15 Best Things to Do in Portland (Maine)

Portland is the most populous city of the Maine state, with more than 67,000 people, while its metropolitan area has 500,000 (1/3 of the entire state of Maine). This town is an important economic center mostly based on services and tourism.

This is good news for anyone that comes to Portland, as there are all sorts of interesting places to see and many interesting activities. There are hundreds of points of interests and landmarks here – bars and restaurants, museums, outdoor activities, parks, concerts and shows, theaters and so on. This article covers the best 15 of them, and they are:

1. The Old Port

Old Port District, Portland, MaineSource: jejim / shutterstock
Old Port District, Portland, Maine

Portland is one of the most important ports in the area for both transport and fishing, and the largest foreign inbound transit tonnage port in the country. While tourists may not be interested in the industrial side, they are very interested in the Old Port.

This is a district of Portland famous for old streets, buildings, and fishing piers. While you can wander around during the day and admire the streets, the boats and the ocean, there is also plenty to do at night.

The Old Port is famous for a wide variety of shops, bars, restaurants, and clubs, being a popular nightlife attraction for both tourists and locals.

2. The Portland Museum of Art

Portland Museum of Art, MaineSource: Wangkun Jia / shutterstock
Portland Museum Of Art

This museum is considered by many to be the best regional museum in the country, displaying some amazing collections and famous exhibitions. It includes both American and European art – both very old and very new items.

Offering tours, family activities, movies, talks, and other special events, it has plenty of amazing paintings, sculptures and other works of art. You can easily spend a few hours here and not get bored.

3. The Allagash Brewery

Allagash WhiteSource: Leonard Zhukovsky / shutterstock
Allagash White

This is not only the best brewery in Portland but one of the best in the world when it comes to Belgian-inspired beer. The most popular type of beer is the Allagash White, but they have plenty of other brews that you can try.

You can start with a tour of the brewery to learn more about how beer is made and try some, of course. If you are a craft brew person, you will love this place! Even if you’re not, you can still come by for a beer and a chat.

4. The Peaks Island

Peaks IslandSource: Jo Ann Snover / shutterstock
Peaks Island

Take the ferry from Casco Bay and visit this cute little island, it’s definitely worth it. Here, you can admire beautiful coastlines and beaches, interesting homes, as well as walk through a wide variety of shops.

If you don’t feel like walking too much, rent a golf cart and explore the entire island in about 45 minutes. There’s no need to hurry; feel free to take a picnic break and stop for photos wherever you see something interesting.

5. The Eastern Promenade

Eastern Promenade, Portland, MaineSource: GraciePizzo / shutterstock
Eastern Promenade

You don’t need to take a ferry to an island in order to admire the ocean and the beautiful scenery; there are plenty of such places in Portland too – the Eastern Promenade is one of them.

You can see the city, the forest, the ocean, the old railway tracks, the port, some wild animals, interesting buildings and monuments, and much more. If the weather allows it, you can stop by for a picnic, as there are many designated areas. You will also find playgrounds for the kids and places where you can unleash your dog.

6. The Casco Bay Lines & The Mail Boat Tour

Casco Bay LinesSource: Keith Michael Taylor / shutterstock
Casco Bay Lines

Admire Portland and its surrounding islands by taking the Mail Boat tour. This is a great way to get in touch with the locals and find out how they live here, with many commuting daily on the ferry. Even though the captain is busy taking people back home or delivering goods and products, he will still find the time to tell you a bit about each place you stop by.

The boat is nice and clean while the staff are friendly and professional, answering any questions that you might have. Overall, this is a fun and affordable way to see Casco Bay and the surrounding areas.

7. The Historic House Museum – Victoria Mansion

Victoria Mansion, Portland, MaineSource: Felix Lipov / shutterstock
Victoria Mansion, Portland, Maine

If you are fascinated by old buildings and vintage items, the Victoria Mansion is definitely worth a visit. While it’s not huge, it still has plenty of wonderful rooms to admire.

