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Kid-Friendly Spots In the Portland Area

Portland is a family-friendly town. You’ll find many things to do with your little ones of all ages. Restaurants generally are accommodating to children and the overall feeling is welcoming. Even though you will likely be fine toting your child around to a collaborative pottery and apparel shop and James Beard award winning restaurant, sometimes you really need a kid-centered pit stop to get through the day.

fun places to explore with kids in portland.

Portland Old Port recently posted a great article on kid-friendly ways to pass the time. Check it out here. I loved this list and found it to be excellent info for kids older than 5. My list below will include toddler-friendly activities also because, let’s face it. We need help! 

A two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.”  – Jerry Seinfeld

Here are my top 5 kid-friendly Spots near Portland, ME


  1. Playgrounds. Any parent who has been anywhere knows that kids need an outlet for play and fresh air. Check out the Eastern PromenadeDeering Oaks Park PlaygroundNason’s Corner Park (non-school hours only), Pond Cove Playground (non-school hours only), and Payson Park Playground (older, but fun and near Back Cove).
  2.  Portland Head Light. This iconic lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth has a Children’s Garden and its own playground. The paths along the water with lighthouse views in the main park are cliffside but fenced. There is a small rocky beach on the lower end of the park near the entrance. Parking is metered, with the exception of the playground (at the time of writing this article).
  3. Willard Beach. This sandy, protected beach is located about 15 minutes from downtown Portland. It is not the best beach for swimming but is great for sand castles, exploring, and beach walks. There’s a playground, seasonal bathrooms, and a small free parking lot. Scratch Bakery and Willard Scoops ice cream are a .2 mile walk up the road. The beach has limited dog hours and is very popular with pups so be sure to check the website for hours if this is important for your group to know.
  4. Mackworth Island. Mackworth Island is a great place to stretch your legs and hike on a mostly flat 1.25 mile dirt loop trail. The island is located in Falmouth just north of Portland with a small parking lot that charges a fee. The Baxter School for the Deaf is located in the center of the island (it is not open to the public). There are tree roots to navigate on the trail and it can get muddy at times although I have seen strollers. The walk offers pretty views of the Casco Bay and Portland with benches along the path and scattered beach access. On the northern side of the trail, there is a woodland fairy village for kids to stop and build structures out of sticks and natural materials they find scattered around. 
  5. Children’s Museum & Theater of Maine. The museum makes most lists for kids in the Portland area and it’s easy to see why. There are three floors of activities to pass the time, from a giant multi-level maze to pretend-play stations to small aquariums with star fish, turtles, and frogs. There are many different rooms to explore and a playground and large sandbox outside. I find the space to be terrific for smaller kids under 5-6 yrs old. Older kids will still have fun, but there is a certain amount of magic in the exhibits for younger ages in my view. Reservations are recommended as spots can fill up.

All of these spots are in heavy rotation with my family. Since most are outside, be sure to dress in layers! Bring a pair of rain-proof pants for your little one and grab a smoothie at The Juicery when everyone is low on energy. Have you been to any fantastic spots locally for kids? I’d love to hear!

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