By Steve Atlas
York County, Maine: Use the Trolley Instead Of Your Car
When vacationers travel to southern Maine’s ocean beaches, most people sigh and join the traffic lines and congestion. They assume anyone visiting Maine needs a car. However, that doesn’t need to be true. Take AMTRAK’s Downeaster train, from Boston (North Station) or Portland, Maine, to Wells.
At the Wells (Maine) station, get off the train and transfer to the Shoreline Explorer’s Shoreline Trolley (Route 4). The Shoreline Explorer is a network of four summer trolley routes (three are private operators), and three shuttle buses that serve five beach communities in York County. Because many beaches and hotels are located near a trolley stop, you don’t need a car to enjoy a vacation here.
|Photo credit the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce.|
Getting To York County Without a Car
From Logan Airport in Boston, take the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority)’s Blue line subway marked Bowdoin to State Street. Transfer at State Street to the Orange Line marked Oak Grove. Get off at North Station where you will board Amtrak’s Downeaster Train. going to Portland. Get off at Wells.
If you are coming to Boston by train (either AMTRAK or MBTA commuter train), get off at Back Bay Station. Then take the Orange line marked Oak Grove. Follow the directions given in the last paragraph.
You can also begin your vacation in Portland, Maine. From Portland Maine’s Airport, take Metro Transit route 5 to the Portland Transportation Center, located at 100 Thompson’s Point Road.
Get on the Downeaster and take it to Wells. Amtrak’s Downeaster has five trains every day between Boston and Portland, ME. Take the train to Wells, ME ($19 one-way from Boston, or $11 from Portland). The Shoreline Trolley stops at the station.
York County, Maine: Shoreline Explorer
The Shoreline Explorer is a network of 4 trolley routes, + 3 shuttle bus routes (a Kennebunk Shuttle (Route 7), Shore Road Shuttle (Route 2), and Sanford Ocean Shuttle (Route 5)). The Kennebunk and Shore Road Shuttles are the same price as the Shoreline Trolley for adults only—no cost for children. The 4 trolley routes and 3 shuttle bus routes serve Wells, Ogunquit, York Beach, Kennebunk, and Kennebunkport., during the peak summer season. For more information about the Shoreline Explorer and the four trolleys that participate, including fares and schedules, visit www.shorelineexplorer.com, or call (207) 324-5762: Extension 2932.
For current information about stops and attractions, and any route changes, visit www.shorelineexplorer.com.
The Shoreline Trolley serves Wells and Kennebunk. It has bike racks in summer only. The cost is $1 per trip, or $3 for a one-day pass (good also on the Kennebunk and Shore Road Shuttle routes). Take the trolley to Wells Beach, Wells Harbor, many motels and restaurants. Wells Beach includes seven miles of ocean, and has bathhouses, restrooms, a grocery store, and even a few shops. Taking the trolley to the beach eliminates parking fees—which can be as high as $15 per day.
The Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge, (www.fws.gov/northeast/rachelcarson/index.html,  646-9226) located at 321 Port Road in Wells, offers a one-mile walk over a marsh. The Refuge, established in 1966, includes forested upland, barrier beach and dunes, coastal meadows, tidal salt marsh, and a distinctive rocky coast. Shoreline Trolley drivers will drop riders at the Refuge entrance, if the passenger(s) notify the driver. If you have any questions about the Shoreline Trolley, including stopping at the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge, call (207) 324-5762: Extension 2932.
The Shoreline Trolley connects to the Intown Trolley (Kennebunk) and Ogunquit Trolley (Ogunquit) and the Shore Road Shuttle, connects with the Ogunquit Trolley in Perkins Cove and York Trolley at York Beach.
Ogunquit Trolley owner Dave Chaves recommends taking a trip on the entire Ogunquit Trolley route ($1.50 per ride) and then deciding where to go.
Highlights include the beach, Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Barn Gallery and a play at the Ogunquit Playhouse. The Ogunquit Trolley stops at Ogunquit Beach. The sand here stretches for more than three miles. Even though it’s probably too cold for most people to swim, it’s fun to walk along the beach.
Another popular activity is a walk along Marginal Way from the downtown shopping area to Perkins Cove. The one-and-a-quarter mile walking path offers dramatic views of the Maine coastline. A highlight of the walk is the Sparkhawk Resort’s flower garden. If you get tired, there are over 30 benches along the footpath.
Perkins Cove (a stop on the Ogunquit Trolley) has restaurants and shops, and is a good place to charter boats for deep-sea lobster and fishing expeditions, or whale watching.
Finestkind Scenic Cruises (www.finestkindcruises.com, or call  646-5227
}, based at Perkins Cove, offers a Lobstering Trip, and a Nubble Lighthouse Cruise that offers great views of York’s elegant homes and the rocky Maine coast.
For a change of pace, visit the Ogunquit Museum of American Art (OMAA) located at 543 Shore Road (www.ogunquitmuseum.org, or call  649-4909. (There is an admission charge.) The Permanent Collection includes almost 1600 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, photography and graphics.
It is known for its collection of Maine-related artists, and the diversity of American artists in its collection.
