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Karen Beaudoin

Karen Beaudoin is a life-long Mainer, which means she’s a fan of the Red Sox (World Champs again! Take that Yankee fans), whoopee pies, Ogunquit Beach, the L.L. Bean boot mobile and vacations in tropical locations in February and March. Ninety-eight percent of her work week is spent as web editor for; during the remaining “fun” percent she contributes to

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Posted: May 21, 2014

Portland: Where to paddle, bike, sail, camp and a list of museums to visit

Written by: Karen Beaudoin

Portland may be considered a small city when it comes to square miles, but it’s huge on personality – and things to do. Just ask the more than 65,000 residents, who wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but their hip, laid-back, sophisticated city.

Well, anywhere except maybe one of the cities or towns that surround Portland – Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Falmouth, Freeport, Gorham, Gray, Long Island, New Gloucester, North Yarmouth, Peaks Island, Pownal, Scarborough, South Portland, Westbrook and Yarmouth – and give people easy access to the array of restaurants, shops, museums, art galleries, theaters, music venues, parks and beaches in the area.

The variety of activities – indoor, outdoor and in every season – may start in Portland’s famous Old Port District, but they branch out to the beaches of Scarborough, lighthouses of South Portland, shopping of Freeport, parks in Pownal and Cape Elizabeth, walking paths of Yarmouth and much more.

Portland Press Herald file photo.

Portland Press Herald file photo.

Pretty parks

Bradbury Mountain State Park, 528 Hallowell Road, Pownal
Explore trails on foot, by bike, with snowshoes or on horseback, see the views from the summit, picnic or camp out for the night. The park is home to a wide variety of plants and animals and is a great spot to watch the hawk migration in spring. Admission fees $1 to $4.50.

Two Lights State Park, 7 Tower Drive, Cape Elizabeth
Some 41-acres of rocky headlands make up the park where twin lighthouses can be viewed (one is now a private residence). Picnic above the surf, fish or walk the paths and roadways. Admission fees $1 to $4.50.

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, 426 Wolfe’s Neck Road, Freeport
Visit the park’s woods and rocky shoreline just minutes from downtown Freeport. Park naturalists give nature talks and walks throughout the year. The park’s trails are open for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Admission fees $1 to $4.50.

Scarborough Beach State Park, 414 Black Point Road, Scarborough
Offers some of the best swimming in New England – if you can stand the cold of the Atlantic. Lifeguards on duty in some areas. Kayak or paddleboard from the shore and enjoy beachcombing year-round. Admission fees.

Crescent Beach State Park, 66 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth
Hugely popular in summer, the park features a mile-long crescent-shaped beach great for walking, sunbathing, picnicking and other water activities. In winter, the wooded trails are open for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Admission fees $1 to $6.50.

Portland Press Herald file photo of Portland Head light.

Portland Press Herald file photo of Portland Head light.


East End Beach, Eastern Promenade, Portland. Boat-launch ramp, changing rooms, restrooms and free parking.
Willard Beach, Willard Street, South Portland. Playground, picnic tables, restrooms, lifegaurds and snack bar. Free parking for 75 cars.
Ferry Beach, Ferry Road, Scarborough. Sheltered beach with restrooms, benches, boat-launch ramp. Parking for 100 cars. Admission fee.
Higgins Beach, Ocean Avenue, Scarborough. Large waves for surfing, convenience store nearby. No public restrooms. Limited parking.
Scarborough Beach State Park, Black Point Road, Scarborough. Concession stand, public showers, restrooms, lifeguards. Parking for 500 cars. Admission fee.
Pine Point Beach, Route 9, Scarborough. Surfing, snack bar and restrooms. Paid parking.
Crescent Beach State Park, Route 77, Cape Elizabeth. Snack bar, picnic tables, grills, restrooms and lifeguards. Admission fee.
Mackworth Island, Route 1, Falmouth. Rocky beach with views of Casco Bay, bird-watching, hiking, fairy houses. Limited parking.
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Wolfe’s Neck Road, Freeport. Rocky beach with hiking, picnic tables, grills, bathrooms. Admission fees.

Portland Press Herald file photo.

Portland Press Herald file photo.


Greater Portland offers plenty of options for those who want to get out on the water without motors. Most local beaches are good choices for kayaking and canoeing. Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth is popular with paddleboarders.

