32 Best Things to Do in Portland Maine | 2023 (with Photos)
Welcome to the vibrant city of Portland, Maine, where adventure and excitement await at every turn.
In this article, we will guide you through 32 fun things to do in Portland, Maine.
From savoring delectable seafood and exploring historic neighborhoods to immersing yourself in the local arts scene and embarking on outdoor adventures, Portland offers a diverse range of experiences for all types of travelers.
1. The Eastern Promenade
The Eastern Promenade is a scenic park and trail located on the eastern edge of Portland, Maine.
The Eastern Promenade, a 68-acre park, offers stunning views of Casco Bay and the surrounding islands, as well as access to a variety of recreational activities such as hiking, biking, and picnicking.
The Eastern Promenade Trail, which runs along the park's shoreline, is a popular destination for anyone who seeks peaceful things to do in Portland, Maine.
2. Victoria Mansion
Victoria Mansion is a stunning 19th-century mansion located in the heart of Portland, Maine.
Also known as the Morse-Libby House, this National Historic Landmark is a prime example of American architectural design from the Victorian era.
With its opulent furnishings, intricate woodwork, and elegant decor, the Victoria Mansion offers visitors a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the elite during the mid-1800s.
Today, Victoria Mansion is open for public tours and hosts a variety of educational programs and cultural events throughout the year.
Victoria Mansion is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Portland history, architecture, or design.
3. Bug Light Park
Bug Light Park is a popular waterfront park located along the banks of Fore River in South Portland.
This park offers stunning views of the river and is home to the iconic Bug Light, a historic lighthouse that has been in operation since 1855.
Visitors to the park can enjoy a variety of recreational activities, including picnicking, fishing, and boating.
The park is also home to the South Portland Historical Society Museum, which offers exhibits and educational programs focused on the area's rich maritime history.
4. Fort Williams Park and Portland Head Light
Fort Williams Park is a scenic coastal park located in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and is home to several historic landmarks and natural attractions.
The park is known for its iconic Portland Head Light, Maine's oldest lighthouse that has been in operation since 1791 and is now open for public tours.
You can also explore the remains of Fort Williams, a coastal defense battery that was active during both World War I and II.
Nearby, Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse and Fort Gorges offer additional opportunities for exploration and sightseeing.
With its stunning coastal views and Portland Head Light, historic landmarks, and natural beauty, Fort Williams Park is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to visit Maine.
5. Fore River Trail
The picturesque Fore River is a captivating waterway that meanders through southern Maine, eventually merging with the breathtaking Casco Bay.
Its tranquil beauty and scenic views make it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking outdoor adventures. You can hike or bike along the Fore River Trail and even spot wildlife, like birds and small mammals.
The river's proximity to Portland offers visitors the opportunity to explore the city's vibrant culture. Don't miss the chance to experience the allure of the Fore River while visiting Portland, Maine.
6. Explore Portland Museum of Art
The Portland Museum of Art is a prominent cultural institution and one of the art galleries located in the heart of Portland's Arts District.
The Portland Museum of Art is home to an extensive collection of artwork, including pieces from renowned Maine artists as well as notable works from around the world.
Portland Museum of Art also hosts a variety of temporary exhibits and events throughout the year, including the popular Friday Art Walks, which showcase the work of local artists and galleries.
With its commitment to celebrating the arts and promoting local talent, the Portland Museum of Art and Friday art walk are a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the vibrant cultural scene of southern Maine.
7. The World's Only International Cryptozoology Museum
The International Cryptozoology Museum is a unique and fascinating museum located in Portland, Maine. It's the only museum dedicated to the study and exploration of creatures whose existence is still debated by mainstream science.
The International Cryptozoology Museum features a wide range of exhibits and artifacts related to cryptozoology, including rare specimens, artwork, and literature.
You can learn about famous cryptids such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, as well as lesser-known creatures like the Chupacabra and the Jersey Devil.
8. The Portland Observatory
The Portland Observatory is a historic tower located in Portland, Maine, that offers breathtaking views of the city and surrounding area.
Built in 1807, the tower served as a lookout and signal station for the bustling Portland Harbor during the 19th century.
Today, you can climb to the top of the tower and enjoy panoramic views of the city and Casco Bay.
The Portland Observatory also offers exhibits and educational programs focused on the history of the tower and its role in maritime commerce.
9. Wadsworth-Longfellow House
The Wadsworth-Longfellow House is a historic home located in the heart of downtown Portland, Maine.
