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Did you know that Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine? You can even visit his house in Bangor, Maine, with its wrought-iron fence decorated with spiders and bats. But what about Portland itself? Is it worth visiting? Let’s take a dive into this city and explore things to do in Portland, Maine.
Where Is Portland, ME?
Portland, Maine, is on the southern coast of Maine. It’s the largest city in Maine. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures. From coastal activities like boating and fishing to inland activities like hiking and biking, Portland offers many different experiences for visitors.
Don’t like the outdoors? Portland also offers shopping, dining, and touring. It’s a city with an old town character and charm mixed with a modern flair.
What Is Portland, ME, Known For?
Cobblestone streets, world-class dining, 19th-century architecture, and a scenic rocky coast are all things you’ll find in Portland, Maine. On the west end of Portland, you’ll find Victorian neighborhoods and the famous Victorian Mansion. In Parkside, you’ll find Portland’s largest public park. Other things to do in Portland’s Parkside area include the farmers’ market, annual fairs and festivals, and Portland’s Minor League baseball team.
The arts district is also an area worth exploring. Museums and exhibits, symphonies and concerts, and ballet and musical theater are all things to do in Portland, Maine’s arts district. Or you can venture out to Old Port and experience the working waterfront. Watch fishers come in with their catches of the day. Then take the cobblestone and brick streets to dive into a scrumptious lobster meal.
Maine also has many notable lighthouses, and you’ll find one in Portland. The Portland Head Lighthouse sits at the top of Casco Bay and is Maine’s oldest lighthouse. Or use the water access to head over to Peak’s Island and explore the beaches and wildlife.
Best Time of the Year to Visit Portland, ME
May through September offer the best weather for visiting Portland, Maine. The summer months are the warmest of the year but remain mostly around 80 degrees. It’s the peak tourist season, so you’ll have to deal with crowds during June, July, and August.
If you want to avoid the crowds, spring and fall are also great times to visit, especially if you want to take in the blooming season or changing colors. However, you’ll miss out on most of Portland’s festivals, as they revolve around the tourist season of summer.
Pro Tip: After spending a few days in Portland, take your travels north and explore more of Maine’s beautiful coastline in Bar Harbor.
Things to Do in Portland, Maine
There are so many things to do in Portland, ME. And they vary so that outdoor enthusiasts, art lovers, and food connoisseurs will all enjoy visiting this city. Let’s take a closer look at a few great options.
Portland Head Lighthouse
In Cape Elizabeth, you’ll find one of Maine’s historic landmarks: Portland Head Lighthouse. Commissioned by George Washington, it first lit up in 1791. While you’re there, visit the museum and learn more about maritime history.
Although the history of this lighthouse is significant, you’ll also enjoy visiting Fort Williams Park. Take a hike, enjoy the beautiful ocean views, or eat a picnic lunch. This area provides a great outing spot for families, couples, or individuals looking to explore Portland’s coastline.
Another thing to do in Portland, Maine, is visit Allagash Brewing Company. At the 2021 Great American Beer Festival, this brewery took home the honor of Brewery and Brewer of the Year. Two of its beers also earned silver medals: Allagash White and Allagash Tripel.
This Belgian-inspired brewery first opened in 1995 and installed its first canning line in 2018. Come try one of the award-winning beers or grab a bite to eat from the on-site food truck, Bite Into Maine. Dogs and children are welcome. Currently, they only offer outdoor seating. You can find Allagash Brewing Company at 50 Industrial Way in Portland.
L.L. Bean Flagship Store
The L.L. Bean Flagship campus of stores is in Freeport Village Station, about 25 minutes north of Portland. Here you can spend a day shopping, eating, and playing as the campus has a cafe, coffee shop, ice cream shop, parks, and several L.L. Bean stores.
If you love L.L. Bean, this has to be a stop on your things to do in Portland, ME, list. Why wouldn’t you want to visit the first and largest L.L. Bean store? The Flagship Store is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Fancy McDonald’s in a Colonial Mansion
While you’re in Freeport visiting the L.L. Bean Flagship Store, head on over to the only McDonald’s in town. It’s inside the historic Gore House. Why should a McDonald’s be on your list of things to do in Portland, Maine? Because this isn’t your ordinary McDonald’s.
It doesn’t have the golden arches, and you won’t find a Ronald McDonald costume. Since it lies inside an old residential building, this McDonald’s has a colonial look and feel. Even inside, you’ll find classy furnishings and fireplaces to keep the aesthetic of the New England style. You can even order lobster rolls in the summer.
Five Islands Lobster Co.
If you want to get the best lobster rolls, Five Islands Lobster Co. should be on your list of things to do in Portland, ME. Located on a fisherman’s wharf on Sheepscot Bay, Five Islands Lobster Co. is near some of the deepest and coldest waters in New England. You’ll enjoy the classic Maine atmosphere here while diving into a lobster dish. Or try the mussels or fried selection of freshly caught fish.
Where to Camp near Portland, ME
The Durham Leisure Campground is open year-round, which makes it a great location for camping. Most other campgrounds in the area close after Columbus Day. All sites offer full hook-ups, and amenities include hiking trails, a swimming pool, and a playground.
Situated just minutes from the L.L. Bean Flagship Store, the Durham Leisure Campground is in a great location. Pets are welcome. Rates range from $45-$70.
Keep in Mind: If you’re looking for dispersed camping in Maine, be aware that it’s been banned at this popular mountain.
Portland, ME, is a great city to visit in New England. These things to do in Portland, Maine, will help guide your stay and hopefully make it an enjoyable one. Breweries, lobster rolls, historical landmarks, scenic views — you can have it all here. So when will your vacation begin?