Old Orchard Beach – Sand, Surf and Great Camping

My husband and I have vacationed in Wells, Maine since we were kids. We had continued the tradition, staying at a cabin at the Seagull each summer. However, having recently purchased a camper and having camped in Wells the previous summer – to mixed reviews – we were looking for a campsite with lots to do in the way of family friendly activities. I fondly remembered a childhood camping trip to Old Orchard Beach, and researching that area in Woodall’s, discovered an ad for Bayley’s Camping Resort in Scarborough Maine. A little online research, and we decided to book a week in July.

Bayley’s is a GREAT facility for families. We enjoyed the grounds and activities so much, we spent many days at the campground, watching our son race around with other kids and visiting with our ‘neighbors’. There are two huge pools/entertainment/recreation sections. We were closer to the ‘back’ recreation section – and we loved the pool back there.

The back section includes a fishing pond, horseshoe pits, paddle boats, miniature golf and store where you can rent recreation vehicles such as bikes and kayaks. There is also an outdoor theatre where stage shows are offered throughout the week. We saw a great hypnotist show that was hilarious, and checking out their website, I see he is still a popular favorite! Also playing that week was a band that we really enjoyed as well.

TIP: The “Old Section” of Bayley’s is closest to the back recreation area and is a smaller loop with lots of families. We were originally disappointed that we could not get into the ‘new’ section – but ended up liking this area a lot. The families we camped with go there year after year, and although we haven’t yet been back – we plan to return some day soon!

There are tons of activities throughout the week for kids and adults – including sports, crafts and pool events. In the front area, there is also an arcade and recreation hall, a good-sized camping store, a restaurant and laundry. And, best of all, a trolley to Old Orchard Beach so you don’t have to worry about parking! Everywhere we went, the grounds and facilities were clean and well-maintained, the entrance is gated, and the grounds are patrolled regularly in the evening and quiet time hours are strictly enforced. We had neighbors who liked to have a good time late in to the evening… and we decided that rather than bemoan our fate, we would get to know them and join them. We did, and we had a great time sitting by the fire each evening after the kids were in bed. I rarely had so much ‘adult time’!

Just down the road from the campground is The Clambake Seafood Restaurant. It looks like a warehouse, and you place your order like you are at McDonald’s, but when you get your food – you realize you aren’t. If want to ‘try out’ a lobster and not have to worry about making a mess … or a fool out of yourself – this is the place to do it. Put on your plastic bib and crack away! Afterwards, people seem to enjoy feeding the seagulls from the back porch. Everyone but me. I have a swooping bird phobia, so I sat inside as my husband and son threw french fries to the one, then ten, then one hundred (see why I don’t like feeding seagulls??) that arrived to fight and scavenge the food. We thought the Clambake was a good meal, but have our favorites in the Wells/Ogunquit area that we felt were better for the same price.

We mostly cooked our own meals as we were camping, however, we did try another restaurant in the Scarborough area that one of our camping neighbors recommended. The food was good, but not great, and they made a strong mixed drink – but overall, I was starting to miss Billy’s Chowder House in Wells… so a day trip to Perkins Cove and the Marginal Way gave us an excuse to stop in Wells and get Congdon’s donuts – the best donuts anywhere. The line IS worth standing in! And, then, on the way back to Old Orchard Beach, we had to stop at Billy’s Chowder House, also in Wells. I think it’s probably more tradition than anything else (this was my mother’s favorite restaurant in Maine), but I swear, they have the best lobster stew I’ve ever had. Other favorite restaurants include The Steakhouse and I like The Maine Diner, but my husband does not. Okay – you can tell I am missing Wells…

But back to Old Orchard Beach. We had a great beach day with the other families we had met at the campground, and we also spent a day at the boardwalk and going on the amusement rides, just the three of us. A rainy day was spent driving to Freeport and shopping, shopping, shopping.

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