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Lighthouses and Lobsters: Top 6 Things to Do in Portland Maine

 

Portland Light. Things to do in Portland Maine with kids.
I don’t know what I love more lighthouses, like the Portland Head Light or lobster. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Maine shines with its maritime history, lighthouses and abundant lobsters at the tip of the eastern U.S. Then there is its wicked everything, from its whoopie pies to its slippers to its winters. Maine’s largest city offers an urban place to explore, shop and sample. With lighthouses leading the way, visitors will also find a place to enjoy lobsters, chowders and wicked baked goods. Here are the top things to do in Portland, Maine.

Top 6 Things to Do in Portland Maine 

  • Portland Head Light
  • Portland Breakwater Light
  • Spring Point Ledge Light
  • Walking Old Port 
  • Eating Maine Seafood
  • Shopping for Made-in-Maine Goods

Lighthouse Hopping

The lighthouses of Maine are scattered across its coastline, exactly where they are needed for the mariners at sea. Visitors can find a lighthouse resembling a landscape painting, like Portland Head Light. They will also find small lighthouses, like the Bug Light. Here are the top lighthouses in the Portland area. This is one of the top things to do in Portland, Maine.

Portland Head Light

Built in 1787, it is located in nearby Cape Elizabeth. The Portland Head Light still guides the way to a safe harbor as North Atlantic waves crash against the rocky shoreline. Unfortunately, the lighthouse is not open to the public. It’s an iconic Maine scene and one of the most photographed lighthouses in the U.S.

The Portland Head Light is in the Fort Williams Park. Visitors will find a museum, a summer season snack stand, picnic tables and hiking. Fort Williams Park is open every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is free to enter.

Fort Williams Park is located at 12 Captain Strout Circle, and the Portland Head Light Museum is located at 1000 Shore Road. The Portland Head Light Museum is open daily from Memorial Day until mid-October from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Adult museum admission is $2 and $1 for kids 6 to 18.

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The Bug Light. Things to do in Portland Maine with kids.
The Portland Breakwater Light is nicknamed the Bug Light. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Portland Breakwater Light

Since it’s a smaller lighthouse, the locals call it the Bug Light. Built in 1875, it offers a panoramic view of the Portland Harbor. As a bonus, learn about the liberty boats built for WWII in the park.

Cross the Casco Bay Bridge and find the Portland Breakwater Light at the end of the South Portland Greenbelt Pathway. Free

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Spring Point Ledge Light.
The Spring Point Ledge Light sits in the Portland Harbor. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Spring Point Ledge Light

Another lighthouse across the Casco Bay Bridge, the Spring Point Ledge Light, keeps ships safe in the Portland Harbor. Constructed in 1897, it’s a caisson-style lighthouse and the only working one in the U.S.

Since it’s at the end of a breakwater, I won’t recommend walking to it with kids. The stacked blocks are slippery. Located on the Southern Maine Community College at 2 Fort St. Free

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Clam Chowder. Things to do in Portland Maine with kids.
Sample the clam chowder at Gilbert’s Chowder House. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Walk Around Old Port

Soak in the sights of Maine in Old Port. Walk down cobblestone streets and browse the old wharehouse storefronts selling unique products along with boutique and iconic Portland dining. This is one of the top things to do in Portland, Maine.

What to Eat in Portland

A cup of clam chowder and a lobster roll is a must for your trip to Portland. I recommend restaurants along Commercial St. in the Old Port area.

Portland Lobster Company

The Portland Lobster Company features local Maine seafood, like whole lobster, along with lobster rolls. Or sample its clam chowder.

Located at 180 Commercial St. Open seasonally from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday).

Gilbert’s Chowder House

Here’s your destination for seafood chowder. I sampled the original clam chowder, which was creamy and satisfying. Gilbert’s also offers fish chowder, corn with chicken chowder, and seafood chowder. It is located at 92 Commercial St. and is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Potato Donut.
Sample a potato donut at Holy Donut, like this dark chocolate one. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Holy Donut

Home to the potato donut. With a texture like a cake donut, I recommend the Dark Chocolate. There are lots of daily and seasonal flavors. Arrive before noon for the best selection.

Located at 177 Commercial St. Open daily from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Standard Baking Company

You can grab fresh-baked cookies, breads, croissants and breakfast pastries from a family-run bakery. The kitchen even offers a window.

Located at 75 Commercial St. and is open daily from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Don’t leave Maine without a Whoopie Pie, the official state treat of Maine. Find soft chocolate cake cookies sandwiched with whipped marshmallow-cream-like filling nearly everywhere.

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Where to Shop around Portland

Walk along the brick-paved streets in the Old Port area for local and unique shops.

Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine 

Find unique and artisan-made products, like blown glass buoys.

Located at 35 Exchange St. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (4 p.m. on Sunday).

Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop

Browse for local interest and best-selling books at an independent bookseller.

Located at 49 Exchange St. Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Portland Dry Goods

A destination for high-end casual wear for women and men.

Located at 235 Commercial St. Open daily from 10:30  a.m. to 5 p.m.

Danforth Pewter

Made in Vermont, its items are New England musts. Find gift items, housewares and jewelry all made from pewter.

Located at 111 Commercial St., Open Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday noon – 4 p.m.

L.L. Bean Flagship Store

It’s a must-visit destination for the serious shopper. Visit the nearby Freeport, Maine, outpost for iconic, wicked-good clothing and gear.

Located at 95 Main Street in Freeport. Open every day for 24 hours a day.

Cruising

Portland, Maine, is a popular port-of-call like the Fall Color Cruises.

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Lighthouses and Lobsters are a must for Maine, especially Portland. See top Maine lighthouses and sample the best of Maine seafood, like chowder. Save room for dessert and baked goods. Find out where to shop in the Old Port area. Where to eat in Portland Maine | What to do in Portland | Lighthouses near Portland Maine #Portland #Maine

 

 

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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