25 Things to Do with Kids in Portland, Maine

Maine with kids: attractions and activitiesfor families in Portland, ME

Portland, Maine is a city filled with history, outdoor recreation, culture, and truly great food. Pack up the car or take the train and bring the kids along for an engaging, relaxing, and sometimes even awe-inspiring New England family weekend getaway.

To plan a memorable trip, take a look at these 25 things to do with the kids in Portland, one of my kids' favorite places in New England.

  1. Take a ride back in time on an antique narrow gauge train along Portland’s working waterfront (May-October).
  2. Grab a gelato and explore Fort Williams Park, home to Maine’s oldest lighthouse, Portland Head Light.
  3. Find wonder and beauty in the simplest of things at the Umbrella Cover Museum on Peaks Island (season begins Memorial Day).
  4. Join a foot-powered parade to kick off the annual Old Port Festival, an event packed with live music, activities for kids, festival food from local restaurants, and Maine-made arts & crafts (June).
  5. Start the day with a swim in the indoor pool before heading to the dining room for your free breakfast when you stay at the Residence Inn Portland Downtown/Waterfront.
  6. Create a little magic during Fairy Fridays at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (July & August).
  7. Spy on passersby through the Camera Obscura from a pitch black, windowless room at the top of the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine.
  8. Take a ferry ride to Peaks Island and wheel around the island with a stroller or rented bikes.
  9. Tour Portland Observatory, the only known remaining historic maritime signal tower in the United States, where you can take in magnificent  views of Portland, Casco Bay, Back Cove and Mt. Washington.
  10. Order a Mickey Mouse Fruity-Face Pancake at Becky’s Diner on Hobson’s Wharf.
  11. Join the Portland Sea Dogs Kids Club and run the bases after a game.
  12. Explore Portland’s trails year-round on foot, cross-country skis, or snowshoes.
  13. Pick up a Maine-made, earth friendly toy to entertain the kids at the hotel and take home as a souvenir at Treehouse Toys.
  14. Sink your teeth into a hearty specialty or gluten free pizza at Portland Pie Co.
  15. Step back in time to the 1800s and experience art in a multi-sensory, interactive way in the Child’s Play exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art.
  16. Drop in to the Portland Public Library for one of their cool kids’ programs or visit the Children’s Special Collection in the Portland Room.
  17. Marvel at the world’s largest revolving and rotating globe at the DeLorme Map Store headquarters and find unique and edutaining geography toys.
  18. Behold the opulence of a Turkish Smoking Room circa 1860 at Victoria House.
  19. Enjoy a moment of tranquility in the urban oasis of the Longfellow Garden at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House.
  20. Savor the catch of the day while enjoying scenic views from DiMillo’s floating restaurant.
  21. Gape at the world’s only life size chocolate moose, Lenny, at Len Libby Chocolatier in neighboring Scarborough. While you’re there, pick up a batch of original recipe Bangor Taffy for a taste of bygone days.
  22. Ride through festive downtown Portland on a horse drawn carriage (Saturday and Sunday, late November to late December).
  23. Take pleasure in slurping up a “Best of Portland” soup (gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options available) at Kamasouptra in the Public Market House.
  24. Admire the holiday light display around the pond as you glide by on ice skates at Deering Oaks Park.
  25. Celebrate all things winter with fun family events and scavenger hunts during the nine-day Portland on Ice festival (late January-early February).

Originally published April 2012; Updated June 2013

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