Built in 1785, the house is a stunning example of New England Federal-style architecture and was home to three generations of the Longfellow family, including the renowned poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Today, you can tour the house and learn about the family's history, as well as the daily life and customs of the early 19th century.
10. Sail Out to Fort Gorges
Fort Gorges is a historic military fort located on Hog Island Ledge in Casco Bay, near Portland, Maine.
Built in the mid-19th century, the fort was designed to protect Portland Harbor during the Civil War but was never actually used in combat.
Today, you can take a ferry or boat to the island and explore the fort's ruins and tunnels.
The fort's unique architecture and stunning location make it a popular destination for visitors to the Portland area, and it offers a fascinating glimpse into the area's rich history.
For those interested in learning more about the history of Maine, the Maine Historical Society and the Old Port area offer additional opportunities to explore the state's unique cultural heritage and historic buildings.
11. The Old Port District
The Old Port District is a historic and vibrant neighborhood located in the heart of downtown Portland, Maine.
The Old Port district is known for its picturesque cobblestone streets, charming brick buildings, and bustling commercial street, which is lined with a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries.
The Old Port district's buildings date back to the 19th century and many are on the National Register of Historic Places, offering visitors a glimpse into Portland's rich history.
You can also explore the Old Port area's waterfront, which features stunning views of Casco Bay, as well as enjoy the many hot and cold water outdoor activities. For those looking to do some shopping, the nearby Maine Mall offers a wide variety of stores and boutiques.
With its rich cultural heritage, the Old Port District is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for unique things to do in Portland, Maine.
12. Casco Bay
Casco Bay is a picturesque and expansive body of water located off the coast of Maine, encompassing more than 200 square miles and over 200 islands.
The bay is known for its stunning natural beauty and rich maritime history and offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for visitors, including boating, fishing, and island hopping.
The Casco Bay Islands are a particularly popular destination for visitors, offering a unique glimpse into Maine's coastal culture and way of life.
With their charming towns, beautiful beaches, and abundant wildlife, the Casco Bay islands are a must-see for anyone visiting the area.
13. Maine Foodie Tours
Foodie Tours in Portland, Maine offer a unique and delicious way to explore the city's vibrant food scene.
Portland is known for its exceptional culinary offerings, including seafood, farm-to-table cuisine, and locally brewed craft beer.
Foodie Tours provide visitors with an opportunity to taste their way through the city, sampling a variety of dishes and learning about the history and culture behind each one.
14. The Children's Museum
The Children's Museum offers an exciting array of interactive exhibits and programs that aim to engage and educate children of all ages.
Families can immerse themselves in a world of creativity through art classes, workshops, and performances organized by the Children's Museum.
With a year-round calendar of events, the museum serves as the ideal destination for families seeking fun-filled educational experiences in Portland.
15. Portland Harbor Fish Market
The Harbor Fish Market is one of the top tourist attractions in the city of Portland, Maine.
Originally built in the 1800s as a fish exchange, the market is now a bustling hub of activity, offering visitors a chance to sample some of the freshest seafood in the area.
In addition to the market's main seafood offerings, there is also a gift shop where visitors can purchase unique and locally made items.
The market also hosts special events throughout the year, including tastings and festivals celebrating Maine's vibrant seafood culture.
16. Shopping at Maine Mall
The Maine Mall is the largest shopping center in Maine, located in the city of South Portland.
With over 100 stores and restaurants, the mall offers a wide variety of shopping and dining options for visitors.
From national chains to local boutiques, there is something for everyone at the Maine Mall. The mall is a popular destination for both locals and tourists and offers a convenient location just a short drive from downtown Portland.
17. Crescent Beach State Park
Crescent Beach State Park is a beautiful coastal park located in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The park is known for its pristine, crescent-shaped beach, which offers visitors a chance to relax on the sand or go for a swim in the cool, clear water.
The park also features scenic hiking trails through the surrounding forests and dunes, as well as picnic areas and grills for you to use.
In addition to its stunning views and tranquil atmosphere, Crescent Beach State Park offers a multitude of things to do in Portland, Maine.
Whether you're a local or a tourist, this park is a perfect getaway from the city's hustle and bustle.
18. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a stunning 250-acre botanical garden located in Boothbay, Maine. This is just a one-hour drive from Portland and well worth the journey.
The stunning gardens feature a wide variety of plants and flowers, including rare and endangered species, as well as themed gardens such as the Rhododendron Garden and the Children's Garden.
