Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Portland

245 Commercial Street

Portland, Maine 04101

Tel: (202) 772-4994

E-mail: sales@visitportland.com

Visit online at www.visitportland.com


"Looking Down on Portland, Maine"
Photo courtesy Greater Portland CVB and Chris Lawrence

"Here's a little city filled to the brim with music, art, food and fun, set in an island-studded bay and just minutes away from beaches, cozy small towns and open spaces to explore."

Nestled between Maine's forest-covered mountains and spectacular rugged coast is the historic and vibrant city of Portland. Maine offers unspoiled landscapes, beautiful vistas, succulent lobster, stately lighthouses, outdoor adventures, exceptional shopping, and much, much more... In the Casco Bay region of Greater Portland to Freeport you'll find it all within a 15 mile radius surrounding the state's largest city - Portland.

Sure, there's more to see throughout the state of Maine, from Bar Harbor's Acadia National Park to mile-high Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park. But right here, in Greater Portland, you can experience a bit of what everyone's talking about, a small piece of "everything Maine."

Practically everything in the Greater Portland & Casco Bay region is within sight, sound or scent of the sea. Portland, Maine's largest city, is built on a promontory with water on three sides, and no visit here is complete without a boat trip—around the harbor or out to the Casco Bay islands. Ferries, excursion vessels and fishing charters depart daily from the waterfront; sea kayak tours leave from Peaks Island and Freeport. The brick and cobblestone streets of the Old Port are lined with artisans' shops and art galleries, boutiques, fine restaurants and coffee bars. Take a walking tour or climb the Observatory to get your bearings. A vibrant cultural scene includes the symphony orchestra, opera, theater and museums. The city is also home to the Sea Dogs, the Red Sox's AA baseball team, and the Portland Pirates hockey team.

The surrounding towns provide more pleasures. Don't miss Portland Head Light (commissioned by George Washington) in Cape Elizabeth, and Bug Light and Portland Harbor Museum in South Portland. Both towns have public beaches, as well. Scarborough offers more beaches, a state park, Winslow Homer's studio and Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, where bird watchers can canoe the marsh. In Falmouth, stroll the easy trails through Maine Audubon's Gilsland Farm or jog around Mackworth Island. Hike Bradbury Mountain, in Pownal, or bike a route mapped by Portland Trails. At Maine Wildlife Park, in Gray, visit with moose and other orphaned or injured wildlife. And in Yarmouth, don't miss the annual town-wide clam festival.

Shopping opportunites are endless at South Portland's Maine Mall and surrounding stores, and in Freeport, home of the legendary L.L. Bean along with more than 170 outlets. For more information, visit www.visitportland.com



"Map of Portland, Maine"
Image © Mapquest


As Maine's largest airport and key link to the global economy for the city of Portland, the Southern Maine region and the state, you'd think we'd be the typical sprawling mass of pavement and concrete thirty miles from town, wouldn't you? But, I'll bet you didn't realize that the Portland International Jetport sits on less than 700 acres and is just five miles from downtown. Surprised? Most people are. For more information visit http://www.portlandjetport.org/.

The following airlines serve the Portland International Jetport: AirTran, Continental, Delta, Jet Blue, Northwest and US Airways.

Rental Cars

The car rental companies serving the Jetport have a new home! With the opening of our new parking garage, the car rental counters have moved into our new consolidated car rental atrium - making us one of the few small airports in the country with such a facility. This gives us a fleet of more than 200 cars undercover, so no more worrying about the rain or snow as you head to your car. The following companies are represented: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz and National.


All Aboard! The Amtrak Downeaster makes four round trips daily between Boston's North Station and Portland, serving convenient locations along the way. Watch the scenery unfold before you as you sit back and relax in comfortable, spacious seats and enjoy a snack or beverage from the Caf. Upon your arrival in Portland, the Explorer bus provides connecting shuttle service to the Old Port and waterfront.

Amtrak provides train service from Boston to other locations to the south and west across the country. For information by telephone call: 800-USA-RAIL. Visit online at the Amtrak website: http://www.amtrak.com.


Portland is accessible by automobile using Interstate Highway 95 north from Boston. Traveling north from Boston on I-95, the driver has direct access to the Portland Jetport and by way of I-295 at exit 44 to downtown Portland.

I-95 runs south down the entire East Coast with major connections westward in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Raleigh, Atlanta, and Jacksonville.


