Tag Archives: things to do

Things to do in Portland, Maine

You don’t find many cities like Portland, Maine. It’s truly a gem and not only a great place to live, but to visit as well. Situated on the mouth of the Casco Bay, visitors can find lodgings in Portland with ocean views, walking distance to so much, even ferry boats to explore the islands, or just indulge in city life.

There are many things to do in Portland, Maine that only include the typical city scene checking out new boutiques, concerts, bars and restaurants, but you can have outdoor experiences too.Casco Bay Ferry

You can embark on one of Casco Bay Ferries and tour the islands of Casco Bay. Some islands also have bike rentals to tour around the island or reach a nearby beach. The ferry ride itself can also be an adventure as the Casco Bay Lines often have events or sunset cruises to enjoy. Summertime, take the ferry to Peaks Island for Reggae Fest on Sundays.

You can also ride your bike or walk the Back Bay loop. Here, you can also play tennis at the nearby tennis court or pick up some snacks at the Hannaford across the street for a picnic at the park. From the walkway on the I-295 bridge section, you get a great view of the Back Bay area. Nearby Cape Elizabeth is a nice spot for picnicking or bike tours in the Fort Williams park area. Here, you can take a walk around the large park estate and visit the Portland Headlight as well. Alternatively, you could visit the park on Munjoy Hill where you have your walking area along the Eastern Promenade. Nearby, you could visit the Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum which has affordable ticket rates.

In the summer,  see a Sea Dog game at Hadlock Field. Players like Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Kevin Millar have played at Hadlock Field, a Minor League team for the Boston Red Sox, so you’re likely to see some sluggers at the Sea Dogs

Walking the Old Port and Art District areas in Portland is popular. Shopping boutiques, antique shops, comic book stores, and craft shops between Commercial and Congress Street. One of the must things to do in Portland Maine is the monthly Art Walk held on the First Friday of every month.

Looking forward to some night life? Portland Maine has a thriving club scene in the Old Port along Wharf Street for those who want to dance the night away. You can also check out plays or concerts at the State Theater or Port City Music Hall.

The Maine Brew Bus tours the Portland breweries, a fun way to let someone else drive while you drink in the scene and local craft brews. See our Guide to Maine Breweries.

What sets Portland Maine apart from most cities like nearby Boston or Manchester  is that it still retains a small town atmosphere, quite walkable and friendly,  reminding you that you’re not in a place surrounded by strangers, but friends you haven’t met yet. You even feel a sense of safety walking the streets at night. Don’t be surprised if you happen upon a friendly conversation while dining out at one of Portland’s restaurants.

See our Maine Lodging Guide

Copyright 2018 VisitMaine.net

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Top Things to Do In Castine

castine-harbor-viewCastine is a delightful seaside village perched on the tip of a peninsula in Penobscot Bay, mid-coast Maine. Castine is one of the oldest and wealthiest communities in Maine, with a deep history of battles and occupations since the 1600s. From Natives to the Dutch and French Noblemen Castine who gave the town its name in1796 to The British, and now college students at Castine’s Maine Maritime Academy – Castine’s story is rich and complex.

sail-castine-harbor (2)There is so much to see and do in Castine, from the busy waterfront to the fabulous seaside cottages and hillside campus, to beaches and beautiful natural walking paths and Dyce Head Light Castine is also home to beautiful inns and BnB’s, waterfront restaurants serving fresh Maine seafood, shops and art galleries.

Top Things to do in Castine Maine

dennetts-wharf-settingGo to Dennetts Wharf for lunch or dinner – ideally sit outside on the deck. Great seafood by the sea, a picture perfect setting with a casual but fresh menu. They boast the longest Oyster Bar in Maine, and a huge beer list. Pin a dollar on the wood beam sail loft rafters. Dollars accumulated have been donated to 911, Hurricane Katrina and to a local fireman in the past to the sum of $12k at each.

castine-town2Shop Castine’s Main Street  – Four Flags, Lucky Hill, art galleries, Dolphin Books, books stores and ice cream shops.

Stroll up the hill to Battle Ave to see over 100 historic markers, monuments and bunkers, this was a stronghold against the British during the 1700 and 1800s. Pick up a historical Castine walking map for reference as you tour the sights, Federal, Italianate and Victorian homes lining the grand elm tree lined streets of Castine.

Dine at Pentagoet Inn for the best food in Castine and friendly service steps from the waterfront. Stay at this charming 1894 BnB too. Pentagoet is the French word denoting the Penboscot.

red-bell3Walk the campus of Maine Maritime Academy founded in 1941. About 1,000 students attend the maritime and oceanographic college on a beautiful seaside campus in Castine. The waterfront campus is an impressive training vessel -The State of Maine – a 500-foot naval research ship on on the dock unless it’s out for a semester at sea with student aboard. Only strategic drawback to Maine Maritime is its 87% male… #maletime academy.

dyce-lighthouse-castine (7)Visit the grassy knolls of Castine’s Fort Madison, Fort Knox and Fort George, built during the nineteenth century to protect the harbor. Only the grass bunkers remain at Fort Madison, at the entrance to the harbor – its a scenic park for a pleasant picnic now. Fort George, built by the British in 1779, has been partially restored as a state memorial, marking the last fort surrendered by the British at the end of the Revolutionary War. Fort Knox, Maine’s largest historic fort, was built in 1884 to protect from potential British naval attack along the Penobscot River. Fort Knox is one of the best-preserved historic military forts in New England, The Fort is only open to visitors seasonally, but the grounds are open year-round.

