The skies darken, lightening flashes, and buckets of rain pour down, but don’t panic - your vacation has just taken a turn for the better! Not far from those storm clouds is the silver lining of our delightful cultural oasis,
Portland! Rain-soaked families, muddy campers, and outdoor enthusiasts looking to salvage their visits turn to our visitor center specialists for ways to keep active when unexpected weather arrives, and find enough ideas to put the smiles back on beneath their umbrellas.
Portland’s many museums and cultural centers are warm refuges, presenting art, history, science, heritage, engaging activities, or just warm comfort in engaging venues. At the center of
Congress Street, the Portland Museum of Art anchors the Arts District, offering the spectrum of artistic styles in its galleries, classical sculptures, the period-restored McLellan House, and a jazz brunch on Sundays. The Victoria Mansion is a unique time capsule, built by
Maine native Sylvester Ruggles Morse who made his fortune as a
New Orleans hotelier and built this opulent summer brownstone to escape the
Louisiana heat. The landmark has been restored to its original grandeur, with over 90 percent of the original furnishings still in tact, each created specifically for the rooms they embellish! The Portland Observatory and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow home also offer interesting views into
Portland’s colonial period as a
Massachusetts. The Maine
Center, in the
West End, is located not far from the immigrant enclave where the great film producer John Ford spent his youth.
As a city which looks towards its next generation, children’s activities abound in
Portland. The drama at Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, next door to the Portland Museum of Art, goes beyond the stage; three levels of interactivity has infants levitating beach balls, toddlers fixing race cars, preschoolers catching lobsters, grade school children fighting fires, middle school students travelling the world, and children of all ages flying a space shuttle. Families can also enjoy a sweeping harbor view as they journey in the dry comfort of the
Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad's train and explore the luxurious state cars in the museum.
Trolley tours of the city provide an amusing and educational way to stay dry and still see the sites. For those who prefer walking, Shipyard Brewing Co. has free indoor tours of its brewing facility with samples to warm your insides before venturing out again.
Day spas such as Nine Stones on
Commercial Street in the
Port helps ladies chip off the mud and feel human again. The Mensroom Salon & Lounge, just up
Union Street in
Monument Square, offers similar amenities for men, along with a game of pool and big-screen sports.
But if you are not completely daunted by sunless weather, there is no better way to experience any of the harbor’s six lighthouses than to see them in action for exactly the weather they were built for. There is something beautifully haunting about a foghorn calling through the mist, and magic in a beam of light slicing through the fog at Portland Head Light in
Elizabeth’s Fort Williams Park.
No matter how one chooses to weather the storm, it’s a comfort to know that
Portland has welcoming shelters that are no less inviting than when the sun is shining.