Portland, Maine has a somewhat temperate climate because the Portland peninsula protects the area from the Atlantic Ocean. This means winters are mild and summer brings cool breezes. Portland has four seasons, each of which is a special time to visit this fascinating city. Spring brings blooming trees and flowers while museums and restaurants that have been closed reopen for the season. This is the best time to visit Portland, Maine for garden lovers. Summer means sunshine and breezes, perfect for exploring sandy beaches, sailing and sightseeing. Summer is the best time to visit Portland, Maine if you want to enjoy great weather. Autumn in Portland is a time of amazing colors as the leaves change and begin to fall. Winter in Portland offers a variety of outdoor sports activities like skiing, skating and sledding. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Getting to Portland, Maine
2.Getting to Portland, Maine
3.Getting From the Portland, Maine Airport
4.Information for Visitors in Portland, Maine
5.Getting Around Portland - Public Transportation: Bus
6.Portland, Maine Restaurants
7.Shopping in Portland, Maine
8.Portland Neighborhood Guide
9.Getting Married in Portland, ME
10.Where to Stay in Portland, Maine
Best Time to Visit Portland, Maine - Weather Year Round
- Getting to Portland, Maine, Photo: Courtesy of eqroy - Fotolia.com
- Getting to Portland, Maine, Photo: Courtesy of skyf - Fotolia.com
- Getting From the Portland, Maine Airport, Photo: Courtesy of petunyia - Fotolia.com
- Information for Visitors in Portland, Maine, Photo: Courtesy of michael spring - Fotolia.com
- Getting Around Portland - Public Transportation: Bus, Photo: Courtesy of michaeljung - Fotolia.com
- Portland, Maine Restaurants, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Shopping in Portland, Maine, Photo: Courtesy of adisa - Fotolia.com
- Portland Neighborhood Guide, Photo: Courtesy of virsuziglis - Fotolia.com
- Getting Married in Portland, ME, Photo: Courtesy of godfer - Fotolia.com
- Where to Stay in Portland, Maine, Photo: Courtesy of Alena Ozerova - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of spiritofamerica - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum
Based in the Portland Company Marine Complex in Portland, Maine, the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum is dedicated to showcasing the history of Maine's two-foot gauge railway and the equipment used in its time, and preserving its rich heritage.
Established in 1993, the museum is home to a range of excellent exhibits and displays that highlight the history of Maine's narrow gauge railway system, as well as several historical rail cars and restored locomotives and coaches.
The Museum presents a range of events and programs throughout the year for visitors of all ages. Young visitors can enjoy 'Children's Story Time,' which involves a reading of a children's book or two inside the museum and a post-reading activity. Mechanically minded guests can try their hand at being a diesel engineer and enjoy a hands-on experience as they operate a four-axle diesel-electric locomotive that as built by General Electric in 1949 and weighs over 20 tons!
Popular fun-filled events that occur seasonally include Rails 'n Ales, a beer-tasting train ride along the waterfront supported by some of Portland's award-winning breweries, and the Ice Cream Train, where visitors can enjoy a free ice cream on a scenic ride along the waterfront to Casco Bay.
A new venture on offer at the Museum is a wine-tasting and sunset train ride. Partnering with Sommelier Erica Archer, the event includes a sampling of five different wines paired with delicious snacks as the train meanders along the Portland waterfront at sunset. Museum docents are on hand to present a historical background of the railroad before ending the evening at the museum.
One of the most popular events of the year at the Museum is The Polar Express™ Train Ride. Held every season, the festive train is bedecked in holiday decorations and after meeting the Conductor of the train, visitors snack on hot chocolate and cookies as they listen to a reading of the story as they journey to the "North Pole." Santa joins the children on board to meet and greet and sing along to festive carols.
The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum and its train are available to rent for special occasions such as birthday parties, weddings, and private charters. The 'Birthday Coach' is located inside the museum and table, balloons and coloring activities are provided. Wedding train charters can be customized according to specific needs for almost any group size and is handicap accessible.
