What do Portlanders care about? Our values are reflected in the kinds of community organizations, independent media, education, recreation, and entertainment opportunities that we enjoy. Down below you’ll find information about all of those things, as well as the neighborhoods we live in and how life changes through the seasons.
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Education for Kids
About 5,000 Maine children are homeschooled each year. Start here for an overview of state requirements.
Maine Unschooling Network describes itself as a “a secular community of whole-life learners, autodidacts and radical unschoolers of all ages, questioning and living free of institutional education.”
Math Affect is a private consultancy that uses “neuroscience based learning interventions” to help kids with math and other academic challenges on the full range of the educational spectrum. Contact Cristina Cumming at 207-233-2564.
Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest and most diverse school district serving nearly 7,000 students from pre-kindergarten through grade twelve, and more than 4,500 adult learners. There are ten elementary schools (two located on islands), three middle schools, and four high schools, including King Middle School and Casco Bay High School, which both operate on an expeditionary learning model. This quick fact sheet on Portland Public Schools provides additional information about the district.
The city is also home to a number of private day schools that serve students from early childhood through grade twelve. For a comprehensive list, peruse this list of public and private schools on Wikipedia.
Sports and Recreation for Kids
The City of Portland website has a list of all the playgrounds in Portland, with links to further information.
The Portland Department of Recreation sponsors a variety of classes, camps, and sports programs for kids and teens.
What People Say About Us
Travel + Leisure (2010): #9 Best Farmers' Market
"The 30-odd growers and producers who gather on Saturdays in downtown Portland’s Deering Oaks Park are carrying on a tradition that goes back more than two centuries (the city’s first farmers’ market opened in 1768)."
Bon Appétit (2010): Foodiest Small Town
"Why? First, it's got great product, from oysters to fiddlehead ferns. Second, the town has attracted stellar chefs who know how to turn these resources into great food. Third, it even has a signature meal, breakfast, that turns the first fare of the day into a celebration of all this bounty. And finally, it has citizens who expect a lot, and get even more."
Parenting Magazine (2012): #3 Best City for Education
"Already doing well with its small class sizes, Portland also ranked for its low student-to-teacher ratio and high graduation rate."
Parenting Magazine (2012): #3 Best City for Families
"New to this year's list, Portland is another small, northeastern city that lures parents with clean air, plenty of outdoor space for kids to play, and a laidback lifestyle that encourages healthy, active family living."
Self Magazine (2009): #3 Healthiest City For Women
"You can work downtown, hop on a bike at lunch and quickly be in a wooded area by a stream,' enthuses Heather Chandler, 38, publisher of the Sunrise Guide, a book of green-living tips for southern Maine. The area (including South Portland and Biddeford) posts primo scores for water and air quality and has nearly 70 percent more green buildings than the average."
Forbes (2011): #6 Best City for Young Adults
"The New England port town has the highest number of small businesses per capita, a relatively high proportion of large businesses and a low unemployment rate."
The Advocate (2010): #8 Gayest City
"It’s sweet, romantic, and too small for bitchy queens and their toxic attitudes. Energetic young businesses like fermented-honey booze-maker Maine Mead Works and the popular men’s clothing label Rogues Gallery have established it as a harbor for creativity as well as tolerance."
Portfolio.com (2010): #8 Fun City
Three top ten-rankings (for shopping, popular entertainment, and culture) helped put Portland at #8 in the nation.
Travel+Leisure (2012): #8 Worst-Dressed People
"Portland isn't where you come to try on cutting-edge clothing. But that's just fine because the city slays the competition in other areas, placing first in five survey categories, including best summer destination and best drivers."
Kiplinger Magazine (2012): #1 Best City for Your Second Act
"Portland's lively arts scene, highly skilled workforce and inventive cuisine, along with a low crime rate and high-quality medical facilities, are drawing professionals who are making their home base here and telecommuting or flying to their jobs."
Outside Magazine (2010): Best Town in the East
"Portland is one of those rare places that really does combine small-town charm with big(ger)-city opportunities. But what we really love is the uniquely Maine mix of generational fishermen and young professionals, the latter lured here by the relatively low cost of living and (for Maine, at least) a diverse economy that includes everything from major financial and insurance corporations to media companies like our partner Outside TV."