Portland's Historic Waterfront District


"OLD PORT", Portland, Maine"
Photo courtesy Greater Portland CVB and Chris Lawrence

Portland's Old Port is one of the most successful revitalized warehouse districts in the country. Seamlessly connected to the waterfront, the Old Port is both a working waterfront and a chic shopping, dining, and entertainment district. Taking a walk at the water's edge along Commercial Street provides a window into the working waterfront. Just steps from the water, one can stroll down the cobblestone streets and experience the quaint charm of this district. The boutique shopping, one-of-a-kind stores, restaurants serving Maine's famous lobster dishes or the latest nouveau cuisine, and a vibrant nightlife are all unparallel to any other New England city.

Portland's Cultural Center

PortlandStreet_01.jpgUptown, a few blocks from the waterfront, is Portland's secret treasure–the Arts District. With Congress Street as its spine, this once traditional shopping street has turned into a mecca of art galleries, antique shops, and artist studios. The world class Portland Museum of Art, the Children's Museum of Maine, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art, the Center for Cultural Exchange, the State Theater, the Portland Stage Company, the Center for Maine History, and the stunningly-renovated Merrill Auditorium all line Congress Street.

Walking Congress Street provides a glimpse of office buildings intermingled with historically preserved buildings. The Wadsworth-Longfellow House is the 19th century childhood home of the poet. The First Parish Church has an original cannon ball from the revolutionary war as a chandelier.

Portland's City Hall was built by Carrere and Hastings, best known for their design of the New York Public Library. And, Portland High School is the oldest standing high school in the country. If you listen closely, you can hear history continuously in the making.
The photograph above shows STATE STREET,
courtesy the Greater Portland Convention &
Visitors Bureau.

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum

Image courtesy of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum

Take a trip back in time at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum! Enjoy magnificent views of Portland's working waterfront aboard antique rail cars pulled by hard-working steam and diesel locomotives. Discover the unique two-foot gauge trains that linked rural Maine to the rest of the world.

These 2-foot gauge steam trains connected rural Maine with the rest of the world from 1879 until just before World War II. Shipping everything from passengers, farming goods, and lumber, these diminutive steam-powered trains served to strengthen Maine's infrastructure and communication as a great improvement from the days of the rather impractical and weather-reliant horse-drawn buggy. The reign of the 2-footers thundering through Maine's countryside lasted until the dawning of the modern era of paved roads, trucks, and private automobiles. Whether you are a rail enthusiast, history buff, or simply planning a fun and educational afternoon: a visit to the MNGRR is a MUST! MNGRR and its collection are a great part of the City of Portland and the State of Maine; please come join us for a ride along scenic Casco Bay. Without a doubt, you will come away with a new appreciation for a piece of Maine's History!!! For more information please visit www.mngrr.org.

Wadsworth - Longfellow House

PortlandLongfellowHouse.jpgWithin its walls lived four generations of one remarkable family that made significant contributions to the political, literary, and cultural life of New England and the United States. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), grew up in the house and went on to become one of the most famous men of his time.

General Peleg Wadsworth, built the house in 1785-1786, and the last person to live there was Anne Longfellow Pierce, Henry's younger sister. Mrs. Pierce, widowed at an early age, lived in the house until her death in 1901. At that time, in accordance with a deed she executed in 1895, the house passed to the Maine Historical Society to be preserved as a memorial to her famous brother and their family. (Image of the Wadsworth-Longfellow home above courtesy of the Maine Historical Society, © 2000-2006.)

Virtually all of the household items and artifacts are original to the Wadsworth and Longfellow families. Furnishings from the four generations illustrate changes in style, technology, and attitude over the 18th and 19th centuries. The Wadsworth-Longfellow House is also an important architectural artifact of New England's past. Originally a two-story structure with a pitched roof, it was the first wholly brick dwelling in Portland.

Peleg and Elizabeth Wadsworth raised ten children in the house before retiring to the family farm in Hiram, Maine, in 1807. Zilpah and Stephen Longfellow (Henry's parents) added a third story in 1815. The only single-family residence to survive downtown Congress Street's change from a mixed commercial and residential neighborhood on the edge of town to an urban business district, it is the oldest standing structure on the Portland peninsula.

Today, the Wadsworth-Longfellow House is a three-story, brick structure set in the heart of Portland's downtown.

For more information visit online at http://www.hwlongfellow.org/ and select "His Homes."

Portland Observatory

Portland_Observatory.jpgThe Portland Observatory (1807) is the only extant maritime signal station in the United States, and thus a unique architectural icon of maritime shipping and the "Golden Age of Sail." The Portland Observatory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and became a National Historic Landmark in 2006.