The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum willsoon be relocating to the town of Gray to enjoy greater space and expansion of both the railroad and museum building itself. The new museum building and train station will occupy over 13,500 square feet and house state-of-the-art exhibits, displays, and presentations, including a replica of Randolph Station. Additional facilities at the new museum will include a 12,500 square foot car barn, 5,000 square foot engine house and restoration workshop. There will also be over three miles of track on which the train will run between Portland and the Lewiston Interurban right-of-way. The new facility will feature outdoor picnic facilities, walking paths and open-air green space for visitors to relax and enjoy.
Next read: Best Things to Do in Portland, Maine
58 Fore Street, Portland, Maine 04101, Phone: 207-828-0814
Attraction Spotlight: Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow House
The Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow House is Maine’s first house museum and where American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow grew up. The house celebrates the political, literary and cultural contributions of the Wadsworth-Longfellow family and New England life.
The Wadsworth-Longfellow home was built in 1785 by General Peleg Wadsworth. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, born in 1807, was raised in the home and went on to become one of the most famous poets in American history. Henry’s sister, Anne Longfellow Pierce, was the last person to live in the home and it remained in her possession until her death in 1901 when the home was turned over to the Maine Historical Society.
The home is preserved as a memorial to Henry and the Wadsworth-Longfellow family. Most of the household items are original to the family with furnishings from all four generation of Wadsworth-Longfellow’s who lived in the home. The home was the first entirely brick house in Portland and remains an important architectural landmark in the region and is the oldest standing structure on the Portland Peninsula. Originally built as a two-story home, Henry’s parents, Zilpah and Stephen Longfellow added a third story in 1815. The Maine historical society erected a research library on the site of the barn in 1907 and renovations were completed in 2009 to expand the library.
The home is open for tours from May through October with school and group tours available by appointment only. Hours vary throughout the year and are available on the website.
The main attraction is the home itself. There is also a garden in the back of the home.
Longfellow Garden- The garden located behind the home is Colonial Revival style and was created in 1926 by the Longfellow Garden Club on the site of what was once the domestic farmyard for the family. Access to the garden is free and open to the public May through October. The garden was dismantled in 2007 in efforts to renovate the library and was renovated to preservation standards. The Longfellow Garden Children’s Gate was installed in 2012. The original gate was designed by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellowm nephew of Henry Longfellow and was removed in 1960 in terrible condition. The recreation of the gate was completed through fundraising efforts and was dedicated June 2nd, 2012. The garden is available for rent for private events.
Front Hall- The front hall of the home still retains its original wainscot paneling from the 18th century. The flooring was changed to a floorcloth in 1852 by Anne.
Parlor- The parlor of the home has quite a history. Zilpah, Henry’s mother, wrote of the many musical and reading events that occurred in the parlor during her childhood, Eliza Wadsworth died in the parlor, and many of the women in the family were married in the parlor. The room is furnished with portraits of the family, landscapes, and other art works as well as heirloom furniture.
Sitting Room- Anne converted the front parlor into a sitting room in 1853. The room was also a dining room, law office, and study before Anne’s conversion.
Summer Dining Room- This room locatd behind the parlor served many purposes from a quiet reflection area to an office and dining room with views of the garden. The room currently features a portrait of a young Anne and mahogany writing desk.
The Kitchen- Most of the kitchen is still the original design including the cooking hearth, fireplace, and bake oven. Several modifications to upgrade the kitchen were completed between 1786 and 1853 including a cook stove added in 1850 and a pump installed for running water while Anne occupied the home in the late 19th century.
Mother’s Room/Parlor Chamber- This room was where Zilpah Longfellow spent much of her time when she was in poor health. The high-post bed designed in 1808 still adorns the room.
Anne’s Chamber- This was Anne’s childhood room and overlooked the garden with easy access to her Mother’s room. The walls still retain their 1901 paint.
Back Room- This small bedroom located above the kitchen was used by children of the family as a sleeping and play room. 18th century French prints decorate the room as well as a pine children’s desk with scribbles from Longfellow children still on it.
Sitting Room Chamber- Another bedroom located above the sitting room, this chamber was used as a guest room after Stephen Longfellow died in the room in 1849. Anne used the chamber as her adult bedroom and also died here in 1901.
Third Floor- This floor of the home was built with 7 chambers in 1815 with panoramic views of the city and Casco Bay. Henry used the large southwest chamber while the younger siblings slept in the northwest and northeast chambers overlooking Deering Woods and the mountains.