Men's Health (2012): #2 Most Eligible Women
"We undertook a nonpartisan examination of the data on datable citizens: the ratio of single women to single men, the percentage of college-educated women, the percentage of gainfully employed single women (all from the Census), and the number who work out (Experian Simmons)."
Forbes (2009): #1 Most Livable City
"Tasty microbrews aren't the only reason to like Portland. Thanks to high marks in five key quality of life metrics, Portland tops this year's list of America's Most Livable Cities. 'It's a very easy place to live," says Leon Perrin, 31, a manager at Gritty's. "It's small, so getting around isn't too much of a hassle. And it's a beautiful place throughout all four seasons.'"
Appetite Portland “documents the delights of this city’s restaurants and food stores,” with reviews and commentary on Portland restaurant scene chatter.
Blog About Beer, written by a local home brewer and beer afficionado, proclaims to be a resource for better beer, beer news and fun beer stuff.
Blueberry Files is the blog of a recent Portland transplant and foodie, with photos, recipes, and reviews.
Dine in Portland aspires to bring a fresh perspective to reviews and critiques of Portland’s restaurants. Also featuring recipes.
While Eater Maine does cover the whole state, you can use the sort-by-town feature to find out what's happening in Portland's food scene.
Immigrant Kitchens is the blog of professional cook Lindsay Sterling chronicling her adventures in the kitchens of local immigrants.
Urbanspoon Portland has an impressive collection of Porltand restaurant reviews from critics, food bloggers, and Urbanspoon users.
Cultural Resources for Kids
Appolon School of Music and Art offers group and private violin and cello lessons, a chamber orchestra program, as well as music theory classes.
Portland Museum of Art hosts exhibits and special events for kids and families throughout the year, as well as summer Museum Art Camps.
Back Cove is the neighborhood adjacent to the tidal basin on the northern side of Portland circled by a popular running trail and Baxter Boulevard. Quiet residential streets branch out from the Boulevard like spokes. In this neighborhood, three-story Victorians intermingle with little houses with tidy fenced in yards. Back Cove is away from the bustle of the downtown, but like most places in Portland, just five to seven minutes away from where you need to be. To learn more, contact the Back Cove Neighborhood Association.
Bayside is a centrally-located neighborhood with easy access to the heart of the city. It it bordered by Marginal Way to the north, Franklin Arterial to the east, Congress Street to the south, and Forest Avenue to the west, and home to the best bowling alley in town, Bayside Bowl. To learn more about the neighborhood, contact the Bayside Neighborhood Association.
Deering Center is situated between Brighton Avenue, Woodford Street, Forest Avenue, and Walton Street. To learn more about the neighborhood, contact theDeering Center Neighborhood Organization.
Downtown is the heart of Portland, running from High Street to Franklin Street, and from Cumberland Avenue down to Portland’s working waterfront. Downtown residents enjoy views of Portland’s picturesque brick cityscape, and Portland’s coffee shops, art museum, galleries, and bookstores are conveniently located right outside their doorsteps. To learn more about Portland’s downtown neighborhoods and beyond, explore the Portland Downtown District’s guide to areas of interest.
East Bayside is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Maine, and is bounded on the west by Franklin Street, the east by Washington Avenue, the north by Marginal Way, and the south by Congress Street. To learn more, contact the East Bayside Neighborhood Organization or check out their Facebook page.
Munjoy Hill is on the eastern edge of the Portland peninsula overlooking Casco Bay and about a half mile from the heart of the downtown. It’s the city’s hip, up-and-coming neighborhood—the Brooklyn of Portland—complete with a coffee shop, a corner store with organic local produce, and several little restaurants. A fire in the mid-nineteenth century destroyed much of this neighborhood, so Munjoy Hill’s two and three-story houses are newer and closer together. Decks and balconies on Munjoy Hill look out onto the Eastern Promenade, a scenic waterfront park with a small beach and bike path, a favorite of active Portlanders and dog owners alike. For a window into this hilltop neighborhood, peruse Munjoy Hill News, follow Munjoy Hill on Twitter, or contact the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization. Support Munjoy Hill’s scenic overlook of Casco Bay by joining Friends of the Eastern Promenade.
Nason’s Corner includes the areas on both sides of outer Brighton Avenue starting at Wayside Road out to Westbrook. The area is sandwiched by the two largest green spaces in the city, Evergreen Cemetery and the Fore River Sanctuary, and also contains Capisic Brook and the Capisic Pond trail. Also check out the Nason’s Corner Park Community Playground Greening Project. To learn more, contact the Nason’s Corner Neighborhood Association.
North Deering is a large residential neighborhood on the northeastern edge of Portland, bordered on the west by train tracks, and on the east by the town of Falmouth. To learn more about the neighborhood, contact the North Deering Neighborhood Association.
Parkside is—as it sounds—the area adjacent to Deering Oaks Park, a grassy expanse in the center of the city with tall oak trees and fountains, the site of the weekly Portland Farmers Market between the months of May and November. To learn more about the neighborhood, contact the Parkside Neighborhood Association.
Peaks Island is one of the over 200 islands in Casco Bay, and just an 18-minute ferry ride from downtown Portland. The island is home to many artists, writers, and educators, among others. There is a public elementary school on the island, and Peaks Island students attend King Middle School and Portland High School. The island is home to around 1000 year-round residents, and the population blossoms to 5,000-6,000 in the summertime. To learn more, check out the Peaks Island website, as well as the community site.
Riverton is a large neighborhood in the northwest corner of Portland, bordered by the town of Westbrook. To learn more, contact the Riverton Neighborhood Organization.
St. John’s Valley is on the eastern edge of the Portland peninsula, close to downtown and the Western Promenade. To learn more about the neighborhood, contact the St. John’s Valley Neighborhood Association.
Stroudwater encompasses the area to west of the railroad tracks, abutting South Portland to the south and Westbrook to the west. To learn more about the neighborhood, contact the Stroudwater Neighborhood Association.
The West End has an air of quiet and grandeur. It’s home to large nineteenth and early twentieth-century brick, stone, and clapboard homes with tidy yards and colorful gardens. The tree-lined streets with single and multi-family homes feel much like the quiet residential streets of Cambridge. The Western Promenade, a grassy walkway with views of the White Mountains and the Fore River, slopes down to the historic Western Cemetery, creating a natural boundary for the neighborhood. From the West End, Portland’s downtown district is just a short walk away. To learn more, contact the West End Neighborhood Organization or the Western Promenade Neighborhood Association, and read the West End News blog and website.
Woodfords-Oakdale is a centrally-located neighborhood just northwest of the downtown area, but with quiet, tree-lined residential streets and easy access to several schools. To learn more about the neighborhood, contact the Woodfords-Oakdale Neighborhood Organization.
Bay Club is a premiere fitness facility with personal trainers, steam and sauna rooms, a raw juice and smoothie bar, chiropractic and massage services, and a wide array of classes and exercise equipment.
Planet Fitness is on Marginal Way, making it convenient for commuters. The basic membership is just $10/month.
University of Southern Maine’s Sullivan Recreation and Fitness Complex is open to the general public on a membership basis.
The Body Architect is a hidden gem of a fitness center in Portland’s East End. Treadmills and elliptical machines face out over the Back Cove, and membership includes full access to classes like kettle bells, yoga, and cardio kickboxing.
World Gym is known for their “boot camp.” It’s on Marginal Way, a convenient location for those who come into town by the highway.
Sports to Play and Do
Dancing in Maine is a directory of dance resources in Maine, including dance organizations, venues, instructors, and an events calendar.
Riverton and Reiche pools, and the outdoor Kiwanis Pool offer swim lessons for children and adults, adult aerobics, open swim, and rental opportunities. Check out the schedules of these public pools.
Portland Community Rowing Association offers both competitive and recreational rowing opportunities to kids and adults from Portland’s East End Beach.
Portland Department of Recreation sponsors a variety of recreational activities for adults, including yoga classes, a soccer league, and group trips to Boston Red Sox games.
