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Short Sands Beach in York, Maine: Summer Fun and Family Beach Activities at One of Maine’s Top Beaches

Short Sands beach in York, Maine
Experience the charm of Short Sands Beach in York, Maine. From family activities to scenic beauty, discover why it's a top Maine coastal destination.

Discover Short Sands Beach: York’s Coastal Treasure for Family Fun

Short Sands Beach in York, Maine, is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and family-friendly attractions. Nestled in the heart of York Beach, this compact stretch of sand has become a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. What sets Short Sands apart is its unique combination of classic beach activities, nearby attractions, and a charming small-town atmosphere that captures the essence of coastal Maine.

 

Getting to Short Sands Beach

Finding your way to Short Sands Beach is a breeze. If you’re coming from Portland, Maine, head south on I-95 for about 45 minutes, then take exit 7 for York. Follow Route 1 south and then Route 1A east until you reach the beach. Visitors from Boston can expect a drive of about 1 hour and 15 minutes north on I-95.

Parking can be tricky during peak season, but there are several options:

  • Metered street parking along Beach Street and Ocean Avenue
  • A public parking lot at the corner of Beach and Main Streets
  • Additional lots near the beach, which fill up quickly on sunny days

Tip: Arrive early to snag a good spot, especially on weekends.

While public transportation is limited, the York Trolley does operate during summer months, connecting major attractions in the area.

York Trolley in Short Sands Beach in York, Maine

 

The Beach Experience

Short Sands Beach may be small, stretching only about 1/4 mile, but it packs a punch. The sand is soft and clean, perfect for barefoot walks or building sandcastles. The beach is bordered by rocky cliffs on both ends, adding to its picturesque charm.

Water temperatures in Maine can be chilly, even in summer. Expect temperatures around 60°F (16°C) in July and August. Despite the cool water, many visitors enjoy swimming and bodysurfing. The waves are usually gentle, making it suitable for families with children.

Footsteps in the sand at Short Sands Beach in York, Maine

Lifeguards are on duty from late June through Labor Day, ensuring a safe environment for all beachgoers. Always pay attention to posted signs and flags indicating current water conditions.

 

Classic Beach Activities

Short Sands Beach offers all the traditional beach activities you’d expect:

  • Sunbathing: Find your perfect spot on the sand and soak up the Maine sunshine.
  • Swimming: Take a refreshing dip in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Beach games: The compact size of the beach makes it ideal for frisbee, paddleball, or a game of catch.
  • Sandcastle building: The sand quality is perfect for creating your own miniature kingdom.
  • Beachcombing: Search for sea glass, interesting shells, or smooth stones along the shoreline.

Sand Castle washing away on Short Sands Beahc in York, Maine

 

Family-Friendly Attractions

What makes Short Sands Beach truly special is its family-friendly atmosphere and nearby attractions:

  • Ellis Park: Located right next to the beach, it features a playground and grassy areas perfect for picnics.
  • The Goldenrod: This iconic shop has been making saltwater taffy since 1896. Watch the taffy-pulling process and sample some of their famous treats.
  • Short Sands Park: Enjoy concerts at the gazebo during summer evenings.
  • Fun-O-Rama: This classic beachside arcade is a hit with kids and adults alike, offering a nostalgic gaming experience.

Fun-O-Rama Arcade in Short Sands Beach in York, Maine

 

Nearby Dining Options

You won’t go hungry at Short Sands Beach. Options include:

  • Beachside snack stands: Grab quick bites like hot dogs, fries, and ice cream.
  • Local seafood restaurants: Try fresh Maine lobster and other seafood delicacies at nearby eateries.
  • Ice cream shops: Cool off with a scoop (or two) of locally made ice cream.
  • Picnic areas: If you prefer to bring your own food, there are several spots perfect for a picnic.

Goldenrod Restaurant and Ice Cream parlor in Short Sands Beach in York, Maine

 

Best Times to Visit

Peak season (June to August) offers warm weather and a lively atmosphere but expect crowds and higher prices. September can be ideal, with fewer people and still-pleasant temperatures. Some local events to consider:

  • York Days: A week-long celebration in early August featuring craft fairs and fireworks.
  • HarvestFest: Held in October, it’s a great way to experience fall in Maine.

Union Bluff Hotel overlooking Short Sands Beach in York, Maine

 

Accommodation Options

York offers a range of places to stay:

  • Hotels and motels: Many options within walking distance of the beach.
  • Vacation rentals: Rent a house or condo for a home-away-from-home experience.
  • Camping: Several campgrounds in the area cater to both RV and tent campers.

