There’s a reason Maine has been a family vacation destination for generations. There’s several of them, actually: the climbable coastal rocks, the sandy beaches and cool breezes, the woods filled with hiking trails and the overall perfection that is a Maine summer.
And since we all know that the happiness of a modern family vacation is dependent on whether the kids are having a good time, there’s plenty more to keep them happy in and around Portland.
A Peaks Island Adventure: A 15-minute ferry ride from Portland, Peaks Island makes for a family-friendly adventure. Bike rentals are available on the island (including kids’ bikes and trailers for the little ones) and the 4-mile ride around the island is mostly flat. You’ll want to make frequent stops to let the kids climb on the rocks and explore the tide pools or to investigate Battery Steele, an old military fortification. There’s also a conveniently placed ice cream shop right near the ferry terminal, where the kids can get a scoop of blueberry ice cream and pick out a toy from the gift shop shelves.
Take a Kid-Friendly Hike: For an island experience that doesn’t require a boat ride, there’s Mackworth Island in nearby Falmouth. The 1.25-mile path around the island is flat and easy-going, making it accessible for young hikers. A handful of staircases lead down to the water, where the kids can dip their feet into the water and look for snail shells. And don’t miss the fairy village, where the whole family can build a miniature home out of sticks, leaves and other natural materials for the magic island inhabitants.
Interactive Indoors: In town, the Children’s Museum and Theatre boasts an array of interactive exhibits, including an indoor playscape, fire truck and lobster boat, and the cool Camera Obscura exhibit, where kids can dance with their shadows.
Pack a Picnic: Portland’s Eastern Promenade is the perfect location for a scenic family picnic on the grass, with incredible views of Casco Bay. There’s a playground there, too. Down by the water, Portland Paddle rents kayaks and leads guided tours in Casco Bay, including a family sea kayak tour perfect for families with kids 7 and up.
photos courtesy of Children's Museum & Theatre, Portland ME.