Sea captain-turned-entrepreneur, Lemuel Moody (1768-1846), ordered construction of this octagonal, 86 feet-high tower to serve as a communication station for Portland's bustling harbor. With his powerful telescope, Moody identified incoming vessels and then signaled merchants with coded signal flags. "Signalizing" allowed merchants ample time to reserve a berth on the wharves, and to hire a crew of stevedores before a vessel docked.

The Observatory was built at the eastern end of the Portland peninsula on Munjoy Hill, which was a cow pasture at the time. Moody built his home and other buildings near the tower. The complex was replete with banquet and dance halls as well as a bowling alley. From the time it opened in 1807, it was a tourist attraction.

Photograph of the Portsmouth Observatory from Portsmouth Landmarks by Timothy P. Byrne.

For more information visit online at http://www.portlandlandmarks.org and select the menu item for "Portland Observatory."

Maine Maritime Museum

Model Ships
Image courtesy of the Maine Maritime Museum

Maine Maritime Museum, located north of Portland in Bath, Maine, celebrates Maine's maritime heritage and culture in order to educate the community and a worldwide audience about the important role of Maine in regional and global maritime activities. The Museum accomplishes its stewardship through: discriminate collection, preservation and dissemination of historic materials and information, engaging educational programs, relevant and compelling exhibitions, and a unique historic shipyard, all connecting the past to contemporary and future issues.

Experience Maine's rich seafaring history on the banks of the Kennebec River at Maine Maritime Museum. From watercraft and lobstering, to shipbuilding and sea trade, you'll hear stories about dangerous voyages to distant lands, see how a shipbuilder's family lived in the 1890s, smell the sawdust from historic ship timbers, and discover the wonders and mysteries of Maine's maritime culture.

- Ten acres of galleries and exhibits on 25 acres of scenic waterfront.
- Five original 19th century shipyard buildings.
- Wyoming: life-size sculpture of the largest wooden sailing vessel ever built.
- Late Victorian-era home of a prominent Bath family (seasonal).
- Hands-on activities and river cruises (seasonal).

For more information go online at http://www.mainemaritimemuseum.org.

Portland Breakwater Lighthouse

Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, aka "BUG LIGHT"
Image courtesy of the Greater Portland Convention & Visitors Bureau.

In November 1831, a fierce storm ravaged Portland Harbor, destroying wharves and buildings. In response, a 2,500-foot protective breakwater was planned for the south side of the harbor's entrance. A lighthouse was included in the plans for the structure. Construction began in 1836 but was soon halted by lack of funds. The breakwater reached 1,800 feet and was uncapped for much of its length. The shortage of funds also delayed the building of the lighthouse, making the breakwater more of a navigational hindrance than a help.

Finally, in 1854, funds for a lighthouse were appropriated. Construction began the following year, and on August 1, 1855, a small octagonal wooden tower with a sixth-order Fresnel lens was lighted for the first time by Keeper W.A. Dyer.

The breakwater was extended by almost 200 feet in the early 1870s and a new lighthouse was erected on a granite foundation at the end of the structure. The original tower was moved to Little Diamond Island, where it became a lookout tower for buoy tenders.

First lighted in June 1875, the new Portland Breakwater Light, known locally as "Bug Light," was modeled after the Greek Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, built in the fourth century B.C. The design of the cast-iron tower is unique; the cylinder is surrounded by six fluted columns. It has been suggested that Thomas Ustick Walter, who designed and erected the cast-iron dome on the nation's Capitol building, may have had something to do with designing the lighthouse.

The lighthouse held a sixth order Fresnel lens. The walk on the breakwater was still difficult, but still no keeper's house was built. A wooden keeper's dwelling with two rooms was finally built adjacent to the lighthouse in 1889. Two more rooms and an attic were added in 1903. The house presented an unusual appearance as it actually hung over the edge of the breakwater on both sides.

In 1897, a 400-pound fog bell was relocated from the nearby Stanford Ledge Buoy to the breakwater. A 1,000 pound bell was installed at the base of the tower in 1903. In the following year, 200 tons of riprap stones were piled around the outer end of the breakwater to afford more protection for the lighthouse.

Portland Breakwater Light and neighboring Spring Point Ledge Light were electrified in 1934. The keeper's house at the breakwater was removed and the job of tending the light went to the keeper at Spring Point Ledge.

