Main menu Open search menu

Things To Do In Portland

Beyond the old New England charm, Portland, Maine, has become a youthful and vibrant destination renowned for its food, drinks and art. Whether you’re strolling along the harbor or biking the scenic urban trails, the city is brimming with energy and culture perfect for a family trip or romantic getaway. Learn more about the main attractions and best-kept secrets of Maine’s largest city to make the most of your visit.

Portland’s top attractions unite the city’s long history and contemporary tastes, quickly revealing why it became such a popular travel destination. The top things to do include exploring historic neighborhoods, touring lighthouses, and other landmarks and soaking in the food and culture of Casco Bay. The best things to do near Portland include: 

  • Shop and explore along Old Port, a 19th century neighborhood famous for cobblestone streets, red brick buildings and local businesses.
  • Explore historic Fort Williams Park and visit the Portland Head Light lighthouse.
  • Fish, kayak or paddleboard on the Casco Bay.
  • Sightsee the best of modern Portland culture in the galleries and shops of the Arts District. 
  • Ride the ferry to Peaks Island for beautiful views of the ocean and a breezy, laid-back summertime vibe.

Portland is known as one of New England’s best walking cities, but there is much more to do on a budget than sightsee. From free concert series in the summer to the many parks and trails, there are a variety of affordable things to do in Portland. Cheap things to do near Portland include:

  • Explore the Eastern Promenade, a trail system along the coast of the city
  • Tour the Longfellow Arboretum in Edward Payson Park on the west side of the city
  • Check out a free afternoon or evening concert at the Alive at Five Concert Series or Weekday Music Series at Congress Square
  • Say hello to Lenny, the world’s only life-sized chocolate moose at Len Libby Chocolatier
  • During the colder months visit one of the four outdoor ice skating rinks across the city.

With natural beauty and rich history packed into every street corner, Portland features a variety of tourist attractions for the whole family. From sandy beaches to modern art galleries, the past and the present meet in Portland to create something wholly new and original. Popular attractions near Portland include:

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets and fishing piers of Old Port
  • Take in the beautiful view from the historic Portland Observatory
  • Immerse yourself in modern culture in the museums and galleries of the Arts District
  • Check out Eartha, the world’s largest rotating globe, at the DeLorme Map Store
  • Relax on the sandy beaches and rolling hills of Cape Elizabeth just south of the city.

Where the Best Movie Theater Seats Are, According to an Expert

Jess Snively

How do you find the best movie theater seats? Ask an expert on movie theater design.

Read More

From the art galleries, cafes and shops downtown to hiking Pleasant Mountain just northwest of the city, adventure is abound in the Portland area. Fun things to do, like seeing one of the premiere orchestras in the country and or indulging in a lavish seafood feast, mean you can find excitement throughout city. Exciting activities near Portland include:

  • Explore the restaurants, bars and boutiques along Commercial Street in downtown Portland.
  • Grab lunch at Five Fifty-Five, a 19th Century firehouse turned restaurant with a five-course tasting of New England seafood.
  • Watch the renowned Portland Symphony Orchestra perform at Merrill Auditorium.
  • Learn about Colonial life, the Civil War and art history in Portland at the Maine Historical Society
  • Hike the ten miles of trails just outside the city at Pleasant Mountain.

Between the weekly staples like live jazz and comedy and one-off concerts and performances, there’s no shortage of things to do at night in Portland. Whether you’re looking for a raucous night on the town with live music and dancing or a cozy, intimate way to enjoy the city after dark, your ideal adventure awaits across the Arts District and other neighborhoods of Portland. Nighttime activities near Portland include: 

  • Check out live local music and great drinks at the Flask Lounge on Spring Street
  • Soak up the 60s décor, eclectic music and two dance floors at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge
  • Enjoy live jazz, small plates and the cozy, laid-back atmosphere at Bue
  • Swing by comedy night at the cash-only bar Lincolns and be sure to save room for the chili mac
  • Go see a regional or national performer at the intimate rock club Aura

Weekend warriors rejoice: there is plenty to do this weekend in Portland. Whether you are a professional foodie searching for the best brunch in town or simply want to crack open a cold one at the ballpark, the city is brimming with seasonal festivals and events.Weekend activities near Portland include:

  • Try the fabulous farm-to-table Pork Belly and Brussels Sprouts Hash during brunch at Thistle Pig
  • Watch the boat races and explore shore-based activities during The Atlantic Cup in early June
  • Take in the Portland Sea Dogs baseball game in style on a Sips and Sea Dogs Tour
  • Kick off summer the Portland way during the Old Port Festival
  • Hit the waves and enroll in a paddle boarding or surfing lesson on Casco Bay

