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Best Things To Do in Portland, ME

A stroll through the nooks and crannies of Old Port offers a great introduction to Portland's history, not to mention its outstanding foodie scene. When you're looking for a thirst-quenching lager to pair with all of the city's delicious eats, head to one of Portland's microbreweries; many offer free brewery tours. Meanwhile, those with even the slightest interest in the arts should visit the greats at the Portland Museum of Art or tour the grand interiors of the Victoria Mansion. And if you're just looking to admire the splendor of Maine's lovely landscapes, head to Eastern Promenade or plan daytrips to the Casco Bay Islands or Cape Elizabeth

How we rank Things to Do.

#1
Old Port Free

#1 in Portland, ME

Free
Old Port is without a doubt the beating heart of Portland. This downtown neighborhood is considered the city's center and bustles with things to do left and right, all the while gracefully maintaining its historical facade. The area is lined with cobblestone streets and 19th-century warehouses, and with the wharf just steps away on Commercial Street, the city's heydays as a world-renowned port town are easily felt. Tourists can benefit from ferries and cruise experiences as well as the delectable catches that dock there daily.
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Cafes Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Old Port
Old Port is without a doubt the beating heart of Portland. This downtown neighborhood is considered the city's center and bustles with things to do left and right, all the while gracefully maintaining its historical facade. The area is lined with cobblestone streets and 19th-century warehouses, and with the wharf just steps away on Commercial Street, the city's heydays as a world-renowned port town are easily felt. Tourists can benefit from ferries and cruise experiences as well as the delectable catches that dock there daily.
... more

#2

#2 in Portland, ME

Though beaches are few and far between in Portland, shorelines abound in the nearby Casco Bay Islands. The Casco Bay Islands are a group of islands located off the coast of Portland, six of which are accessible by ferry year-round. Each island has its own personality, history, attractions and activities.
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Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Casco Bay Islands
Though beaches are few and far between in Portland, shorelines abound in the nearby Casco Bay Islands. The Casco Bay Islands are a group of islands located off the coast of Portland, six of which are accessible by ferry year-round. Each island has its own personality, history, attractions and activities.
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#3

#3 in Portland, ME

Beer is to Portland is what lobster is to Maine. If you visit without sampling some brew, you're missing out. Portland is considered by experts to be one of America's best beer cities thanks to its large crop of local brewers as well as its role in the microbrew movement. Though more than 20 microbreweries may not sound like much, for a city with a population of a little more than 66,700, it's plenty for both residents and visiting beer enthusiasts.
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Tours Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Brewery Tours
Beer is to Portland is what lobster is to Maine. If you visit without sampling some brew, you're missing out. Portland is considered by experts to be one of America's best beer cities thanks to its large crop of local brewers as well as its role in the microbrew movement. Though more than 20 microbreweries may not sound like much, for a city with a population of a little more than 66,700, it's plenty for both residents and visiting beer enthusiasts.
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#4

#4 in Portland, ME

For such a small city, Portland houses some pretty big names in its art museum. Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Winslow Homer are among the icons showcased within the Portland Museum of Art. Along with some of the greats, the museum features an extensive collection of American, European and contemporary works, as well as pieces from Maine artists. Paintings abound, but you'll also find photographs, sketches, pottery, furniture, ornate silverware, sculptures and so much more. The collection is so big – more than 18,000 pieces – that it would take nearly 10 years of constant gallery rotations to see everything in the museum, according to its website. Additionally, the museum hosts regular events including movie showings, curator talks and various activities geared toward families, including designated PMA Family Days. It also sells tickets to the seaside home of Homer, whose house is considered a landmark in the history of American art.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Portland Museum of Art
For such a small city, Portland houses some pretty big names in its art museum. Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Winslow Homer are among the icons showcased within the Portland Museum of Art. Along with some of the greats, the museum features an extensive collection of American, European and contemporary works, as well as pieces from Maine artists. Paintings abound, but you'll also find photographs, sketches, pottery, furniture, ornate silverware, sculptures and so much more. The collection is so big – more than 18,000 pieces – that it would take nearly 10 years of constant gallery rotations to see everything in the museum, according to its website. Additionally, the museum hosts regular events including movie showings, curator talks and various activities geared toward families, including designated PMA Family Days. It also sells tickets to the seaside home of Homer, whose house is considered a landmark in the history of American art.
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#5