For more information visit online at http://lighthouse.cc/portlandbreakwater.

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Image courtesy of the Greater Maine Convention & Visitors Bureau

Cape Elizabeth is the home of Portland Head Light. Situated along the spectacular shores of Fort Williams Park, at 1000 Shore Road, the popular landmark is owned and managed by the Town of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

The Museum at Portland Head Light is contained within the former Keepers' Quarters. The award winning Museum contains a number of lighthouse lenses and interpretative displays. Also on the site is a seasonal shop featuring fine lighthouse and Maine related gifts.

The adjacent ninety acre Fort Williams Park offers picnic facilities, hiking opportunities, sports and recreation areas, historic fort structures, and unlimited ocean views.

Portland Head has long protected Portland and the adjacent area. Cape Elizabeth residents were deeply committed to American independence from British rule. In 1776, the new Town of Cape Elizabeth posted a guard of eight soldiers at Portland Head to warn citizens of coming British attacks.

In 1787, the General Court of Massachusetts (the Massachusetts legislature) provided $750 to begin construction of a lighthouse. In 1790, when the United States Government took over the responsibility of all lighthouses, Congress appropriated $1,500 for its completion. The original tower measured 72' from base to lantern deck and was lit with 16 whale oil lamps. It was first lit on January 10, 1791.

Construction of the first Keeper's Quarters began in 1790 as the result of a contract signed by Massachusetts Governor John Hancock. A one story dwelling built to replace the first keeper's house was erected in 1816. It measured 34' x 20' with two rooms, a cellar and a porch in the rear.

By 1864 a 4th order Fresnel lens and a cast iron staircase were installed. By 1865, the tower was raised 20' and a 2nd order Fresnel lens was installed. A portion of this lens may now be seen at the Museum at Portland Head Light. Except for a period between1883 and1885, this lens was in the lighthouse until 1958.

Late on Christmas Eve in 1886, the three masted bark Annie C. Maguire struck the ledge at Portland Head. Keeper Joshua Strout, his son, wife, and volunteers rigged an ordinary ladder as a gangplank between the shore and the ledge the ship was heeled against. Captain O'Neil, the ship's master, his wife, two mates, and the nine man crew clambered onto the ledge and then to safety . The cause of the wreck is puzzling since visibility was not a problem. Members of the crew reported they "plainly saw Portland Light before the disaster and are unable to account for same."

The current Keepers' Quarters building was constructed in 1891 as a two story duplex. Until 1989, it was home to the head and assistant lighthouse keepers and their families.

For more information visit online at http://www.portlandheadlight.com/.

Portland Harbor Museum

Portland Harbor Museum
Image courtesy of the Portland Harbor Museum web site.

Founded in 1987, Portland Harbor Museum is an exciting place to explore and celebrate the rich maritime history of Portland Harbor.

Located on the South Portland waterfront, the museum lies within the granite walls of Fort Preble, adjacent to Spring Point Ledge Light. Bug Light and the Liberty Ship Memorial are less than a mile away.

Portland Harbor Museum will open its new exhibit, "Four Stories: Inside the Portland Harbor Museum Collection," on April 18, 2008. The exhibit will run from April 18, 2008 through November 30, 2008. The exhibit focuses on four themes taken from the museum's collection: The Portland Ship Ceiling Company, vintage postcards, Casco Bay Lines ferries, and an unrealized WPA project in the 1930s that would have transformed Portland's Back Cove. The exhibit is sponsored in part by the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust.

Other exhibits include: Snow Squall: The Journey of an American Clipper Ship - Built in 1851, just a few miles from the museum, Snow Squall sailed for 13 years and carried goods to faraway lands. This exhibit, which includes timbers and artifacts from the vessel, tells the story of Snow Squall, its abandonment in the Falkland Islands in the 1860s, and its recovery and return to South Portland in the 1980s. Visitors learn about the Age of Clipper Ships and Nineteenth Century wooden shipbuilding.

The Photographs of Edward T. Richardson, Jr. - Spanning the period from 1954 to 1996, this exhibit showcases seven documentary, yet aesthetically compelling, photographs by Edward T. Richardson, Jr. Highlights include his views of the Portland Pilot Boat (1954), the Coast Guard Training Ship Eagle (1975), and the Aircraft Carrier John F. Kennedy (1987).

The Portland Harbor Museum gift shop specializes in unique items, including cards, toys, mugs, t-shirts, DVDs, prints, and other interesting treasures. We feature gifts made by regional artists and craftspeople. Visit us and take a little bit of Maine back home with you.

