Before long Jim and I continued on to the arcade. While the pinball games of my youth had been relegated to a back corner of the structure, having been largely replaced by more interactive video games that entice players to stomp their feet to music or hunker down to speed across a simulated racetrack, the arcade is still home to many classic favorites. An old-fashioned photo studio, a saloon-style shooting gallery, and a bank of Skee ball machines that belch out rolls of tickets all pay tribute to the enduring nature of the arcade’s appeal.Had we been paying closer attention to the lightning that was streaking across the sky, we might have reversed direction before the storm broke, but instead found ourselves crammed in the arcade with a crowd of tourists who also chose not to heed the the signals the impending storm was broadcasting. With no sign of the rain letting up and our shelter starting to get a bit steamy from the congestion of bodies, we made a mad dash to the car, resolving to return the following afternoon. The next day we were welcomed back to Old Orchard Beach by Elvis himself—just one of the characters you’re likely to meet on the strip! After a quick hello and photo op, we were off to the pier to grab some world-famous pier fries—generously slathered with vinegar and topped with salt. There’s no better place to take in the sights and sounds of the summer season than from this wooden walkway that extends over the ocean, offering a panoramic view of the beach. The Old Orchard Beach Pier has been an entertainment destination since it opened to the public in 1898. Originally designed to accommodate concerts, dancing, lectures, and a casino, it evolved to host moving pictures and drew big acts like Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman to the Casino Ballroom during the mid-century. Over the years, it managed to withstand damage sustained from myriad storms and at least one fire, until a blizzard completely destroyed what was left of the structure in 1978. The pier that dominates the center of Old Orchard Beach today was rebuilt and opened in 1980; it now houses a variety of eateries, novelty shops, and bars and is still the beach’s main attraction. After a full examination of the wares being hawked on the pier—marshmallow guns, jewelry made of rice, brightly colored apparel, and airbrushed accessories—we kicked off our shoes to stroll along the seven mile length of beach. On either side of the pier, families were clustered in the surf, digging in the sand, jumping the waves, and dragging body boards and inflatable rafts behind them as they waded toward deeper water. Having no children in tow ourselves, we decided to head south to end our weekend in Old Orchard Beach enjoying the party-like atmosphere at the Brunswick, which boasts the largest patio on the beach. On a hot day, there’s no better place to brush the sand from your feet, grab a cold drink, and listen to some live music. In the heat of summer, it’s hard to imagine that once the weather turns cool, the entrance to the pier will be shuttered, food and game stands buttoned up, and the rides at Palace Playland be broken down, transitioning Old Orchard Beach back to a sleepy seaside town in the off-season. But come next spring, the streets will begin to fill again as the gates roll open, and vacationing at the beach becomes a rite of passage for a new crop of visitors. Have you ever visited Old Orchard Beach in Maine? This post was first published in 2012 and has been updated.