Enjoying the Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine — Photo courtesy of Children's Museum and Theatre of MaineOn those days when the forecast is for rain, the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine (142 Free Street, 207-828-1234,
www.childrensmuseumofme.org) is always a top notch option. This Portland gem serves as an educational play land for the younger set. Special presentations highlight everything from Maine’s coastal beauty to an explanation of the night skies.
This well-managed and designed facility also has a wide range of regular exhibits and activities that are sure to excite any youngster’s imagination. Here, there are costumes and play tools that enable children to be pretend firefighters, diner owners, mechanics in an automotive repair shop, or managers of their local post office.
This children’s museum goes to great lengths to create environments that strongly resemble the real thing such as a wooden ship, lobster traps, and even full pirate costumes and toy equipment. Be sure to check out the always popular L.L.Bean-sponsored Discovery Woods which starts boys and girls upon a lifelong love of the outdoors.
The Portland Trails' Presumpscot River Preserve. — Photo courtesy of Portland TrailsIf the day is sunny, be sure to bring the little ones along on travels through the Portland Trails (207-775-2411, www.trails.org) properties. This highly productive, non-profit urban land trust features a welcome range of properties throughout Portland. Many of these open space preserves are just right for youngsters. The trails are just long enough to interest children (everything between 1 mile to 3 miles in length) and cover enough diverse environments (everything from deep backwoods to coastal shoreline) to interest and excite the inner explorer in adult and child alike.
Among the best of these reserves is the 3.5 mile long Back Cove Trail that traces the fascinating perimeter of Portland’s Back Cove, one of the oldest sections of the city. Here, children will revel in introductions to beach vegetation and animal life while taking in gorgeous views of Portland’s skyline. Parking is available for the trail off of the Preble Street Extension near Payson Park.
Also near the top of the Portland Trails’ offerings is the Presumpscot River Preserve which is truly an oasis of nature in an urban setting. Children will thrill to the almost primeval nature of this trek as a trail winds its way through a deep ravine with heavily forested hillsides. The trail continues for 2.5 miles through this 48-acre reservation. In spring and summer, it is possible to catch glimpses of the Presumpscot River’s roaring waters brought on by the melting of winter ice. To reach the preserve’s trailhead, take Allen Avenue to Summit Street in Portland. Follow Summit Street until it reaches Curtis Road and then turn right. Turn right again onto Overset Road until it reaches a dead end – look for parking and Portland Trails signs.
So there you have it. Two perfect answers to the age old children’s inquiry, “What are we doing today?” while visiting Portland, Maine. Enjoy!