You can stroll through the gardens on your own or take a guided tour, and there are also special events and programs throughout the year, such as concerts and workshops.
19. Commercial Street
Commercial Street is a bustling and vibrant waterfront street located in the heart of Portland's Old Port district.
The street is home to numerous shops, galleries, and restaurants, and offers visitors a chance to experience the unique charm and history of Portland's working waterfront.
From good seafood to locally-made crafts and souvenirs, Commercial Street has something for everyone.
20. Downtown Portland
Downtown Portland is the vibrant and bustling city center of Portland, Maine.
The area is packed with exciting things to see and do, from world-class theater productions to outdoor activities like tennis at the Eastern Promenade or biking along the Back Cove Trail.
You can also explore the unique shops and galleries that line the streets, or head to the nearby East End Beach to soak up the sun and enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery.
For those looking to explore the city on two wheels, there are bicycle rentals available throughout the downtown area.
21. Explore Peaks Island
Peaks Island is a beautiful island located just off the coast of Portland, Maine. The island is home to a small year-round community, as well as a thriving summer tourist industry.
You can explore the island's beautiful beaches and rocky coastline, hike along the scenic trails, or take a tour of the historic Fifth Maine Regiment Museum.
Other popular activities include kayaking, bicycling, and shopping for unique souvenirs at the island's charming boutiques and galleries.
22. A Whale-Watching Tour
A whale-watching tour in Portland, Maine is an exciting and unforgettable experience. You can embark on a guided tour that takes them out into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, where they can spot majestic whales and other marine wildlife in their natural habitat.
These tours are led by experienced guides who offer insight into the behavior and biology of these incredible animals.
Some of the most common species of whales spotted on these tours include humpback, fin, and minke whales, as well as dolphins, porpoises, and seals.
23. Portland Public Library
The Portland Public Library is a hub of knowledge and community in the heart of downtown Portland, Maine.
The library offers visitors access to an extensive collection of books, magazines, and digital media, as well as a wide range of community events and programs.
You can attend author readings, book clubs, and other cultural events, or simply explore the library's beautiful and historic architecture.
24. Portland's Cobblestone Streets
The cobblestone streets of Portland's Old Port are a beloved feature of the city's historic district. These charming, uneven streets were originally used to help horses and carts gain traction on the steep hills of the city.
Today, visitors to the Old Port can wander the cobbled streets and admire the unique architecture of the historic buildings that line them. These streets give you a feel for the history of Portland and provide an excellent backdrop for a photo.
25. Free Art Walks in Portland
The First Friday Art Walk is a free monthly event that takes place in downtown Portland, Maine.
On the first Friday of every month, the city's art galleries and museums open their doors to the public, offering free admission and showcasing the work of local artists.
You can wander the cobblestone streets of the city's historic Old Port district and explore the diverse range of artwork on display, including painting, sculpture, photography, and more.
26. Visit Cape Elizabeth
Cape Elizabeth is a charming coastal town located just south of Portland, Maine.
Known for its scenic beauty and history, Cape Elizabeth is home to several top tourist attractions, including the Portland Head Light and Fort Williams Park.
Visitors to Cape Elizabeth can enjoy stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, explore miles of hiking trails, and indulge in fresh seafood at local restaurants.
The town also boasts a vibrant arts scene and a number of historical landmarks, making it an ideal destination for history buffs and culture enthusiasts.
27. Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach, or simply Orchard Beach, is a popular seaside resort town located in southern Maine.
Known for its long, sandy beach and lively boardwalk, Old Orchard Beach attracts visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and a variety of outdoor activities.
In addition to its beautiful beach, the town is also home to a range of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues, making it an ideal destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.
28. Vintage Fire Truck Sightseeing Tour
Experience the thrill of a bygone era as you step aboard our meticulously restored Vintage Fire Truck Sightseeing Tour in Portland.
Feel the rumble of the engine beneath you as you embark on a journey through the city's charming streets. Listen intently as your knowledgeable guide shares fascinating tales of Portland's past and present, immersing you in its rich history.
Marvel at the iconic landmarks that pass you by, from the historic Pearl District to the vibrant Hawthorne Bridge, all while enjoying the fresh air and panoramic views from your open-air seat.
Capture the vintage atmosphere, snap memorable photos, and create unforgettable memories on this unique and enchanting tour.
