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10 Best Things to do in Portland ME

Portland, Maine provides a plethora of entertainment options. The most excellent aspect is that nobody here attempts to dazzle you with glitzy this or trendy that. Indeed, they welcome your presence and invite you to experience their enthusiasm for imaginative cuisine and their tremendous heritage in agriculture, handicraft, and nautical culture.

Northeast Portland, Oregon, United States, is home to a statue of George Washington created by Italian American artist Pompeo Coppini in 1926–1927. The things to do in Portland ME, are still faithful to their roots, making this proud little city exciting. These are some of the most significant ways to explore the Old Port and beyond, from thrilling sailing excursions and ancient mansions to hip artisanal-ware boutiques and independent locavore restaurants.

Read on for our guidance on things to do in Portland, ME.

10 Best things to do in Portland, ME
By peter bucks/ Unsplash, Copyright 2020

10 Best Things to do in Portland ME

1. Portland Museum of Art

Portland Museum of Art, Portland
By Jacob Campbell/ Unsplash, Copyright 2018

Portland’s art museum features relatively well-known figures for such a tiny city. Icons shown in the Portland Museum of Art include Andy Warhol, Claude Monet, and Winslow Homer.

The museum houses a vast collection of American, European, and modern works by famous artists and artists from Maine. There are many paintings, but you may also discover drawings, pottery, furniture, exquisite silverware, sculptures, and much more.

The Portland museum also often holds events like movie screenings, curator talks, and numerous family-friendly activities. Additionally, it offers tickets for Homer’s seashore mansion, which is a significant point in American art history. Recent visitors expressed their excitement with the Portland Museum of Art collections and were impressed by them.

The variety of genres included, from French impressionists to American classics, as well as a large number of works on exhibition, were appreciated by visitors. Many guests claimed they could have easily spent the entire day exploring the grounds.

2. Peaks Island

Peaks Island, Portland
By Brian Link/ Unsplash, Copyright 2023

Peaks Island is about adjusting to a slower pace rather than focusing on one thing in particular. Around 1,000 full-time people live on the 720-acre island, which has 3,000 summer residents. There is a strong desire to protect the area’s natural beauty, historical significance, and relaxed way of life.

Many people come for the day because of how quickly they can get there by ferry from Portland, while others rent cottages or stay at The Inn for a few nights or longer where camping is not permitted. Guests usually go along Island Avenue by foot, bicycle, or rented golf cart.

One of two things to do in Portland ME will allow you to see what makes Peaks Island so unique: either walk (or bike) around the island’s perimeter and spend an afternoon soaking in its quiet, or reserve a table outside at the Cockeyed Gull restaurant for lunch.

3. Old Port

Image from Shutterstock

Portland’s heart, without a doubt, beats in Old Port. This area of the city’s downtown is regarded as its hub and is teeming with activities while tastefully preserving its ancient façade.

The dock is just a few feet away on a commercial street, and the area is surrounded by warehouses and cobblestone streets, making it easy to imagine the city’s glory as a well-known port town. Ferries, cruises, and the delicious catches that dock their daily benefit tourists.

Travelers can enjoy their time on Fore Street and Congress Street and find things to do and see away from the shore. Some of the best restaurants in town are in Old Port.

Duckfat, Fore Street, and Eventide Oyster Co. are three of Portland’s best eating joints, all located close to one another.

Congress Street is an excellent place to start because it is lined with restaurants, shops, local art galleries, and theatres, even if dining and shopping are spread out throughout the neighborhood.

The Portland Museum of Art, & Theatre of Maine, and the Portland Stage Company, to mention a few, are just a few of the major attractions found in the Arts District, which is believed to begin at the boundary of the Old Port district.

4. Victoria Mansion

The magnificence of the Victoria Mansion will captivate fans of architecture and interior design. For hotelier Ruggles Sylvester Morse, this National Historic Landmark was constructed as a vacation home in the middle of the 1800s. The mansion was slated for demolition to make space for a gas station after being destroyed by a hurricane in 1938. The house of National Historic Landmark was shortly acquired by a citizen of Maine who converted it into a museum dedicated to Queen Victoria.

The Victoria Mansion is regarded by historians as a prime example of opulence from before the Civil War, which is what gives it such significance. The home’s exterior was designed to resemble an Italian villa with an elaborate square tower, several balconies, and a piazza.

With carved wood paneled walls, gas light fittings, crown moldings covered in cherubs, elaborate drapes, and carpeting throughout, 90% of the original interiors are still in condition.

It is the only piece of his work that has survived in the United States and was created by Gustave Herter of Herter Brothers, one of the most well-known design firms of the time. The fact that this house was genuinely thought to be modern when it was built is another intriguing feature.

Running hot and cold water, gas lighting, central heating, and an alarm system for the staff are all included in the Victoria Mansion.

5. Portland Freedom Trail

Things to do in Portland ME is incomplete without this Portland Freedom Trail which is a free, self-guided tour that passes 13 significant locations honoring Black Mainers who battled to eliminate slavery in the 19th century. Tickets are not necessary. It draws attention to locations along the local Underground Railroad that were used to smuggle former slaves into Maine and across the border into Canada (a crossing that signaled freedom).

Other significant historical abolitionist monuments are located along the trail, including the wharf where many slaves stowed away on ships bound for Maine, churches turned meeting places, private residences (with secret passageways), and companies that deftly concealed anti-slavery pamphlets in their goods.

