Any road trip through New England isn’t complete without a visit to Portland, Maine. This beautiful bayside town, known for its views of the water, lighthouses, and picturesque Victorian era homes, is a stop for any tourist who loves to combine long walks by the beach with a classy lunch on the main street. So whether you’re visiting on your own, with friends, or family, there’s something for everyone.
Looking to fill your itinerary? We’ve got a list here of the 12 best things to do in Portland, Maine, covering all our bases so that you’ll find the perfect activity for you.
Get out on the water
It’s no surprise that one of Portland’s greatest attractions is anything water-related. Locals love to go out on their boats and enjoy the bay. But just because you’re a tourist, this doesn’t mean you won’t have to miss out—there are plenty of options. These include: renting kayaks and paddleboards from Portland Paddle, ferries to Peaks Island, sailing for two hours on an old-schooner with Maine Sailing Adventures. And you can always watch the water from a bar in South Portland, too, if you prefer to be a fish out of water.
Go for a bike ride
If you’re a bike lover, you’re in luck. Portland is the perfect city for biking around, because it’s situation on the Portland peninsula, and in addition to beautiful views of both the streets and the shore, it’s got a huge number of trails you can bike on. Just a few to check out: The Cape Elizabeth Loop, The East Coast Greenway, and, for anyone who loves mountain biking, there’s The Evergreen and The Fore River Sanctuary. And just outside the city there are options, too!
Check out a local brewery
When it comes to beer, Portlanders are experts and craftsmen. Despite being a smaller-sized city, Portland’s got a total of 17 breweries—which equates to the ratio of 1 brewery per every 3,900 residents. Now that’s something to cheer to! Of course, if you’re just visiting, you won’t have time to visit each and every single brewery (and every single pub pouring local pints, either). This is probably a good thing, if you don’t want to end up spending your life credit repairing. So to decide which one to visit, check out this list.
See some art
Portland is the kind of place, with all its natural beauty and indie-feel, that attracts artists. So it’s no surprise that, as a tourist, you’ll have plenty of art galleries and museums to check out. If you’re not sure where to start, Creative Portland offers a guided art walk, which you can read about here. Otherwise, consider asking at your hotel—and make sure you don’t miss out on the Portland Museum of Art.
And of course, what kind of vacation is a vacation without checking out the local restaurants? Especially in Portland, a foodie’s dream where there’s plenty of traditional New England seafood in addition to exotic restaurants and pizza joints. Whatever your preference or craving, there’s plenty to choose from: so get started by checking out this list from Bon Appétit for eating and drinking your way through this mouth-watering city. And if you’re more into the rustic style of eating, read these articles about Maine’s best food trucks and lobster shacks.
Go vintage shopping
You can go shopping in any city—but in a New England gem like Portland, you can go vintage shopping, find that perfect piece of Victorian era furniture that you’ve been dreaming about since spotting one in a cool coffee shop back home. So instead of scouring the Internet for the perfect one, risking your cyber security, why not check out the many vintage store in Portland. Check out this guide to get started.
Go on a tour
Because Portland’s so rich with activities and sights, there are plenty of tours to choose from. Going on a tour will simplify your itinerary the same way that hiring a professional employer organization (PEO) helps any business leader sort out salaries and benefits. For fun, there are wine cruises, beer buses, bike tours to numerous lighthouses, brewery runs, foodie tours, duckboats, and horse rides. And if you’re a history buff, you’ll also want to check out the endless historical tours.
Go on a day trip
If you’re lucky enough to spend a long time in Portland, then another exciting thing to do is taking a day trip out of the city. Maine’s a beautiful state—and there are plenty of places to explore, whether you’re a nature lover, foodie, or want to get to know other charming towns in the area. For a list of options, take a look at this article from The Culture Trip.
Portland, Maine is one of the best destinations out there, with plenty to do for any visitor. Whether you love beer, the outdoors, or local culture, you’ll have a great time in this great city.