PortSports is a co-ed social club sponsoring charity-based casual sports leagues, social and charity events, and sport-based excursions throughout the year.
Racket and Fitness Club is Maine’s largest indoor tennis facility, with nine air conditioned tennis courts, racquetball and wallyball courts, and a fully equipped fitness center.
Casco Bay Lines offers year-round ferry service between Portland and the islands of Casco Bay: Peaks, Little and Great Diamond, Cliff, Long, and Chebeague, as well as special summer cruises to Bailey Island.
The Portland Freedom Trail, currently comprised of sixteen marked sites, recognizes people associated with the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movement in Portland. Visit the website for a map to guide your walk.
Community Support Organizations
Catholic Charities Maine is dedicated to providing support for the refugee and immigrant communities in Maine. Learn more about making a donation or various volunteer opportunities, from ESL tutoring to the American Friends Program, which matches English-speaking families or individuals with refugee families.
Preble Street provides support for people experiencing problems with homelessness, housing, hunger, and poverty through drop-in centers, soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, social work services, and supported housing. You can help by volunteering, making a financial contribution or in-kind donation, and more.
The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project provides free and low-cost immigration information and legal assistance to low-income Maine residents. ILAP helps immigrants keep their families together, gain protection from persecution and domestic violence, attain residency and work authorization, and become proud U.S. citizens.
Exception Magazine is a nonpartisan online news magazine that covers the business, politics and culture of Maine.
Maine Home + Design is a shelter magazine that focuses on Maine interiors, architecture, arts and crafts.
Maine magazine covers the whole state from its home base in Portland including food, recreation, travel, music, art, style, and notable people.
Maine Public Broadcasting Network has studio offices in Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor and broadcasts on both tv and radio.
Portland Magazine is our glossy “city” magazine featuring personality profiles, arts news, food and local flavor, reviews, events listings, and original fiction.
The Bollard is a monthly independent news and arts publication, featuring news, reviews, and music and theater listings.
The Portland Phoenix has its finger on the cultural pulse of Portland, with articles, reviews, and editorials about the latest news, music, movies, art, and places to eat and drink in Portland.
WPMG Radio features incredibly varied community radio programming from Russian rock to Cambodian pop to old-time country.
Real Estate and Housing
Maine Listings enables you browse residential and commercial property listings throughout the state by country, town, and property type. It is the official MLS website in the state of Maine.
NewEnglandMoves.com is the real estate search engine of the residential brokerage firm Coldwell Banker, with many single and multi-family homes and condo listings in Portland.
Realtor.com lets you search property listings for rent and sale by zip code, price range, and number of beds and baths.
Trulia has house, apartment, and condo listings for both buyers and renters, searchable by price, square-footage, number of beds and baths, and more. Their smartphone app allows you to see properties in the vicinity, wherever you are.
Community Media Organizations
Food Events, Groups, + Classes
Cultivating Community‘s mission is to strengthen communities by growing food, preparing youth leaders and new farmers, and promoting social and environmental justice. They run several neighborhood farm stands in Portland.
Local Sprouts is a culinary and cultural organization with the mission to provide people in Maine with creative local and organic food and holistic learning through cooking food for local community. To get a taste of what this means, check out the Local Sprouts Cafe, on Congress St., which serves healthy dishes made from local and organic food at affordable prices.
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association sponsors food, agriculture, and farming-related events and workshops throughout the year, from mushroom cultivation workshops to conversations about how education can support agriculture in Maine. Check out their event calendar and don’t miss their annual Common Ground Fair in Unity each September.
Chef David Levi runs the Portland Food + Cooking Course, preparing food as an expression of season and place in Maine.
Portland Food Map is a comprehensive guide to food and drink in Portland, with regular food news updates via RSS, a graphic map of Portland’s restaurants arranged by category, and an exhaustive list of all things food-related—from fish mongers to doughnut shops, Indian restaurants to food blogs. Stay up to date on what’s cooking in the Portland food scene with their events calendar.
Rabelais is a one of the better-known food and cookbook stores in the country, run by the husband-wife duo Smantha Hoyt Lindgren and Don Lindgren. It’s located in the North Dam Mill in nearby Biddeford. The store sponsors many food-related events including a FoodFilms series and book signings. Check out their calendar.
