For most people's entire lives, tourist hotspots in Maine like Old Orchard Beach have been a place where you can expect to pay to park. It's really a simple supply and demand situation. If you want to visit the beach for the day, you're going to pay.

But the past couple of summers have brought on a new challenge that Old Orchard Beach town officials are trying to get ahead of. It isn't the idea that you have to pay for parking. It's how much.

The Atlantic Ocean and pier in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
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Last year, Old Orchard Beach added five free short-term parking spots on the main drag of Old Orchard Street to help restaurants. Those free spots allowed delivery drivers and visitors to park for 15 minutes while picking up to-go orders.

For the 2024 season, Old Orchard Beach is taking another giant step forward. According to Saco Bay News, every metered spot on Old Orchard Street will allow free short-term parking of up to 30 minutes. The hope is that this will help both restaurants and retail shops draw in more customers during peak season.

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There is likely to be another change to parking in Old Orchard Beach for 2024 as well. That would be a shortening of the parking meter season. If a change is passed, parking meters would be active in OOB from May 1 through Labor Day weekend only.

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Old Orchard Beach's approach is creative. In several Maine beach hotspots last summer, parking fees rose to the level of absurdity, frustrating many visitors. Seasonal towns need to be careful not to price out visitors on parking alone.


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