Biddeford Pool is a village located at the mouth of the Saco River where it enters the Atlantic Ocean. Named for the large tidal pool on its mainland side, its year-round population is augmented every summer by tourists, as well as out of town property owners returning to their seaside homes for the summer. For many of these families, dogs are an unquestioned part of life and many accommodations are made for the enjoyment of our four-legged furry buddies.
The area around the tidal pool is covered with salt marsh and sea grasses, and is a perfect spot for viewing waterfowl and small animals. On the ocean side of the spit of land that connects the Pool to the mainland, or tombolo, is a 2-mile sandy beach on which dogs are welcome. Dogs must be leashed in the summer from sunrise to sunset, but can roam off-leash all day from September to March. There is no parking along this strip of land, and consequently, the beach is never overcrowded.
Hattie’s Restaurant is a local favorite, offering lunch and dinner, plus an outdoor walk-up ice cream window. Their homemade pies and quiches are not to be missed! Several outdoor tables overlooking the Pool enjoy wait service, and dogs are welcome to enjoy the view and the food! Goldthwaite’s Restaurant and Market is another dog-friendly spot that features magnificent views of the Pool from their Adirondack chairs and picnic tables.
Of special interest is the boat launch, from which you and your best buddy can put in with a rowboat, kayak, canoe or other vessel to enjoy the ocean or the serene waters of the Saco River. The tidal pool itself is navigable at high tide, too. Happy paddling!
Fortune’s Rocks is a community at the western end of Biddeford Pool that some consider to be a separate area. The Fortune’s Rocks Beach is the official name of the entire 2-mile length of beach located here, and it offers more than enough room to walk or jog on the hard-packed sand at low tide. Or you can try surfing, kayaking, swimming or just lying on the uncrowded beach with Fido by your side. In the summer, dogs are permitted to be on the beach untethered and under voice control before sunrise and after sunset, but September through March they can run free at all times of the day. The beach is enclosed on the road side by huge boulders that are climbable, and there are 2 access bridges available if you or your your pup aren’t up to clambering over them.
Six miles inland from Biddeford Pool is the Tattle Corner neighborhood of Biddeford, a city with a small-town feel that features two super dog-friendly parks. Rotary Park is located on the banks of the Saco River, and includes a riverside beach, which is a splendid place for walking or romping at all hours between September and May, and before 9:00 am or after 8:00 pm the rest of the year. Its 72 acres feature walking trails, a designated leash-free dog park, 2 playgrounds, a boat ramp and a picnic grove. It’s a perfect place for an outing with the whole family and pup. Clifford Park, a short way to the southeast, is a wooded area with a network of trails, some for meandering, others wide enough for mountain biking, and still others rocky and challenging for the serious hiker. Dogs may be off-leash in the wooded section of the park, and are welcome on-leash everywhere else. The park features granite quarries, a view of the Atlantic at the trail’s highest point, and even a small waterfall. Peaceful and never crowded, it’s a perfect spot for a walk or hike with Spot.
The Hills Beach neighborhood houses the University of New England’s Biddeford campus, a 540-acre expanse with ¾ mile ocean frontage. The grassy, shaded campus grounds offer trails into wooded areas on both sides of Pool Road, beaches on both the Saco River and Atlantic Ocean, a boat launch, picnic areas and long expanses of lawn. Dogs are welcome here on leash to enjoy the shorelines and walking paths. If all this walking whets your appetite, Bufflehead’s Restaurant features outdoor tables where pups are welcome to join their owners for lunch or dinner. Known in the area for its imaginative and delicious cuisine, it is a popular spot for residents of Hills Beach and University staff. The Lobster Stew is not to be missed! Across the street from Buffleheads is the actual Hills Beach that looks out onto the beautiful Saco Bay. This beach is the perfect getaway for walks, or just sitting in the sand enjoying the view of Old Orchard Beach and Scarborough across the bay.
Just south of Biddeford Pool is the town of Kennebunkport, best-known for being the summer home of President George HW Bush and his wife Barbara, but also well-known for the Goose Rocks Beach. This 3-mile long beach is very shallow, and its small waves and calm waters make it ideal for families with children and dogs. Pups are permitted on leash only, but there is plenty of room for roaming and running here. Nearby, three dog-friendly restaurants provide al fresco dining for you and your pup. Salt and Honey features full breakfast and sandwiches for lunch, and a dinner menu that includes duck, snapper and short ribs. They even provide water bowls for Fido. On the Edge Restaurant offers a creative brunch menu, and dog treats and water bowls for your pup. Finally, Ryan’s Corner House Irish Pub welcomes leashed fur-babies on its spacious patio.
Biddeford is a vibrant city of closely-placed buildings, outdoor areas and restaurants where humans and dogs can gather, and is conveniently adjacent to Biddeford Pool. Housed in a bookstore, Elements Books Coffee Beer is aptly named. The coffee bar features a variety of hot and cold coffees and teas. The back section offers mostly local Maine and New England brews on tap, in addition to some bottled beer, wine and kombucha. Your fur-buddy can join you at their dog-friendly outdoor tables. And yes, you can buy books here, too. Shevenell Park, a small urban pocket park carved out of unused space between two Main Street buildings, features a tree-shaded brick walk, and small groups of tables, chairs and benches for eating lunch or just taking a break. Dogs are welcome. Another small but well-used park is Mechanic’s Park, by the shore of the Saco River. With its lighted walking paths, gazebo and 7-minute workout station, it is worth a visit with your furry bestie just to enjoy the great views of the Saco River.