Portland, Maine is one of the most unique cities in America, providing a perfect getaway for visitors. This city is known for its delicious food, spectacular waterfront views and activities, and significant attractions that complete a family vacation.
Here is a list of things to do in Portland with the kids to make the most of your visit.
1. Casco Bay Lines
Make lasting summer memories with your kiddos at the Casco Bay Lines. This ferry service company operates throughout the year, so you can enjoy a cruise any time you visit Portland, Maine.
You have many options to choose from, including sunset/sunrise tours, Ferry to Peaks Island, and mail boat runs that go to beautiful islands like Great Diamond, Little Diamond, Cliff, and Chebeague.
Feeling the ocean breeze blow through your hair as you cruise through the waters to the island of your choice is a memorable experience for your family. Remind the kids to keep their eyes peeled for sea creatures like lobsters, frogfish, and seals.
I recommend you pick islands that don’t take long to reach if you are traveling with a toddler. Peaks Island is the nearest to the bay and takes 17 minutes to arrive.
Once on the other side, you can visit the beach, soak in the sun, rent a bike, or mingle with locals. You can also enjoy spectacular views of Portland from Peaks Island.
2. Portland Head Light
Portland Head Light is one of the most picturesque and visited attractions in Portland. This lighthouse is located in Cape Elizabeth and is among the oldest lighthouses in America.
The grounds are immaculately maintained, offering a good picnic spot, so bring snacks and drinks and bond with the kids as you enjoy the stunning ocean views. You can also take a walk and capture pictures in this photogenic place.
Although visitors are not allowed to access the lighthouse, it still has so much to offer from the outside.
3. Liberty Ship Memorial
Take your kids for a historical tour at the Liberty Ship Memorial and let them connect to the events of World War II.
The beautiful metal Silhouette memorial hosts interactive displays that bring the events of the war back to life. The memorial structure also commemorates the dozens of ship cargo built in this shipyard and the 30,000 people who played a significant role during the war.
4. Portland Museum of Art
Located in the Portland Arts District, the Portland Museum of Art is a perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon with kids.
The museum was founded in 1882, making it one of the oldest public arts institutions in the US.
A walk through this facility will introduce the kids to significant European and American contemporary art from artists like Winslow Homer, Renoir, Monet, and Degas.
All the displayed artworks are lovely, and the staff here are friendly and helpful. Kids’ activities, a gift shop, and a cafe are available in the museum. You can also request a special tour if you want your kids to have a more personal experience.
5. Portland Parks
Portland boasts some of the most beautiful and well-maintained parks if you want to spend your day hiking, picnicking, or contemplating.
Let’s briefly look at the top family-friendly parks in Portland that you should visit.
Bug Light Park
This nine-acre park full of green space offers skyline views. The park is located in South Portland, and it’s an excellent place to picnic, fly kites, enjoy sea views, people-watch, unwind, or take short walks with your family and a furry friend.
Maine Wildlife Park
Maine Wildlife Park won’t disappoint you if you’re an animal-loving family. Here you are guaranteed to see over 30 species of animals and enjoy nature away from home.
Bring a camera and take lots of photos of the wildlife you spot. This park features a visitor’s center, snack shop, beautiful gardens, and picnic/BBQ areas.
Fort Williams Park
Take the kiddos to Fort Williams Park for a fun afternoon of togetherness. The 90-acre park is located in Cape Elizabeth and is open throughout the year.
Your kids will have quality time in the playgrounds, swinging, running, or building castles at the park’s sandpit. This park is easily accessible by foot or public transport since its close to Ocean Gateway Garage.
6. Fort Gorges
Dig into history with your kids by visiting Fort Gorges, a beautiful gem with much to offer from the Civil War on the coast of Maine.
Sapphire waters surround this fort, and you can only access it by boat or kayak, making it a more exciting experience for your children.
The military previously used this fort, but it’s now open to the public. Take a guided tour inside the building, walk through its big chambers, and learn about its history from the guides.
The building is also scenic and perfect for photos and amazing views of Portland and the surrounding waters.
7. Old Orchard Beach
Located in Southern Maine, Old Orchard Beach is a perfect summer destination for families in Portland. Most visitors love this beach because of its proximity to various attractions in the city.
The seven miles of pristine coastline boast several amusements, an old wooden roller coaster, and soft sand.
The little ones will enjoy building castles, playing, or soaking themselves in the water. The older kids and adults can participate in watersports like paddleboarding, kayaking, or canoeing through the saltwater marsh.
There is a pier near this beach where you can watch fireworks if you’re in town on a Thursday night.
8. Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine
There is plenty to keep your kids busy at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.
The hands-on exhibits include a car repair shop, discovery woods, a firetruck, and a lobster boat.
There is also a theatre where you can watch some shows.
Food is an essential aspect of a vacation, so I recommend visiting the famous Duckfat restaurant. Located on 43 Middle Street, this restaurant is popularly known for the best sandwich in town.
You will also love their mouthwatering potatoes fried in duck fat and served with a ketchup sauce. Their soup and salads are also a perfect answer to your appetite.
Shopping while on vacation is an exciting experience for kids and adults. Portland has no shortage of shopping places, so you should include shopping on your list of to-dos.
The city’s most famous street for shopping is the Old Port District, which is packed with many stores.
11. Lucky Catch Cruises
Enjoy an unforgettable lobster hunting excursion through Lucky Catch Cruises. This cruising company offers a 90-minute boating experience during which you will learn how to catch lobsters.
During the cruise, you also learn about the habits of lobsters and how they are preserved. All the lobsters caught are taken to Portland Lobster Company on Commercial Street for sale. This is one of the most mind-blowing kid-friendly experiences you should not miss.
12. Maine Red Claws
If you have basketball lovers in your family, luck is on your side. The famous NBA G League team, Maine Red Claws, plays in Portland at the Portland Expo Building.
I recommend you visit for some affordable family entertainment!