While Portland hosts many activities for adults, the city is full of things to do with kids too. From classic staples like bowling, arcades and laser tag to drive-in movies, family-friendly fishing and magical island adventures, the city has attractions for the whole family to love.Family-Friendly things to do near Portland include:

  • Explore the magic in the village of fairy houses along Mackworth Island
  • Swing by the tackle shop and enjoy an afternoon fishing off the Maine State Pier on Commercial Street
  • Enjoy activities for everyone with bowling, laser tag, arcade games and more at Spare Time Entertainment
  • Stroll along Old Port and visit Treehouse Toys and Maple’s Organics for gelato
  • Catch a timeless double feature at the Prides Corner Drive-In Theater

Are you searching for date ideas to reignite your spark or simply unwind with that special someone? Look no further: from soothing couples spa trips and romantic seaside lobster dinners to live music, dancing and drinks well into the wee hours of the morning, Portland is the perfect place to fall in love all over again. Date night ideas near Portland include:

  • Experience a luxurious afternoon of pampering at Soakology Foot Sanctuary and Teahouse
  • Live it up with two floors of live entertainment and five full service bars at Aura
  • Toast the beautiful harbor view with fresh seafood during a romantic dinner at Boone’s Fish House and Oyster Room
  • Admire the art and watch a movie during the Friday screenings at the Portland Art Museum
  • Catch a live performance at the cozy 75-seat Portland Stage Company.

From exploring the harbor and trails to relaxing with great food, drinks and art in a cozy cafe, friends have more fun together in Portland. Escape rooms, iconic sights ripe for Instagram envy and custom creative experiences mean that any night in Portland can become a cherished memory with friends and family. Things to do with your friends near Portland include:

  • Explore lighthouses, breweries and more on a guided bike tour from Summer Feet Cycling
  • Show off your puzzle-solving skills and beat the clock to triumph at the Escape Room Portland
  • Snap a group selfie at the iconic Portland Head Light lighthouse just outside of the city
  • Indulge in Portland’s finest fares with Maine Foodie Tours
  • Turn beach glass or photos from your trip into a personal work of art during a fun, creative evening hosted by Art Night Out

While folks in Portland love their outdoor adventures, there are also plenty of relaxing things to do indoors as well. Whether you want to tour a slice of New England history, spend an afternoon relishing seafood and wine or enjoy a few hours of total relaxation, Portland has you covered.Portland things to do indoors include:

  • Tour the home and studio of legendary American landscape painter and printmaker Winslow Homer
  • Blast off into outer space and explore interactive exhibits at the Southworth Planetarium
  • Wine and dine the Portland way at Cellardoor Winery at the Point
  • Learn about the Forest City’s history and admire the beautiful Italian Villa architecture at the Victoria Mansion
  • Experience 90 minutes of weightless relaxation at Float Harder Relaxation Center

Portland thrives on adventure, offering many different ways to explore the natural beauty of New England. The city boasts over 70 miles of trails, with a 6.5-mile loop around the peninsula that serves as a great introduction to the area. Along the bay there are a variety of places to swim, boat and hike, as well as lighthouses, breweries and much more.Try one of these active things to see in Portland:

  • Rent a bike at Gorham Bike and Ski or Cyclemania and explore the Eastern Promenade Trail
  • Ride the ferry to Diamond Cove and spend the day exploring the restored 19th Century military barracks
  • Rent a paddleboat from Soposup or Portland Paddle and enjoy the scenic Casco Bay
  • Walk across the bridge to South Portland to visit the Portland Breakwater Light, a small lighthouse in Bug Light Park
  • Book a tour with Maine Beer Tours to get a taste of local suds by bike, boat or running along the trails

The best activities in Portland highlight the city’s natural beauty, outdoorsy spirit and deep appreciation for great food and drinks. Check out local pastimes like swimming to the coastal islands at low tide, relishing the sunset skyline in a historic park and admiring the beautiful street art and harbor along the bike trails. Must-see places and activities near Portland include:

  • Swim or kayak the Eastern Promenade to the knobs, small islands just off the coast
  • Visit the decadent Bar of Chocolate Cafe for a pairing of cocktails and sweet treats
  • Enjoy delicious vegan Thai food at the Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro
  • Walk at sunset in Fort Sumner Park to take in the beautiful view of the city
  • Grab a rental bike and ride to the Legal Graffiti Wall on the Eastern Promenade Trail

Top Attractions