I’m changing things up from my normal itinerary style travel guides to bring you the BEST things to do in Portland, Maine!! If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that we didn’t have the most pleasant experience trying to eat in Portland, so instead of doing a day-by-day itinerary style guide like I normally do I’m giving you the 5 BEST things to do in Portland, Maine if you’re planning a trip there.
And I’m sure there are MANY MANY more amazing things to do – these 5 are what we loved the most and are not to be missed if you’re visiting.
This was actually my first time visit Maine so of course I brushed up on a few fun facts before we left for our trip! Did you know…
- Though Maine is officially known as The Pine Tree State, it has proudly earned the unofficial nickname of “Vactionland”
- Maine is home to more than 60 lighthouses, six of which are within a 20 minute drive of Portland
- Maine provides nearly 90% of the nation’s lobster supply
- Maine’s State Berry is the blueberry! It’s the single largest producer of blueberries in the country!
Best Things To Do In Portland Maine
Eat a Lobster Roll
If you didn’t eat a lobster roll in Maine, did you even go to Maine? I mean there has to be some sort of law that says unless you’re allergic to shellfish you MUST consume at least one lobster roll a day while visiting Maine during the Summer (or in New England in general…I’m pretty sure we had one lobster roll a meal while we were in Boston).
Tracy and I visited High Roller Lobster Company while in Portland specifically for their infamous lobster rolls and local brioche rolls and they did not disappoint. Their Portland Headquarters is on Exchange St. in the Old Port Neighborhood and has both indoor and outdoor seating! There is usually a wait so be prepared to give them your name and walk around town a little you wait for your table to be ready. You can also order takeout on their website, like we did, and eat your lobster rolls in the nearby park or on the water.
Their Lobster Roll is basically a build your own lobster roll and they offer a TON of different sauces! I tried the Lobster Ghee (Lobster Infused Butter) & Jalapeño Mayo, but other options include Charred Pineapple Mayo, Drawn Butter, Curried Ketchup and more!!
Another Portland restaurant we tried the lobster roll at was Eventide Oyster Co. and if you watched my Instagram stories from our trip to Maine then you know we didn’t have the greatest experience trying to eat there, BUT I will say the lobster roll was absolutely delicious! The Eventide Brown Butter Lobster Roll has warm lobster meat on a steamed bun with chives and you can order it if by some miracle you manage to get a table there OR you can order take out like we did!
Other popular places to get lobster rolls in Portland, Maine:
Portland Lobster Co, J’s Oyster Bar, Gilbert’s Chowder House and The Porthole!
Visit the Portland Head Light
The Portland Head Light is Maine’s oldest lighthouse and an absolute must see if you’re visiting the area. It’s located on the shores of Cape Elizabeth in Fort Williams Park just a short ride from Downtown Portland.
Tracy and I visited the lighthouse for sunrise and I can’t recommend it enough if you can pry yourself out of bed that early, but I can’t imagine the lighthouse would be any less beautiful any other time of day. And I imagine sunset would be beyond beautiful!
Fort Williams Park is also has picnic facilities, hiking, historic structures and ocean views for DAYS! Also worth noting, the homes on the way from Downtown Portland to the park are some serious eye candy!
Get Donuts from The Holy Donut
You can’t go to Portland without getting a donut (or 6) from The Holy Donut! The Holy Donut makes the MOST DELICIOUS donuts made out of FRESH MAINE POTATOES! Yep you read that correctly – the secret ingredient to Holy Donut Donuts is potatoes! Adding mashed potatoes gives the donuts a moist texture that makes them melt in your mouth!
They offer around 16 flavors daily and let me warn you it’s going to be hard deciding what flavor you want when you’re there because they all sounds so good! We ended up getting a half dozen – Vegan Vanilla, Toasted Coconut, Sweet Potato Crumb Cake, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Sugar & Maine Blueberry! Writing this post and thinking about these donuts is literally making me hungry
Holy Donut also offers vegan and gluten free options so there’s something for everyone. Just make sure you get there before noon for the best selection! If you plan on doing the lighthouse at sunrise I suggest stopping by The Holy Donut right after like we did!
Drink Craft Beer at Local Breweries
Something I didn’t know before going to Portland was that it’s kinda the unofficial brewery capital of the United States (no really, its the US city with the most breweries per capita – a whopping 18 breweries per 50,000 people)! I only knew about Allagash and Shipyard prior to arriving in Maine, but once we got there and were introduced to all the local, small Portland breweries right downtown we knew exactly how we wanted to spend one of our afternoons.
We visited Austin Street Brewery and Rising Tide Brewing Company which are conveniently right next to each other and had such great spaces and even better beer!
Austin Street Brewery is a micro brewery with a sleek bar and awesome outdoor patio. We appreciated the chill vibe and the bartenders were great at helping us choose which drafts to try. Our favorite beers were The End Complete Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, Patina Pale Ale & Proximal Saison.
Rising Tide Brewing Company is right next door to Austin Street in Portland’s East Bayside Neighborhood and is an independent, family-owned craft brewery. They have lots of outdoor seating, live music and serve food! We loved the Blueberry Squadron Sour Ale, Great Diamond Island India Pale Ale, Ishmael Copper Ale & Pisces Gose. The wood-fire pizza was also delicious.
Like I mentioned above, Portland is home to a TON of breweries so if you’re visiting for more than 2 days are looking for more things to do and breweries to visit here are more options:
- Allagash Brewing Company
- Bissell Brothers Brewing Company
- Shipyard Brewing Company
- Goodfire Brewing Company
- Belleflower Brewing Company
- Lone Pine Brewing Company
- Definitive Brewing Company
- Foundation Brewing Company
Stay at the Blind Tiger Hotel
I know, I know…it’s kind weird for me to include a hotel on my best things to do in Portland list, BUT the Blind Tiger Guest House is THAT GOOD! So good in fact that I may need to do an entire blog post on it because it might just be my favorite hotel I’ve ever stayed in.
Blind Tiger is a one-of-a-kind guest house in an updated nineteenth century home and every single inch of it is pure perfection and I could not get enough of it. Blind Tiger is a Lark Hotel, and if you’ve never stayed in one of their boutique hotels I URGE you to do so. All of their properties embrace the locations they are in — but in playful, unexpected ways, and this one might be their best.
The nine guest rooms at the Blind Tiger feature unique art, natural textures and pops of color and the design of each was individually considered to reflect an aspect of Portland’s culture. We stayed at the Green Eyes room which features a wood-burning fireplace, two vintage leather armchairs, a king bed with a gorgeous cane bedframe and more.
The common spaces are also rich in texture and color and include a lounge, living room, bar, pantry and more, there’s even a rooftop cupola that offers panoramic views of the skyline and harbor AND a hidden billiards room in the basement that during Prohibition was a private club where people could gather over a drink!
Like I mentioned above Blind Tiger is a Lark Hotel and one of my favorite parts about staying at a Lark Hotel is their complimentary light breakfast.
Every morning they offer homemade, freshly-baked pastries, breads, fresh fruit, yogurt and other light offerings that are also beyond delicious. They also offer all day treats like coffee, tea and snacks in the pantry for all guests.
I’ve stayed in Lark Hotels in Newport, Rhode Island; Stowe, Vermont and Portsmouth, New Hampshire and hope to visit even more of them in future. Check out their website to see where more of their hotels are located.
Interested in my entire Portland, Maine Itinerary? Check out my MAINE Instagram Highlight where I shared our day-by-day itinerary.
PIN my Things to do in Portland Guide for LATER:
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Location: Portland, Maine | Photos: Tracy Davis & myself