If you’re looking to rent a person-powered watercraft check out:
Portland Paddle, East End Beach. Kayak and paddleboard rentals, guided tours, overnights & paddleboard yoga.
Maine Island Kayak Company, 7 Luther St., Peaks Island. Rentals and tours.
Casco Bay Kayak Rentals, 64 New Island Ave., Peaks Island, 766-2650. Rentals.
South Portland SUP, 382 Cottage Road, South Portland. Stand-up paddleboard rentals and tours.
Ring’s Marine Service, 22 Smelt Brook Road, South Freeport. Kayak, canoe and hydrobike rentals.
Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, Pine Point Road, Scarborough. Canoe rentals and marsh tours.
L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery, Flying Point Road, Freeport. Clinics and classes offered in kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and canoeing.


Portland Headlight, 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth
Located at 90-acre Fort Williams Park, the lighthouse was first lit in 1791. It’s a well-known landmark with a museum and gift shop, both open seasonally. Swim, sunbathe, play Frisbee and picnic during the warmer months; use the open areas for cross-country skiing in winter. Free park admission.

Two Lights, 7 Tower Drive, Cape Elizabeth
Maine’s first twin lighthouses were built in 1828 in what is now Two Lights State Park. The eastern light is still an active, automated station, but is not open to the public. The western light went dark in 1924 and is now a private residence. Park admission fees.

Portland Breakwater Light, Bug Light Park, South Portland
This small octagonal wooden lighthouse went into service in 1855 to warn ships as they neared the Portland breakwater, constructed more than 15 years earlier. The light shone until 1942. Free park admission. The lighthouse is not open to the public.

Spring Point Ledge Light, Fort Road, South Portland
Open to visitors each weekend during the summer, the light is maintained by the Spring Point Ledge Light Trust. The light was lit by kerosene for the first time in 1897 and was electrified in 1934. Visit the lantern and the former living quarters of the keeper. Paid admission.

Dahlov Ipcar "Blue Savanna," 1978 oil on canvas, 40" x 50" Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Gift of the artist.

Dahlov Ipcar
“Blue Savanna,” 1978
oil on canvas, 40″ x 50″
Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Gift of the artist.


Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, 142 Free St., Portland
Enjoy changing featured exhibits as well as mainstays like Dress-Up Theatre, Coco’s Diner, Our Town, L.L. Bear’s Discovery Woods and more. Also a gift shop and a full schedule of events, including theatre performances. Admission $9.

Fifth Maine Regiment Museum, Seashore Avenue, Peaks Island
Visiting will require a 15-minute ferry ride but that’s part of the adventure. The late 1800’s saw some 800-plus soldiers make camp on Peaks Island and exhibits tell their story and harken back to when the island was known as the “Coney Island of Maine.” Open Memorial Day through Columbus Day. $5 suggested donation.

Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, Portland
View and experience more than 17,000 fine and decorative works including pieces by Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pable Picasso and more. Admission $6 to $12; free on Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m.

Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., Portland
The Society maintains the Maine Memory Network, which includes historical items from 200 Maine organizations, the Longfellow House & Garden and the MHS Museum. The museum offers changing exhibits dating back five centuries. Admission $8.

Victoria Mansion, 109 Danforth St., Portland
The mansion, also known as the Morse-Libby House, was built between 1858 and 1860 as a summer home for the family of Ruggles Sylvester Morse. The home has been preserved with much of its original furniture and is decorated by local designers each year for the Christmas holiday. Admission $5 to $15. Open seasonally.

Tate House Museum, 1267 Westbrook St., Portland
Built in 1755 for Captain George Tate and his family, the pre-Revolutionary War home features unpainted clapboards, an unusual indented gambrel roof, period furnishings, beautiful grounds and an herb garden. Admission $3 to $8. Open seasonally.

Portland Observatory, 138 Congress St., Portland
Built in 1807, the tower on Portland’s East End offers spectacular views of the city and the harbor. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 2006. Admission $2 to $8. Open seasonally.

Museum of African Culture, 13 Brown Street, Portland
In existance since 1998, the museum is the only venue in northern New England devoted to sub-Saharan African arts and culture. See more than 1,500 pieces, including carved wooden masks, bronze figures, textiles, ceramics, ivory and utilitarian objects.

Portland Fire Museum, 157 Spring St., Portland
The building is as historic as the items in it, all preserved thanks to the Portland Veteran Firefighters Association. See documents, photos, equipment from hand & steam times, original horse stalls, hand pumpers from the 1800s, slide poles, badges and more. Open every First Friday at 6 p.m.

Sabbathday Lake Shaker Library & Museum, Shaker Road, New Gloucester
Located inside the only active and functioning Shaker community in the world, the museum offers a look at more than 200 years of Shaker heritage. Six structures are open to the public and guided tours are available. Open seasonally. Admission $2 to $7.

