Portland is undoubtedly Maine’s most fun metropolis, and with gorgeous coastal surroundings, lighthouses, an unimaginable culinary scene, and historic New England allure, it’s simple to see why.
Situated within the southern area of the state, Portland is accessible from so many different elements of New England, making it simple to see whereas visiting this area. It additionally makes for an ideal homebase when you discover completely different areas of coastal Maine, or a worthwhile pitstop in your option to Acadia Nationwide Park.
This put up shares all the perfect issues to do in Portland, Maine that will help you plan the right itinerary. Whether or not you’re planning a day journey, or just a few nights right here, these are the perfect issues to take a look at on this lovely New England metropolis.
The place To Keep In Portland, Maine
One of the best space to remain in Portland is the Previous Port district of downtown. That is additionally probably the most scenic space of the town, and also you’ll discover historic cobblestoned streets, lovely alleyways alongside the waterfront, and many purchasing and eating choices inside strolling distance. Some advisable accommodations within the Previous Port neighborhood are:
- The Press Resort
- Portland Harbor Resort
- Hyatt Place Previous Port
When you’re on a price range, the most affordable space of the town to remain in is South Portland, which is only a 15-minute drive to Previous Port. You’ll discover quite a lot of resort chains on this space with less expensive costs, and also you’ll even be nearer to the lighthouses.
Beneficial accommodations in South Portland:
- Vacation Inn Categorical & Suites
- Courtyard By Marriott Portland Airport
Greatest Issues To Do In Portland, Maine
1. See The Lighthouses
You most positively can’t go away Portland and never see the lighthouses! Portland is dwelling to New England’s most well-known and photographed lighthouse, Portland Head Mild, and should you simply see one lighthouse throughout your go to, that is the one to see.
Portland Head Mild is inside Fort Williams Park on Cape Elizabeth and is surrounded by a dramatic, rocky shoreline that makes for epic photographs to recollect your journey by. There’s a paved path that goes across the park that provides completely different vantage factors of the lighthouse, and it’s also possible to stroll proper as much as it for a singular perspective.
When you’ve got time, it’s additionally value visiting the opposite two lighthouses close by: Spring Level Ledge Mild, and Bug Mild. Whereas these lighthouses are a lot smaller than Portland Head, they’re each nonetheless very enjoyable to go to and provide lovely views of the water.
Visiting the lighthouses does require a automotive, however should you’re visiting with out one, contemplate taking a tour across the metropolis, which additionally consists of Portland Head Mild.
If you wish to see all three lighthouses with out a automotive, the most suitable choice is to hop on a ship tour, which departs proper from downtown Portland. The Lighthouse Lovers Cruise tour is 60 minutes lengthy, and passes by all of Portland’s lighthouses:
2. Stroll The Streets Of Charming Previous Port
Portland’s most photogenic space is unquestionably Previous Port, and also you’ll need to you should definitely spend a minimum of just a few hours exploring the charming streets of this neighborhood. As the town’s oldest and most historic space, it additionally completely balances old-world allure and the town’s wealthy maritime legacy.
Most of the eating places and boutiques on this neighborhood are housed in historic warehouse buildings, and also you’ll discover hidden alleyways alongside the harbor with bobbing fishing boats and lobster traps for an genuine New England expertise.
3. Take A Boat Tour Of Casco Bay
The most effective methods to take pleasure in Portland is by taking in views of the town by boat, which additionally gives alternatives to see the encompassing Casco Bay.
There are just a few implausible excursions that depart proper from Previous Port, and the most effective ones is that this Harbor Lights and Websites tour, which passes by the lighthouses, and the islands round Casco Bay:
A memorable boat tour to soak up Portland is that this 2-hour Tall Ship Cruise across the bay. Your guides on this tour will make it easier to spot seals and different wildlife within the water, and also you’ll even have the chance to learn to sail and hoist the sails should you’re up for it. Crusing holidays are full of advantages, so give it a strive!
When you’re visiting between November and April, most boat tour corporations are closed for the season, however you possibly can hop aboard the Casco Bay Island Ferry, which is likely one of the greatest issues to do in Portland, Maine within the winter. The Casco Bay ferry line can be very reasonably priced, so if different excursions aren’t in your price range, it is a nice possibility.
Guests are welcome to hop aboard simply to cruise round, and round-trip fares begin at round $8.
4. Take A Meals Tour
Portland is one among New England’s most fun culinary locations, and it may be overwhelming to determine the place to eat. That can assist you hone in on the perfect locations to start out and get a style of New England delicacies, positively contemplate reserving a meals tour of the town.
The Previous Port Culinary Strolling Tour takes you thru a number of the greatest elements of the neighborhood and stops at as much as 7 eateries alongside the best way to pattern a wide range of meals.
Craving one thing a bit sweeter? You’ll need to e book an Previous Port Donut Strolling Tour! This tour means that you can skip the road at Portland’s most well-known donut store, The Holy Donut, and in addition pattern donuts at two different areas.
