The Best Day Trips from Portland, Maine

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“The Best Day Trips from Portland, Maine”
Quick view
Portland is a beautiful city right on the coast of the Atlantic ocean. We stayed in the Old Port area, so restaurants, shopping, and excursions were all within walking distance! We had a great weekend exploring the city and I’m here to show you that you CAN see and do all the things in just two days.

Portland Farmer’s Market
If you’re visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday, you must stroll through the Portland Farmer’s Markets. I love living like a local for a day at farmers markets because it allows you to see and taste the local favorites. From home grown berries and homemade pies to freshly picked flowers and farm fresh eggs, this is THE place to visit.

Back Cove Trail
After we got our snacks, we headed to Back Cove Trail for a little hiking. This 3.5 mile loop is one of the oldest and most popular trails in Portland and provides great views of the skyline.

Portland Head Light u0026 Fort Williams Park
This beautiful lighthouse (the Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park) holds the title for the most photographed lighthouse in the country. This is that same exact one. If you’re visiting earlier in the day, the lightkeeper’s home has been turned into a museum and you can tour the building to learn more about the history of the Portland Head Light.

Lucky Catch Cruises (Lobstering)
When you’re this close to the water, it would be a shame not to go out on it! And we didn’t just go out on it – we went lobstering! I cannot recommend Lucky Catch Cruises enough! We had the best time! I’ve always wanted to see how lobster were harvested and this blew my expectations out of the water (bad dum ching). Not only did we set traps with bait, but we also reeled in our own catches, saw different World War I forts, and learned about the sustainability the Maine fisherman adhere to. With every lobster caught in Maine, the lobster is measured and checked for gender and eggs. One thing I thought was interesting was that not all female lobster reproduce. So if a fisherman catches a female lobster with eggs (little black dots) on her belly, the fisherman marks her tail and put her back in the ocean. This ensures that future fisherman won’t keep her and the lobster population will still be able to grow. Also, female lobster can reproduce until death, and since lobster can live to be up to 100 years old, that’s a lot of lobster babies she could produce.

Portland Lobster Co (Dinner)
Once we hauled in our catch, we walked our lobster next door to Portland Lobster Company. There, they steamed the lobster and we were able to eat what we caught. You can’t get much closer to sea to table than that!

Shopping
The whole Old Port area has tons of shopping options to choose from and everything you could ever want! From housewares and kitchen gadgets to souvenirs and lobster hats, you can find it all. Start on Fore street. It’s got some great shops and cute items. Then you’ll want to head over to Sea Bags Maine. I love this company’s mission! Instead of sailors throwing out old worn out sails, they can bring them to Sea Bags where the company makes the sails into bags and purses of all shapes and sizes. The vintage bags feature the number and symbol panels from the sails while the other bags have printed symbols on them (and are a bit cheaper than the vintage). They’re just so unique!

Victoria Mansion
Built in 1860, this beautiful home was one of the first in Maine to have indoor sewer and plumbing, hot and cold water, and a 25 foot skylight. The man who had it built, Ruggles Morse, was a self-made man only completing 2nd grade schooling and prospering through his own hard work. While I couldn’t video inside the home, I did want to show you a few photos I took inside. In every room, there are paintings of the owner, nods to his power and position, and even a full dinnerware set that was made just for him and his family that has their family name etched into the silverware. If you’d like to check out this beautiful home, make sure to make a reservation and get your tickets online before you visit because they sell out.

Portland Schooner Company
I have always wanted to go on a sailboat. This was my chance. When in Maine, right? We boarded the Timberwind and sailed out of the harbor. Once away from the dock, the passengers were able to volunteer to help hoist the sails, and let me tell you – they were heavy! I still know nothing about sailing or the commands they called out or the difference between port and starboard, but I totally enjoyed myself. Once out on the water, we floated along enjoying the breeze and watching the seals play in the water (we saw 3 that day which apparently was not common).
If you liked this video, be sure to give it a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel so you can get more vacation tips for your next trip.

Stonington, Maine | ©Alan Schmierer/Flickr

Stonington, Maine | ©Alan Schmierer/Flickr

Maine’s second-largest lake is only an hour from Portland. Boat, kayak or swim: with 105 miles of shoreline it’s not hard to find open water. In summer the lake swells with out-of-towners (affectionate Maine slang for anyone from elsewhere) who flock to cabins and cottages to play on the water. The lake is the primary water supply for Portland, and is popular with fishermen looking for bass, trout, and salmon. Just add a dock.

