14 Unique Things To Do in Portland Maine

14 Unique Things To Do in Portland Maine

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Maine is known for many unique things: thick forests, the elusive moose, bald eagles, fields of wild blueberries, and of course fresh lobster. Maine’s largest city, Portland, has a population of less than 250,000, which offers the best of both worlds.

Portland is a city on the Atlantic which has a small-town atmosphere and natural beauty but offers all the entertainment and culture of a big city. Recently named the best place in the country to raise children, couples will want to consider Portland, Maine as a potential vacation spot, or just a great place to spend the day. Here is a list of the best things do to have a great time visiting the best places Portland has to offer.

Best things do to in Portland

Portland boasts a wonderful collection of historic buildings, a working harbour, museums and galleries, shopping, wonderful paths, sidewalks and views and other great things for those who want to walk the city.

You can start out downtown in the art district, exploring the cobblestone streets, eclectic shops and historic landmarks which give Portland its charm. You can see the Portland Museum of Art, the McLellan House and L.D.M. Sweat Memorial Galleries, and the Winslow Homer Gallery. The Portland Museum of Art is a great way to see a few special events of world-renowned artists and even host wedding receptions.

14 Unique Things To Do in Portland Maine

Farmers Market

It’s never too early to introduce children to the right foods to eat. The downtown Portland Farmers’ Market features around 30 Maine farmers selling fresh fruits and vegetables. The best way parents can make it a fun experience is by allowing their child to choose something different each week to sample. Or, they can design a scavenger hunt and have kids check off the food items after finding them. The market is open from May through November on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.


No trip to Maine would be complete without visiting at least one of the many lighthouses. Fort Williams Park is a perfect place to hike with a tremendous view of Portland Head Light. Wandering trails through 90 acres of natural seaside beauty abuts Portland Head Light, located at Cape Elizabeth in Fort Williams Park. The white-rail fence, red-roofed buildings, and sentient light are the very essence of Portland, Maine. A tour of the lighthouse museum offers a historical perspective into the life of the lighthouse keeper.

Take a Hike

It’s free to explore the 18 acres of Capisic Park, home to Portlandís largest freshwater pond and an ideal spot for summertime duck feeding or winter ice skating. Dog owners typically love this park, where dogs frequently roam off-leash, so if you have a dog-wary kid, be on alert.

Less than 30 miles away, Douglas Mountain in Sebago makes a great first mountain hike with a well-marked, well-maintained, 2.3-mile trail. Hiking is free, but you’ll pay to park. You can pick up a map from the guard at the gatehouse to plan your hike around Mackworth Island, a pleasant, mostly level trail that’s perfect to explore with kids. Admission to the park is free.

Play Outside

A day pass to Crescent Beach is minimal. The mile-long beach, just 5 miles short drive from Portland, has sand dunes to explore, light surf for kid-friendly swimming and boating, and plenty of birds and wildlife to discover. Or, the kids can explore the ruins of an ancient fort and mansion for free at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, a quick 5-minute drive from Portland.

The 90-acre park it’s a fun place that has play areas, tennis courts, a beach, and plenty of room to run around. During the winter months, if you want to celebrate the snow with sledging and snowshoeing, bundle up the kids and head to Riverside Municipal Golf Course, where visitors can have fun and do cool things at no cost off-season.

14 Unique Things To Do in Portland Maine


The mascot of Maine is the lobster. The sweet-tasting crustacean is a healthy lobster roll that is lower in calories and fat than chicken. But until you have eaten lobster in Maine, you have not eaten lobster. Steamed, baked stuffed, or piled high on a toasted hot dog bun, Portland has the best in the world and there are plenty of food trucks that sell this. You will find everything from fine dining to walk-up kiosks serving lobster along the wharf section of historic Old Port.

