10 Eco Friendly Activities Portland Maine

14
Nov 2014

Maine is well known as one of America’s most beautiful seacoast states. The rugged coastline and many lighthouses offer a typical New England experience. Portland is an ideal getaway from Boston. About 100 miles north, it has much to offer in all the seasons. Whether you’re visiting when the sun is bright or when the snow flies, here are 10 eco friendly activities in Portland, Maine. The Old Port gives a taste of the working waterfront and is ideal for a walking tour. Parks and hiking are plenty in the surrounding area; the activities listed here are all within walking distance of the Old Port so you can either take the train from Boston, or get to town and park your car for the weekend.

portland head light

Portland Headlight is an iconic lighthouse you can see on the way into Portland proper if you choose to take a coastal drive. The beauty of the surroundings offer multiple photo ops. Portland is a typical New England seaside town where  you can get a great dose of the mariner experience. In addition, it also offers a wide assortment of other eco friendly activities in culture, shopping, farm to table dining and the great outdoors. The city is easy to navigate with a decent pair of walking shoes and in winter, warm layers to protect from the icy breeze coming off Casco Bay.

portland-maine-bike-ski-10

The state of Maine has been named as the 2nd most bike friendly state in the country. Find more than 200 bike trails in Portland, 10 miles of which stretch across the city limits. Most of the ride is fairly flat and a cool breeze comes off the waterfront in summer. Ride your bike or take a run to the Eastern Promenade where the 2.1 mile trail will afford you gorgeous views of Casco Bay. The Peak’s Bay Loop can be reached by ferry and is a 4 mile ride that circles the island. Pack a lunch of local goodies and make a day of it. In the summer, make sure to get out early, as the ferries can get crowded, especially if you are bringing a bike. Gorham Bike and Ski is a good place for a rental.

honeymaker mead portland maine

Mead is the oldest of fermented beverages in the United States. HoneyMaker Mead makes their version with locally sourced honey, pure water and a proprietary yeast strain. You can visit the tasting room and sample limited releases of additional flavors that include lavender, strawberry, and my favorite, elderberries. Daily tours will let you in on the process of making this small batch beverage.

portland-maine-longfellow

The Wadsworth-Longfellow House is an historic property and museum operated by the Historical Society in the heart of downtown Portland.  Three generations of the famous family occupied this residence, and all made significant contributions to the cultural and political fabric of our society. The interior has been preserved and artifacts are original to the household. Behind the house is a lovely garden in the Colonial Revival style. This landmark building represents an important tie to the past illustrating the changes in style and technology that took place over three generations in the 19th century.

beer tour portland maine

Portland has an abundance of  hand crafted artisan beers. With nearly 50 breweries in the area the Maine Brew Bus is a safe way to “drive to drink local”. Offering a variety of different tours to choose from, some include food, and not all involve beer. Each trip includes an extensive list of local beverages which will give you a great overview of the local offerings. Fermented tea, cider, mead, kombucha and of course beer are all part of the libations available to taste while not worrying about getting behind the wheel.

portland-maine-museum

The Portland Museum offers a treasure trove of three centuries of art and decorative works. Famous names such as Nevelson, Wyeth, Monet and Picasso as well as a comprehensive collection of Winslow Homer paintings range from the 1800’s to the present. Fans of Homer will delight in an off site visit to his newly restored studio {reservations are necessary}. Insider tip-the museum is free from 5-9 pm Friday evenings.

kayak portland maine

Portland has a long history of water sports in the area. Casco Bay offers a primo spot for kayaking or paddle boarding. Portland Paddle offers lessons and tours, is conveniently located with parking and provides the perfect spot to explore the islands off shore teeming with abundant wildlife. Sunset is an especially beautiful chance to observe the lobsterman coming in with their catch or nesting birds in the area.

portland-maine-observatory

The Portland Observatory is the only remaining wooden signal tower left in the United States. Climbing to the top will reward you with breathtaking 360 views of Portland and beyond. Built in 1807, it is the a beloved symbol of the city’s rich maritime history.

radish portland farmers market maine

The Saturday and Wednesday Farmer’s Market is a great place to spend the morning. With a history stretching back over 200 years, you’ll find the same fruits and vegetables that used to be peddled door to door in unusual hand carts many years ago, along with eggs, poultry, honey and cheeses. Meet the locals, enjoy terrific coffee and produce from Maine. Jazz musicians are often in attendance and don’t miss the Maine blueberries if they are in season. These little morsels are so different from what you are used too. Tiny in size, they are packed with flavor. Winter sees the market move inside and there are food trucks in addition to the market’s wintertime harvest.