29. Portland's Arts District
In Portland's Arts District, immerse yourself in a vibrant tapestry of creativity and expression. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets and feel the energy of artistic inspiration surrounding you.
Explore eclectic art galleries, studios, and performance spaces, where your imagination can soar. Engage with diverse artistic styles and be captivated by the works of local and international artists.
Experience the excitement of live performances, from mesmerizing theater productions to soul-stirring music and captivating dance.
Let the Arts District ignite your creative spirit, inviting you to be a part of Portland's thriving arts community. Unleash your inner artist and embrace the boundless possibilities that await you.
30. Portland Symphony Orchestra
The Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is a renowned cultural gem that enriches the vibrant arts scene of Portland, Maine.
With its exceptional performances and world-class musicians, the PSO delivers captivating and awe-inspiring orchestral concerts.
From classical masterpieces to contemporary compositions, the orchestra's repertoire spans a wide range of musical styles, ensuring an unforgettable experience for audiences.
The PSO's commitment to artistic excellence, innovative collaborations, and community engagement has made it a beloved institution in Portland.
Whether you're a seasoned music lover or new to orchestral music, attending a performance by the Portland Symphony Orchestra promises to be a breathtaking and transcendent journey through the power of symphonic music.
31. Deering Oaks Park
Deering Oaks Park, nestled in the heart of Portland, Maine, is a serene and picturesque urban retreat. This enchanting park offers a lush green landscape dotted with towering trees, a charming pond, and ample open spaces for leisurely activities.
It's an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll, picnic, or simply unwinding in nature's embrace. Deering Oaks Park also hosts various community events, from concerts and festivals to farmers' markets, infusing the park with a lively and vibrant atmosphere.
Whether you're seeking solitude, recreation, or community engagement, Deering Oaks Park provides a peaceful and inviting escape amidst the bustling city of Portland.
32. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute
The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) in Portland, Maine, stands as a dynamic center for marine research, education, and community engagement.
With a mission to catalyze solutions to the complex challenges facing the Gulf of Maine ecosystem, GMRI conducts groundbreaking scientific research and collaborates with partners to promote sustainable practices and ocean stewardship.
Through innovative educational programs, GMRI empowers students and the public to understand and appreciate the marine environment.
You can explore interactive exhibits, learn about local fisheries, and even participate in hands-on activities like dissecting fish.
With its commitment to scientific excellence and community outreach, GMRI plays a vital role in fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for the Gulf of Maine's rich marine resources.
FAQs Regarding Things to Do in Portland, Maine
Let's look at the most frequently asked questions relating to things to do in Portland, Maine.
Is Portland, Maine worth visiting?
Yes, Portland, Maine, is worth visiting. From exploring the charming city center to venturing out to the scenic Casco Bay Islands, there is something for everyone. Immerse yourself in Portland's history, indulge in the vibrant food scene, and take in the stunning beauty of the Maine coast.
Explore Portland's historical landmarks and museums, indulge in the thriving food scene, and explore the charming city streets. There are endless things to do in Portland, Maine.
What is Portland, Maine known for?
Portland, Maine, is known for its picturesque coastal beauty. Visitors can enjoy the scenic Back Cove Trail and Eastern Promenade Trail, delve into the past at the Maine Historical Society, admire the Victoria Mansion, and explore the charming city center with its unique shops.
Is there anything fun to do in Portland?
There are a lot of fun things to do in Portland, Maine. Explore the Portland city center, indulge in the diverse culinary scene, visit art galleries, or play a game of tennis at local tennis courts. Don't miss the stunning city skyline and the opportunity to soak in the New England charm that pervades this vibrant coastal city.
How do you spend a day in Portland, Maine?
A possible way to spend a day in Portland, Maine is to start with a visit to a museum or historic site, explore the Old Port District and local shops, take a food tour to sample the city's cuisine and end the day by watching the sunset at a scenic spot like Eastern Promenade or Peaks Island.
Summing Up: The Best Things to Do in Portland, Maine
As we conclude this article on the best things to do in Portland, Maine, we hope you feel inspired to embark on your own adventure in this enchanting city.
Whether you choose to explore the historic Old Port, indulge in the local culinary scene, immerse yourself in the arts, or bask in the natural beauty of the coast, Portland offers an abundance of unforgettable experiences.
From the rich history and culture to the picturesque landscapes and vibrant atmosphere, this coastal gem has something for everyone.
So pack your bags, set out on your journey, and prepare to create lifelong memories in the captivating city of Portland, Maine.