It dates back from the pre-Civil War era in the US (1858) and has a nice outside design, as well as original interiors, decorations, and items that are very well preserved. Back in their time, these items and decorations were among the most luxurious. The guides are friendly and very knowledgeable about the history of this place.

8. The Portland Observatory

Portland ObservatorySource: travelview / shutterstock
Portland Observatory

Admire the city, the ocean and the nearby islands from above by visiting the Portland Observatory. This is the last standing maritime signal tower in America and was used in the 1800s to monitor the ships nearby, for a distance of up to 30 miles.

Today, it is only a popular tourist attraction. People can enter for free, visit the museum and find out the history, and also get an amazing bird’s eye view of the entire area.

9. The Hadlock Field

Hadlock FieldSource: Eric Broder Van Dyke / shutterstock
Hadlock Field

If you are passionate about baseball, you should definitely come by this field and watch a game. Even though the local team (The Portland Sea Dogs) are only in the Minor League, a lot of players are start out here and become Major League Superstars.

Many years in the future, you can boast that you were among the first to witness player X, who started small at the Hadlock Field and is now a Major League star. So, come by and have a great time at this family-friendly field.

10. The Bug Light Park

Bug Light Park, PortlandSource: Christopher Boswell / shutterstock
Bug Light Park

Built in 1875, the Bug Light is a unique lighthouse inspired by a monument in Athens. The area surrounding it has been filled and is now known as the Bug Light Park.

Take a walk to the lighthouse, snap some photos, then enjoy a hike or a bicycle ride along the coast. The place is nice and clean and the views are wonderful.

11. The Portland Head Light

Portland Head LightSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock
Portland Head Light

While the Bug Light lighthouse is quite small, this one is much bigger and more impressive. Built in 1791, it is the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine – and the most photographed one in the entire country.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get inside, but you can take lots of photos from the outside and visit the nearby museum. The views are spectacular; you can admire the ocean, the beach, the rocks, and the boats as they enter or leave the harbor.

12. The Commercial Street

Commercial Street, PortlandSource: travelview / shutterstock
Commercial Street, Portland

This historic street is located at the edge of the working waterfront area of the city. It has lots of great shops, bars and places to eat. It travels right along the water, so you can admire the views and take lots of photos.

You can spend plenty of hours here wandering through all the shops and restaurants, just be careful when walking, as the road is made of old bricks and it’s very bumpy.

13. The Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse

Spring Point Ledge LighthouseSource: Stuart Monk / shutterstock
Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse

If you are still not bored with the ocean, the rocks and lighthouses, make sure to visit this one too. While the lighthouse is not that big and impressive, the walk to reach it is a pleasant one.

Relax and take your time to contemplate the ocean and the huge rocks that form the breakwater; just imagine how difficult it was for locals to move them into perfect alignment.

14. The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and MuseumSource: Ken Schulze / shutterstock
Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum

Portland is not all about boats and ships; it also has a museum that displays old trains and locomotives – and even allows you to take a ride in one. You can enjoy a splendid ride along Casco Bay and visit the antique items and exhibits displayed in the museum.

It is a lovely way to spend the afternoon with the entire family, whether you are passionate about trains or not. It’s better to pay for the train ride first, as it includes the visit to the museum and the parking. 15.

15. The Shipyard Brewing Company

Shipyard Brewing CompanySource: facebook.com
Shipyard Brewing Company

It seems that the people in Portland are really passionate about making their own beer, since this one is also a very popular tourist attraction and go-to place for locals. It is a family owned brewery that produces award-winning beer.

Started in 1994, they have since produced more than 65 different varieties of beer.

Where to stay: Best Hotels in Portland, Maine (ME)
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15 Best Things to Do in Portland (Maine):

  • The Old Port
  • The Portland Museum of Art
  • The Allagash Brewery
  • The Peaks Island
  • The Eastern Promenade
  • The Casco Bay Lines & The Mail Boat Tour
  • The Historic House Museum – Victoria Mansion
  • The Portland Observatory
  • The Hadlock Field
  • The Bug Light Park
  • The Portland Head Light
  • The Commercial Street
  • The Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse
  • The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum
  • The Shipyard Brewing Company