I was pretty sure it was 2009 when I hopped in my friend Lisa’s Volvo in Boston, but when we parked in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, two hours later, I felt like we’d driven back in time into the 1950’s. Our intended beach getaway had magically transported us to the midst of classic Americana in all its kitschy, fun glory—think neon lights, vintage diners, old-school motels, and waterfront amusement park, not to mention the slow-pace of a much simpler era….
"OOB," located a half-hour south of Portland, is known for its gorgeous, uninterrupted seven-mile stretch of beach anchored around a historic pier and boardwalk. We stayed at the charming family-owned circa-1890 Ocean House Hotel; grabbed egg-and-cheese bagels with spicy home fries from the pickup window at Tom’s on West Grand (10 W. Grand Ave.) on the way to the waterfront amusement park; and doused French fries with vinegar at Pier French Fries (12 Old Orchard St.) for a late afternoon seaside snack. And of course it wouldn’t have been a true weekend in Maine without some succulent lobster—we ripped into a spread from Bayley’s Lobster Pound (lobsters $11) and feasted on some of the freshest crustaceans any of us had ever sunk our teeth into.
If you’re searching for ideas for an affordable late-summer weekend getaway complete with a retro vibe, I think you may have just found your spot.
Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure.