In case you’re craving a coastal escape brimming with historical past, artwork, and lobster, pack your luggage and set your GPS for Portland, Maine. The very best issues to do in Portland can hold you busy for days.
Prepare to walk by means of the cobblestone streets of the Outdated Port District, the place you will discover an eclectic combine of outlets and eateries.
Morning walks alongside the Japanese Promenade Path present scenic views of Casco Bay, as does the historic Portland Observatory on a transparent day.
However wait, there’s extra! From the classic attraction of the Maine Slim Gauge Railroad to the architectural class of the West Finish and Victoria Mansion, Portland is a feast for the eyes.
Artwork lovers will respect the Portland Museum of Artwork, whereas literature buffs can step again in time on the Wadsworth-Longfellow Home.
Foodies, we have you lined, too. Embark on a strolling meals tour to pattern the town’s culinary delights, and do not miss out on a conventional lobster bake. It is Maine, in spite of everything!
And let’s not neglect the lighthouses. Whether or not it is the enduring Portland Head Mild or the lesser-known Bug Mild and Spring Level Ledge Lighthouse, these beacons provide picture-perfect backdrops.
So, whether or not you are an adventurer, a historical past nerd, or a meals and artwork lover, Portland, Maine, has one thing for you.
Let’s take a better take a look at the entire enjoyable issues to do in Portland, the most important metropolis in Maine.
1. Outdated Port District and Waterfront
The Outdated Port District in Portland, Maine, is steeped in historical past, providing a glimpse into the town’s storied previous.
Initially a bustling seaport within the nineteenth century, the realm was the financial engine of Portland, facilitating commerce and fishing.
The district’s historic significance is obvious in its well-preserved structure, that includes red-brick facades alongside cobblestone streets.
Nevertheless, the Outdated Port hasn’t at all times been the fashionable hotspot it’s at present. It declined through the mid-Twentieth century, with lots of its historic buildings going through demolition.
Fortunately, revitalization efforts within the ’70s breathed new life into the district.
Immediately, those self same buildings home clothes boutiques, artwork galleries, and a few of Portland’s best restaurants, together with Central Provisions and Fore Road Restaurant.
The 2-block pedestrian alleyway often known as Wharf Road is lined with bars, bringing younger folks to the Outdated Port on the weekends to drink and celebration.
Business Road varieties the japanese border of the Outdated Port District. Throughout the road, the Waterfront is lined with piers and wharves, a few of which boast eating places.
Right here, you’ll be able to depart on picturesque boat excursions or catch the ferry from the Maine State Pier to Casco Bay islands.
The Outdated Port and Waterfront districts are a testomony to Portland’s resilience and continuous evolution.
2. Portland Observatory
If you’d like a novel expertise in Portland, Maine, head for the Portland Observatory. This maritime sign tower, inbuilt 1807, is the final of its sort in the US.
It’s 86 ft tall and provides panoramic views of Portland Harbor and the town skyline. But it surely’s not simply the views that make this spot particular; it is the historical past.
Initially constructed by Captain Lemuel Moody to function a communication hub for incoming ships, the Observatory performed a vital position in Portland’s maritime historical past.
A flag system signaled to retailers within the metropolis, letting them know what items had been arriving.
Immediately, the Observatory is a Nationwide Historic Landmark with guided excursions that delve into its fascinating previous.
Whether or not you are a historical past buff or simply in it for the views, visiting the Portland Observatory is among the greatest issues to do within the metropolis.
Professional Tip: If potential, time your go to to the Observatory with the opening hours of Belleville, a terrific place to seize contemporary pastries throughout the road.
3. Japanese Promenade Path
The Japanese Promenade is a 68-acre public park designed within the late nineteenth century by the Olmsted Brothers, disciples of Frederick Regulation Olmsted (the genius behind Central Park).
It is a mix of pure magnificence and historic significance. Overlooking Casco Bay, the “Japanese Promenade,” as locals name it, served as a strategic level throughout World Conflict II, with remnants of fortifications nonetheless seen.
The Japanese Promenade Path, a part of the East Coast Greenway, provides beautiful ocean views for biking, jogging, or a stroll.
The Eastern Prom Food Truck Park provides inexpensive eating choices in a central parking zone. And the East Finish Seashore is the proper place to loosen up through the hotter months.
One other notable aspect is Fort Allen Park, on the grounds of a former Revolutionary Means Fort inbuilt 1775.
The ten-acre park commemorates those that fought for the US with a number of memorials:
- USS Portland Memorial
- USS Maine Memorial Cannon
- 9/11 Memorial
- Arctic Memorial
The Japanese Promenade can be dwelling to the historic Slim Gauge Railroad, the place you’ll be able to hop on for a nostalgic journey alongside the waterfront.
From dwell music in the summertime months to winter sledding, the Japanese Promenade is a year-round vacation spot, embodying Portland’s wealthy historical past and love for the nice outside.
The Japanese Promenade is simple to pair with a visit to the Portland Observatory. It is a five-block stroll north alongside Congress Road.
4. Maine Slim Gauge Railroad
This railroad is a throwback to the late nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries when narrow-gauge strains had been important to Maine’s transportation community.
Initially, these smaller tracks (simply two ft broad) had been constructed to navigate the state’s rugged terrain, connecting distant communities and industries like logging and mining to bigger cities.
Immediately, the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum provides a novel expertise that transports you again in time.
Working alongside a 1.5-mile stretch beside Casco Bay, the railroad makes use of precise historic vehicles and locomotives, some relationship again to the 1800s.
The museum adjoining to the railroad provides context, showcasing artifacts and sharing tales in regards to the influence of those railroads on Maine’s growth.
Whereas I did not have time to journey on Maine’s Slim Gauge Railroad, it jogged my memory of once I took a journey on one other, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in India.
5. West Finish
The West Finish in Portland, Maine, is a neighborhood that exudes wealth and class.
Developed primarily within the late nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, the realm is an architectural showcase from the Queen Anne to Italianate types.
As soon as dwelling to Portland’s elite, together with sea captains and enterprise magnates, the West Finish has at all times had a contact of grandeur.
You may study way more in regards to the metropolis and buildings within the firm of a educated native information.
Immediately, the West Finish stays certainly one of Portland’s most fascinating neighborhoods. It is also dwelling to the Western Promenade, a public park providing sundown views.
6. Victoria Mansion
The Victoria Mansion, often known as the Morse-Libby Home, is among the West Finish’s most notable buildings.
Constructed between 1858 and 1860, this Nationwide Historic Landmark provides a glimpse into the opulent life-style of the interval.
I extremely suggest the guided tour to see the richly-appointed inside, present process an entire room-by-room restoration, its first because the property was constructed.
7. Portland Museum of Artwork
The Portland Museum of Art (PMA) is situated within the coronary heart of the Portland Arts District.
The museum is the state’s oldest and largest public artwork establishment. Based in 1882, the PMA boasts a powerful assortment that spans three centuries of American, European, and up to date artwork.
The museum’s structure is a murals, mixing the historic McLellan Home and the trendy Charles Shipman Payson Constructing.
There’s additionally a beautiful sculpture backyard accessible (free of charge) from the sidewalk through the museum’s opening hours.
Inside, you will discover over 18,000 artworks, together with items by iconic artists like Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, and Edgar Degas.
The Portland Museum of Artwork additionally hosts rotating exhibitions, so there’s at all times one thing new to see.
8. Wadsworth-Longfellow Home
This historic house is the place Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, certainly one of America’s most celebrated poets, spent his adolescence.
Constructed in 1785 by his grandfather, Normal Peleg Wadsworth, the house is “the oldest standing brick construction on the Portland peninsula.”
Strolling by means of the house appears like stepping again in time, because of its well-preserved interiors and period-appropriate furnishings.
The home is full of household heirlooms and artifacts, providing an intimate look into the poet’s life and his household.
A tour of the home supplies fascinating insights into Longfellow’s works, lots of which had been impressed by his New England upbringing.
Operated by the Maine Historical Society, the Wadsworth-Longfellow Home is greater than only a museum; it is a piece of American literary historical past.
Whether or not you are a fan of Longfellow’s poetry or love historic properties, this spot deserves a spot in your Portland itinerary.
9. Strolling Meals Tour
The Old Port Culinary Walking Tour by Maine Day Ventures is a foodie’s dream come true.
Kick off your 3-hour gastronomic journey at Andy’s Outdated Port Pub, the place you will sip on a Maine craft beer and munch on a contemporary fish taco.
Sustainability is the secret right here, with seafood sourced instantly from the Gulf of Maine.
Subsequent, head to Luke’s Lobster on Portland Pier. Take pleasure in a cup of New England clam chowder and a refreshing iced tea, all whereas soaking within the waterfront views.
You are steps away from the place they catch their lobsters—speak about contemporary!
Associated: Greatest Issues To Do in Bar Harbor
The tour does not cease there. Make your solution to Rigby Yard, an industrial-chic bar, for a Maine Brewing Co.’s Lunch IPA and a tasty lobster roll.
Lastly, fulfill your candy tooth at Dean’s Sweets with hand-dipped chocolate truffles produced from domestically sourced substances.
Guided by entertaining native specialists like Timothy Goldkin, you will feast on scrumptious meals and study in regards to the Outdated Port’s historical past and tradition.
10. Lobster Bake
In case you’re in Portland, Maine, and you have got “eat an entire lobster” in your bucket record, hop on a Fortunate Catch cruise for a sundown lobster bake on Peaks Island.
Belief me, this isn’t only a meal; it is a full-on Maine expertise you will not neglect. The outside journey begins while you board the St. Croix, a 40-foot Maine-built lobster boat, and sail throughout Casco Bay.
You may cross a number of lighthouses, together with Bug Mild and Spring Level Ledge Lighthouse, and get a hands-on lesson about lobsters and lobster fishing.
When you arrive at Peaks Island, you will head to Island Lobster Firm, run by a neighborhood lobstering household.
Right here, you will be handled to a conventional Maine lobster bake that features not simply the star of the present—lobster—but additionally New England clam chowder, clams, corn on the cob, and potatoes.
And should you’re nervous about dismantling that lobster, don’t be concerned; you will get step-by-step directions.
So, whether or not you are a seafood lover or a lobster beginner, this cruise and lobster bake combo is a must-do.
It is a scrumptious, instructional, and downright enjoyable solution to immerse your self in Maine’s coastal tradition through the summer time season.
11. Fort Gorges
In case you’re on the lookout for an journey in Portland, add Fort Gorges to your record. Located on Hog Island Ledge in Casco Bay, this Civil Conflict-era fort is simply accessible by boat.
Constructed within the 1860s, the fort was deemed out of date by the point it was accomplished, because of developments in artillery know-how.
When you arrive, you are free to discover the fort’s labyrinthine passageways, darkish chambers, and parapets, all whereas having fun with panoramic views of the bay and Portland’s skyline.
Put on sturdy footwear and produce a flashlight—the fort is essentially unrestored and could be uneven.
Whether or not you kayak there at low tide or take a guided boat tour, visiting Fort Gorges provides a novel perspective on Portland’s maritime historical past.
12. Portland Head Mild
No journey to Maine can be full and not using a go to to the enduring Portland Head Light, which dates again to 1791.
Located in Fort Williams Park, this historic lighthouse is the oldest in Maine and one of the photographed in the US.
The lighthouse nonetheless features at present, guiding ships safely by means of the doorway of Portland Harbor. But it surely’s not simply the lighthouse that attracts guests; the encircling park provides actions, too.
Discover the cliffside strolling trails for views of the Atlantic Ocean, take a look at the remnants of Fort Williams, or have a picnic whereas watching the sailboats.
The on-site museum, situated within the former Keeper’s Quarters, supplies fascinating insights into the lighthouse’s historical past and the lives of its keepers.
13. Cape Elizabeth Mild East Tower
A brief drive south of Portland Head Mild is the Cape Elizabeth Light East Tower, one other must-see lighthouse.
Often known as Two Lights, this lighthouse is certainly one of a pair, although solely the East Tower is lively at present.
Perched on dramatic cliffs, the lighthouse supplies an ideal backdrop for pictures.
Whereas the tower will not be open to the general public, you’ll be able to discover the encircling space, which provides panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Do not forget to go to the close by Two Lights State Park for climbing or a seaside picnic. At 41 acres, it is a small, serene spot encapsulating Maine’s coastal attraction.
14. Bug Mild
For a lighthouse expertise that is a bit off the crushed path, take a look at Bug Light in South Portland.
Formally often known as the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, this charming construction is petite however packs a punch when it comes to historical past and wonder.
In-built 1875, its design was impressed by an historic Greek monument, giving it a novel, ornate look.
The park surrounding Bug Mild is ideal for picnics, kite flying, or just soaking within the views of Portland Harbor and the town skyline. It is also a well-liked spot for fishing and boating.
15. Spring Level Ledge Lighthouse
This caisson-style lighthouse in South Portland has guided vessels since 1897.
One among Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse’s distinctive options is the 900-foot granite breakwater that connects it to the mainland, providing guests a uncommon likelihood to stroll proper as much as a lighthouse.
The journey alongside the breakwater is an journey, offering terrific views of Casco Bay and the Portland Harbor.
Portland, Maine, is a treasure trove of experiences, mixing maritime historical past, culinary innovation, and pure magnificence right into a vacation spot that captivates each traveler.
From the cobblestone attraction of the Outdated Port District to the picturesque lighthouses that dot its shoreline, Portland provides a plethora of enjoyable issues to see and do.
Whether or not you are a foodie desirous to dive into a conventional lobster bake, a historical past buff fascinated by forts and observatories, or an artwork lover drawn to the town’s galleries and museums, you will discover one thing to like on this coastal group.
This story is predicated on my experiences throughout two journeys to Portland, Maine. The primary go to was as a media attendee of the ATTA AdventureELEVATE North America convention on the Holiday Inn Portland by the Bay. Lodging at Aloft Portland was offered in collaboration with Visit Portland throughout my second go to. I obtained complimentary meals and structure excursions courtesy of Maine Day Ventures.