489 Congress Street, Portland, Maine, 04101, Phone: 207-774-1822
Attraction Spotlight: Tate House
The Tate House is the only pre-Revolutionary home in the Portland, Maine area that is open to the public. The home serves as a glimpse into the life of 18th century colonists in Maine. The Tate House was constructed in 1755 for Captain George Tate who arrived in the New England Colonies in 1750 with his family.
Tate was the Senior Mast Agent of the British Royal Navy and oversaw the cultivation and shipment of White Pine wood to England.
Tate House is the only pre-revolutionary home in Maine that is open to the public and one of only two homes in the area with a subsumed dormor in the gambrel roof which was unusual at the time. The home is built in the Georgian townhouse style and overlooked the Fore River where the mast yard was located. Tate house was documented in 1936 by the Historic American Buildings Survey and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
The Tate House became a historic museum in 1935 and is owned by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Maine (NSCDA-ME). The Museum is a 501 (c)(3) and is managed and operated by a Board of Directors.
The museum and touring are only open June through October Wednesday through Sunday. More information on hours and rates can be found on the museum website.
Attractions and Tours
The Tate House and raised bed herb garden attract visitors from around the world and provides many educational opportunities for students and families in the area who seek knowledge on Colonial times in the United States. The furnishings, architecture and artifacts are original to the home and Tate family. The clapboards even remain unpainted as they were at time of construction.
Means House Museum Shop- The Means House, right across the street from Tate House, is where visitors can find the Museum Shop. The shop is open year-round and is where visitors will purchase tickets for the home tours. Beeswax candles, handmade soaps, tea, books, keepsakes and other Colonial times souvenirs can be purchased in the store.
The Life & Times of Captain George Tate & Family Tour- This tour will highlight the mast trade that Captain George oversaw in Maine, what his responsibilities were, and Colonial life in the 18th century leading up to the Revolutionary War. These tours operate during open hours and are approximately an hour long.
Architecture Tours- Visitors will see the Tate home from rafters to cellar and be educated on the many architectural accolades that Tate House is recognized for. These tours must be scheduled by appointment with 24 hours’ notice given and are 1.5 hours long.
Garden Tour- specially trained docents will accompany visitors on these tours that must be pre-scheduled a day in advance. Visitors will learn about the various herbs used in cooking and medicine in the 18th century and how many of the plants had household uses.
School Tours-The Tate House is proud to host school field trips and community group tours with programs to help students grasp the concepts of Colonial life in America and 18th century Maine. Elementary school programs will include a tour and interactive experience with the Tate Family Trunk where they will learn about historic perseveration and handle reproductions of objects that would have been used in the Tate home in the mid-18th century.
Stroudwater Cemetery Tour- The Stroudwater Cemetery is the burial place of Captain George Tate and his wife, Mary, and all of the daughter-in-laws. All of the sons from the Tate family died abroad and are buried in countries including Russia and Poland. Other townspeople are buried in the cemetery as well and vistiors will learn about famous area people such as Lillian Stevens and “wolf man”. A cemetery researcher and docent will lead the tour, many times dressed in period costumes.
There are several annual events that are held at the Tate House for fundraising and educational purposed.
Tea Time at the Tate House- This event includes a tea reception in the Tate House Garden and is held in June. Food is catered by Colonial Sunshine Caterers and the Tate House branded teas are served.
Poetry in the Garden- Local and famous poets are invited to read their poetry and discuss their writings during these evening events in the Tate House Garden.
Masquerade Gala- The annual fundraising event for the Tate House that features a Masked ball, adult beverages and food. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Tate House 5k- This event is a run/walk at Spurwink Farm with all profits going to the Tate House Museum. Participants also receive admission to Colonial Frolic.
Colonial Frolic- The Tate House Museum goes to Cape Elizabeth where a colonial breakfast is served, the 5k is held, and food trucks provide refreshments all day. Volunteers and docents of the museum dress is period costumes with Colonial and Revolutionary War displays and reenactments.
1270 Westbrook Street, Portland, Maine, 04104, Phone: 207-774-6177
Back to: Things to Do in Portland