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Things to Do in Portland Maine With Kids

Portland, Maine, located a little more than 2 hours north of Boston, is known for its beautiful waterfront views and delicious food. However, Portland Maine is also a kid-friendly destination, with museums, waterfront activities, and other things kids will enjoy.

Because of its proximity to our home, we typically visit Portland once or twice a year and always find so many things to do. Here are some of the best things to do in Portland Maine with kids.

Disclosure: I had the opportunity to experience a few of these things at no cost as part of the Women in Travel Summit. We’ve also been to Portland numerous times and paid our own way. All opinions are my own. 

Portland Harbor with boats and buildings along the sides

Top Things to Do in Portland Maine with Kids

Portland Museum of Art

I probably wouldn’t visit with very little kids, but the Portland Museum of Art is a wonderful place to visit with older kids. This museum, located right in the Arts District of Portland, showcases artwork from notable artists such as Monet, Winslow Homer, Renoir, and Degas. The Portland Museum of Art museum offers a gift shop, cafe, kids’ activities, and a separate tour of the Winslow Homer Studio. 

Every Friday evening, from 4-8 pm, the museum has free admission. This would be a great way to check out the museum without spending anything. That way, if your kids don’t love it, you’ll be able to leave. 

The first time I visited this museum, my kids were in middle school. They still enjoyed visiting it, although we didn’t spend a ton of time there. It’s a nice introductory art museum.

Note that the Portland Museum of Art doesn’t have a dedicated parking lot or garage. So, if you are driving there, you’ll need to park in a local garage.

Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine

This museum, which relocated in 2021 to Thompson’s Point, is the perfect place to visit with little kids. I checked out the original location adjacent to the Portland Museum of Art and was impressed with all of the hands-on exhibits. There’s plenty to keep kids occupied, and I know my kids would have loved it when they were younger.

It’s best for younger kids. In addition to the indoor interactive exhibits, there is also an outdoor exhibit area and playspace. This would be a great way to get kids outside and get some energy out.

The museum recommends that you consider bringing along a second set of clothes during your visit because there are plenty of opportunities to get wet and messy. If you are staying in a nearby Portland Maine hotel, you can probably just go back to your room to change, however. 

Parking is available in Thompson’s Point. However, it isn’t complimentary, and you’ll need to pay 24 hours a day.

The Portland Maine Waterfront
The Portland Maine Waterfront

Casco Bay Lines

Casco Bay Lines operates ferries 365 days a year, so you can ride even if you visit Portland in the winter. There are a lot of tour/ferry options from the Portland harbor, including the following:

  • Mailboat runs (Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Long, Cliff, and Chebeague Islands) 
  • Sunrise/sunset tours
  • Bailey Island cruise (runs seasonally)
  • Ferry to Peaks Island
  • Little Diamond Island/Great Diamond Island ferry

Make reservations in advance by checking out their website

Despite being available all winter, the real treat is exploring the Portland waterfront in the warmer months. It’s a beautiful area.

Escape Room

During our most recent vacation in Portland, we were looking for a fun indoor activity. The Escape Room Portland is located on Congress Street, right in downtown Portland, and it was the perfect option for us.

Currently, the Escape Room offers four different rooms. Because we were new to Escape Rooms, they recommended the Pharoah’s Tomb room (which is no longer available). Other rooms include the Butcher’s Basement (probably not best for kids), the Lost City of the Jaguar King, the Blind Tiger Speakeasy, and World on Edge.

It was fully booked for the day we arrived, but luckily, we were able to make reservations for the following day. I’d recommend making a booking so you don’t have to worry. All the rooms are private so you won’t be sharing with another group.

We enjoyed our adventure in the Escape Room and would recommend it to other families.

Learn more about the Escape Room here.

Lucky Catch Cruises

Looking for a quintessential Maine experience? Lucky Catch cruises operate on Casco Bay, where you can go on a lobster boat for 80-90 minutes and learn how the process works.

These cruises are kid-friendly, and lobsters caught on the boat can be purchased at the wholesale rate. If you aren’t local, these lobsters can be brought to the nearby Portland Lobster Company located on Commercial Street. 

Learn more at the Lucky Catch Cruises website

Portland Head Lighthouse

Portland Head Light

Located at Fort Williams Park on Cape Elizabeth, the Portland Head Light is the most popular icon of the town. The beautiful lighthouse is worth the drive from downtown Portland – with gorgeous views that you won’t want to miss.

The lighthouse’s museum, located in the former Keepers’ Quarter, has a few things of interest to lighthouse enthusiasts. We typically visit when the museum is closed, but still enjoy taking photos around the fort and of the lighthouse. You can visit in all four seasons – around Christmas, the lighthouse is decorated with a wreath, like in my photo above. 

 Learn more about the lighthouse here

Peaks Island

Peaks Island is a quiet island located off the coast of Portland. Guests can visit via Casco Bay Cruises passenger ferry.

While there, you’ll see both rocky and sandy beaches, although only three are open to the public. It’s also a great place for walking and kayaking. From the island, you’ll have great views of Portland. 

