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 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.
What People Say About Us
Business Insider (2014): One of the 14 Places You Should Plan to Visit in 2014
"America's other Portland has been gaining a reputation as a funky low-key destination that prizes quality food and cutting-edge art."
CBS San Francisco (2013): One of 5 Best Places in America for a White Christmas
"Featuring stunning views of the rugged Atlantic coastline, the state’s largest city kicks off the holiday season with its annual Christmas Tree Lighting the day after Thanksgiving in Monument Square."
Condé Nast Traveler (2014): #1 Most Underrated American City
"Time to give some love to this coastal city, which is rich with history, has a thriving microbrew scene, and more catch-of-the-day seafood restaurants than any one city deserves."
Forbes (2012): #5 Best City for Finding Employment Right Now
"The ranking reflects considerations such as: the diversity of industries in the city, the cost of living, the range in size of companies offering employment, and high level of education among its residents."
Green Living Magazine (2014): #1 Happiest City in the Eastern US
"Between the impressive air and water quality, and twice as many doctors per capita versus the national average, the smogless skies make Portland the healthiest urban center in the States."
Outside Magazine (2014): #13 Greatest Place to Live in America
"With an influx of bike commuters and locally sourced eateries, and a burgeoning art and music scene, the East Coast’s Portland (pop. 66,000) is starting to resemble its beard-dominated West Coast counterpart."
Smarter Travel (2014): One of America's Best Small Cities on the Rise
"There are so many artists, photographers, ad-agency writers and designers, and high-tech creative types in Portland that collectively they're driving change in the city."
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 laid-back lifestyle that encourages healthy, active family living."
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."
Travel + Leisure (2013): #9 Best City for Hipsters
"(Portland) excels in such hipster essentials as good java (like at Bard Coffee, off Congress Street) and good performance art. The Portland Stage Company does experimental theater, while coop-plus-café Local Sprouts offers both vegan cinnamon rolls and poetry slams."
Travel + Leisure (2014): #8 Best Coffee City
"Since the 1990s, Portland has supported strong local chains that go mano-a-Americano against the big chains."
Yelp (2014): #1 Best City to Shop Local For the Holidays
Yelp "analyzed millions of reviews and business listings to determine the US cities with the largest concentration of highly-rated local businesses where holiday shoppers can find great gifts."
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.
Megansmark is a Portland-based blog that takes a creative approach to cooking seasonally in Maine with locally-sourced ingredients.
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, and music theory classes.
The Language Exchange has immersion Spanish classes for children ages four through fourteen, and instruction for teens and older learners in eleven other languages, ranging from Swedish to Portuguese. They also encourage homeschoolers to get in touch about language instruction.
Portland Conservatory of Music offers group and private lessons, as well as summer camps focusing on a variety of musical genres, from world music to jazz and rock.
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, and the gym is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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.
Yoga and Pilates Studios
Spiral Tree Yoga and Wellness Studio, located in Portland's Rosemont neighborhood, offers programs for kids and family, adults, teens, as well as pre-natal and post-natal yoga.
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 Pool, Reiche Pool, 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.
Beginners and dodgeball veterans alike can dip, dive, duck, and dodge their way to athletic enjoyment with the Portland Dodgeball League.
PortSports is a co-ed social club sponsoring charity-based casual sports leagues, social and charity events, and sport-based excursions throughout the year.
The 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.
Civic Engagement Opportunities
The Institute for Civic Leadership offers training opportunities for nonprofit boards and a year-long networking and leadership development program.
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.
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 volunteer opportunities, from ESL tutoring to the American Friends Program, which matches English-speaking families or individuals with refugee families.
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. There are many volunteer opportunities.
The Portland Community Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides primary and mental healthcare for adults and children. Portland CHC is dedicated to providing high quality, patient-centered healthcare that is affordable and culturally sensitive. In addition to serving uninsured patients on a sliding fee scale, Portland CHC welcomes individuals with MaineCare, Medicare, and private insurance. Portland CHC welcomes donations.
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 Portland Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for families of children with cancer and other serious illnesses. Families can stay in proximity to the treatment hospital, be comfortable and cared for during their stay, and enjoy home-cooked meals, private bedrooms, and a place for children to play. There are many volunteer opportunities.
Wayside Food Programs is dedicated to increasing access to nutritious food for those in need in Southern Maine. Wayside’s hunger relief efforts include free community meals, mobile food pantries, a kids’ healthy snacks program, and community gardens. Wayside collects and distributes food to 47 agencies, including soup kitchens, food pantries, and other social service providers. You can help by donating money, food, or time.
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.
Community Media Organizations
Community Television Network (CTN) is a nonprofit organization that operates the public access television station, Channel 2, for the City of Portland and a community television station, Channel 5, for the greater Portland area. Support CTN or contact the organization for information on how to get involved.
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.
Pride Portland! brings together Portland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied community to celebrate the achievements of the LGBTQA movement and raise awareness of the work that still needs to be done. Pride Portland! sponsors the city's annual Pride Festival & Parade, and welcomes volunteers.
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, and there is a great need for volunteers to assist in classrooms and to work as tutors with students who are learning English as a second language.
The Multilingual and Multicultural Center oversees Portland Public Schools' English Language Acquisition Program for students whose home language is not English. Currently, the district has over 2,200 students who come from homes where over 60 different languages are spoken, representing about 25% of the schools' total enrollment. There are many volunteer opportunities.
Salt Institute for Documentary Studies offers intensive fifteen-week programs in documentary writing, radio, and photography for undergraduate and graduate students.
Maine Huts and Trails is a non-profit organization that manages a system of four backcountry eco-lodges and more than 80 miles of trails in Western Maine. The trails can be used year round for a variety of recreational purposes ranging from hiking and paddling in summer to nordic skiing in the winter.
Maine Island Trail Association is a great wilderness resource, with many sites located in our Casco Bay backyard. The Maine Island Trail is a 375-mile recreational waterway that spans the entire coast of Maine. America’s oldest recreational water trail, it connects over 200 island and mainland sites open for day visits or overnight camping.
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.
Portland Paddle offers sea kayaking and paddleboard rentals, guided trips, and lessons. Experienced paddlers can rent a kayak on Portland's East End Beach and explore the hundreds of islands of Casco Bay, while novices can paddle along the protected coastline of the waterfront.
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.
Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) offers nearly forty areas of study including business, health, education, the arts, trades, and the natural and social sciences.
University of New England (UNE), with campuses in both Portland and Biddeford, offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs.
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.
Realtor.com lets you search property listings for rent and sale by zip code, price range, and number of beds and baths.
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.
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.