evening, it’s possible to enjoy your favorite ice cream while viewing the classic beauty of Nubble Light – all the while mulling over the next day’s fun at Short Sands Beach.