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York Beach Maine summer 2024: New eateries, shops, events

York Beach Maine summer 2024: New eateries, shops, events

YORK, Maine — Summer 2024 is approaching, and business owners, town officials and locals are gearing up for a season of hotel openings, music festivals and a new tiger at York’s Wild Kingdom.

The Nevada Motel is reopening with its 1950s-style décor and battleship appearance intact, as well as a new tiki-style restaurant owner Joe Lipton hopes to open to the public eventually. Meanwhile, the Anchorage Inn has finished gutting 72 of its rooms for a new look this summer.

The town of York is ramping up its summer activities, from the week-long York Days to the end-of-the-season Beach Bonfire. Local beer and spirit makers say they plan to host events through the summer, from live music and cocktail classes.

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Nevada Motel, ViewPoint and other hotels gear up for summer season

Joe Lipton said this may be his last big summer of projects for a while at his York Beach hospitality businesses. Two of them, the Nevada Motel and the ViewPoint Hotel, have been under renovation, in some form, over the last few years.

The Nevada, which Lipton bought in 2021, will be reopened with a new third floor and improved amenities while maintaining its classic appearance. The motel was built in the early 1950s by Henry de la Pena, who served on the USS Nevada in World War II. He designed the building to look like a battleship flybridge with a mid-century modern aesthetic.

Also new to Nevada is the tiki-style restaurant Lulu’s, which will only be open to hotel guests this summer. Lipton said he will eventually go before the town’s Planning Board to make Lulu’s open to the public.

Lipton is also adding to his ViewPoint Hotel, which last year saw the completion of seven new hotel rooms built into the side of the hill overlooking the Nubble Lighthouse. He recently received approval for a new spa at the hotel that will be available this summer.

Lipton said he expects a busy summer as long as the weather stays sunny, noting last year saw many rainy days. Stones Throw restaurant, he said, will also be open seven days a week this summer.

“If the water’s nice, people come to the beach,” Lipton said.

At Long Sands Beach, the Anchorage Inn has finished renovating its atrium building with 72 rooms remodeled. Caitlynn Ramsey, whose family owns the Anchorage, said their restaurant Sun and Surf is preparing to open full-time the week before Memorial Day. She said they are adding a second webcam at the restaurant so tourists can see Long Sands Beach facing north and south.

Jimmy Asprogiannis said he has spruced up his Grand View Hotel’s exterior with new windows, doors, sliders, glass decks and siding. He is also in the Planning Board process for a bigger project to add a new structure with eight hotel units, which he hopes to build for the 2025 season.

Asprogiannis is also adding a new cocktail menu and different food items at Inn on the Blues, an inn and restaurant he owns at Short Sands Beach.

Landmark hotel reopens in June: Nevada Motel at York Beach makeover almost complete

York’s Wild Kingdom returns with new tiger, baby goats

Moxy the Bengal tiger is home at York’s Wild Kingdom, marking the return of one of the park’s most popular big cat species. Rewa, the white Bengal tiger, died in 2020 after nearly 15 years at York’s Wild Kingdom.

Moxy, who arrived last year at 70 pounds, has continued to grow, according to Samatha Sauls, the park’s general manager. The 1-year-old tiger was donated to the Wild Kingdom from another facility.

Moxy joins the park’s two lions, as well as its gibbons, camels, alligators, and several other species. Many, like the baby goats born this spring, are available for petting and feeding.

Sauls said the addition last year of a new Ferris wheel-type ride called the Balloon Wheel has been a success.

The park opens for the season on Saturday, May 25, a short walk from Short Sands Beach. Sauls said York’s Wild Kingdom is looking for employees this summer, the busiest month of which is August.

More: How a 26-year-old saved Nick’s Beachside Grille from closing down at York Beach

Breweries and spirit makers offer entertainment, food trucks

Live music, cocktail classes and a craft beer festival are on the calendar for York’s local beermakers and distillers. The season kicks off with the May 11 Oddity by the Ocean 3 festival, hosted by Cape Neddick’s Odd by Nature Brewing.

The festival will take place at the brewery, with about 600 people expected to attend, according to Odd by Nature owner Jay Gray. Bands Fortunate Youth, Spose and Over the Bridge will perform, and unlimited samples will be available from 35 different breweries, some never distributed in Maine.

“I really don’t think there’s a better deal in craft beer or music festivals,” Odd by Nature owner Jay Gray. The brewery also just opened its second location in Worcester, Massachusetts.

York Beach Beer Company is ramping up its entertainment for the summer season with live music every Saturday and Sunday starting in May, according to Sarah Rowland, whose family owns the brewery.

A variety of food trucks will be coming to the brewery seven days a week during the summer. Most days will feature the Rowland family’s own York Beach Eats, which launched last year and serves a variety of lobster rolls. Other trucks on the schedule include Stone and Fire Pizza, which serves pizza from a brick oven on wheels.

York Beach Beer Company’s sister brewery, Southern Maine Brewing Company, stylized SoMe, will continue to feature live music on Fridays. Rowland said the brewery started a book club on the third Wednesday of the month with the local bookstore The Booktenders.

Nearby on Route 1, Wiggly Bridge Distillery will be hosting monthly cocktail classes in their historic barn-turned tasting room on Route 1. The distillery makes award-winning spirits, including whiskey and rum. This year, they received a Gold medal from The Fifty Best for their New England Single Malt Whiskey.

