Fun things to do in Portland

  • Custom House built 1875
    Custom House built 1875
    by BruceDunning
  • Portland Museum of Art
    Portland Museum of Art
    by CEP1863
  • Portland Observatory
    Portland Observatory
    by CEP1863

Most Viewed Things to Do in Portland

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    Portland Observatory

    by CEP1863 Written Nov 2, 2013

    A really impressive building from the outside. Admission is via a guided tour and costs $9.00. The guide was excellent and as you ascend in small groups it has the feeling of being quite personalised. We climbed a flight of stairs and then stopped on each landing, where we were given some of the history of the building. It is not at all strenuous and nothing like climbing the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston. I would say that because of the stops on each landing, the climb is "doable" for most people. The guide was brilliant and when we got to the top, the views were excellent and well worth the climb.

    Definitely a "must do" activity if you visit Portland.

    Open Mondays to Saturdays 10:00am to 04:30pm

    Portland Observatory
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    Take a stroll along Portland's Western Promenade

    by Jefie Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Western Promenade dates back to 1836, and it was created with a view to offer the people of Portland a quiet place where they could go to enjoy a view of the highlands of western Maine and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Nowadays, Portland Airport has taken over much of the scenery, but it is still nice to walk along the Promenade and look across the street at the splendid Victorian houses that were built over a century ago. American architect John Calvin Stevens designed many of the Queen Anne, Romanesque, Shingle and Colonial Revival styles home that now stand on the Western Promenade.

    At one end of the Promenade, visitors will come upon Portland's Western Cemetery. Established in 1829, it is the final resting place of numerous Portanders, including the parents and family of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. At the other end of the Promenade, it is possible to walk past the Maine General Hospital down to Deering Oaks Park, a nice and quiet public area. Something quite pleasant (and free) to do once the museums are closed!

    George C. West House (1911), on Western Promenade Chaplin-Small House (1883) Walking along the Western Promenade Western Promenade at sunset Deering Oaks Park
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    Wander Down To The Docks

    by johngayton Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Unfortunately my only visit was on a quiet Sunday evening when nothing much was happening down at the harbour apart from a few seagulls scratching around for the Saturday's left over scraps, a mangy cat or two doing the same and me with my camera.

    Portland docks are first and foremost working docks, and fast-forwarding my imagination I can see the hustle and bustle of the boats landing the famous lobsters and whatever other seafood arrive here. I can imagine the warehouses, the lobster pounds and market in full swing, the boats coming and going, belching diesel fumes, the seagulls massing, calling and cackling at the abundance, that unique smell that lobsters have of which only the faintest shadow remains this evening.

    Best of all would be to find one of the bars where the guys assemble after thier day's work, the sort of place where every beer is sweet, the women coarse and the fog of cigarette smoke eye-watering. The old jokes will be regurgitated, the same tall tales of unimaginable catches swapped yet again and an unrehearsed, but yet well-practiced, spontaneous song drunkenly overpowers the background juke box with its well-worn country classics. Ha! Reason enough for another visit!!

    Working Docks Pretty Dock Lobster Creels Loaded and Ready Lobster Pound (Closed Sunday Night!)
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    Buildings of the Downtown

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 28, 2008

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    One purpose was to see the old buildings and I laid out a plan. After walking a way, I just took in the ones I could find easily. The Custom House was built too late for the commerce and ability to tax goods coming into port. They water traffic was dead by then.

    Angle building on Fore St Custom House built 1875 Art deco 1930's Time Building form 1940's Apartment with color
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    Cape Elizabeth Peninsula-South Portland

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 28, 2008

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    This peninsula is mostly residential area. It appeared that is form middle class to upscale estaes further toward the southerly end. The pooint has Spring Point Lighthouse and Portland Headlight as Fort Preble to view.

    Map of CApe Elizabeth Close up of Spring Point light Portland Headlight in Fort Willaims park Picture of Jesus on church
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    Portland Town History Museum

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 28, 2008

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    It is a museum that features the life and times of the town people. It is a pictorial of those times, mostly in 1900's eraly era. Cost is $4, and the tour may not last 1/2 hour. It is in a small building at Spring Point Lighthouse

    Brochure of the museum
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    Observatory

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 28, 2008

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    The tower was built in 1807 to help the local merchants be ready when alerted for incoming ships to load/unload. Lemuel Moody had the tower bult, He died in 1846. It is 86 feet tall and ws a signal point for the ships coming to port. It was last used in 1923, and been restored in 1994. Cost is $7 to get to the top. Open 5-24 through October from 10-5

    Brochure of the observatory Direction to get there Long view of observatory on the hill Close up view of the tower
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    Children’s Museum of Maine

    by Jefie Written Sep 20, 2007

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    If you happen to be traveling to Portland with small children, don't miss the Children's Museum of Maine. This museum features a lot of interactive activities where children can pretend to be veterinarians, firemen, cashiers, chefs, farmers, and so on. Most of the exhibits are geared towards pre-school children, although older children might like it too (but I'd say children over the age of 10 will probably find it a bit boring). Some of the exhibits are not in the best of shape (broken or missing bits), but that didn't seem to bother the kids all that much.

    During summer, the museum is open every day from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (noon to 5:00 pm on Sundays). Closed on Mondays the rest of the year. Admission is $7.

