Ride the rails on the Train to Maine and enjoy a day as a family away from Boston! We hopped on our 9:05am train for a day trip to Portland ME earlier this month and spent a glorious, perfectly-planned 7 hours of fun in the city of Portland. Starting with the excitement of riding the Amtrak Downeaster to perusing an amazing toy store, there’s lots to explore on your day trip to Maine. Follow along, download our planned itinerary, and even enter for your chance to win free tickets on the train!
Our family is so thrilled to represent the Amtrak Downeaster after they sent us on a trip to Portland, ME from Boston’s North Station this month. After some careful planning, we were able to plan a perfect day trip to Portland ME with kids.
We thoroughly enjoyed the ride from Boston to Portland, eating in the cafe, walking the aisles, and enjoying the view. We played train games (<Print them free here) and tried to really soak in the experience of being on the Train to Maine.
As we were waiting in the bus stop outside the train station another family walked up and asked if that was the bus into town. Having never been there and only having the map I took a screenshot of on my phone, I told her what I knew.
It turns out they were day-tripping too as they were vacationing in Boston. And other than our stop at the Children’s Museum, they joined us for entire adventure including dinner and the ride home!
As a family of 4, we were able to enjoy the day for $100 including meals, tickets, and the three bus fares.
Important Fast facts about your Day trip to Portland, Maine from Boston
- With the Take 5 for $5 deal on the Amtrak Downeaster, tickets are only $10 round trip with the purchase of a full price fare. This means 6 people can do a round trip visit from Boston to Portland for just $90 total on a Tuesday or Thursday.
- If you can’t travel during the week, Kids ride free on Sundays or get half price children’s tickets on Saturday with the purchase of an adult.
- Print a set of TRAIN games Bingo cards! It’s a great way to engage your kids in the experience while also keeping them busing. And buy Train to Maine the book to prepare for the trip and continue to remember it after the fact. It’s even a great way to gift the tickets as an experience gift.
- Eat lunch on the Train to Maine to maximize your time in Portland. You can bring breakfast or lunch and buy the other meal in the cafe. They have coffee, soup, sandwiches, snacks, and more.
- Bus fares are $1.50 each way, $1 for kids under 18, and FREE for kids 0-5 years old. Take a map with you if it makes you more comfortable.
The Ferry to Peak’s Island, ME
We chose to do this because it was an easy thing to do with kids. You can ride the ferry, see the lighthouses, and even catch site of old battle stations out on the islands. While we personally did not disembark the boat, we thought about it!
The ferry has discounted rates in the winter so it’s only $4.10 round trip for anyone over 5 years old. Rent (and even reserve early) a golf cart for $20/hr on Peak’s Island.
Fun attractions for Kids in Portland
If you’re a member of the Boston Children’s Museum, you’ll get half price at The Children’s Museum & Theater of Maine with your membership card. Enjoy family time at the Children’s museum while letting your kids pretend to be firefighters, grocers, wild life explorers, and even astronauts.
If your kids are too old for the Children’s museum, substitute it with the Portland Science Center where there currently have a fascinating exhibit on Body World.
There are also lots of events geared towards kids, especially with the holidays. You can find tree lightings, opportunities to ride the polar express, and even find entertaining educational opportunities at places like the Planetarium.
One of our favorite stops walking around was the Treehouse Toy store. It’s such a gem of a shop with a great selection, helpful staff, and even an awesome collection of Maine-focused books.
Where to eat with kids in Portland Maine
While we would have loved to have eaten some lobster or something sea-food, I actually had a hard time finding a place open in the middle of the day or somewhere kid-friendly.
We decided to eat at OTTO on Congress Street as we were making our way back to the train station. I had planned it ahead of time because they were highly rated, had space for a stroller, and were actually open.
Though there was only one high chair and no changing table, we totally forgot about anything but the amazing and unique pizzas they served. We had the mashed potato pizza, one with cranberries and ricotta, caramelized pear pizza, and something else delicious.
While we waited for our order to come out, next door they sell by slice, so we bought the kids a regular slice to help with the wait.
Another note, place a future order the night before or sometime during the day if you’re going to be tight on time or want that extra assurance.
Once done eating, walk across the street to the bus stop in order to catch your bus to the Portland Transportation station to get back on the Amtrak Downeaster to go home.
Get the “Inside Track” newsletter from the Amtrak Downeaster for the latest news and deals to plan your getaways! Plus follow them on social media @AmtrakDowneaster, tagging them @AmtrakDowneaster and using the hashtags #TrainToMaine & #DowneasterGetaway on your next family trip.
Amtrak Downeaster Tickets Giveaway
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