Skyline Farm Carriage Museum, 95 The Lane, North Yarmouth
Ken Sowles began showing his collection of carriages in 1970 and now the Sowles family welcomes visitors to enjoy more than 80 carriages and sleighs, many of which were built and used locally or are tied to the history of North Yarmouth. Free admission. Donations welcome.

Portland Press Herald file photo.

Portland Press Herald file photo.

Tours and cruises

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad, 58 Fore St., Portland
Take a ride along the waterfront and past East End beach on an historic train (tickets $6 to $10) or zip off on the Polar Express during November and December. Open daily May through October, and for special events November through April.

Downeast Duck Adventures, 94 Commercial St. (Casco Variety Store), Portland
Ride through the Old Port during a 60-minute narrated adventure and learn about the city before splashing into Casco Bay to view the working waterfront and some of the ocean wildlife. Tickets $17 to $24. Seasonal.

Segway Tours, 25 Pearl St., Portland
Ride a segway along Casco Bay, get a historic waterfront or East End tour, or try the Haunts & History of Casco Bay tour. Tours $35 for 30 minutes (with training), $65 per hour.

Portland Discovery Land & Sea Tours, Long Wharf, Portland
Take a 90-minute trolley tour and learn about Portland’s diverse history ($15 to $21), try a land & sea tour combining an Old Port trolley tour with a harbor cruise ($27 to $39) or end the day with a 90-minute sunset lighthouse cruise ($15 to $21).

Casco Bay Lines Ferry, 56 Commercial St., Portland
Board a ferry for a scenic cruise, sunset cruise, mailboat run to one of Casco Bay’s islands or a music cruise, or sign up for a group lobster bake and cruise to Peaks Island. Most cruises range from $7.50 to $15.

Lucky Catch Cruises, 170 Commercial St., Portland
Learn about lobsters and haul traps during a lobstering cruise to Portland Headlight or Whitehead Passage, or try a seal watch cruise. Cruises run Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend. Tickets $15 to $25.

Casablanca Scenic Cruises, 18 Custom House Wharf, Portland
Take the two-deck harbor cruiser on a sunset party cruise, a narrated daytime cruise or a concert cruise featuring local musicians. Most cruises $15 to $20.

Atlantic Seal Cruises, Freeport Town Wharf, South Freeport
Narrated cruises depart daily Memorial Day weekend through October, including seal and osprey watch cruise, Eagle Island adventure and fall foliage cruises. Tickets $15 to $20.

Portland Schooner Company, Maine State Pier, Commercial Street, Portland
Sail on an authentic wooden schooner built in the early 20th century for an afternoon in Portland Harbor or an overnight windjammer adventure. Seasonal. $10 and $35 for two-hour sail.

Bradbury Mountain. Portland Press Herald file photo.

Bradbury Mountain. Portland Press Herald file photo.

Hike and bike

Possibly the best spot for mountain biking in the greater Portland area is Bradbury Mountain in Pownal. You’ll find doubletracks that range from easy to hard and a difficult singletrack that leads to the summit. For hiking and walking choose one of the many trails maintained by Portland Trails. Try a scenic paved walk along the Beth Condon Memorial Pathway in Yarmouth.

Festivals and such

Old Port Festival, Portland
Always held on a Sunday in early June, featuring Maine-made arts and crafts, local food, kid’s activities and several music stages filled by local and national touring acts. Kicks off with a parade down Exchange Street. Free admission.

Yarmouth Clam Festival, Yarmouth
Hundreds of thousands of people visit downtown Yarmouth every year on the third weekend in July to taste clams cooked a variety of ways, watch the contests and athletic races, see the fireworks, listen to local music and browse the large display of arts and crafts. Free admission.

Harvest on the Harbor, Portland
Maine’s premier food and wine event features chefs, vintners, authors and vendors from near and far in a four-day October event. Take part in tastings, visit the marketplace and watch competitions featuring some of Maine’s most talented chefs. Admission fees.

Southern Maine Pride Festival, Portland
Kicks off with a parade from Monument Square to Deering Oaks Park, site of the festival. Find music, dance, comedians, arts & crafts vendors, food and more on Father’s Day weekend. Free admission.

Cumberland County Fair, Cumberland
Always in late September, this agricultural event features livestock displays and shows, horticultural exhibits and competitions, harness racing, music, food and a large midway. There’s something for everyone in the family. Paid admission.

Camp Sunshine Maine Pumpkin Festival, Freeport
See more than 5,000 jack-o-lanterns lit and on display and help raise money for Camp Sunshine during this late October event hosted by L.L. Bean. Plus music, food and shopping in downtown Freeport. Free admission.