    Children���s Museum of Maine, in Portland My niece Alexandra having fun at the museum
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    Shopping and dining in the Old Port district

    by Jefie Updated Sep 14, 2007

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    In a very successful effort to revitalize an old Warehouse district, the lovely cobblestone streets and 19th century brick buildings of Portland's Old Port district have become home to dozens of little boutiques and restaurants. On a sunny day, it is nice to see visitors take over Fore, Commercial, Exchange and Wharf Streets and give the place a joyful, bustling atmosphere. Restaurants range from take-out counters and pubs to fine dining, and not being a fan of lobster is not a problem as there is a great variety of restaurants in Portland, including Italian, Indian, Mexican and Japanese restaurants. Specialty shops range from your classic Maine souvenir shop to unique clothing stores and much, much more!

    Only in Maine does lobster go with Guinness! Life is good and other stores on Fore Street Fine dining on Wharf Street
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    Walking around historic Portland

    by Jefie Written Sep 14, 2007

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    During the 19th century, numerous renowned architects came to Portland and left behind an impressive collection of Federal style buildings, Victorian mansions and Gothic cottages. Greater Portland Landmarks specializes in the promotion, preservation and revitalization of Portland's historic buildings and neighborhoods. They offer several walking tours around the city, including the Old Port walking tour that runs from July to September, Monday to Saturday, at 10:30 am (you can buy tickets ($7) at the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, 245 Commercial Street). You can also buy one of their self-guided tour booklets, or print out one of their online self-guided tours free of charge to help you make the most of your visit to Portland!

    United States Custom House, on Fore Street First Parish Church, the oldest church in Portland Portland's first skyscrapper, on Congress Street
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    Take a tour of Victoria Mansion

    by Jefie Written Sep 13, 2007

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    Built between 1858 and 1860, the Morse-Libby House, better known as Victoria Mansion, is a National Historic Landmark and is said to be one of the finest examples of residential design from the pre-Civil War era in America. I have visited a lot of historical houses, and I have to admit that I was still awed by the architecture of the mansion, the design of which takes after the New Orleans hotels its owner had made a fortune in. The mansion was in fact built as a summer home for Mr. Morse who preferred the cooler climate of his native state of Maine to that of New Orleans.

    Victoria Mansion is also a great example of 19th century American interior design. Gustave Herter was hired by Mr. Morse to decorate the entire house and about 90% of the furniture and decoration still remains intact today (unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside for security reasons). Each room was decorated according to a specific theme, and Herter himself designed every piece of furniture and art to go along with that theme. A lot of effort went into making sure that even the tiniest details woud fit in with the room's ambience and our guide, who seemed to know everything there is to know about interior design, made the tour very interesting by pointing out all those quirky little details. A must for architecture aficionados!

    Victoria Mansion is open from May to October, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for children and students.

    Going on a tour of the Morse-Libby House Victoria Mansion in Portland, ME
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    Go on a sailing cruise around the bay!

    by Jefie Written Sep 13, 2007

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    There are several types of cruises offered in Portland that can accommodate all sorts of budgets. We chose to go on a 2-hour windjammer sailing cruise aboard the Wendameen, an 88-foot schooner originally lauched in 1912. Captain Troy and his crew from the Portland Schooner Company took us on a fantastic sail around Casco Bay, which took us beyond Portland Headlight. It was quite funny to pass other sailboats and notice that they were all taking pictures of our beautiful Wendameen!

    There are 4 cruises everyday during summer (check out the Website to see the complete schedule), including a sunset cruise. The price for day cruises is $30 for adults and $15 for children, and sunset cruises cost $35 per person. Reservations are recommended, although it is possible to wait and see what the weather is going to be like and then make a reservation for later on during the day. These are not narrated cruises, but the crew will be pleased to answer any question you should have. They might even ask you to help out hoisting the sails! Feel free to bring a picnic and your favorite bottle of wine for an unforgettable meal!

    And we be sailing! Hoist! Hoist! 1912 schooner Enjoying my time out on Casco Bay The Wendameen's mascot!
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    Taking winter photos of trees

    by SLLiew Updated Aug 2, 2007

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    In winter, leafless branches and twigs of trees laden with fresh snow or icicles hanging from trees like chandeliers are just a delight for travellers from non-winter countries.

    Wind blowing off the snow from the trees will add a special effect. Icicles reflected bright sunshine on a cloudless blue cold sky is another delight to take picture of.

    Although winter months can very cold and severre in interior of Maine, Portland area has milder winter thanks to the warmer Atlantic Ocean.

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    Strolling along snow covered beaches

    by SLLiew Updated Aug 2, 2007

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    This is one of the fun things to do in winter along Maine beaches. To walk along the beaches that are covered by snow up to where the seas lapped the coast.

    There are seagulls in the blue skies above and the cold wind is refreshing. But be warmly attired to enjoy a nice stroll without catching a cold.

    There are several beaches with public access - East End Beach in Portland, Williard Beach at South Portland and Cresent Beach at Cape Elizabeth.

    Water is still chilly in the summer.

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    Acadia - Cranberry Isles Boat Tour

    by SLLiew Updated Jun 25, 2007

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    It was summer time. We had fun. We joined a boat tour to see the coastline from the open seas. The tour went around the bays and islands off the coast.

    Could see lobster boats operating. Seagulls flying above. Was still a bit chilly but refreshing.

    If you are lucky, you can see seals or puffins off the rocks of Maine.

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