Portland Maine, on the southeast coast, is Maine’s largest urban area. The historic city still has a working waterfront, as both a seaport and fishing port, so be sure to sample clam chowder and lobster rolls.
Portland also has many opportunities for free family fun.
Stroll the Old Port
Portland’s restored Old Port shopping district has cobbled streets and beautiful Victorian brick buildings. The warehouse district has been transformed into restaurants, microbreweries, art galleries, boutiques and specialty shops all with great Casco Bay and harbor views.
The Portland Trails urban land trust maintains nearly 40 miles of free trails in Greater Portland that take walkers and bicyclists through forests, fields, and old cemeteries, along ocean shores and riverfronts, and through city neighborhoods.
Portland Museum of Art
The Portland Art Museum, featuring American and Impressionist masters and fine and decorative arts, offers free admission every Friday evening 5-9pm. The museum’s 3 buildings are worth a visit for their rich architecture: one by I.M. Pei, the newly restored Federal-era McLellan House, and the beaux-arts L.D.M. Sweat Memorial Galleries.
The main branch of the Portland Public Library has free story times, exhibits and family programs.
Gilsland Farm Audubon Center
Just outside Portland, Maine’s Audubon headquarters features a modern environmental center and a 65-acre sanctuary with more than two miles of trails winding around a pond and through woods, meadows, orchard and salt marsh. There are hundreds of year-round public programs pus a Maine Audubon Nature Store and a Children’s Discovery Room.
The Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
You have to pay for tours, but you can visit The Museum Reception Center and Shaker Store free. Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village is the only active Shaker community in the country. Open Memorial Day through Columbus Day
Fort Williams Park
Fort Williams Park has picnic facilities, hiking trails and historic fort structures. Bring a camera for a close up of Portland Headlight. The lighthouse has an admission fee, but you can see it from the park, and get a great backdrop for family photos.