Things to do in Portland, ME

More About Portland

As the largest city in Maine, Portland is a charming blend of old and new that features historic landmarks, cultural sophistication and, of course, world-famous lobster. Founded in the seventeenth century and adorned with picturesque wooden wharves, the town quickly became a thriving port. Today, thanks in part to an aggressive revitalization project, Portland attracts a slew of tourists each year. Visitors should check out the Old Port Exchange, with its quaint shops and specialty boutiques. Other attractions include the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House, former home of the famous writer, and the captivating Portland Art Museum, which boasts a fine collection as well as spectacular views of Casco Bay. If time allows, go whale watching aboard a Bay View Cruise. At night, grab a frothy grog at one of the local brew pubs, followed by dinner along the wharf.

Things to do in Portland

Portland is known for...

Six of Portland's most unique features and characteristics.

1. Being Progressive:

Portland’s long-time status as a major commercial port has long opened the city up to a variety of influences, both national and global in scope. In recent years, an emerging high-tech sector and higher education activity has served to increase the cosmopolitan nature of Maine’s largest urban center. The result is a city that is alive, vibrant with activities and ideas that have created an ideal environment for visitors and locals alike. 

2. Seafood:

Portland eateries appeal to all types – from artists and hipsters to those simply interested in exploring new taste sensations.  Places such as Five Fifty-Five and Fore Street have developed highly acclaimed niches in infusing modern gourmet twists to traditional New England fare. Here you can find such delicious entrees as Fore Street’s wood oven-roasted mussels and Five Fifty-Five’s truffled lobster mac and cheese. Other restaurants specialize even further in exotic offerings such as Natasha’s with its Latin and Asian flavored dishes that are sure to excite just about any palate. If it’s variety and ingenuity that you are seeking in your dining choices, chances are that you’ll find it somewhere in Portland.

3. Arts and Crafts:

Portland specializes in shopping options that feature artisan-fashioned, hand-made crafts and merchandise. Stroll down just about any street in the city and you’re likely to find quaint, nicely decorated shops that feature hand-woven rugs, knit sweaters or tops, or carefully honed furniture. In the Downtown Arts District, in particular, you’ll find an abundance of artist galleries that offer one-of-a-kind decorative items such as sculptures, paintings and home furnishings. There are also gourmet food shops worth browsing such as Stonewall Kitchen which specialize in gourmet sauces and condiments. Bargain hunters, too, will find much to like about Portland. Reny’s, a local favorite, always features interesting discount items worth exploring.

4. Outdoor Activities:

Portland is a city that truly makes the most of its seaside location. The city’s much beloved Eastern Promenade, for instance, enables hikers, walkers and cyclists to enjoy the sites and sounds of Casco Bay. Meanwhile, nearby destinations such as York Beach and the Old Orchard Beach Boardwalk offer a wealth of amusements along the classic Maine coast. Many visitors feel their trip to Portland is not complete unless they sample on water activities such as kayaking Casco Bay. 

5. Indie, Punk and Folk Music:

Portland switches to an exciting nightlife destination when the sun goes down. Many clubs and concert halls have firmly established their own identities amidst Portland’s exciting music scene. At Port City Music Hall for instance, you’ll find the latest in hard driving punk and indie groups while, at One Longfellow Square, folk music is front and center. 

6. The Arts:

Within the city itself, destinations such as the world-class Portland Museum of Art, the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine and (nearby) the Ogunquit Museum of Art  make for worthwhile afternoons sampling the artistic pleasures of Portland and the surrounding seacoast.  Theater, too, is a driving force on the cultural night scene. Production companies such as Portland Stage and the Mad Horse Theatr companies offer provocative, always entertaining stage presentations that are sure to be compelling to those who enjoy live theater.

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