For more information visit online at http://www.portlandharbormuseum.org.

Desert of Maine

DesertofMaine.jpgVisitors find it difficult to imagine among the rolling hills and rambling brooks at the end of Desert Rd. there is a Desert. Once you take your first step through the gift shop's front door, however, your doubts will vanish as you enter the vast and sandy DESERT of MAINE.

The owners welcome you to a very unusual experience and they will do everything they can to make your visit a pleasant and informative one. (Photograph on the left courtesy of Desert of Maine web site.

In 1797 the Tuttle family moved to the 300 acre farm that once covered the Desert of Maine where they successfully raised crops of potatoes and hay for several years. Failure to rotate crops thereafter, combined with massive land - clearing and overgrazing resulted in severe soil erosion that exposed this hidden Desert. As the spreading sand grew uncontrollable, the Tuttles surrendered, leaving the Desert to it's destiny.

The Desert of Maine and it's surrounding forest have remained a natural haven for Maine's indigenous Flora & Fauna. See living trees half covered in sand. Peruse the various nature trails and see wild flowers, mushrooms, wild blueberries and many other varieties of nature's wonders...

The Desert contains hundreds of shades of sands, running through the many colored veins in the Desert floor. Our Sand Designers make intricate shapes and patterns in glass bottles of varying shapes and sizes. The finished pieces may be viewed and purchased in our Gift Shop... For a small fee, you can make your own Simple Bottle.

Geologists have established that a glacier that slid through the area 11,000 years ago-at the end of the last Ice Age or Pleistocene Period - left behind the sand and mineral deposits that today comprise the Desert of Maine...

Scientists and writers the world over have attested to the Desert's authenticity. The natural phenomenon has been accorded recognition by such notables as Walter WinHelp in his New York Daily News column and in Ripley's Believe It or Not. Also featured in Deserts of America, a Universal documentary.

For more information please visit http://www.desertofmaine.com/.

Bath Iron Works

Image courtesy of General Dynamics Corporation, BIW Division.

The Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard, located on the Kennebeck River in Bath, Maine, is the namesake of an iron foundry established in 1826. Brevet General Thomas W. Hyde, US Army (Ret) took over the foundry in 1865, following service with the 20th Maine Regiment during the Civil War. Nearly two decades later, he incorporated his diversified marine business interests as Bath Iron Works, Limited in 1884, before expanding into shipbuilding with the acquisition of the Goes Marine Iron Works in 1888. The first BIW-built vessel was a coastal passenger ship named Cottage City built for the Maine Steamship Co. Since the completion of Hull #1 in 1890, BIW has been awarded more than 425 shipbuilding contracts, including 245 military ships (mostly destroyers and frigates for the US Navy) and over 160 private yachts and commercial vessels. BIW became a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Dynamics in September 1995.

As the 21st century began, BIW solidified its industry leadership position by teaming with the City of Bath and the State of Maine in a long-term capital investment plan. With the modernization complete in 2001, BIW began building ships in its new state-of-the-art facility.

For more information visit online at http://www.gdbiw.com.

Other Attractions in the area:

Abbe Museum (Indian Heritage), Bar Harbor, Maine
Albacore Submarine Museum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Auto Museum, Wells, Maine
Bath, Maine
CellarDoor Vineyards, Lincolnville, Maine
DeLorme's Eartha, Portland, Maine
DiMillo's Longwharf, Portland Maine
Freeport, Maine
Governor John Langdon House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Harbor Cruises, Portland, Maine
Kennebunkport, Maine
Kittery, Maine
L.L. Bean Outlet
Lobster & Clam Bakes
Lobstering Tours & Demonstrations
Lobster Shack, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Maine Eastern Railroad, Brunswick, Maine
Moffat-Ladd House, Porstmouth, New Hampshire
Pontine Theatre, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth Brewery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Redhook Brewery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Saint John's Church, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunkport, Maine
Smuttynose Brewing Co., Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Strawberry Banke, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Sweetgrass Farm Winery, Union, Maine
Sweet Pea's Winery, Bar Harbor, Maine
Victoria Mansion, Portland, Maine
Warner House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Whale Watching Cruises
Whitewater Rafting
Winterport Winery, Winterport, Maine
Yarmouth, Maine

Military Installations:

Brunswick Naval Air Station, Brunswick, Maine
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine

About John Paul Jones & Ranger
compiled by Lesley Nelson-Burns

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