The Portland Permaculture Meetup Group has over 700 members of all ages, ranging from local foods enthusiasts to local resilience and sustainable living advocates. Group activities include potlucks, workshops—permaculture design, foraging, and cold-frame building are some recent topics—as well as lectures, discussions, and film screenings.
Urban Farm Fermentory is a hub of creative fermentation located in an old reclaimed warehouse in the Bayside neighborhood. Beyond sauerkraut, pickles, and fermented beverages like cider and wine, here you will also find classes on everything from mushroom cultivation to composting.
Greater Portland Landmarks promotes the preservation and revitalization of historic buildings, neighborhoods, and landscapes, while encouraging high-quality new architecture that enhances the livability and economic vitality of greater Portland. Learn about ways to get involved as a member, volunteer, or docent.
Portland Adult Education offers business and skills training, along with literacy classes and “personal enrichment” offerings such as dance, crafts, or cooking courses. Enrollment is open to everyone.
Salt Institute for Documentary Studies offers intensive fifteen-week programs in documentary writing, radio, and photography for undergraduate and graduate students.
Maine Outdoor Adventure Club (MOAC) is an all-volunteer member organization. Members organize and lead trips and activities for both beginners and experts, from winter camping, rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking to whitewater kayaking, sailing, walking, and snowshoeing.
Yoga and Pilates Studios
Portland Yoga Studio offers classes, workshops and retreats in Iyengar, gentle, vigorous, prenatal, and therapeutic styles of Hatha yoga.
Maine Campus Compact provides information on a variety of of sustainability internships, as well as other sustainability-related programs and opportunities.
Undergraduate and Graduate Programs
Maine College of Art (MECA) offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts, a Post-Baccalaureate in Art Education, as well as Continuing Studies for adults and kids, including a Pre-College intensive for high school students.
Maine Technology Institute (MTI) has seven Technology Centers across the state to provide business incubation and help nurture young, entrepreneurial companies in Maine, including the Target Technology Incubator at the University of Maine campus in Orono and the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, at the University of Southern Maine, in Portland.
Salt Institute for Documentary Studies offers intensive fifteen-week programs in documentary writing, radio, and photography for undergraduate and graduate students.
University of New England (UNE), with campuses in both Portland and Biddeford, offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs.
Table Art Media is the Portland-based publisher of “Fresh from Maine” and its companion website that talk about the farm to table restaurant movement in Maine.
Maine Roller Derby is Maine’s first women’s flat track roller derby league, comprised of three teams: an all-star team called The Port Authorities, a "junior varsity" or B-team called The Calamity Janes, and a C-team of scrimmage-eligible skaters called the R.I.P.Tides. Their home bouts are usually held at the Portland Expo.
Professional and Leadership Opportunities
Maine Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts‘ mission is to provide effective legal council for artists and organizations with limited financial resources and to educate broadly about arts-related business and legal issues.
Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project coordinates the volunteer efforts of Maine attorneys and community members to help low-income people navigate the civil justice system. Learn more about volunteer opportunities for community members, students, and attorneys.
Adult and Continuing Education
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is a national network of adult learning facilities with an outpost at the University of Southern Maine. The center offers classes, workshops, special interest groups, and extracurricular activities for adults and seniors.
Economic and Cultural Organizations
Civic Engagement Opportunities
If you're interested in effective city government, join Portland Tomorrow, a non-partisan group of civic-minded Portlanders.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has done a variety of advocacy and structural improvement work in the city and Greater Portland since 1992. Join them to make Maine better for biking.
The City of Portland oversees a diverse group of committees and boards, from the Land Bank Commission to the Public Art Committee. Contact the individual committees for information on how to get involved, or search current opportunities. You can also check out current volunteer opportunities with the City, including mentoring high school students through the Portland Mentoring Alliance. You can also make a donation or learn more about public-private partnership opportunities.
The Institute for Civic Leadership offers training opportunities for nonprofit boards and a year-long networking and leadership development program.
The Maine League of Young Voters galvanizes young people about political issues affecting the community and works to involve more people in the political process.