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Portland is the cultural capital of Maine, full of both historic and contemporary attractions. Located on Casco Bay, it was once a busy shipping port, and today is the starting point for cruises and ferries headed to the Calendar Islands, as well as fishing charters and whale watching tours.
For views of Portland Harbor from the other side, take a ferry to Cape Elizabeth’s Portland Head Light, where you will find a museum in the lighthouse’s Keeper’s Quarters. Tourists can also admire the bay from land by taking Portland’s Eastern Promenade Trail, a set of twin paths (one paved), which follows an old railroad route along the water’s edge at Back Cove.
Adjacent to the docks along the waterfront is the Old Port District, where you will find many of Portland’s antique shops, boutiques, galleries, cafés, and restaurants in historic buildings tucked along cobblestone streets. Another landmark just a block form the wharf is Victoria Mansion, a 19th-century home built in the style of an Italian villa and open to the public as a museum.
Nearby, the Portland Museum of Art houses an immense collection of fine and decorative arts, featuring over 650 pieces by Winslow Homer, as well as works by Picasso, Monet, Degas, O’Keefe, and Renoir.
Families with younger kids who are spending the weekend in Portland will want to visit the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, a three-story play and learning center that features interactive exhibits like Discovery Woods, a tide pool touch tank, and a kid-sized town.
All ages will enjoy the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, home to not only exhibits but also an operational narrow-gauge sightseeing train that tours the Eastern Promenade. Tourists who are interested in the odd and bizarre will also want to be sure to visit the International Cryptozoology Museum, the only museum in the world which is dedicated to the study of hidden or unknown animals.
The Hilton Garden Inn Portland Downtown Waterfront is an excellent hotel for those who want easy access to downtown attractions and the waterfront district, including the Maine State Pier where Casco Bay Lines docks. Amenities include an indoor heated pool, free wireless, and kitchenettes, and ocean-view rooms are available.
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Portland, Maine
- Best Beaches near Portland, Maine
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