Historic District

The fresh sea air makes the historic Old Port a perfect place to combine shopping and walking exercise. The revitalized warehouse district is a working waterfront as much as it is a picturesque shopping and dining district. The cobblestone streets are fringed with boutiques offering everything from clothing to nautical antiques. A full day of walking and taking in the sounds of chattering seagulls and waterfront workers is waiting in Old Port. Evening walks are rewarded with plenty of live entertainment throughout the waterfront.

Casco Bay Islands

Casco Bay is peppered with islands inhabited by both seasonal and full-time residents. Forget stationary bikes at the gym–a workout with a view is waiting on Peaks Island. From the Old, Port waterfront take a ferry to Peaks Island where you will find homemade ice cream at the top of the hill on the left as soon as you disembark. Lobster ice cream makes an interesting treat before exploring. A short walk north on Island Avenue will bring you to Brad and Wyattís Island Bike Service. Rent a bike here and explore the calm bay side of the island before heading to the Atlantic side where crashing waves on the rocks are nature’s cacophonic symphony.

Have Fun Indoors

Friday nights mean free admission to the Portland Museum of Art. Show up after 5 p.m. — and kids can explore works by artists like Andrew Wyeth and Winston Homer before heading to the interactive Family Space. The Portland Public Library keeps its calendar full of free, kid-friendly fun including movies, storytelling, traditional storytime sessions, and more. Check the calendar online for upcoming events, or just stop by the libraryís Children’s Collection, which features classic children’s books.

14 Unique Things To Do in Portland Maine

Winter Fun

Visit Portland in the winter and enjoy outdoor activities. You can snowshoe or cross-country ski along most of Portland’s hiking trails in the winter months. The Gilsland Farm Audubon Center is a popular spot for tourists, located within 10 miles of downtown, and has 2.5 miles of Nordic trails. If you don’t own skates, you can rent them at the Portland Ice Arena, which offers public skating seven days a week. You can go downhill skiing, race down a tubing hill or try out the toboggan chute at Camden Snow Bowl, located minutes from downtown Portland.

Portland Maine Kids Activities

Children can watch three minor league sports teams in Portland. The southern Maine city has the Sea Dogs baseball team, the Pirates ice hockey team, and the Maine Red Claws basketball team. Kids can then try the sports themselves in city leagues, as well as a range of other activities. Portland keeps children physically busy and healthy.


Kids from 5 to 17 in the Portland area can learn golf and life skills through The First Tee of Maine program. In addition to driving and putting, instructors teach values such as courtesy, perseverance, and sportsmanship. The program is held at the organisation’s private facility that includes a four-hole instructional course and a putting green.

Ice Skating

Children aged 4 and above can take ice skating lessons at the Portland Ice Arena. Kids advance to higher-skilled classes once mastering the basics. Additionally, the arena holds public skate sessions. Ice skate rentals are available starting with child size 8. The city’s Recreation and Facilities Management department runs the venue.

14 Unique Things To Do in Portland Maine

Team Sports

Portland children can learn how to play sports and compete in organized leagues. Governing bodies include the Portland Youth Football league, Portland Area Youth Soccer, Back Bay Lacrosse, Casco Bay Hockey Association, and Little League Baseball. The city also has facilities for practices and pickup games with friends.


The city runs three aquatic facilities–the indoor ìHapî Frank Pool at the Reiche School and Community Center, the indoor Harold Paulson Pool at the Riverton School and Community Center, and the outdoor Kiwanis Pool during the summer. The pools offer swim lessons beginning with a parent and child class for children 6 months to 4. Additionally, people 15 and over can take a lifeguard training class.

With its cobblestone streets downtown, fresh air, and abundant outdoor space, it’s no wonder the city of Portland, Maine, attracts so many families. The city has celebrated locavore restaurants, quirky little local shops, and plenty of other fun ways to spend your days and have the best time, as well as a surprisingly broad range of free and cheap activities to enjoy.

The above list of things is just a small part of the most fun things you can do in Portland.

Image Credit: Depositphotos

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