Popham Beach / Fort Popham
A pastoral 14-mile drive south of Bath, this 529-acre park beach is an aberration for one reason: it has sand, and lots of it. In a state where rocky beaches are the norm, it’s no wonder this golden stretch of coast with secluded coves, grassy wildlife-filled dunes, and countless picnic areas is so popular—and a treat to visit, no matter the season. Formed eons ago where the Kennebec River meets the Atlantic, it’s bookended by two lighthouses, including one of the oldest lighthouses on the East Coast, on Sequin Island (first constructed in 1795), which is also one of the highest beacons in Maine. Another wonderful detail: one mile past the beach gates on Route 209 (and also accessible via the beach) is the site of the 1607 Popham Colony, one of the first settlements founded in the New World. While historic Fort Popham dominates the sheltered cove, many make the trip to the end of the road for fried clams and beer at Spinney’s restaurant.
Official park season: mid-April to mid-October, but accessible year-round