Plan ahead, because it’s a quiet island, with a few restaurants and only one public restroom. This page on the Peaks Island website offers insider information about what you can expect to do and see there

Portland Observatory

This unique, lighthouse-looking tower is the last standing maritime signal tower in the United States. It’s open seasonally, and guests can enter and get a tour. It’s operated by Greater Portland Landmarks, who have other tours as well as a family walking tour appropriate for those aged 8 and up.

Portland Sea Dogs

Love baseball? Visit the Boston Red Sox AA affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs, right in town. Like other minor league affiliate games, tickets for the Portland Sea Dogs are extremely affordable – averaging about $13 per ticket for great seats. Seeing a minor league game can be an affordable way to introduce your kids to the game of baseball without the major league ticket prices. 

The season usually runs from April to the beginning of September, and tickets can be purchased online. The park also offers concessions including craft beer and lobster popcorn so you can eat while you watch the game. I’d love to visit this season just for the lobster popcorn!

Maine Celtics (Red Claws)

If basketball is more your speed, you are in luck. Portland Maine is home to the Maine Celtics, an NBA G League team. Owned by the Boston Celtics, the Maine Celtics play at the Portland Expo Building. They were originally called the Maine Red Claws until a name change in 2021)

During our recent trip over December break, we tried to get tickets to the Red Claws. However, they were completely sold out. I’d recommend buying tickets in advance if you want to see them play.

Duck Tours

In season, Duck Tours can be a great way to experience Portland by land and sea. These popular tours run for about 60 minutes and do sell out in advance. Seating is first-come, first-served, so you’ll want to arrive at your specific time early. 

The Land and Sea Historical Tour stops by many of the most popular attractions in Portland. These include the Portland Headlight, Portland Observatory, the Arts District, the Portland Museum of Art, and Fort Gorges. These tours are operated seasonally.

Portland Maine street


My daughter and I love shopping when we travel, and Portland Maine is great for shopping. We like walking along Fore Street and Commercial Street, where there are several fun shops including the Black Dog, Cool as a Moose, Mexicali Blues, and many individual boutiques. 

Food from Duckfat


Portland is known for its delicious food – from lobster rolls to potato donuts. There are very few chain restaurants in town (and those mostly are local chains), but you’ll find tons of fantastic restaurants. It’s worth doing some research in advance and making reservations where possible, because many of these restaurants are popular, with limited seating.

Popular restaurants in Portland Maine include:

  • The Holy Donut (where you can get delicious donuts made with potatoes)
  • HiFi (another delicious donut option with more traditional donuts)
  • Highroller Lobster (get those aforementioned lobster rolls, plus lobster tacos, crabmeat rolls, and more)
  • Duckfat (Belgian-style fries, sandwiches, donut holes, milkshakes)
  • Eventide Oyster
  • Public Market House (food stalls)
  • Otto Pizza
  • Slab pizzeria
  • Flatbread Pizza Company
  • Portland Lobster Company
  • Taco Escobarr
  • UNION (in the Press Hotel, delicious breakfast)

Road Trips from Portland

Right near Portland, you’ll find several fabulous locations for a quick road trip.

Freeport, Maine: The home of LL Bean offers numerous outlets, the LL Bean flagship store (open 24×7), and Wolfe’s Neck Farm and State Park. We typically stay in Portland and then drive into Freeport for the day. 

Nubble Lighthouse: If you love visiting lighthouses, you’ll want to make a stop in York Maine. The beautiful Nubble Lighthouse is a must-see.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine: This beach town is home to the Palace Playland waterfront park, the Old Orchard Beach Pier, and the actual beach. It’s located about a half hour from Portland. 

Kittery, Maine: This town over the New Hampshire border offers outlet shopping, an adventure park, a popular bulk candy shop, and more. 

Portsmouth, NH: Right over the border from Kittery Maine is Portsmouth New Hampshire. There you’ll find a charming waterfront town and Water Country water park. It’s about an hour from Portland. 

Saco, Maine: In Saco, you’ll find Funtown USA and Splashtown USA, an amusement park and water park. Funtown is home to Maine’s only wooden roller coaster, as well as the largest flume ride in New England. The parks are open seasonally, starting in mid-May for Funtown, and mid-June for Splashtown. 

Gray, Maine: Visit the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine, about 40 minutes from Portland. This park, operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, is home to wild animals that can’t be returned to the wild for various reasons. Some of the wildlife here include coyotes, bald eagles, gray foxes, bobcats, and moose. Bring along quarters so you can purchase food to feed some of the animals.  

Wondering where to stay in Portland Maine? Read our hotel suggestions here

Street in Portland, exterior of Highroller Restaurant with red and white stripes, waterfront with boats and buildings.

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Wednesday 14th of July 2021

The Maine Wildlife Park is sad and shabby. We don't go there anymore, it's just too depressing. The Children's Museum is closed due to COVID-19.


Thursday 29th of July 2021

@Mattie, according to their website. the children's museum is open


Saturday 4th of January 2020

Funtown and Splashtown is in Saco Old Orchard Beach... however in Wells there is A walk out point / Drakes Island that’s a great walk and Congdons After Dark food trucks in the summer time that is kid family friendly.

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