5. Eat Contemporary Seafood
After your meals tour, you’ll need to have a plan in place for getting some recent seafood throughout the remainder of your journey. New England is known for lobster rolls, clam chowder, oysters, and a lot extra, and Portland is dwelling to a number of the most unimaginable seafood eating places within the area!
For a extra upscale seafood meal, you’ll need to make a reservation at Scales. Situated in Previous Port, they’ve an awesome uncooked bar right here, and serve up native clams and mussels. Eventide can be a wonderful seafood restaurant for a sit-down dinner, they usually serve great native oysters.
For the right Maine-style lobster roll and nice water views, head to Luke’s Lobster on the pier.
6. Go to The Breweries
Not solely does Portland have an thrilling culinary vacation spot, however its craft brewery scene is equally as nice. The town is dwelling to over 60 craft breweries as of 2023, and every one brews wonderful beer to strive, with a giant concentrate on New England IPAs.
One of the vital well-known breweries to take a look at is Allagash. Recognized for his or her ales, and in addition for having most likely the perfect out of doors beer backyard within the metropolis, it is a nice one to take a look at for a enjoyable ambiance.
One of many greatest breweries in Portland, Maine to go to is Bissell Brothers, which is thought for its IPAs. One explicit double IPA they make that’s greater than value ordering is Swish, which is likely one of the top-rated beers within the metropolis.
For extra nice brewery experiences, additionally take a look at Lone Pine, Basis, and Austin Avenue. However actually, most breweries in Portland are fairly nice, so it’s onerous to select a foul one.
7. Stroll The Jap Promenade Path
Contained in the Jap Promenade Park, which is a phenomenal 73-acre nature space within the metropolis, you’ll need to take a look at the Jap Promenade Path. This paved pedestrian and bike path is simply over 2 miles lengthy and means that you can take pleasure in coastal views your entire manner.
The path is a straightforward and stress-free stroll, with little or no incline, so it’s excellent to do year-round and is particularly nice with children. One of the best place to start out is at Fort Allen Park, which is nearly a mile from Previous Port, permitting you to see elements of this space in your manner.
8. Take pleasure in The Views From The Portland Observatory
As the one surviving marine sign station left within the U.S., the Portland Observatory is a superb landmark to go to that provides each historical past and great views of the town.
A Nationwide Historic Landmark, the Portland Observatory was constructed within the early 1800s so boats might be seen coming into the harbor, and it was an integral a part of the harbor’s effectivity till the Twenties when two-way radio indicators had been out there.
Now, the tower is open seasonally to the general public, and guided excursions are given of the constructing, together with the highest statement flooring, which is the place you’ll get unimaginable views of the town and harbor.
9. Spend The Day On Peaks Island
One of many stops you can also make whereas using the Casco Bay Island Ferry line is Peaks Island, which is likely one of the greatest issues to do in Portland, Maine. Peaks Island is only a quick 17-minute ferry journey from the town and makes for a beautiful day journey.
Peaks Island spans solely about 4 miles, so it’s very simple to discover at a relaxed tempo. When you get off the ferry, you’ll have choices to lease a motorcycle or golf cart to discover the island, and each are very enjoyable choices! Despite the fact that the island is small, it’s greatest explored with a motorcycle or golf cart, so have a plan in place once you arrive.
For issues to do on the island, take a look at the Umbrella Cowl Museum, stroll by way of the quaint downtown, discover the seashores, seize a well-known cinnamon roll from Peaks Café, and take within the views from Picnic Level.
10. Go to Victoria Mansion
Good for these taken with artwork, historical past, and structure, Victoria Mansion is a landmark in Portland to have in your radar. A surprising instance of Nineteenth-century structure, the Mansion is open seasonally for excursions.
Inside, you’ll discover opulent interval furnishings and a glimpse into what life was like when it was first constructed within the mid-1800s. It’s stated that Victoria Mansion is a one-of-a-kind property, which makes it particular to expertise in particular person.
11. Discover Your Favourite Whoopie Pie
Maine is known for its whoopie pies, and when you arrive, you’ll see these scrumptious little treats in bakeries and cafés throughout. Throughout your go to, the most effective issues to do in Portland is use your favourite whoopie pie, as the town is dwelling to a number of the greatest within the state.
A implausible bakery to take a look at throughout your go to is Two Fats Cats, which serves up not only a great whoopie pie, but in addition scrumptious cookies, brownies, pies, and a lot extra. In addition they usually have seasonal whoopie pie flavors on their menu, together with lemon zucchini and wild blueberry, pumpkin, and strawberry.
12. Sip On Inventive Cocktails
Whereas Portland is thought for its thrilling brewery scene, it’s additionally dwelling to some wonderful bars that serve specialty cocktails value looking for out. When you’re not a beer particular person, you’ll need to have these locations in your radar.
