Saco, Maine Vacation Guide
The sister cities of Saco and Biddeford, Maine occupy opposite banks of the Saco River, just a few miles from Portland. The history of the Saco-Biddeford area stretches back thousands of years, when Maine’s indigenous peoples migrated to the region during the summer to take advantage of its excellent fishing and hunting. European explorers and settlers started arriving in 1617, and by the 1700s the area was growing, along with the timber industry.
Over the next two centuries, Saco-Biddeford became home to nail and cigar factories, iron foundries, and the state’s largest cotton mill. Today, these cities and their neighbors –Dayton, Hollis, Buxton and Biddeford Pool — offer a range of recreational, historical and cultural attractions to visitors and residents alike.
Attractions and Places of Interest
No visit to Saco-Biddeford would be complete without an afternoon spent exploring Biddeford Pool. About six miles south of Biddeford, this coastal community is home to a huge tidal pool and salt marsh that’s one of the most popular birding destinations on the East Coast. It’s also the site of the 1616 settlement at Winter Harbor, Maine’s first.
Also on the coast, the Wood Island Lighthouse stands watch over the treacherous stretch of water known as Fletcher’s Neck. The light was constructed in 1807 and has a long history, filled with colorful characters, ghostly hauntings and bell-ringing dogs. Today, visitors can take a boat ride from Vine’s Landing at Biddeford Pool out to the island for a 90-minute tour.
Learn more about the region at the Saco Museum. The third oldest museum in Maine, this downtown institution’s collections include historic and contemporary works by Maine artists, period furnishings, natural history specimens and a range of photos, documents and artifacts.
The Biddeford Mills Museum brings the city’s past to life, with displays and exhibits that focus on the history of the textile industry and mills. The museum is housed in the historic North Dam Mill building.
The Saco-Biddeford area hosts a number of festivals and events throughout the year. Biddeford’s Final Friday ArtWalk takes place every last Friday of the month all year long. Downtown businesses, restaurants and galleries stay open late to showcase the work of local artists.
In early spring, Maine Maple Weekend celebrates the region’s famous maple syrup with demonstrations, exhibitions and tastings.
In June, you can try your luck in the annual Biddeford-Saco Chamber’s Golf Tournament and the Biddeford-Saco Striped Bass Tournament. The annual Saco Sidewalk Art Festival brings local performance, musical and visual artists out in full force, while the annual La Kermesse Festival Franco-Americain – which takes place in both Saco and Biddeford – celebrates the region’s connections to French culture.
In July, the Annual Greek Festival takes over Saco over a three-day weekend, while the Car Show puts classic autos in the spotlight.
Later in the year, Saco’s Annual Harvest Festival celebrates local farmers with a procession of carved pumpkins and a range of family-friendly activities. In December, Biddeford lights up the winter season with the Lighting of the Trees festival .
Outdoor enthusiasts will love the range of recreational activities at hand in Saco-Biddeford. The region is sprinkled with scenic beaches that are open to the public, such as Fortunes Rocks, which offers a 4,000-yard stretch of sand with lifeguarded summer swimming, and Hills Beach, which has a 500-yard beach and great bird watching.
Speaking of birding, the East Point Sanctuary is one of the most lively bird habitats on the Eastern Seaboard. The Maine Audubon Society maintains a .9 mile trail.
Saco Bay itself has 7 miles of sandy beaches, stretching from Saco’s Camp Ellis to Scarborough’s Pine Point. Along the way, you’ll find Ferry Beach State Park, Kinney Shores Beach, Bayview Beach and the Diamond Riverside Boat Ramp.
Visitors to Saco-Biddeford can choose from a range of accommodation options, from historic inns to cozy bed and breakfasts, family-owned motels to national hotel chains, and even several campgrounds. Many lodging establishments offer river or ocean views.
Foodies won’t be disappointed when they visit Saco-Biddeford, either; the area is packed with restaurants that are sure to satisfy every appetite. From ethnic eateries to casual bistros, gourmet settings to fast-food joints, Saco-Biddeford has something for everyone. Be sure not to miss out on that legendary, fresh Maine seafood!
Saco-Biddeford Area Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Saco-Biddeford, Maine area.