6 Things to Do in Portland, Maine

So lucky to live in beautiful, charming Portland Maine...nestled on Casco Bay...home to amazing restaurants, city amenities, yet outdoor activities mere steps away via water or on land.

180 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101, USA
I’m usually skeptical when visiting restaurants right along the main drag of a rather touristy street. Thus is the location of Portland Lobster Co., smack in the middle of Commercial Street in downtown Portland. However, my skepticism was brushed aside the minute my teeth sank into the best buttery, sweet CT-style lobster roll I’ve ever had. This is the REAL DEAL, people. There’s absolutely nothing pretentious or touristy about the little lobster shack on the side of the road. Place your order at the counter inside, then take one of the lobster shaped pagers out to the deck, where you’ll enjoy a draft beer (I highly recommend the local brew, Shipyard) and some live tunes from a local band while you wait for your food. Even on the most crowded days, the food is always worth the wait. The lobster rolls are huge and buttery and sweet and piled high with lobster meat. The corn on the cob is super buttery and sweet. When you combine lobster rolls + sweet corn + local beer + a deck over the water + live music... well, it doesn’t get much more summer than that.
West Bayside, Portland, ME 04101, USA
While jogging, walking, or racing around Back Bay be sure to take a moments break to embrace the skyline of Portland, Maine. Although it’s not a city full of skyscrapers -- the small New England city has some great little hidden gems.
12 Captain Strout Cir, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107, USA
Chances are that when you think of a lighthouse, the image that pops into your head is the iconic Portland Head Light. The tapered white tower on the end of a rocky cape buffeted by crashing waves? Yup, that’s the one. The adjacent Keeper’s House has been turned into a great little museum with maritime artifacts and Fresnel lenses and a charmingly retro admission price of $2. Picnic tables and benches have been placed around the extensive parkland surrounding the lighthouse so you can enjoy a picnic with the ultimate New England view.
Peaks Island, Portland, ME 04108, USA
You really can’t experience Portland without experiencing the islands of Casco Bay. The bay is everything to the city. It drives the fishing industry, the tourism industry, and most of the local fun. A ferry service leaving off Commercial Street in Portland will take you out to most of the major islands at any time of year. The most popular island to visit is Peaks Island. A quick ferry ride drops you off right down the hill from a locally made ice cream shop as well as a bike rental shop. Bring your own bike or rent one from the shop. Biking is the best way to see all of the island in a day. A loop road goes all the way around the island - it’s around 4 miles - with lots of other side streets to explore. You’ll want to schedule in time to eat at one of the restaurants on Peaks or pack a lunch to eat on the beach. On Sundays during the summer get out early (first thing in the morning!) to make sure you can get into Reggae Sunday at Jones Landing. It’s the biggest party in Portland. Peaks Island is a great day long get away for people of any age or physical ability. You can bike, walk, eat, lounge, explore. For the quirkier traveler the island also boasts the world largest umbrella cover museum.
Goose Rocks Beach, Maine 04046, USA
A great find in Southern Maine, a beautiful five mile beach with spectacular views and long stretches of white sand. No place can compare to the beauty that this beach embraces that families have come to summer for many generations. A perfect day to relax, take advantage of the many water activities out in Goose Rocks Bay overlooking Timber Island. There’s something for everyone around every corner of Goose Rocks. Be sure to check it out while your in Southern Maine. Just bear in mind during the summer months you will need a parking sticker, which can be purchased directly from the Kennebunkport Police Department or Kennebunkport Town Hall.
Cape Porpoise, Kennebunkport, ME, USA
Cape Porpoise is quite the charming small village in the Town of Kennebunkport. The harbor is a safe haven for the many lobster boats & dingy’s that call this place their home & office. The islands can be a great escape for camping or exploration. Goat Island, one of the many islands that make up the neighboring islands of the harbor offers visitors a working lighthouse & gate keepers house for exploration. There’s a few good local restaurants specializing in Maine fare that are a great find too. An outing in Cape Porpoise really can’t be missed while visiting Kennebunkport. There’s always something going on & you can find a story threw the lens or chat with a local to find more about this charming spot.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure