Fun-filled days and nights - you may run out of time but never things to do
The Portland art scene rivals that of cities much larger in size and features the world-renowned Portland Museum of Art, a resident symphony orchestra, numerous art galleries, and professional theatre. The region also boasts an impressive selection of venues in which to enjoy local and internationally-acclaimed musicians and performers.
Greater Portland is also steeped in history and offers many ways to explore the past such as guided walking and trolley tours. Maine Maritime Museum in Bath is devoted to the state’s rich maritime history, and the only active Shaker community in the world welcomes visitors to its New Gloucester farm. With our region’s proximity to the sea, there are naturally plenty of things to do on and around the water, from narrated cruises to sunset schooner sails, exciting kayak excursions to lazy beach afternoons. But don’t miss the mountains with superb downhill skiing, plentiful wildlife, thrilling whitewater rafting, and fishing and swimming in crystal clear lakes. Golf enthusiasts will find numerous beautifully situated courses, either beside the ocean or amid the mountains. Maine is "The Great Outdoors,” so get out and enjoy it!
There’s also plenty to keep the kids busy, from a new science center, to their own Children's Museum and Theatre, to wildlife and amusement parks, to the alluring world of antique trains, planes, and trolleys; you can even ride the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad's Polar Express to the "North Pole" for a festive reenactment of the beloved children's book. Kids love building sand castles, splashing in the waves, and exploring the hidden worlds of tide pools along the rocky coast. And Portland is home to two professional sports teams so there will likely be a basketball or baseball game that will hit a home run with the family when you visit.
The excitement peaks at fairs and festivals throughout the summer and fall; be sure to check the calendar listings on pages 48-50 for special events for you and your family to enjoy.
Must-sees, day trips, in & outdoor fun – find it all in Greater Portland
As visitors survey the scenic vistas of this historic city on Casco Bay, gaze at boats that come and go from the waterfront, and watch the activity along the downtown’s cobblestone streets, finding things to do may be the furthest thing from their minds. For those preferring to focus on filling their days with fun activities and enduring memories, Greater Portland delivers. Visitors will find family amusements, must-see attractions, day-trips, and nightlife for every taste and style and every family member.
Portland fulfills getaway, vacation, and long-term stay requirements each season of the year, from high-octane to low-key, indoor to outdoor, land or sea. This metropolitan city with small town charm is a cultural mecca and wildlife wonderland, the home of microbrews and sea cruises, of world-class chefs and first-class fishing, where shopping, sailing, or hitting the beach is at its best.
Casco Bay’s flourishing arts scene is complemented by an abundant variety of outdoor recreational pursuits so accessible that you can kayak, bike, golf, or swim all day and still have time to take in dinner and a show in the evening.
Within 10 minutes of downtown Portland you can glide in a canoe through a saltwater marsh, swim at a state beach, bird watch on a nature sanctuary, and kayak to a mid-1800s fort. Hike a wooded trail through autumn foliage to discover a hidden waterfall. Ice-skate in Deering Oaks Park or cross-country ski alongside the ocean in winter. Every season of the year offers its unique pleasures and Maine is lucky to have seasons that each delights the senses.
Greater Portland is fun for the whole family, so don’t leave the kids at home. They’ll love the hands-on exhibits at the Children’s Museum and a ride on an historic streetcar, steam train, or Model-T at one of the region’s transportation museums.
Baseball and basketball fans will find big-league entertainment at minor-league prices at one of Portland’s home-team games. From amusement parks to wildlife parks, agricultural fairs to folk-life festivals, there are so many things to entertain active kids of all ages.
Dog Day Afternoons
Vacationing is about seeking out new experiences and creating memories with your loved ones, including your four-pawed family members. The good news is that Greater Portland has a dog-friendly vibe that welcomes your Rover to stay and play.
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
The Portland community hosts regular tail-wagging events where social dogs can rub noses and help raise money for local animal causes. Here are just a few: Bark in The Park, Martinis for Mutts, Paws for a Cause, and Woofminster
CASCO BAY ADVENTURES
Pack a picnic and cast-off with your four-paw mate on a Casco Bay Lines ferry to one of Portland’s many island communities or take the Mailboat Cruise down the bay and back. You can purchase tickets for your family and your salty sea dog in the dog-friendly Casco Bay ferry terminal. Portland Discovery Land & Sea Tours, located on Long Wharf, welcomes mellow mutts to do a scenic lighthouse cruise and soak-up a little maritime history.
Portland boasts miles of tongue-hanging coastline where beach dogs can get their paws sandy and paddle around. From Labor Day to Memorial Day, area beaches offer extended beach hours with off-leash play at Portland’s Eastern Beach, South Portland’s Willard Beach, and many Scarborough beaches. During the busy summer season, many area beaches provide beach dog hours around sunrise and sunset. Be sure to follow the posted rules and only leave paw prints.
Portland Trails, a non-profit land trust, offers a vast network of over 70 miles of wooded trails, coastal paths and green space that you can sniff out with your dog. On a hot day, your dogs can dip their paws into a stream, river or the ocean, depending on the trail. PortlandTrails.org has an interactive map to help you pick your hike. The Eastern Promenade Trail can be accessed near Portland’s Ocean Gateway’s dog-friendly Visitor Center and delivers views towards Fort Gorges and access to Eastern Beach.
Sometimes hotel website dog policies sound a little gruff but they are just trying to find the middle ground and keep all their guests happy. Call ahead to book and get the inside scoop; there is often a little flexibility on weight restrictions. The Westin Hotel, in Portland’s Arts District, welcomes dogs with treats and Heavenly dog beds. Inn by the Sea, located on the shores of Cape Elizabeth, has led the way as a dog friendly seaside resort with over-the-top pampering and a doggie menu. When you are traveling with your best friend, remember to pack all your dog’s essentials – collar with ID tags, leash, pick-up bags, food, medications, and a vaccination certificate so you can just relax once you arrive.
It’s all right here: great dining and shopping, hopping nightlife, outdoor recreation, historical and cultural attractions, and stunning natural beauty. Its small scale, accessible waterfront, fine architecture, and creative vibe have propelled Portland to the top of many national lists of best places to vacation. But you won’t have to give up the quintessential Maine coast to enjoy all that Greater Portland has to offer - islands, lighthouses, beaches, and surf crashing on the rocky shore are all in proximity of Portland’s vibrant, historic downtown. Portland, Maine Authentic - By Nature.