“We started doing cocktail classes years ago but on a really limited basis,” said Amanda Woods, whose family owns the distillery. “It’s exciting, and we love being able to offer something fun to do in York.”

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Town Parks and Rec to bring York Days, September Beach Bonfire

Road races, pickleball, fireworks and more return to York this year as the town Parks and Recreation Department prepares for its summer season of activities.

York Days kicks off July 28 with the annual York Days 5K, then continues until the following Sunday. The week’s events include the York Days craft fair on Aug. 3 and 4. Fireworks will be held Aug. 4 at 9 pm to close out York Days for 2024.

Darby said this year’s craft fair features more than 50 vendors and may feature entertainment like live music.

“Making it more of a festival hangout than just a craft fair,” Darby said.

At the end of the summer, Darby said the annual Beach Bonfire will take place Aug. 31. The Bonfire features music, food, and dancing, raising money for the York Community Services Association and York Food Pantry.

On Sept. 21 and 22, Parks and Rec will host the Battle at the Beach pickleball tournament. Registration is open online until Sept. 15. The sport combines elements of tennis and badminton and is considered the fastest-growing sport in the country.

Darby said the activities hosted by Parks and Rec are a fun tradition for visitors and locals alike.

“It’s really cool to just celebrate York,” Darby said, “And bring some culture.”

Nubble Lighthouse, one of Maine’s biggest attractions

Sohier Park gets busy in the summertime as tourists gather for views of York’s iconic lighthouse Cape Neddick Light, commonly known as the Nubble Lighthouse. It was built in 1879 and remains the centerpiece of York’s tourism.

“It’s picturesque, it’s beautiful, and a lot of people have shared the experience with families,” said Brenda Knapp, chair of the Sohier Park Committee that oversees the lighthouse.

This year’s lighting of the Nubble takes place July 26, kicking off the Parks and Recreation Department’s week-long York Days Festival that lasts until Aug. 4. The Nubble will feature a display similar to its winter holiday for the duration of the festival.

Also, this summer is the Nubble Light Challenge on Aug. 3, in which swimmers race for 2.5 miles through the “gut” of the Nubble that separates its island from the mainland. The race is sold out, but viewers can watch the swim when it kicks off at 8:30 am

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Surf shops ready for busy season with Surf Re-Evolution party

York Beach’s surf shops, clothing stores and board makers are looking forward to another tourist season in a town where they say surfing is a big part of local culture.

Liquid Dreams will open its York location at Long Sands Beach Memorial Day weekend, then open seven days a week starting June 10, depending on weather, according to manager Tori Knoepful. The shop rents boards and hosts surf camps and lessons all summer long.

New England has become increasingly known for its surf culture, with some of the best waves arriving later in the year during hurricane season which starts mid-August and goes until fall.

Mike Lavecchia, owner and founder of Grain Surfboards in York, said that does not stop summertime visitors from enjoying the local surf culture. His company has been making wooden surfboards for 19 years on Webber Road at Long Sands Beach and offers workshops in the summer for those looking to make their own board.

Grain Surfboards hosts a summer sendoff on Sept. 21 called Surf Re-Evolution, a ticketed event featuring food, live music and industry members sharing some of their newest products and ideas.

Lavecchia said summer brings many tourists with their surfboards, including several with Canadian license plates. Shops like Beach Bum Threads, started by an owner who grew up surfing here, cater to surfers as well.

“Surfing’s been a big part of Long Sands since the 60s,” Lavecchia said.

New playground and volleyball area at Ellis Park

Families with kids will look forward to an updated playground at Ellis Park at Short Sands Beach with an updated merry-go-round and slide, according to David Bridges of the park’s board of directors. Meanwhile, he said a new volleyball area is being erected this summer in the sand to give guests one more activity to enjoy.

The upgrades are part of the overall capital improvement plan by the park directors. The park is also home to summer outdoor music series on its bandstand.

They also include updated security this year to improve safety at the beach, like cameras that can provide more visibility. Sidewalks will also be improved this year, and in future summers the directors intend to make improvements to the parking lot.

“The demand gets greater, and we try as hard as we can to make it a fun, safe place for the people to come and visit,” Bridges said.

York’s Short Sands Beach: Playground makeover, new volleyball courts and more

York parking rate doubles, adds ParkMobile app

Day-trippers will pay twice as much to park at York Beach this summer as York raises its price from $2 per hour to $4 to remain competitive with other tourist towns. At the same time, the town is adding ParkMobile as a new app to pay. The cost of the resident sticker was not increased from its cost of $40 per year.

The Selectboard started talks last year about raising the parking rate after town staff examined other communities and what they charge. They learned Ogunquit charged $5 to $7 per hour in the summer season. New Hampshire State Parks charges $3 per hour for parking at Hampton, North Hampton and Rye beaches.

Parking fees will be in effect for the season again starting May 15, according to Town Manager Peter Joseph. He said the town just finished negotiating a contract with ParkMobile, meaning the phone app should be available May 15.

The town recently removed its kiosks and switched to having customers pay through the app Pango. Joseph said ParkMobile is a more commonly used app, though visitors can continue to pay with Pango as well.