York Beach Residence Club on Short Sands Beach in York, Maine

 

Beyond the Beach

While Short Sands Beach is a destination in itself, don’t miss these nearby attractions:

  • York’s Wild Kingdom Zoo and Fun Park: A combination zoo and amusement park, perfect for a family day out.
  • Nubble Lighthouse: One of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine, it’s a must-visit spot.
  • York Village: Step back in time and explore historic buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

Colorful Parrot at York's Wild Kingdom in York, Maine

 

Tips for a Perfect Day at Short Sands Beach:

  • Bring sunscreen, beach towels, and a beach umbrella for shade.
  • Mornings are perfect for a quiet walk, while afternoons are bustling with activity.
  • Respect local rules: No dogs allowed on the beach from May 20 to Sept 20, and always clean up after yourself.

Beach umbrella on Short Sands Beach in York, Maine

 

Interesting Facts about Short Sands Beach

  • The beach got its name from the short stretch of sand between two rocky points.
  • It’s one of the few beaches in Maine that has an arcade and amusements right on the beachfront.
  • The Goldenrod restaurant near the beach holds the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous saltwater taffy pull.
  • Short Sands Beach is home to a time capsule buried in 2000, set to be opened in 2100.
  • The beach pavilion, damaged by storms multiple times, has been rebuilt and stands as a symbol of the community’s resilience.
  • During low tide, you can sometimes spot the remains of a shipwreck from the 1800s.

Small child playing in the sand on Short Sands Beach in York, Maine

 

Short Sands Beach: A Maine Coastal Experience You Won’t Forget

Short Sands Beach offers a quintessential Maine beach experience. Its compact size, family-friendly attractions, and stunning natural beauty make it a must-visit destination. Whether you’re building sandcastles, enjoying a lobster roll, or simply soaking in the views, Short Sands Beach provides the perfect backdrop for lasting vacation memories. As you plan your Maine getaway, be sure to carve out time for this coastal gem – it might just become your new favorite spot in the Pine Tree State.

Short Sands Beach in York, Maine

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Short Sands Beach

The following are answers to some common questions about Short Sands Beach in York, Maine.

Is there a fee to access Short Sands Beach?

No, access to Short Sands Beach is free. However, you may need to pay for parking in nearby lots or at street meters during peak season.

Are dogs allowed on Short Sands Beach?

Dogs are not allowed on Short Sands Beach from May 20 to September 20. During the off-season, dogs are permitted but must be leashed and cleaned up after.

Are there lifeguards on duty at Short Sands Beach?

Yes, lifeguards are on duty daily from late June through Labor Day, typically from 10 AM to 5 PM.

What amenities are available at the beach?

Short Sands Beach offers public restrooms, outdoor showers, changing rooms, and nearby food vendors. There’s also a playground and grassy area in adjacent Ellis Park.

Is the water too cold for swimming?

The water can be chilly, with temperatures averaging around 65°F (17°C) in summer. Many visitors still enjoy swimming, but some may prefer to wade or use wetsuits.

Are there any good restaurants within walking distance of the beach?

Yes, there are several dining options within walking distance, including seafood restaurants, pizza places, and ice cream shops. The famous Goldenrod restaurant, known for its saltwater taffy, is also nearby.

 

Contact Information
Short Sands Beach
Ocean Avenue – Route 1A, York Beach, ME 03910
York Sands Beach website

 

Picture of Mark Beale - Author Bio

Mark Beale - Author Bio

Mark has an extensive background in the Maine Hospitality Industry, having owned the Ledges By The Bay, a boutique oceanfront hotel property, in Rockport Maine, for 40 years. He sold the property in 2016 but remains well-versed in the Maine Tourism industry and has written a number of Maine travel-related articles for various blogs and publications over the years.

Mark founded the TakeMe2 Travel Guides platform, an online travel guide initiative, designed to promote tourism in Maine, New England and in other key states – by providing in depth, unbiased information to potential tourists and travel consumers. TakeMe2 currently features the TM2Maine.com website.

Mark is also currently a stakeholder in VONT, a digital marketing agency in Westbrook, Maine, where he leads VONT's search engine optimization (SEO) practice.

Mark is versed in a number of digital information technologies including web design and development, digital video, electronic design and digital imaging technologies as well as internet marketing tactics such as blogs, web properties, and other smart media such as AI chatbots for content, image and video enhancement. One of his primary tasks at VONT is to find the successful application of these new information platforms in marketing and then teach VONT's marketers how to use them to create marketing campaigns more efficiently, creatively and cost effectively.

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