6. Casco Bay Islands

Casco Bay Islands, Portland
By Kristel Hayes/ Unsplash, Copyright 2018

While there are few beaches in Portland, the surrounding Casco Bay Islands are awash in shorelines. The Casco Bay Islands are a group of islands off Portland’s coast that are accessible by ferry throughout the year. Each island is unique in terms of culture, history, and tourist destinations.

It’s the only island where you can drive on gravel roads all year. Therefore, cars are rarely used on Cliff Island. Great Diamond, where the historic Fort McKinley once stood, is praised for having a landscape like that of Maine and has narrow, rocky shorelines backed by beautiful woodlands.

There are no cars allowed. Therefore, the only means of transit in Fort McKinley are golf carts, bicycles, and walking. Diamond Cove is one of many stunning beaches on this island, which also features a bowling alley, tennis courts, and a small museum.

Make a weekend out of it by booking a room at the Inn at Diamond Cove, which offers a variety of entertainment and dining options. Old Orchard Beach is known to be best for family fun activities.

7. Portland, Maine, Brewery Tours

Portland, Maine, Brewery Tours
By Meritt Thomas/ Unsplash, Copyright 2020

What lobster is to Maine, beer is to Portland. You’re losing out if you visit without trying some of the local brews. Due to its abundance of regional brewers and its involvement in the microbrew movement, Portland is regarded by experts as one of America’s top beer cities. Although having more than 15 microbreweries may seem like little in a city with more than 66,700 residents, it’s more than plenty for locals and tourists who enjoy beer.

Maine Brews Cruise is well-reviewed if you’re searching for a guided experience because of its knowledgeable guides and abundant supply of beer. Both professionals and tourists agree that Allagash is the best hotel in Portland.

The brewery is notable for bringing Belgian-style brews back to the nation in the middle of the 1990s and is regarded as a pioneer in the microbrew movement.

8. Portland Head Light and Fort Williams Park

Portland Head Light and Fort Williams park
By Jimmy/ Unsplash, Copyright 2020

When Maine was still a land of Massachusetts, the General Court of Massachusetts contributed $750 to the George Washington-commissioned Portland headlight project.

The lighthouse received an additional $1,500 for completion when the American government took possession in 1790. The lighthouse’s location at Portland Harbor’s ship entry gave it its moniker.

Portland Head Light, Maine’s oldest, first shone its light in 1791. The tower served as a ship’s navigational aid for nearly 200 years and is situated at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, about 5 miles outside of Portland.

The U.S. Coast Guard decommissioned the Portland headlight in 1989 when it was converted to an automated tower.

9. Munjoy Hill

This area of Portland is distributed across a high place and serves as a spark of inspiring creativity and a peek into the city’s past.  In the 1630s, it was one of Portland’s earliest settlements. Working-class immigrants living along the shore called the area home for years, earning it the reputation of being rough around the edges but well-connected.

Then the 1990s arrived, bringing an infusion of artists, a booming restaurant scene, new condos, art galleries, hip stores, and bustling cafés.

Now, it has the best view in the city at the Portland Observatory, the same entertaining stores, and acclaimed dining establishments like Terlingua. Portland’s combination of the ancient and the new makes every day and evening an adventure and an incentive to return. But, since everything is close by and you never know who you’ll run into, it’s simple to see as much as possible.

It sits at the nexus of the city’s cool, modern side and historic Portland.

10. Portland Observatory

Consider visiting the historic Portland Observatory, the last remaining maritime signal tower in the nation, for some of the harbor’s best vistas. Captain Lemuel Moody ordered the octagonal, 86-foot-tall tower to be built in 1807 as a communication post for Portland’s harbor, but it needed to be done out of altruism.

To notify merchants of ships arriving, Moody telescope allowed him to see them up to 30 miles away. Ships could only be seen from town once they practically entered the harbor before the observatory was constructed.

While simultaneously benefiting financially, Moody helped merchants and paying captains. The tower was eventually unnecessary because of the two-way radio, although the Moody family continued to use it until 1923.

After neglect, the observatory was presented to Portland and renovated by Greater Portland Landmarks in 1984. Recent visitors praised the observatory’s heritage and remarked on how spectacular the views are from there. It would help if you ascended the stairs to the observatory’s top because there is no elevator, but previous visitors report that the pace is reasonable.

Frequently Answered Questions (FAQs)

1. What are some rainy-day activities in Portland, Maine?

Although many of Portland’s finest attractions are outdoor-based, the following are your best options for entertainment on a wet day.

a) Breweries

Maine boasts more breweries per person than any other state in the union, and Portland is home to many of them. The Shipyard Brewing Company and Allagash Brewery are particularly well-liked establishments.

b) The Portland Museum of Art

This is Maine’s historical and most significant art gallery and a great place to visit for art lovers.

c) Umbrella Cover Museum

On Peaks Island, this odd little museum showcases umbrella covers worldwide.

2. What are some things to do in Portland ME, for kids and the family-friendly museums in Portland, Maine?

Maine Coastal Children’s Museum and Theatre Botanical Gardens of Maine. Tour of the Portland Fire Engine Co. Casco Bay sightseeing cruises and boat trips

Other little amusement parks nearby that are well-seen include Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco and Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach.

This is our curated list of some enjoyable activities you can partake in Portland, Maine. You can find a wide variety of activities, no matter whether you enjoy history, adventure, or food. Do let us know if you have any other ideas or any other places of interest in this fun city

Suggested reading: Simple Tips To Make Your Trip To The Windy City Better



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