I may be a little biased, but if you’re planning a family trip this summer (or fall), add Portland to your list. Often called “the other Portland”, I assure you our quaint little city in Maine will not disappoint. You’ll find a foodie paradise, with top notch restaurants serving up fresh seafood. With gorgeous beaches, lighthouses, and sightseeing for days, your biggest problem will be fitting it all in. While this list doesn’t scratch the surface, I’ve rounded up a list of 10 family friendly activities you’ll want to check out when you’re in town:
You can’t leave Maine without eating a lobster. If you come in the summer or early fall, I also highly recommend checking out how that lobster was caught. Jump aboard Lucky Catch and Captain Tom and his crew will show you the ropes. I guarantee this is an experience your kiddos won’t forget.
Take a Train Ride Back in Time
Hop aboard The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and take a ride along Portland’s waterfront with beautiful views of Casco Bay. The train will stop halfway through, so kids can explore the engine car and learn about the antique cars. Before and after the 45 minute ride you can let the kiddos play inside the small museum with train tables and wood trains, retired cars to walk through and other fun for little ones. Maine Narrow Gauge is typically open May through October and then again at Christmas for the Polar Express – check out their Facebook page for details.
Visit the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine
If you find yourself with a cold, rainy or sweltering hot day (yes those all happen in Maine), definitely put the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine at the top of your list. It’s really a fantastic space with something for a wide variety of ages including a baby/toddler play area and some really cool locally inspired exhibits/activities like a lobster boat, farm, discovery woods and so much more fun.
Head to the ballpark
If you’re visiting the area during baseball season (April – September) be sure to head to Hadlock field and experience a Portland Sea Dogs ballgame. A mini Fenway, this park offers fun for all ages with mid inning entertainment, fireworks, ad yummy park food including their famous Sea Dogs Biscuits.
Shop at L.L. Bean
Visiting the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport is a right of passage when visiting the area. Head just 20 minutes north to Freeport, take a picture at the giant Bean boot, check out the fish, buy yourself a pair of signature Bean boots and if you’re visiting on a summer weekend, take in a free concert on the lawn. Leave plenty of time to shop all the deals at the Freeport outlet and then head to head to the town dock for a yummy lunch at Haraseeket Lunch and Lobster.
Enjoy science and a slice
Nestled in the heart of the waterfront district on Maine Wharf, the Portland Science Center is a relatively new but well loved spot for learning and exploration. The rotating exhibits keep it innovating and fresh and will keep you coming back – on your next trip. After you get your science fix for the day, grab a slice (or two or three) of pizza at Flatbread. It’s right next door, the wood fired pizza is delicious and it couldn’t be anymore family friendly.
Lobster roll at the lighthouse
Just 10 minutes from Portland, visit Maine’s oldest and most photographed lighthouse, Portland Headlight, in Cape Elizabeth. Take time to visit the actual lighthouse, walk the seaside trails, and explore Fort Williams. Then be sure to grab a lobster roll from Bite into Maine, and enjoy lunch with a view at the picnic tables.
Take a drive up the coast to Boothbay
If you’ve rented a car and have the time, take a drive up the scenic coast. Boothbay is just over an hour drive with lots to offer along the way. Your drive with take you through picturesque communities like Bath & Damariscotta, and kids will beg you to stop at Monkey See Monkey Do. Once in the Boothbay area, you’ll want to check out Boothbay Railway Village, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and explore the harbor area. Don’t forget to stop for a craft beer and delicious food in a relaxed atmosphere at the Watershed Tavern & Brewery.
Hop a ferry and explore Peaks Island
Casco Bay lines offers frequent ferry service to Peaks Island. Just a 15 minute scenic cruise from downtown Portland, and you’ll find a relaxed island vibe. The island has a lot of fun to offer families, but you can do as much or as little as you want. Spend the day at the beach, walk with a stroller around the island, rent bikes or a golf cart and adventure, rent kayaks or head over for dinner. If you don’t want to leave, spend the night at the charming Inn on Peaks.
Pick the fruit of the season
One of the great things about Portland is that we have so much so close. Beaches, mountains, countryside and farms are all within a short drive from the city. Picking our own fruit is also an opportunity right at our fingertips and always such a highlight. While it might be hard to travel home with your fruit, I still recommend giving it a try. You can still experience the atmosphere, the fun and — of course — the samples. If you visit in early summer you’ll hit strawberry season, later in the summer you’ll get to pick blueberries. If you come leaf-peeping in the fall you’ll get to pick apples.
Do we have you looking up travel arrangements yet? If you’ve been to Portland, Maine, what are some of your favorites stops?
This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.