What to do and see in Portland, United States: The Best Places and Tips

March 22, 2018 Vivienne Hutton

From ornate mansions to ocean views, this charming city - the largest in Maine - will enchant you. Saunter down the brick sidewalks and cobblestone streets of the revitalized Old Port District, where you can browse through bookstores, explore craft shops and eat to your heart's content. Visit the Portland Head Light, which dates back to 1791, and is the oldest lighthouse still in continuous use in the U.S. The great poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is the city's native son, and you can visit his childhood home, the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. With kids in hand, enjoy the highly interactive Children's Museum of Maine. And then go next door to the calmer Portland Museum of Art, a small, but eclectic museum with Impressionist works, Maine landscapes by Homer and Wyeth and other collections. Land or sea is an option here, so if you're tired of the street life, take one of the popular scenic cruises or whale watches, or hop on a ferry to the islands in Casco Bay. At the end of the day, and without kids in hand, unwind and rest your tired feet at one of the city's brewpubs.
Restaurants in Portland

1. Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse

2 Fort Rd, Southern Maine Community College Campus, South Portland, ME 04106-1611 +1 866-570-5706
Excellent
66%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 234 reviews

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse

Reviewed By Ronald B - Arlington, Virginia

The Spring Point Ledge Light is accessed through the Southern Maine Community College which is located on the old Fort Preble. We drove through the college campus to the shore. Parking was extremely limited and mostly by permit. It was a wet and wild day and we not able to walk out to the lighthouse and could only view it from the shore. I didn’t see any visitor center at this location.

2. Allagash Brewery

50 Industrial Way, Portland, ME 04103-1042 +1 207-878-5385
Excellent
81%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 889 reviews

Allagash Brewery

Allagash Brewing Company is dedicated to crafting the best Belgian-inspired beers in the world. Best known for our flagship beer, Allagash White, we also enjoy aging beer in oak barrels (beginning with the launch of Curieux in 2004) and spontaneously fermented beers (beginning with our traditional Coolship in 2007). Come up and visit us – we’d love to show you around.

Reviewed By mutsnuts01 - Lancashire, England

I booked this tour for six of us because I knew we would have a Sunday afternoon to kill in a cold Portland in February. Now I dont drink but I would say this was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting tour. All very friendly too. Well recommended, we may just go back next year.

3. Bug Light Park

South Portland Greenbelt Pathway, South Portland, ME 04106 +1 207-767-7299
Excellent
63%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 206 reviews

Bug Light Park

Reviewed By Ronald B - Arlington, Virginia

We stopped at the Bug Light visitor center on their last weekday of the season. We had our Lighthouse Passports signed and proceeded out to a parking area. The visitor center did not have a public restroom, but there were several sets of outhouses visible but not useable. The Bug Light is a short distance from the Spring Point Ledge Light.

4. Hadlock Field

271 Park Ave, Portland, ME 04102-2911 207-874-9300
Excellent
70%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 534 reviews

Hadlock Field

Minor League Baseball team. The Portland Sea Dogs are the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Come enjoy family friendly entertainment at an affordable price and see future Major League All-Stars. Former Sea Dogs players include Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Anthony Rizzo, and many more.

Reviewed By EnjoyFreePower - New Hampshire

We had a group outing to the park over the summer. The park in just the right size, easy parking, inexpensive tickets and good viewing from anywhere in the park. We had a great time. This is a great place to bring the whole family without breaking the bank. Food is a little picey, but it is to be expected at a ballpark. However, leave your water bottles and food at home, they will confiscate them at security screening. All in all, a great time!

5. Casco Bay

Portland, ME
Excellent
72%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 214 reviews

Casco Bay

Ship traffic here runs the gamut from lobster boats to oil tankers and cruise lines; also look for the many photogenic lighthouses.

Reviewed By CS1Portland - Portland, Maine

The Casco bay is a very special place. Deep blue waters and a great many islands, many inhabited and worthy of your exploration. The crew are nice enough and help with your questions. There are numerous selections on the ferry schedule to choose one that fits your day schedule. Toilets on board. take some beer/wine with you to drink and enjoy. Excellent job.

6. Casco Bay Islands

56 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101-4704 207-7784-7871
Excellent
71%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 496 reviews

Casco Bay Islands

An archipelago of islands off of Portland.

Reviewed By bob2bkk - Bangkok, Thailand

Take the Casco Bay Lines ferry to all the different islands, or check time for the mail drop ferry. It stops at, I believe 7 different islands, unloading and picking up cargo, cars, etc. Check my pic, for the smallest working lighthouse. The ferry is very calm, but it is windy on the water and the air is cold, even in summer, so dress accordingly. Pick up on the waterfront in Portland.

7. Casco Bay Lines

56 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101-4704 +1 207-774-7871
Excellent
72%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 476 reviews

Casco Bay Lines

Reviewed By dfries10 - Concord, New Hampshire

We had so much fun on the mailboat cruise! Even though it was January and probably about 10 degrees, this trip was worth our while. Understandably (given the season), there weren't many other people on the ferry. As a result, we could move freely around the boat to follow the sun on deck, spread out indoors, and ask the crew numerous questions about the islands. This was our first trip to Portland, and probably our favorite activity (other than dining in the wonderful restaurants, of course) of our weekend. The trip takes 3 hours and costs a mere $16. While there are a couple of vending machines on board, you're welcome to bring your own food for the trip. A great way to see the coastline...loved it!

8. Portland Museum of Art

7 Congress Sq, Portland, ME 04101-1119 +1 207-775-6148
Excellent
64%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Portland Museum of Art

With an extensive permanent collection and nationally renowned exhibitions, the Portland Museum of Art is rightfully taking its place as the best regional museum in the country. The PMA boasts a considerable permanent collection, with beloved works of American, European, and Contemporary art, as well as significant holdings of Maine art-highlighting the rich artistic tradition of the state and its artists. The museum brings it all to life with unparalleled programming. From special member-only events, free school tours, and a commitment to family activities, to PMA Movies, curator talks, and exclusive tours of the Winslow Homer Studio-it's all happening at the PMA.

Reviewed By Bob C - Albany, New York

This is an excellent museum to visit. Friday nights are free. They have many interesting pieces including a couple of Picassos. They also had an exhibit of local artist which was very interesting. Also the local exhibition of local children's art was enjoyable and a way to get the youth interested in the arts.

9. Eastern Promenade

Portland, ME 04101
Excellent
65%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 530 reviews

Eastern Promenade

Reviewed By Sharon M - Abingdon, Maryland

What a beautiful place for walking. We were visiting Portland while we were on a cruise. Instead of turning left at the cruise terminal, we turned right and found ourselves on this lovely promenade. It is flat so it is good for walking or biking. There are lovely views of the water and sometimes, if you time it right, an old-fashioned train will go by and toot its whistle.

10. Portland Observatory

138 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101-3608 +1 207-774-5561
Excellent
62%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 389 reviews

Portland Observatory

In the 1800s, Captain Moody used this observatory to monitor the routes of ships as far as 30 miles away. Today visitors can tour a museum focusing on the history of the watch tower and get a stunning bird's-eye view of Portland and the harbor.

Reviewed By Gaetano A - Malton, United Kingdom

It's about 30 minutes nice and interesting walk from the terminal to Portland Observatory. Climbing 103 steps to the top is not regrettable because once you are at the top you can observe and enjoy the magnificent and extraordinary views of Portland and Casco Bay. This 1807 signal tower is the only remaining wooden maritime signal tower in USA. for a modest admission fee you can get fascinating history information on this Observatory from well trained and friendly staff.

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