#5 in Portland, ME

Free
Portland's waterfront is at its most picturesque at the Eastern Promenade. Beloved by locals, the Eastern Promenade is a 68-acre waterfront park located on a stretch of land separating Back Cove from the Fore River. The park offers trails, beaches and plenty of grassy areas to simply kick back and unwind. To make the most of your visit, take a stroll along the 2-mile-long Eastern Promenade Trail, which starts in the heart of the Old Port.
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Beaches Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Eastern Promenade
Portland's waterfront is at its most picturesque at the Eastern Promenade. Beloved by locals, the Eastern Promenade is a 68-acre waterfront park located on a stretch of land separating Back Cove from the Fore River. The park offers trails, beaches and plenty of grassy areas to simply kick back and unwind. To make the most of your visit, take a stroll along the 2-mile-long Eastern Promenade Trail, which starts in the heart of the Old Port.
... more

#6

#6 in Portland, ME

Free
Along with the Casco Bay Islands, Cape Elizabeth is a nice daytrip option for those in search of rolling hills and beaches. The town is located about 9 miles south of Portland and is best known for its lighthouses. You may recognize the Two Lights lighthouse, which is featured in Edward Hopper's well-known "The Lighthouse at Two Lights," a painting housed in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cape Elizabeth is also home to the Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park. Commissioned by George Washington in the late 1700s, it's Maine's oldest lighthouse. Portland Head Light is also considered one of the most photographed lighthouses in the U.S., and some even say the entire world.
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Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Cape Elizabeth
Along with the Casco Bay Islands, Cape Elizabeth is a nice daytrip option for those in search of rolling hills and beaches. The town is located about 9 miles south of Portland and is best known for its lighthouses. You may recognize the Two Lights lighthouse, which is featured in Edward Hopper's well-known "The Lighthouse at Two Lights," a painting housed in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cape Elizabeth is also home to the Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park. Commissioned by George Washington in the late 1700s, it's Maine's oldest lighthouse. Portland Head Light is also considered one of the most photographed lighthouses in the U.S., and some even say the entire world.
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#7

#7 in Portland, ME

Architecture buffs and lovers of interior design will be swept up by the opulence of the Victoria Mansion. This National Historic Landmark was originally built in the mid-1800s as a summer house for hotelier Ruggles Sylvester Morse. But after it was damaged during a hurricane in 1938, the house was scheduled for demolition to make way for a gas station. A Maine resident quickly bought the home and turned it into a museum in honor of Queen Victoria.
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Historic Homes/Mansions Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Victoria Mansion
Architecture buffs and lovers of interior design will be swept up by the opulence of the Victoria Mansion. This National Historic Landmark was originally built in the mid-1800s as a summer house for hotelier Ruggles Sylvester Morse. But after it was damaged during a hurricane in 1938, the house was scheduled for demolition to make way for a gas station. A Maine resident quickly bought the home and turned it into a museum in honor of Queen Victoria.
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#8

#8 in Portland, ME

For some of the best views of the harbor, head to the historic Portland Observatory, the country's last standing maritime signal tower. Built in 1807, the octagonal, 86-foot high tower was commissioned by captain Lemuel Moody as a communication station for Portland's harbor, but it wasn't built as an altruistic measure. Moody charged ship owners an annual fee of $5 to alert merchants (who he also charged) of ships arriving. He could spot them from as far as 30 miles away with his telescope. Before the observatory was built, ships couldn't be seen from town until they came around a point of land and were practically in the harbor. Moody offered an advantage to both paying captains and merchants, while also making a tidy profit for himself.
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Portland Observatory
For some of the best views of the harbor, head to the historic Portland Observatory, the country's last standing maritime signal tower. Built in 1807, the octagonal, 86-foot high tower was commissioned by captain Lemuel Moody as a communication station for Portland's harbor, but it wasn't built as an altruistic measure. Moody charged ship owners an annual fee of $5 to alert merchants (who he also charged) of ships arriving. He could spot them from as far as 30 miles away with his telescope. Before the observatory was built, ships couldn't be seen from town until they came around a point of land and were practically in the harbor. Moody offered an advantage to both paying captains and merchants, while also making a tidy profit for himself.
... more
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

Historic Homes/Mansions Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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