Welcome to the Biddeford+Saco region, a true vacationland area.
Here you will ﬁnd miles of relaxing beaches with breathtaking scenic views. Enjoy outdoor activities such as biking, boating and clean family amusement parks. Our many restaurants are second-to-none, and the area’s affordable accommodations will help to make your stay here a truly memorable experience.
Education and culture rank at the top of the list of our priorities in this community. Our public schools are top-notch, and throughout the country, our colleges are highly regarded as respected centers of learning.
Our historic museum and local theatrical ensembles provide hours of fun and entertainment.
With a strong infrastructure and a diverse and talented workforce in place, the area is experiencing strong economic growth. Our accessibility to air, rail, sea and the Interstate highway system continues to attract new businesses and provide job opportunities. These businesses pride themselves in providing professional and friendly service and a wide variety of high-quality, affordable merchandise.
Whether you vacation with us or plan to relocate in our area, you’ll experience a relaxed life-style and meet friendly Maine folks who already live here – and love it!
Located on Maine’s southern coast, Biddeford+Saco hosts thousands of summer visitors each year. They come to enjoy miles of beautiful, uncrowded beaches and picturesque harbors for ﬁshermen and pleasure boaters at the mouth the Saco River. Natives and visitors alike enjoy boating, sailboarding, surﬁng, surf casting, and swimming at the area’s pristine beaches. At most, both ample public parking and restroom facilities are available.
In addition to Saco Bay and the Atlantic beyond, ﬁshing, boating and canoeing opportunities are also abundant on the Saco River. Public boat launches are available on the Saco River at Marblehead Boat Launch, a State-operated facility on Route 9 in Biddeford which offers quick access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Saco River. Saco has boat launches in Camp Ellis as well as the Riverfront and Diamond Riverside Parks.
Biddeford and Saco: Scenic, Historic Twin Cities
From the sky, the cities of Biddeford and Saco appear as a single population center, home to over 40,000 residents, separated only by the Saco River. In fact, this is where the river meets the Atlantic and forms Saco Bay, blessing the area with its scenic river and ocean vistas.
The area is rich in history, starting even before the visit of explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 1600’s. Of course, Native Americans (including the Sokokis, who provided the name for the river, eventually shortened to Saco) lived in the area for many years before that and knew just how beautiful and fertile the land was.
The English colonized the area in the early 1700’s under the oversight of William Pepperell who reported to the King. In fact, Pepperellborough (as it was then known) encompassed much of what is now Biddeford and Saco, right up though the mid 1700’s. Fishing, farming, shipbuilding and lumbering kept the Colonial communities busy.
Following the Revolution, the area aggressively developed its industrial base. This industrialization took a giant leap forward in 1825 when Cutts Island,
linking the Twin Cities, was purchased by Saco Manufacturing Company, where the company erected the largest cotton mill in America. The industrial base on
Factory Island, as it was known, continued to flourish for the next 150 years with cotton weaving, shoe manufacturing and the tanning of leather hides.
Today, these same mill buildings are generating considerable economic
excitement. The long under-utilized buildings are undergoing a vibrant transformation. The North Dam Mill is adding residential units, many developed especially with college students and their parents in mind to compliment the over 100 businesses already located here.
The Lincoln Mills and River Dam Complex now offer light industrial space—a home base for the new “creative economy” and a growing retail niche. Accessible from either Saco’s Main Street or a new pedestrian bridge from Biddeford, Saco Island is anchored by the Run of the Mill Brew Pub, and hosts over twenty other businesses, as well as a year-round indoor Farmers’ Market.
Local Commerce & Industry
With a truly ideal geographic setting, Biddeford and Saco have emerged as a great economic engine for all of York County. Proximity to rail transport, as well as to affordable, convenient ground transportation and access to both air and sea have led to growth and diversity in the area’s industrial base. Several modern, attractive industrial parks in both towns provide easy access to local, national and international markets.
Mill re-development has sparked renewed interest in the area for residential,
commercial and industrial opportunities alike. Biddeford+Saco’s ideal geographic situation between Portland and Portsmouth, NH makes it a desirable place to live and work, with easy, fast commutes via the Maine Turnpike either north or south.
The downtown districts of both cities are thriving, with mixed retail and service
businesses, as well as a growing number of single-family homes, condominiums, apartments and other multi-family homes.
Development along Biddeford’s Route 111 corridor has led to a diverse retail area of several shopping centers featuring popular stores and restaurants. And the area has beneﬁted greatly from signiﬁcant infrastructure improvements which were made with the recent commercial growth on both sides of Biddeford’s Turnpike exit.
Downtowns of Biddeford and Saco
Biddeford and Saco each have vibrant downtown areas, connected by over two miles of contiguous Main Streets. The conjoined downtowns bustle with a broad range of both retail and service business activity. Local folks have long patronized the many Downtown businesses, but in the recent economic downturn, the Chamber of Commerce spearheaded a program to reinvigorate commerce throughout the Twin Cities. Biddeford+Saco Buy Local is a campaign working to showcase the businesses of our two communities and encourage a fundamental shift in the buying habits of its citizens and visitors–to effectively boost our local economy and further enrich the communities in which we live.
The Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with other civic organizations and individual local businesses, has been encouraging participation in the increasingly popular Buy Local program to more effectively promote networking, awareness and sustainable trade among residents and retail businesses within the two cities. In 2014, the Chamber combined “Choose a Chamber Member First” with Buy Local creating a robust promotional campaign to bring consumers to Biddeford+Saco and build loyalty to the area’s businesses.