Festival of Nations, Portland
Two days of food, music, dance and other performing arts at Deering Oaks Park, with cultures, traditions and cuisines represented from across America and the world. The event showcases Maine’s ethnic diversity and the food can’t be beat. Always the final weekend in July. Free admission.

L.L. Bean Northern Lights, Freeport
See the lighting of the Christmas tree on the Friday before Thanksgiving then enjoy events and activities through New Year’s Eve, including horse-drawn carriage rides, children’s arts and crafts, musical entertainment and fireworks. Free admission.

Ice skating

If you’re looking to show off your triple toe loops indoors try Falmouth’s Family Ice Center and Portland Ice Arena, both open year-round. Outdoor skating options include:

Lee Twombly Pond, 20 Hat Trick Drive, Falmouth (next to Family Ice). Zamboni-maintained pond with warming hut, picnic tables and restrooms. $5 per person
Freeport Middle School, Kendall Lane Deport Street parking lot, Freeport
Deering Oaks Park pond, State Street and Park Avenue, Portland
Breakwater School, Capisic Street, Portland
Payson Park, Baxter Boulevard, Portland
Wentworth School, Municipal Drive, Scarborough. Lighted with warming hut and concession area
Mill Creek Park, Ocean Street, South Portland
Lincoln Street Ice Rink, Lincoln Street, Westbrook. Lighted and primarily used for hockey
Stroudwater Ice Rink, Stroudwater Street, Westbrook. Lighted with warming hut
East Bridge Street Ball Park, East Bridge Street, Westbrook
Orland H. Blake Skating Pond, Main Street, Yarmouth. Lighted with warming hut


Cedar Haven Campground, 39 Baker Road, Freeport
Freeport Village Campground, 11 Dotens Lane, Freeport
Recompence Shore Campground, 184 Burnett Road, Freeport
Wassamki Springs Campground, 56 Saco St., Scarborough
Bayley’s Camping Resort, 275 Pine Point Road, Scarborough
Wild Duck Campground, 39 Dunstan Landing Road, Scarborough
Desert Dunes of Maine Campground, Desert Road, Freeport
Blueberry Pond Campground, 218 Poland Range Road, Pownal
Winslow Memorial Park & Campground, Staples Point Road, Freeport, 865-4198

Theater and music

Westbrook Performing Arts Center, 471 Stroudwater St., Westbrook
Located in Westbrook Middle School, this venue hosts music acts and performance arts and works closely with Portland Ovations.

St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland
Non-profit historic landmark on Munjoy Hill provides an intimate spot for dance, music, film, workshops and art, and is the home to the Good Theater performance group.

Portland Ballet, 517 Forest Ave., Suite 2, Portland
Company of professional dancers performing throughout the year in Maine and New Hampshire. Notable performances are annual Halloween-inspired shows and the production of “The Victorian Nutcracker” at Merrill Auditorium.

Maine State Ballet, 348 U.S. Route 1, Falmouth
Professional dance company and school of performing arts with a theater on site. Annual performances include “The Nutcracker” at Merrill Auditorium. Also offers lecture demonstrations in schools and a Backstage children’s concert series.

Portland Ovations, 50 Monument Square, Portland
Group brings national performing acts in classical music, jazz, opera, dance, theater and Broadway to Portland. Also provides education and outreach to community members of all ages. Most performances held at Merrill Auditorium.

Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave., Portland
Maine’s largest fully professional, non-profit theater presents both Mainestage and Studio Series productions. Annual events include “A Christmas Carol” and “The Santaland Diaries.”

Freeport Factory Stage, 5 Depot St., Freeport
Ninety-seat venue produces its own content, ranging from original plays and musical events to popular full-length dramas and comedies.

Freeport Performing Arts Center, 30 Holbrook St., Freeport
This 500-seat theater is owned and operated by RSU5 and has been home to the Portland Chamber Music Festival.

Freeport Shakespeare Festival, Freeport
Company performs free Shakespeare outdoors at L.L. Bean’s Discovery Park and at Freeport Factory Stage.

Lyric Music Theater, 176 Sawyer St., South Portland
Founded in 1952, this non-profit community theater puts on several productions each year and got solid reviews for its 2011 performance of “Rent.”

Lucid Stage, 29 Baxter Boulevard, Portland
Non-profit arts organization and multi-use performance venue is home to Mad Horse Theater company. Performances range from serious theater to arts and crafts fests to burlesque shows.

Maine Ballroom Dance, 614 Congress St., Portland
Take classes in Argentine tango, swing, waltz and rumba or participate in Saturday evening dances.

