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Casco Bay Islands picture in Portland, ME
Fort Gorges picture in Portland, ME
Mailboat Run picture in Portland, ME
Peaks Island picture in Portland, ME
Casco Bay Islands picture in Portland, ME
Fort Gorges picture in Portland, ME
Mailboat Run picture in Portland, ME
Peaks Island picture in Portland, ME

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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.

Cliff Island, one of the smallest Casco Bay Islands, is home to only 60 residents year-round and is the only year-round island that features unpaved roads and as such, cars are seldom used. Meanwhile, Great Diamond, which was home to historic Fort McKinley, is lauded for its quintessential Maine landscape and boasts shallow, rocky shorelines backed by lush forests. Cars aren't allowed, so walking, biking or getting around on golf carts are the modes of transportation. You'll find plenty of beaches on this isle, specifically the stunning Diamond Cove, as well as a small museum, a bowling alley and tennis courts. You can make a weekend of it and stay at the Inn at Diamond Cove, which has a host of activities and excellent dining options.  

Chebeague Island is lauded for similarly attractive terrain, but retains a more storied history. The island is most famous for its stone sloopers – men that transported construction materials for 19th-century ships and many of the country's most notable structures, including the granite for the Washington Monument. Meanwhile, those unwilling to go too off the grid will enjoy amenity-packed Peaks Island, which features cafes, shops, museums and galleries in addition to beaches.

Recent travelers loved visiting the Casco Bay Islands. The pleasant ride along the bay's calm waters, the stunning ferry views, the lively narration (offered depending on ferry attendance) and the overall accessibility made this a memorable experience for many. Most travelers visit Peaks Island because it's the closest to Portland – only a 17-minute boat ride – however, others do recommend visiting other islands if you have the time. Travelers said those heading to Peaks Island should be aware that golf carts, the island's main source of transportation, are booked fast so you'll want to reserve one as soon as you get off the ferry. The Mailboat Run, the Casco Bay Line ferry that takes visitors along the daily route that drops off mail and freight to all the islands, is another popular tour option for travelers. Those passengers were quick to note, however, that the duration of the route varies greatly on the amount of products that need to be delivered to the islands.

Casco Bay Lines ferries are the most popular means of transportation for getting to the Casco Bay Islands. The company runs various types of tours seasonally, as well as single destination services. The Diamond Pass Run goes to Long Island, Peaks Island and Little and Great Diamond Island. The Mailboat Run travels to all the islands of Casco Bay except Bailey Island, which only sees tours during specific times of the year. All tour times vary depending on the island traveled to; Peaks Island is 17 minutes one way, while the Mailboat Run is about three-and-a-half hours round trip. It's important to note that some ferry routes do not allow passengers to get off at the islands, including the Mailboat Run. Fees and hours also depend on the island you're traveling to and the tour type. For more information about getting to the Casco Bay Islands, visit the Casco Bay Lines website.

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#1 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 ... Read more » Corey Templeton / Flickr

#2 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 ... Read more » danlogan / Getty Images

#3 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 ... Read more » Allagash Brewing / Flickr

#4 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 ... Read more » Courtesy of the Portland Museum of Art

#5 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 ... Read more » Corey Templeton / Flickr

#6 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 ... Read more » traveler1116 / Getty Images

#7 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 ... Read more » Courtesy of Victoria Mansion

#8 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 ... Read more » KenWiedemann / Getty Images

# Maine Food for Thought Tours Read more » Courtesy VisitPortland.com

# Wadsworth-Longfellow House Read more » Corey Templeton / Flickr

# Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine Read more » John Sulzmann / Flickr

Old Port picture in Portland, ME
Casco Bay Islands picture in Portland, ME
Brewery Tour picture in Portland, ME
Portland Museum of Art picture in Portland, ME
Eastern Promenade picture in Portland, ME
Cape Elizabeth picture in Portland, ME
Victoria Mansion picture in Portland, ME
Portland Observatory picture in Portland, ME
Maine Food for Thought Tours picture in Portland, ME
Wadsworth-Longfellow House picture in Portland, ME
Portland Children's Museum picture in Portland, ME
Old Port picture in Portland, ME
Casco Bay Islands picture in Portland, ME
Brewery Tour picture in Portland, ME
Portland Museum of Art picture in Portland, ME
Eastern Promenade picture in Portland, ME
Cape Elizabeth picture in Portland, ME
Victoria Mansion picture in Portland, ME
Portland Observatory picture in Portland, ME
Maine Food for Thought Tours picture in Portland, ME
Wadsworth-Longfellow House picture in Portland, ME
Portland Children's Museum picture in Portland, ME

Old Port is the city's center. Here, travelers will find a plethora of shops and some of the city's best dining options. It's also within walking distance of top attractions, including the Portland Museum of Art, Victoria Mansion and the ferries that transport visitors to the Casco Bay Islands.   Corey Templeton / Flickr

Maine beaches are easily accessible with the help of the nearby Casco Bay Islands. Visitors can use the Casco Bay Lines ferry service, which transports travelers to six of the islands from the Old Port in downtown Portland. danlogan / Getty Images

Portland is considered one of the top beer cities in the U.S., thanks to its top-notch microbrewery scene. Certain breweries, including Allagash and Sebago, host free brewery tours. Allagash Brewing / Flickr

Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Winslow Homer are just a few of the greats whose works are housed in the Portland Museum of Art. Courtesy of the Portland Museum of Art

This waterfront near Old Port offers trails, sports courts, beaches and sweeping views of the bay. Some visitors recommend visiting Eastern Promenade at sunset or sunrise to witness the park's vistas reach their full potential.  Corey Templeton / Flickr

Located about 8 miles south of downtown Portland, Cape Elizabeth is home to Portland Head Light, one of the most recognized lighthouses in Maine. The area also boasts expansive beaches, including Crescent Beach, and miles of craggy Maine coastline. traveler1116 / Getty Images

The grand Victoria Mansion is considered to be one of the greatest examples of pre-Civil War grandeur. Expect to encounter gas light fixtures, ornate drapes and cherub-clad crown molds during your tour. Courtesy of Victoria Mansion

The Portland Observatory towers above the city on Munjoy Hill, offering spectacular views of Portland and its harbor. KenWiedemann / Getty Images

Learn all about Portland's world-class restaurants on a Maine Food for Thought Tour. Courtesy VisitPortland.com

Corey Templeton / Flickr

John Sulzmann / Flickr

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