Transportation & Accessibility
Transportation to, from and around Biddeford+Saco has become much more convenient in recent years. Saco’s Transportation Center opened in 2009, where the Amtrak Downeaster passenger train stops regularly on its daily service between Boston and Freeport.
Local transit bus service is both convenient and a very good value. In summer months, a bus/trolley is a welcome method of transportation among tourists and locals alike.
Relaxing, comfortable commuter shuttle service runs daily via the Maine Turnpike to and from greater Portland.
Both Biddeford and Saco are easily accessed by automobile traffic via the Maine Turnpike, a part of the Interstate 95 system. U.S. Route One is the central route through the heart of both cities, and connecting Maine with New Hampshire and points south.
Biddeford has a growing municipal airport, and Portland International Jetport (about 15 minutes to the north) offers commercial jet airline service.
The area’s geography provides both recreational and commercial access to the Saco River and the Atlantic Ocean beyond Saco Bay. Nearby Portland provides the area’s closest deep-water commercial shipping port.
This area is home to the University of New England (UNE), a rapidly growing independent university with campuses in Biddeford and Portland. In addition to its other programs, UNE offers the state’s only medical school, as well as a growing dentistry program and an impressive marine sciences curriculum.
The University of Maine system offers courses locally through University College, whose programs are geared toward non-traditional learners such as working students. Courses include on-line learning as well as those in more traditional classroom settings.
In addition to its role of educating Saco’s high school students, Thornton Academy also plays host to high school students from several nearby communities through contractual agreement. In recent years, the school has begun educating a growing number of younger students from several surrounding towns in its middle school. And since 2009, the school has played host to a growing base of international boarding students.
Biddeford High School underwent a multi-million dollar renovation a few years ago and now boasts modern classrooms, state of the art technology and is the home of a Business Academy and a Regional Center of Technology.
Both local high schools offer college level and Advanced Placement courses to better prepare students for further education.
Both Biddeford and Saco offer K-12 public education. (Thornton Academy is private, but serves as Saco’s high school). The area also plays host to a Catholic parochial school for grades K-8.
The Chamber has long promoted a close connection between the business community and area students. Internships and job shadowing are encouraged to raise high school students’ interest in manufacturing and the trades.
The largest medical facility in York County and a member of MaineHealth, Southern Maine Health Care’s primary hospital campus is located in Biddeford’s Route 111 corridor near the Turnpike exit. SMHC provides inpatient, outpatient and emergency services, and is the site of the Dorothy Walker Bush Pavilion.
The PrimeCare physicians group became part of SMHC in 2008. This group includes both general practitioners and specialists. PrimeCare now operates the former University Health Care facilities in both Biddeford and Saco. The focus is on family practice and internal medicine, as well as walk-in care. And the Route One, Saco facility is also affiliated with the Veterans’ Administration.
Southern Maine Health Care and Sanford’s Goodall Hospital recently merged services. The Goodall Occupational Health Clinic in Biddeford has a focus on recovery from workplace injuries.
The Biddeford Free Clinic, founded by Dr. Francis Kleeman, provides health care to patients without insurance.
Waterboro’s Walk-In Clinic re-opened in late 2014 to serve rural patients in communities surrounding Biddeford+Saco.
Several magniﬁcent beaches along the coast at Biddeford Pool and Fortunes Rocks are available for public use. Ample public parking and bath facilities are available. Beach parking passes are available for a nominal fee from the City Clerk’s Ofﬁce in Biddeford City Hall. Dogs are allowed on Biddeford area beaches before 9AM and after 8PM. For more details call Biddeford Parks & Recreation at 207-283-0841.
East Point Sanctuary – One of most renowned birding locations on the Maine coast. Get stickers for parking at Biddeford City Hall.
Fortunes Rocks – From Biddeford Pool to south end of Fortunes Rocks, almost 4,000 yards of sandy beach. Great surf. Limited public beach with lifeguards.
Hills Beach – Approximately 500 yards of beach for swimming and bird watching. Very limited parking available.
Saco offers miles of beautiful, uncrowded beaches, as well as a picturesque harbor for ﬁshermen and pleasure boaters at the mouth the Saco River. Saco Bay’s shoreline consists of 7 miles of sandy beach from Camp Ellis in Saco, continuing north past Old Orchard Beach and ending at Pine Point in Scarborough. Dogs are allowed on Saco municipal beaches at any time with leash and clean-up. FMI: www.sacomaine.org/departments/parksrec/active.shtml
Bayview Beach – Off Seaside Avenue. Public beach maintained by City of Saco. Lifeguards in season. Restrooms and public parking available.
Camp Ellis Beach – At the southernmost end of Saco’s seven miles of sandy beach. Scenic breakwater jetty for walks, fishing. Roadside parking, metered municipal lot.
Diamond Riverside Boat Launch Ramp – Irving Street. Not a beach, but a six-acre park with public boat ramp, picnic tables, charcoal grills and play structure for kids.
Ferry Beach State Park – Access to miles of white sandy beaches between the Saco River and Pine Point. Changing room, picnic area, nature trails and guided nature programs available. Within Ferry Beach State Park, dogs are not allowed on the beach proper, but are allowed in the park interior (with leash and clean-up). FMI, visit: www.state.me.us/cgi-bin/doc/parks
Kinney Shores Beach - Off Seaside Avenue. Public beach maintained by the City of Saco. Lifeguards in season. No public restrooms. Limited Parking.