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Sunrise | © jerm1386/Flickr

Leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind and take the short ferry through Casco Bay to Portland’s offshore neighborhood, an island of shingled cottages and old fashioned roses. Peaks Island may only be a short ride away but the distance is transformative: waves and gulls replace the sound of traffic, as golf carts roam the streets where artisans sell sea glass jewelry. Rent a bike and make a short lap of the island, stopping at the public beach where at high tide swimmers brace a short channel to a spit of rock just offshore. On your way home you can watch the local kids jump off the ferry pier into the Atlantic while plotting your return trip.

Even as the town struggles to retain its image as a quaint fishing village—new hotels and gastropubs have dented the rustic charm slightly—Bar Harbor still has the power to astonish. Bordered by soaring granite cliffs and wild Acadia National Park on all sides, the town is worth the three-hour drive from Portland. Hikers are spoiled for choice. Pick a seaside trot or a meandering path through forests that crest mountains, or save your legs and soak in the vistas from the car. Cap the day off with a bite to eat, as it’s hard to find a bad meal in town—though some of the lobster shacks on the water are just so-so.

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Bar Harbor | © Jeff Gunn/Flickr

Maine’s coast has drawn recovering urbanites for generations, and all the reasons can be distilled in these two island towns, which are connected to the mainland by a small bridge. Full of world travelers, doctors, writers, artists, and everything in between, Stonington and Deer Isle retain the roots of provincial fishing villages, which is how most here survive outside of summer tourism. A three-hour drive from Portland, the towns consist of unadorned, shingle-sided houses, and tawny fields that bloom with wild flowers. Absent are souvenir shops, and the villages cluster around their harbors. At the center of Stonington is the beautiful opera house.

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Stonington, Maine | ©Alan Schmierer/Flickr

Cosmopolitan amenities squeezed into the rustic charm of a wealthy sea village—Camden is where you can souvenir-shop for blueberry-bedazzled tea cozies and order lobster ice-cream free of judgement. Just set back from the harbor, colonial mansions—many of them inns and “cottages” for rent—make it easy to imagine ship captains walking through this once-bustling port. Mostly gone are the boat-building days, but tours on skips and sloops are a popular pastime. If the open seas aren’t your thing, rising above the town is Mount Battie, which commands sweeping views of the coast.

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The Harbor at Camden, Maine | © Roman Boed/Flickr

Together the twin cities are almost as populous as Portland, but situated inland along the banks of the Androscoggin, these once-mighty mill towns are conspicuously devoid of the tourist crowds. Now the two cities are going through a renaissance: novel eateries, new breweries, and low rent prices are causing young artists to settle here. Just an hour north of Portland, you can tour the latest iteration of the mills, stop at the likes of Baxter Brewing Company, Fuel, and Marché for food and refreshment, and walk through Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary.

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Seven Balloons | © Paul VanDerWerf/Flickr

Synonymous with shopping, Freeport has much more to offer travelers than outlets and outfitters. Just beyond the downtown, well-tended fields rise to pine bluffs plunging abruptly into the ocean. The jewel of the landscape is Wolfsneck State Park, a wooded series of trails and fields that feels truly private even amid the swell of tourists in the summer. There are no sand beaches, but there are few places this close to Portland where you can swim in the ocean (with a healthy amount of rock scrambling) totally alone. Bird lovers can watch osprey nest and swoop into the water from a small, off-limits island just offshore, while there’s room for families to grill. Charmed? There’s camping right around the corner.

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Seaweed on the Coast | ©David Fulmer/Flickr

One reason draws you to this coastal town, a no-mans land for Mainers eager to avoid summer traffic jams: the lobster rolls at Red’s Eats. This is the state’s most famous—with apologies—lobster shack, a veritable assembly line of shellfish, french fries, and wet towelettes. Ease off the lobster with a walk around the town’s charming shops, or hop in a boat for a cruise up the eponymous river. Just an hour north of Portland, Damariscotta also makes a useful jumping-off point if you’re headed further north to Acadia National Park or Camden.