While you are here, visit the Barn Gallery (www.barngallery.org or call 207/646-8400). Enjoy its lovely garden, exhibitions and arts programs presented by the finest artists in the seacoast region. Located south of
Ogunquit Center on Bourne Lane and Shore Road, Barn Gallery is an easy walk to Ogunquit, to Perkins Cove, and the Marginal Way. The nearest Trolley stop is Bourne Lane across from Jonathan’s restaurant.
If you are staying in Ogunquit, spend an evening at the Ogunquit Playhouse, located at 10 Main Street (www.ogunquitplayhouse.org, or call  646-5511). This year, the Playhouse celebrates its 80thanniversary.
When visiting the Museum and/or Playhouse, eliminate parking hassles and traffic congestion by taking the Ogunquit Trolley. The Trolley costs $1.50 for each one-way trip. For schedule information and
To find out where the Trolley stops, visit www.ogunquittrolley.com, or call (207) 646-1411 or (617) 417-2042. You can get a Touring Map with trolley stops from the Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce (www.ogunquit.org). For more information about Ogunquit, visit www.ogunquit.org or call (207) 646-2939.
York Trolley owner Nick Papin invites visitors to use the York Trolley ($1.50 per ride, $7 for a day pass.) The York Trolley runs daily from June 23 – September 3, 2012, every 30 minutes from 10:00am to 10:15pm. Use the trolley service to visit York’s beautiful, long sandy beaches that outline the family-friendly, safe, beach town. While you are here, take time to visit York’s Wild Kingdom Zoo and Amusement Park, (www.yorkzoo.com, or call 207/3634911) and Nubble Lighthouse (see the photo above, courtesy of the York Chamber of Commerce) (http://www.nhtourguide.com/notquitenh/nubble_lighthouse_maine.htm. Later, take time to relax at Ellis Park. Ellis Park is a grassy, picnic area that offers a playground and basketball courts. An evening concert series is performed on the park lawn in July, August, and September.
On a summer Saturday, visit the York Gateway Farmers Market: 1 Stonewall Lane, off of Route 1. Open every Saturday: 9:00am – 1:00pm, June through October. The Farmer’s Market, a summer favorite for locals and visitors, sells fresh bread, produce, meat, eggs, baked goods, and handmade crafts. http://www.gatewayfarmersmarket.com .
While here, sample local specialty gift shop, restaurants, and the Fun-O-Rama arcade on Short Sands Beach.
York offers two taxi services, Beach Taxi, (207) 451-4031 and York Beach Taxi, (207) 216-0032. The taxi is a convenient alternative to the trolley for destinations that may not have a trolley stop.
For York Trolley schedules and details and to find out where Trolley stops are located, visit http://www.yorktrolley.com, or call (207) 363-9600. For more area information contact the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce, http://www.gatewaytomaine.org .
Kennebunk and Kennebunkport
The Intown Trolley, 33 Wildes District Road in Kennebunkport, offers a 45-minute Kennebunkport Tour ($15 per person, and $5 for children ages 3-17). Highlights include President Bush’s estate, beaches, and the Franciscan Monastery. Get details by visiting www.intowntrolley.com, or call (207) 967-3686.
There are walking tours and many other activities in the Kennebunk and Kennebunkport area.
The Intown Trolley has been touring the Kennebunks for over 30 years. When the trolley bell is hear throughout the village and along the coast, everyone knows that summer has finally arrived. Intown Trolley continues an early tradition of trolleys in the Kennebunks. The first trolleys ran from early 1900 to 1927, transporting summer guests from the local train station to their vacation destinations. Their narrated sightseeing tour provides local narrative, describing 300 years of history: from the Native Americans, early settlers, the shipbuilding era, tourist and summer resort & more recently the Presidential summer home.
When you are visiting Kennebunkport see the area via trolley, to learn about the town and enjoy the fabulous view along the coast of Maine.
(See below for a photo of Kennebunk’s popular Dock Square, courtesy of the Kennebunk and Kennebunkport Chamber of Commerce.)
A summer visit to York County’s Trolley communities makes you realize that you can enjoy a stay here without a car. Even if you do need to drive, it’s a lot more fun to leave your car at your hotel and use one or more of the Shoreline Explorer Trolleys to go to the beach and most other places you want to visit.
If you Do Drive—Limited Free Parking in Wells
Because of the traffic, the train and Shoreline Explorer is the best way to enjoy Wells. However, there are a few free parking areas in Wells. These include: Casino Square—Wells Beach near Forbes Restaurant
Gold Ribbon—off Webhannel Drive (no RVs or campers)
Wells Harbor Park—end of Harbor Road.
The Shoreline Explorer stops near all of these free parking areas.
If you must drive, we recommend saving time, money, and frustration by leaving your car at your hotel or one of the free parking areas in Wells, and using the Shoreline Explorer system.
For More Information
For information about the Shoreline Explorer trolleys and area attractions, visit http://www.shorelineexplorer.com , or call (207) 324-5762: Extension 2932
For information about attractions and accommodations in York County, visit www.mainebeachesassociation.com.
Do you have suggestions or comments? E-mail Steve at email@example.com