Portland Players, 420 Cottage Road, South Portland
The oldest community theater in Maine was founded in 1931 and produces several popular shows each season.

Acorn Productions and Studio Theater, Dana Warp Mill, 90 Bridge St., Westbrook
Production company performs regular shows like Naked Shakespeare, hosts events like Phyzgig and poetry series and offers acting classes for all ages.

Fenix Theater Company, 17 Spear Ave., South Portland
Group of artists and actors dedicated to staging the classics outdoors in Deering Oaks Park, where the audience often becomes part of the show.

Mad Horse Theater, 29 Baxter Blvd., Portland
Resident, professional theatre ensemble based at Lucid Stage and performing works focused on social concern, personal transformation and the enduring aspects of the human experience. Often offers a “Dark Night Series” on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

PORTopera, 20 Myrtle St., Portland
Dedicated to producing creative, inspiring and professional full-staged seasonal opera performances at Merrill Auditorium.

Portland Symphony Orchestra, 50 Monument Square, Portland
The largest performing arts organization in Maine, PSO is led by Music Director Robert Moody and offers a full schedule of classical music events at Merrill Auditorium. Guest performers are often welcomed to the stage and symphony members perform KinderKonzerts at local schools.

Good Theater, 76 Congress St., Portland
Professional theater company staging performances at St. Lawrence Arts Center.

Art walk

Portland offers a year-round First Friday Art Walk that brings thousands or art lovers to the streets. Galleries, museums and other venues that show art open their doors from 5 to 8 p.m. for the free, self-guided tour and several places provide wine, snacks and musical entertainment.


From Maine seafood to great pizza, from ethnic eats to fine dining, Portland is nationally recognized as a foodie town. Chef/owner Rob Evans of Hugo’s and chef/owner Sam Hayward of Fore Street are James Beard Award winners, and restaurants like Five Fifty-FiveCinque Terre and Bresca have received national magazine attention. Long-time local favorite Becky’s Diner was featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and celeb Anthony Bourdain swears by the fresh seafood options at J’s Oyster.


Shipyard Brewing Co., 86 Newbury St., Portland
Brewer of flavors such as Export Ale, Old Thumper, Shipyard Light Ale, Blue Fin Stout, Chamberlain Pale Ale and seasonals like Summer Ale, Pumpkinhead Ale and Applehead Ale. Free seasonal tours and tastings and daily video tours. Gift shop open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday with beverages (including Cap’t Eli’s sodas), bar goods, clothing and accessories.

Sebago Brewing Co., 48 Sanford Drive, Gorham
Free tours and tastings available Monday through Friday (call ahead at 856-2537). Sebago has pub locations in Portland, Gorham, Scarborough and Kennebunk and serves its own creations like Frye’s Leap IPA, Boathouse Brown, Lake Trout Stout, Local Harvest Ale, Saddleback Ale, Midnight Porter and Slick Nick Winter.

Sea Dog Brewing Co., 125 Western Ave., South Portland
Creator of Blueberry Wheat Ale, Owl’s Head Light, Raspberry Wheat Ale, Old Gollywobbler Brown, Summer Ale, IPA, Windjammer Blonde and more. Brew pubs also located in Bangor and Topsham.

Allagash Brewing, 50 Industrial Way, Portland
Register online for free hour-long brewery tours and try Belgian brews like Allagash White, Tripel, Black, Curieux, Grand Cru and Victoria Ale. Allagash was created by Rod Tod in 1995 and now has six year-round beers and a lengthy list of specialty brews.

Gritty McDuff’s, Lower Maine Street, Freeport
Freeport brewery location also supplies beers for brew pub locations in Portland and Lewiston/Auburn. Beers include 21 IPA, Original Pub Style, Best Bitter, Red Claws Ale, Black Fly Stout, Halloween Ale, Christmas Ale, Scottish Ale and Vacationland Summer Ale. No brewery tours available.

D.L. Geary Brewing Co., 38 Evergreen Drive, Portland
Tours and tastings offered Monday through Friday afternoons (call ahead at 878-2337). Beers include Pale Ale, Hampshire Ale, London Porter, Summer Ale, Autumn Ale, Winter Ale, Wee Heavy and Imperial IPA.

Maine Beer Company, 1 Industrial Way, Portland
Free tours offered every Friday at 2 p.m. at this two-man brewery. Beer flavors include Peeper, Zoe, Mean Old Tom and Lunch IPA.

Rising Tide Brewing Company, 1 Industrial Way, Portland
Brewer of Atlantis, Daymark, Ishmael and Ursa Minor beers. Tours offered by appointment. Call 370-2337.

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