Things to Do in Maine
An inlet on Maine’s southern coast, Casco Bay is a rich maritime area spotted with lighthouses, historic forts, and seven small islands. Calm conditions make Casco Bay an ideal spot for boating, sailing, and kayaking, while the islands each have their own unique communities to explore.
Dating back to the 18th century, the Portland Head Light watches over the rocky coastline of Maine as the state’s oldest lighthouse. Its picturesque location also makes it the most photographed lighthouse in the United States. And the surrounding Fort Williams Park is a popular beach and hiking destination.
Located on Maine's Mount Desert Island and known for its rugged coastal beauty, Acadia National Park is a gem of the New England outdoors with a coastline comprised of sheer cliffs and sandy beaches. Venture farther inland and you’ll find dense woodlands, vast lakes, and the tallest mountains on the Northeast coast. The park offers endless options for exploration—from catching the first sight of sunrise in the US on Cadillac Mountain to camping on the remote shores of Duck Harbor to hearing waves crashing in the park's famed Thunder Hole inlet.
Accessible only by boat, Fort Gorges sits abandoned on an island in Portland Harbor. Built with granite in 1865, the historic structure was most recently used to store submarine mines in World War II. It was named for the colonial proprietor of Maine, Sir Fernando Gorges, and used primarily to support the nearby forts. Construction was initially expedited during the Civil War, though the development of modern explosives made the fort obsolete by its completion.
Fort Gorges’ dark halls are steeped in history and mystery, and its position on the island gives the appearance that the walls are rising out of the sea. Be on the lookout for the local harbor seals and boats which dot the water’s surface. Once you reach the island, there is a small beach and granite block pier. Perhaps the best part about exploring the fort is the incredible view of Portland’s city skyline, which can be seen from the rooftop.
There’s a certain romance to wind-whipped lighthouses set out off a rocky coast, and the Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse in York Bay is arguably the most romantic of them all. Believed to be America’s most photographed lighthouse, the Cape Neddick Nubble even had its picture delivered all the way to space, when Voyager II in 1997 sent a photo fluttering out into space to represent the American Lighthouse. Today, Cape Neddick Nubble lighthouse is an iconic sight along Maine’s spectacular southern coast, and has warned passing ships of the nearby rocks since 1879. At Christmas time, the town of York lights the house itself with bright and festive lights, which shine in brilliant, stoic contrast to the inky black backdrop of night. In summer months, when coastal Maine is teeming with beachgoers, sailors, sightseers, and tourists, thousands flock to Sohier Park across the strait from the island, simply to photograph and experience in real life the iconic American spire.
Set beside southern Maine’s beaches and villages, Kittery Premium Outlets is one of the best shopping districts in New England. Its collection of more than 60 stores offers premium brands at discounted prices ranging from 25-65% off. Signature stores include Polo Ralph Lauren, J. Crew Factory, Columbia Sportswear, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, and Coach, among others. Outside of apparel for both women and men, home goods are available at stores like Yankee Candle and Brookstone. Activewear and sporting goods as well as children’s clothing stores and shoe speciality stores are also located on site.
Shoppers’ services include an information desk, guest concierge, and international currency exchange and sizing charts. 60 more stores are located just a few minutes down the road, so there are more than 120 opportunities to shop in all. During seasonal sales the discounts are even more significant.
Portland’s Eastern Promenade stretches just over two miles along the coastline in one of the city’s most beautiful outdoor spaces. Overlooking the activity of Casco Bay and adjacent to grassy Fort Allen Park, the trail (known to locals as “East Prom”) offers some of the best views of the surrounding natural scenery. You can also catch glimpses of the many lobster boats and schooners.
Much of the 68-acre walking area features views of the islands off of Portland’s coast. In addition to hiking the trail, bird watching, biking and picnicking are options for enjoying the outdoors here. The promenade starts in Portland’s Old Port, an area lined with historic piers and cobblestone streets. Parallel paved and dirt paths take you along the waterfront. You’ll pass many sports fields and recreation areas for baseball, tennis and basketball before the trail ends at East End Beach.
Whether its whiskey, rum or gin you’re after, New England Distilling produces some of the finest in the region. Each is created using raw materials by a family who has been distilling for many generations – New England Distilling’s roots go as far back as the 1850s. Today the facilities include a combination of traditional and modern equipment.
Local ingredients are used in recipes from around the world to create premium small-batch spirits by hand. At the distillery, you can see the traditional copper pot still, which lends a bit of history to the process. The whiskey and gin are produced with grains from New England and the Midwest, while the rum is made from Caribbean molasses. The spirits are fermented with yeast from Maine Beer Company. Tastings on site allow visitors to experience all three.
Rising Tide Brewing Company serves up one of Portland, Maine's most beloved beers alongside live music and food trucks. The lively tasting room features artisan craft beers produced by the small-scale, family-owned brewing company, which has since grown to be one of the area's top brewers. There's a local feel to the taproom, and a long bar for tastings that looks into the production area.
Try four different beers on a tour of the brewery, or make an outing out of your visit on a craft drink tour through the city.
Dating back to 1755, Portland, Maine's Tate House Museum is the only existing example of pre-revolutionary architecture open to the public. In its heyday, it was the residence of Captain George Tate, a senior mast agent in the British Royal Navy, though it's now a museum, complete with period furnishings, an herb garden, and a gift shop.
- Things to do in Portland
- Things to do in Massachusetts
- Things to do in Quebec
- Things to do in Nova Scotia
- Things to do in Salem
- Things to do in Boston
- Things to do in Quebec City
- Things to do in Montreal
- Things to do in Halifax
- Things to do in Connecticut
- Things to do in New York
- Things to do in New Jersey
- Things to do in Pennsylvania
- Things to do in Ontario
- Things to do in Maryland