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Red’s Eats | © Tim Sackton/Flickr

Winter’s gateway to the ski slopes, Bethel is a historic mountain town that provides easy access to a variety of outdoor activities. In the summer hikers station here to climb Maine’s Western Mountains, and in fall it becomes an important stop on the leaf-peeping migratory tours. Its proximity to covered bridges, waterfalls, and notches in the mountains make it an ideal hour-and-a-half trip from Portland.

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Quick view
Portland is a beautiful city right on the coast of the Atlantic ocean. We stayed in the Old Port area, so restaurants, shopping, and excursions were all within walking distance! We had a great weekend exploring the city and I’m here to show you that you CAN see and do all the things in just two days.

Portland Farmer’s Market
If you’re visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday, you must stroll through the Portland Farmer’s Markets. I love living like a local for a day at farmers markets because it allows you to see and taste the local favorites. From home grown berries and homemade pies to freshly picked flowers and farm fresh eggs, this is THE place to visit.

Back Cove Trail
After we got our snacks, we headed to Back Cove Trail for a little hiking. This 3.5 mile loop is one of the oldest and most popular trails in Portland and provides great views of the skyline.

Portland Head Light u0026 Fort Williams Park
This beautiful lighthouse (the Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park) holds the title for the most photographed lighthouse in the country. This is that same exact one. If you’re visiting earlier in the day, the lightkeeper’s home has been turned into a museum and you can tour the building to learn more about the history of the Portland Head Light.

Lucky Catch Cruises (Lobstering)
When you’re this close to the water, it would be a shame not to go out on it! And we didn’t just go out on it – we went lobstering! I cannot recommend Lucky Catch Cruises enough! We had the best time! I’ve always wanted to see how lobster were harvested and this blew my expectations out of the water (bad dum ching). Not only did we set traps with bait, but we also reeled in our own catches, saw different World War I forts, and learned about the sustainability the Maine fisherman adhere to. With every lobster caught in Maine, the lobster is measured and checked for gender and eggs. One thing I thought was interesting was that not all female lobster reproduce. So if a fisherman catches a female lobster with eggs (little black dots) on her belly, the fisherman marks her tail and put her back in the ocean. This ensures that future fisherman won’t keep her and the lobster population will still be able to grow. Also, female lobster can reproduce until death, and since lobster can live to be up to 100 years old, that’s a lot of lobster babies she could produce.

Portland Lobster Co (Dinner)
Once we hauled in our catch, we walked our lobster next door to Portland Lobster Company. There, they steamed the lobster and we were able to eat what we caught. You can’t get much closer to sea to table than that!

Shopping
The whole Old Port area has tons of shopping options to choose from and everything you could ever want! From housewares and kitchen gadgets to souvenirs and lobster hats, you can find it all. Start on Fore street. It’s got some great shops and cute items. Then you’ll want to head over to Sea Bags Maine. I love this company’s mission! Instead of sailors throwing out old worn out sails, they can bring them to Sea Bags where the company makes the sails into bags and purses of all shapes and sizes. The vintage bags feature the number and symbol panels from the sails while the other bags have printed symbols on them (and are a bit cheaper than the vintage). They’re just so unique!

Victoria Mansion
Built in 1860, this beautiful home was one of the first in Maine to have indoor sewer and plumbing, hot and cold water, and a 25 foot skylight. The man who had it built, Ruggles Morse, was a self-made man only completing 2nd grade schooling and prospering through his own hard work. While I couldn’t video inside the home, I did want to show you a few photos I took inside. In every room, there are paintings of the owner, nods to his power and position, and even a full dinnerware set that was made just for him and his family that has their family name etched into the silverware. If you’d like to check out this beautiful home, make sure to make a reservation and get your tickets online before you visit because they sell out.

Portland Schooner Company
I have always wanted to go on a sailboat. This was my chance. When in Maine, right? We boarded the Timberwind and sailed out of the harbor. Once away from the dock, the passengers were able to volunteer to help hoist the sails, and let me tell you – they were heavy! I still know nothing about sailing or the commands they called out or the difference between port and starboard, but I totally enjoyed myself. Once out on the water, we floated along enjoying the breeze and watching the seals play in the water (we saw 3 that day which apparently was not common).
If you liked this video, be sure to give it a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel so you can get more vacation tips for your next trip.

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