Dyce Head Lighthouse is privately owned, not open to the public. Although the light was discontinued in 1935, the original Keeper’s house, barn and oil house still remain on the property.

Castine Maine Lighthouse

Dyce Head Lighthouse is privately owned. Although the light was discontinued in 1935, the original Keeper’s house, barn and oil house still remain on the property

Witherle Woods is a spectacular 185-acre preserve on the Castine peninsula, with 4.2 miles of trails for hiking, walking or even enjoying a picnic lunch at Blockhouse Point with views of Penobscot Bay and Wadsworth Cove. Wear sneakers or hiking shoes for these great but rustic trails that bring you to old battle batteries and spectacular lookouts. There are more challenging hikes on nearby Blue Hill Mountain or further north – the famous Acadia National Park.

Castine’s best beaches are Wadsworth Cove and Backshore Beach, this protected cove offers smooth pebbly sand and a gentle surf. The western exposure provides great views of Penobscot, the Camden hills and is a perfect place to watch the sunset. Pack a cooler – no services here.

kayak-penobscott-bay (4)Kayaking in Castine is ideal on the Penobscot Bay and Bagaduce River.

History buffs will love Wilson Museum run by Castine’s Historical Society loaded with ancient farming equipment. Visit the pre-revolutionary John Perkins House, blacksmith shop and The Abbott School -a restored old school house. Castine Public Library is another beautiful building.

pond-islandTravelling by boat to Castine, arrive at 3 for a slot on the Town Docks, and go out to Pond Island for a picnic by day, bring your dinghy to explore this gem of an island surrounded by beaches, a tidal pond sits in the center with views of the Camden Hills and neighboring Hog Island.

See more on Castine, and places to stay in Castine during your tour of the Maine Coast.

By Heather Burke,  – Copyright & Photo 2018 by VisitMaine.net

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Top Things to Do in Southwest Harbor


southwest-harbor-harbor8
Southwest Harbor is a beautiful yacht center and harbor – aplty named for its locale on the south west side of Mount Desert Island, between Northeast Harbor and Bass Harbor. Considered the quiet side compared to more bustling Bar Harbor, So’West is home to Maine’s best top builders – Hinckley, Ellis, Classic Boats, Wilbur, and Morris Yachts.

american-flag-big-blue-swThe harbor is beautiful with views out toward Little Cranberry Island. The “downtown” of Southwest Harbor is idyllic with just enough shops, restaurants, Beal’s Lobster Pound and nearby hikes. Southwest Harbor has several hotels and inns, Inn at Southwest, Harbour Cottage Inn, The Moorings, Kingsleigh Inn, Penury Hall, Clark Point Inn and the Claremont Hotel.

Top Things to Do in Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island
• Walk to “downtown” Southwest Harbor, 5 minutes from the waterfront, for Maine craft shops, cafes, gift shops like Moody Mermaid, and Sawyers Market – a classic Maine store on Main Street, and lcoal dining at Red Sky and Sips.
• Stroll out Clark’s Point Road to Beal’s Lobster Pier for a fresh seafood treat and to see the US Coast Guard Station.
kayakers• Canoe, Kayak or SUP around the incredibly scenic Southwest Harbor and Somes Sound.
• Have a slice of homemade pie (that sits in the window and wafts sweet smells to passersby) and ice cream at the Quiet Side Café and Ice Cream Shop in town.
• Go to the Claremont Hotel for sunset and cocktails and a great view towards Somes Sound, the North East’s only fjard (similar to a fjord) six with dramatic cliffs. A game of croquet on the beautiful seaside grass lawn is sublime.
sw-habor-me (8)• Dock your boat at Dysarts Great Bay MarineSouthwest Harbor’s full service marina with very scenic, protected docks for yachts up to 180’, a friendly staff, showers and wifi for boat guests. You’re in good company with Hinckley and Morris Yachts built right here in Southwest Harbor.
restaurant-sw-harbor3• Go to Grumpy’s for breakfast – better than it sounds, the Crab Benedict and the harbor view are awesome, the service – sorta surly.
• Browse local Acadian art galleries, Clark Point Gallery and Acadia Photo School among others to see local artists’ beautiful depictions of the sailboats, granite cliffs and rocky shores of Acadia.
• See the Butterfly Release at Charlotte Rhoades Garden and Butterfly Park every July at 191 Main Street
• Walk the 2 mile Beech Cliff Loop with views of Echo Lake and Somes Sound.

northeast-harbor-maine (7)• Visit Hinckley Boat Yard at 130 Shore Road, also boat makers – Classic Boat Shop, Ellis Boats, Wilbur Yachts and Ralph Stanley traditional lobster boats all made here in Southwest Harbor.
• Take a ferry to Islesboro on Little Cranberry Island for an island walk, and lunch or dinner at Isleford Dock restaurant – with great views back toward MDI.

merchants-row-sailing (6)See more on visiting Southwest Harbor, and Bass Harbor Lighthouse, along with nearby Northeast Harbor and Somes Sound, and our Top 10 Things to do in Acadia National Park during your visit to Maine.

By Heather Burke Copyright 2018  VisitMaine.net

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