One particularly that’s particularly excellent to go to is Batson River, which is a brewery, distillery, and restaurant multi function. With a singular ambiance that’s positively Instagram-worthy, and inventive drinks on their menu, it’ll be onerous to determine what to order when you arrive.
Blyth & Burrows can be a powerful place for cocktails. Serving small plates, in addition to artistic drinks that look nearly as good as they style, it’s possible you’ll need to come again right here twice throughout your journey.
13. Take pleasure in The Portland Museum Of Artwork
The Portland Museum of Artwork is the most important and oldest public artwork institute in Maine and is worthy of being on any artwork lover’s itinerary.
The partitions are crammed with over 18,000 items of artwork, and also you’ll discover works by Andy Warhol, Monet, Jackson Pollock, and Renoir.
When you’re touring on a price range, the museum is free to all guests on Friday nights from 4-8 p.m.
14. Trip The Maine Slim Gauge Railroad
One of the vital enjoyable issues to do in Portland, Maine is take a journey on the Maine Slim Gauge Railroad. Hop aboard historic steam and diesel trains, and journey alongside the coast with views of Casco Bay.
Every journey on the railroad consists of fascinating historical past and narration, and also you’ll be taught why Maine put in a system of those distinctive 2-foot huge gauges that had been a primary in North America.
For an much more distinctive expertise, you possibly can e book a particular seasonal journey, which is obtainable all year long. In the summertime, ice cream prepare nights can be found, with pumpkin rides within the fall, and a festive Polar Categorical Christmas prepare through the holidays.
15. Expertise The Magical Christmas Festivities
New England basically actually is aware of how you can have fun the vacation season, and Portland isn’t any exception! When you occur to go to in December, there are such a lot of great festivities to take pleasure in that’ll positively put you within the vacation spirit.
The Portland Parade of Lights is an particularly enjoyable one to expertise, the place you possibly can take pleasure in watching a parade of boats sail throughout the harbor, every that includes its personal distinctive show of Christmas lights.
Portland additionally has just a few Christmas timber to see, and you’ll usually attend lighting ceremonies the weekend after Thanksgiving. The Previous Port tree is likely one of the greatest within the metropolis to see, and the lobster lure tree by Luke’s is bound to place a smile in your face.
Greatest Time Of Yr To Go to Portland, Maine
Portland is really a beautiful metropolis year-round, however there are positively some issues to know when deciding on the time of 12 months to go to.
Peak season in Portland is June by way of September, and that is when resort costs might be at their highest, and once you’ll expertise probably the most crowds. The trade-off is you get a number of the greatest climate the town will expertise, with lengthy heat days, and fewer possibilities of rain.
Portland, Maine in October can be a beautiful time to go to, as you’ll begin to see resort costs drop, and the crowds will start to skinny out. You’ll additionally get to take pleasure in fall foliage across the metropolis and expertise cooler climate. October is often the final month that boat tour corporations might be open, so that is additionally your final likelihood to e book any crusing or boat excursions round Casco Bay.
When you’re visiting on a price range, contemplate visiting Portland, Maine in November, or the winter months after the vacations are over. Resort costs in November are even decrease than in October, however the climate isn’t fairly as chilly because the winter season, making this an underrated time to go to.
Within the winter season, Portland makes for a comfortable getaway that’s crammed with nice meals, museums, and brisk walks alongside the coast. Portland doesn’t get as a lot snow because the northern elements of Maine, so it’s nonetheless simple to go to this time of the 12 months.
How To Get To Portland, Maine
The closest airport is Portland Worldwide Jetport Airport, which is simply about 10 minutes exterior the town. For extra flight choices, it’s also possible to fly into Boston Logan Worldwide Airport, and drive about 2 hours to Portland.
How To Get Round Portland, Maine
Downtown Portland is simple to navigate with out a automotive, so should you’re planning to solely go to the town, a automotive gained’t be obligatory. When you’re planning to go to Portland as half of a bigger journey round Maine or New England, you’ll need to have a automotive with you and search for accommodations with parking areas on-site.
Portland has a number of public transportation out there to get round, together with buses, trains, and ride-share providers like Uber and Lyft. However actually, a lot of the metropolis is fairly walkable.
The one time a automotive will turn out to be useful is once you plan to go to the lighthouses in South Portland. For this, it could be worthwhile to select up a Zip Automobile, which is parked everywhere in the metropolis and straightforward to seek out. Alternatively, you possibly can e book a lighthouse tour so that you don’t have to fret about getting a automotive.
Now that you’ve the within scoop on all the perfect issues to do in Portland, Maine, you’re able to plan the right coastal metropolis escape!
With so many enjoyable issues to do, the onerous half is selecting how you can see all of it throughout your journey. Whether or not you’re hoping to tour all of the lighthouses and revel in a lobster roll (or two!) alongside the best way, otherwise you’re excited to buy in Previous Port and sip on craft brews, one factor’s for positive – you’ll have such a memorable journey to Maine after your time in Portland.
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Sam runs New England Wanderlust