Things to do in Portland

Portland caters to many interests, keeping both the young and old alike entertained and amused. The city provides lots to see and do, boasting a metropolitan, artistic atmosphere and offering many outstanding cultural activities.

With many museums and galleries in the Portland Downtown Arts District, those with a taste for something aesthetic will surely find it there and be back for more. History buffs will also love the likes of Wadsworth-Longfellow House, one-time home of the Revolutionary War General, or the Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Park, where historic buildings complement beautiful natural landscapes. With loads of cultural activities in which to indulge, visitors will have the chance to delve into the history and the thriving art scene of the city with ease of access and will never be short of things to do.

Visitors with a love for nightlife and a good time can also find lovely restaurants and bars in the city, catering to every budget and taste.

Portland makes for a wonderful getaway and is a must-see when in Maine. With wildlife parks on offer, lots to see and do both indoors and outdoors, and small town charm to boot, it certainly is worth the visit.

Old Orchard Beach photo

Old Orchard Beach

As its name suggests, Old Orchard Beach's most popular attraction is its seven mile (11km) stretch of sand, one of the best beaches in Maine. The town is a popular excursion for fa…

Old Orchard Beach

As its name suggests, Old Orchard Beach's most popular attraction is its seven mile (11km) stretch of sand, one of the best beaches in Maine. The town is a popular excursion for families in the summer, and a seaside amusement park and weekly fireworks shows add to the entertainment.

Other popular activities include surfing, lobster boat tours, hiking, canoeing, and clamming. Old Orchard Beach hosts many festivals and events throughout the year with most happening between July and September during peak holiday season.

A direct seasonal train link from Boston and Portland makes Old Orchard Beach easy to get to. But holiday weekends can often be uncomfortably crowded. Old Orchard Beach is not a wildly popular winter destination, but cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are both on offer.

Website www.oldorchardbeachmaine.com

Portland Head Light photo

Portland Head Light

It's no surprise that the Portland Head Light, also known as the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse, is the most photographed lighthouse in the world. Every view of this 18th century lighth…

Portland Head Light

It's no surprise that the Portland Head Light, also known as the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse, is the most photographed lighthouse in the world. Every view of this 18th century lighthouse is spectacular. The lighthouse took four years to build, with construction ending in 1791.

The lamps originally used to power the light were of whale oil, replaced by an autobeacon in 1958. Situated in Fort Williams Park, the lighthouse has an interesting museum housed within the old Keepers Quarters.

It is well worth packing a picnic and enjoy the beauty of the park and exploring the historic forts within its parameters. Portland Head Light closes during winter, but the park is open throughout the year and offers activities like cross-country skiing, sledding, and ice skating during the cold months.

Address 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth

Website www.portlandheadlight.com

Opens Open daily 10am-4pm from late May to 31 October. Museum opening hours differ according to month, see website for details.

Admission

$2 adults, $1 children 6-18.

Wadsworth-Longfellow House photo

Wadsworth-Longfellow House

Built between 1785 and 1786, the Wadsworth-Longfellow house was home to three generations of a Portland family that formed an integral part of the cultural, political, and literary

Wadsworth-Longfellow House

Built between 1785 and 1786, the Wadsworth-Longfellow house was home to three generations of a Portland family that formed an integral part of the cultural, political, and literary life of New England and the rest of the country.

Revolutionary War General Peleq Wadsworth was its first inhabitant and Anne Longfellow Pierce, younger sister of poet Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow, was its last. It was Anne's foresight that left the house, grounds and furniture to the Maine History Society, allowing public access.

The house was the first brick building in Portland and visitors can enjoy a ramble through the three-storey house, containing effectively all original furniture and artefacts, and the Maine Historical Society Museum. Several different tours are also available throughout the year.

Address 489 Congress Street

Website www.mainehistory.org/house_overview.shtml

Opens Museum: Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday (May to October) 12pm-5pm.

Admission

$15 adults, $4 children. Concessions available.

Portland Downtown Arts District photo

Portland Downtown Arts District

Stretching from upper Congress Street to the West End, the Arts District incorporates several galleries and museums. These include the Portland Museum of Art, the largest of its ki

Portland Downtown Arts District

Stretching from upper Congress Street to the West End, the Arts District incorporates several galleries and museums. These include the Portland Museum of Art, the largest of its kind in Maine and dating back to 1882, and the Maine College of Art.

A great way to explore the Arts District is by participating in the First Art Walk, a self-guided tour that runs on the first Friday of every month from 5pm to 8pm. Local businesses, museums, and galleries are open to the public and aim to highlight what is new in the art community.

Address Upper Congress Street to the West End. Portland Museum of Art: 7 Congress Square

Website www.portlandmuseum.org

Opens Portland Museum of Art: Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday: 10am-6pm; Thursday and Friday 10am-8pm.

Admission

Portland Museum of Art: $18 adults, $15 seniors, $15 students. Concessions available. Free on Fridays 4pm-8pm.

Kennebunkport photo

Kennebunkport

Located just 30 miles (48km) from Portland, Kennebunkport is a popular destination for weekends, especially those escaping the heat in big cities like New York and Boston. This pre

Kennebunkport

Located just 30 miles (48km) from Portland, Kennebunkport is a popular destination for weekends, especially those escaping the heat in big cities like New York and Boston. This pretty town is known for its laidback and genteel atmosphere.

Several golf courses, antique shops, art galleries, and a busy harbour draw in well-to-do holidaymakers, and both former President Bushes are often seen at the nearby Bush holiday home.

However, the most popular attraction in Kennebunkport is its beaches. Kennebunk Beach, Gooch's Beach, Mother's Beach, and Parsons Beach are all packed on weekends each summer, and guests can hire kayaks, boats, surfboards, as well as scooters and bicycles.

Common activities in Kennebunkport include whale-watching, fishing, sailing, and horseback riding. Visitors can even take a ride on a working lobster boat to get up close and personal with Maine's most famous crustaceans.

Website www.kennebunkport.org

Rockland photo

Rockland

Historically a blue-collar fishing town, Rockland has had a recent facelift. The somewhat derelict main street is now somewhat revitalised, enhanced by attractions like the Farnswo

Rockland

Historically a blue-collar fishing town, Rockland has had a recent facelift. The somewhat derelict main street is now somewhat revitalised, enhanced by attractions like the Farnsworth Art Museum, Wyeth Center, and a number of shops and restaurants.

Rockland has enough interesting attractions for a perfect weekend break in Maine, including the Maine Lighthouse Museum and the Owl's Head Transportation Museum. Active visitors can take a walk to the Breakwater Lighthouse or catch a ride on the Maine Eastern Railroad.

Rockland exists as the home of the Maine Lobster Festival, held each August, and it also hosts the North Atlantic Blues Festival every July. Rockland also makes a great base from which to explore the Saint George Peninsula and the islands of Penobscot Bay: Vinalhaven, North Haven, and Matinicus.

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