Portland definitely has a playful side! Whether you’re looking for a fun day with your mini-me(s) or a brag-worthy staycation with a niece or nephew, you’ll find plenty of kid-friendly fun right here within Portland. We’ve rounded up some of the best places to take kids for a day out of the house this winter.
What’s your fun-filled day with the family? Let us know who we missed by sending an email or DM to @portlandoldport
Caravan Beads. If you’ve older kids who like to get crafty and make stuff with beads, you’ve to explore Caravan Beads on Forest Avenue. They’re only open on weekends, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but they have absolutely everything.
Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine: All three floors of the new Children’s Museum on Thompson’s Point are designed to let kids lead the way. Your kids can climb an enormous playscape, pretend to their hearts’ content in Our Neighborhood, touch sea creatures in From the Mountains to the Sea and watch bees buzz, dance in Illuminate, or hammer away in the MakerSpace.
The exhibits encourage exploration and learning in ways that are fun for the whole family. Who can resist a whole room of playing with the power of water?
The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Mondays for members from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Maddy’s Theatre at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine: The nation’s oldest continuously running children’s theatre turns 100 this year—in a beautiful new facility on the ground floor of the Children’s Museum at Thompson’s Point.
The Theatre for Young Audiences performances are a chance to see professional actors create theatre specifically for children and families. Youth theatre ensembles and intergenerational plays provide opportunities for Mainers to experience the joy of being part of a theatre production.
Color Me Mine: Painting ceramics and coming back to see them all fired up and shiny is a classic family boredom-buster. Make a reservation if you have a group of 5 or more or if you’re getting creative during school vacation.
Bayside Bowl: An hour of 10-pin bowling and a pizza or two makes for a fun family outing. Bumpers are available for children.
This is a popular bowling center, with reservations recommended. If the rooftop is open, take the elevator up for a bird’s-eye view of the city.
Tip: Bowling can be loud. Regular bowlers with babies get them super-cute and very practical noise-cancelling headphones.
Deering Oaks Park playground: This city park has a terraced playground with multiple playscapes for climbing and exploring, baby swings and—best of all—zip lines!
The park is ADA-accessible. Stop by with your kiddos for a quick energy burst.
The Escape Room: An escape room is a physical adventure game where participants work together to solve a series of puzzles and clues to “escape” to freedom. You start with a story, or scenario, and find clues around you.
If your family likes adventures of the “Indiana Jones”, imagine Professor Gunderson has gone missing and you and your team of explorers are trying to piece together his whereabouts and find the coordinates to the famed Lost City of Jaguar King.
Don’t forget, there’s a time limit! Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult; infants and toddlers can tag along for free.
Terrarium: A place where you can make terrariums with your kids? Yes, Portland has that!
Kids report that it’s quite exciting to have their own terrarium WITH BUGS IN IT! (Bugs optional). This place even has plastic cube terrariums for kiddos not ready to handle glass.
Ages 3+ (i.e. past the stage when they taste everything they touch).
Maine Celtics: Portland has front row seats, so to speak, to Maine’s NBA G League team, the Maine Celtics. Home games are played at the Portland Expo Building on Park Avenue. You can’t miss the giant basketball sign!
Don’t forget to wear your green, black and white. The team formerly known as the Maine Red Claws has been rebranded after being purchased by the Boston Celtics franchise. The season ends in late March and is affordable for the whole family.
Maine Mariners: Catch our hometown professional hockey team, the Maine Mariners (a Bruins’ affiliate), when they’re on home ice at Cross Insurance Arena downtown.
The season runs through April, with occasional post-game family skates with the players (bring your own skates and check them in at security). Show Maine Mariners pride in your navy and green.
Love Lab Studios: An art studio that puts creativity and joy at the heart of what they do, Love Lab Studios offers an array of workshops designed the meet the needs of children including one-time classes, parent+child, art after-school, and camps throughout the seasons.
Portland Museum of Art: Admission is free for kids—actually, for visitors 21 and younger!—and for absolutely everyone on Fridays, 4-8 p.m.
Not sure how to enjoy an art museum with kiddos? The PMA has tips—starting with letting your kids lead the way to what interests them. If all else fails, lead them to the hands-on workshop on the lower level.
Patriot Cinemas — Nickelodeon Cinemas: Portland’s downtown movie theater screens a mix of big blockbusters and niche films with an occasional family-friendly title.
On Tuesdays, all seats for all shows are $6. Don’t forget to have your parking ticket validated!
Portland Ovations: Arts nonprofit Portland Ovations connects Maine artists and audiences through diverse experiences, including child-focused shows, Broadway and dance productions, classical and intercultural music, and eclectic community events for arts lovers of all ages.
Riverton Community Pool. Saturday afternoon open swim (1-2:30 p.m.) is totally kid-friendly and a bargain to boot ($1 per kid/teen, $2 for out-of-towners). Occasionally the pool is closed for private swim or maintenance.
Tip: It’s always best to check their website before heading out for a swim.
Southworth Planetarium: Is it ever too early for a college visit? Not if it’s a visit to the planetarium!
In addition to astronomy presentations, Southworth shows cover dinosaurs, earthquakes, the solar system and space, natural selection and the history and science of telescopes.
During school vacation weeks, you can find both edu-tainment presentations and laser light shows like “Laser Beatles” and “Laser Pop.”
Treehouse Toys: When it’s time to shop for a gift, finding just the right thing is fun at Treehouse.
They’ve got unique and beautiful classic toys, games, puzzles and books (with plenty of Maine authors). They’re happy to help you find the perfect present—and wrap it, too! You can also shop their website by interest, from alpacas to unicorns
Troubh Ice Arena: Public skating at Troubh Ice Arena on Park Avenue is one of the best deals in town ($6 per person, plus $3 for rental skates). Just be sure to check the public skating calendar before you go; click on All About TIA Monthly Calendars. And wear thin socks!
If your kids are wobbly and you’re not much better, consider signing up for Learn to Skate lessons. Lessons are for ages 4 and up.
Winter Outdoor Recreation: Check out our robust guide of all things winter fun right here in Portland. For places to go sledding, cross-country skiing, fat-tire biking, snowshoeing, ice-skating or birdwatching read 8+ Ways to Get Outside in Portland.
Where else? We want to know about your favorite places and activities to do with your family. Let us know by email or DM @portlandoldport.