portland-maine-victorian

The Victoria Mansion is thought to be one of the most important pre-Civil War mansions still in existence. The architecturally striking home was built between 1858 and 1860 as a summer house for Maine native and luxury hotel owner, Ruggles Morse. Throughout the house you an see examples of that luxury in the rich paneling, gilded surfaces and sumptuous carpets and textiles. All are over the top in scale.  The exterior only hints as the level of detail in the interior. History buffs and anyone interested in design will be amazed at the experience.

portland maine ferry

Scenic cruises from the Casco Bay Ferry vary in length from 1.5 to 3.5 hours with stops along the way and the opportunity to get off and stretch your legs.  Catch a sun rise or sun set and if you shop beforehand, enjoy a picnic featuring fresh and local ingredients available from many Portland locations. Peaks Island is a quick 17 minutes away. You can hike,ride your bike, enjoy the beach {and pretty frigid water} or have a lovely meal at one of the waterfront restaurants.

 The 411 on 10 Eco Friendly Activities in Portland, Maine

Gorham Bike and Ski 693 Comgress St.

Maine Mead Works  51 Portland Ave.

Portland Paddle

The Wadsworth-Longfellow House {check schedule for hours} 489 Congress St.

The Portland Observatory 138 Congress St.

The Maine Brew Bus 111 Commercial St.

Portland Farmers Market Various Locations

Victoria Mansion 109 Danforth St.

Casco Bay Lines   56 Commercial St.

Top photo of Portland Headlight via wikipedia creative commons JubileeJourney

  1. Lee says:

    Thanks for the great information. I have been to Portland several times and never new about these places. (Next time I will check out the Maine Brew Bus for sure!)

    • alison says:

      I’m sure that Brew bus is quite a scene, especially in the summer months Lee. There are plenty of eating spots that carry a good selection of many local craft beers as well.

  2. I’ve always wanted to visit New England and Maine sounds lovely, as does the honey mead. With 50 breweries I’m not sure I’d manage to fit them all in but I could try. Plus I’d have to make time for the Victoria Mansion which sounds a fascinting place to explore.

    • alison says:

      I was there for a quick visit Kathryn and had no idea there was so much to keep me busy. I’ll be back exploring again once it gets a bit warmer.

  3. Donna Janke says:

    Portland Maine certainly looks worth a visit with a variety of things to see and do. I love the pictures of the lighthouse and of Victoria Mansion.

  4. Gaelyn says:

    You’ve just given me more reasons to visit Maine. I just have to wait until I retire from my summer job as I don’t do Maine’s kind of winters.

    • alison says:

      Fall is really nice there also Gaelyn. Most of the tourists have gone and the weather is still warm. You probably won’t get in the water, but perhaps you can visit in the shoulder season.

  5. noel says:

    What a fun way to explore city, I love all your tips Alison especially the coastal walks…love the pics btw

  6. Nancie says:

    I’m from Nova Scotia, and our scenery is very similar. I have been to Maine, and Portland, and loved it. The ferry ride of Bar Harbor to NS is a great trip, and cuts out a lot of driving.

    • alison says:

      I’ve been dying to take that boat trip Nancie. I think they even have one that leaves from Portland now. Nova Scotia is a spot I’d really like to visit.

  7. We’ve always dreamed of going to Maine and your post has me thinking that we need to set some time aside on our next visit to the US to see this lovely state. I love the rugged coastline, the lighthouses and the architecture of the old homes. It would be so interesting to see the Wadsworth-Longfellow House as well as the Victoria Mansion.

  8. Gorgeous photos! Portland sounds like it has everything I love in a destination. Wine, history, cuisine and a whopping number of bike trails. Kudos to the city planners for creating such a livable city.

  9. When I visit Portland, Maine, I’m going to head first for the HoneyMaker Mead!

  10. OMG! Your picture of the lighthouse looks like a portrait. And all great reasons to visit

  11. Your article is so informative and your photos are brilliant!! A great piece!

  12. Another great city we have yet to make it to. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I’ve been to Maine, but never Portland, Maine. Your post is definitely an incentive to explore the area. The coastal drive sounds beautiful. Great pix! 🙂

  14. You know, I’ve lived in MA for over twenty years now, but have been to Portland only in passing. High time to schedule a trip come spring or summer. Thanks for all the tips! That will make planning what to see much easier!

    • alison says:

      I’m glad you found it helpful Jolanta. I had a great time there, so much to explore and easy to manage.Portland is a great spot for a weekend getaway. Make sure to let me know when you go and what you do there.

  15. It has been too many years since I have visited Portland Maine. Looking forward to returning and checking out the places you mentioned.