The Best Camping Near Portland, Maine

It’s called vacationland for a reason. A trip to Maine isn’t complete without exploring all that Portland has to offer. From hiking trails to renowned eateries to stunning vistas, here’s everything you need to plan your ultimate Portland adventure.

Location
Portland, Maine
Dates
Check In – Check Out
Guests
2 Adults

About Camping Near Portland, Maine

The campgrounds near Portland, Maine follow the "golden mean" philosophy—nothing in excess; they’re secluded, but not too remote; they’re close to the Atlantic, but also to freshwater lakes and rivers; their summers are warm, but not stifling; they’re touristy, but not overcrowded. 

In short, Portland is a smorgasbord of opportunities, where you’re spoiled for choice and variety.

Perhaps you’d like to spend your vacation out in nature? Some of the best hiking trails in Maine are less than an hour from Portland. Or maybe you’d prefer to spend your days on the water? Casco Bay, the waters surrounding Portland harbor, is dotted with islands and fishing holes just waiting to be explored. Or maybe you just want to relax and unwind? The coastline surrounding Portland  is full of beaches and sleepy harbor villages to amble through. Regardless of how you want to spend your vacation, Portland’s diverse array of campgrounds ensure that you’re always close to what matters most to you.


Ways to Camp Near Portland, Maine


FAQs About Camping Near Portland, Maine

What Makes Camping Near Portland the Best Idea Ever?

Want the ruggedness of camping with the convenience of a world-class city at hand? Portland, Maine is your answer.  Sip your morning coffee in front of an Atlantic sunrise, summit a mountain by lunchtime, kayak your afternoon away in Casco Bay, and spend the evening downtown, munching on lobster rolls and savoring local IPAs. There’s a lot to do and see, and sometimes the hardest part is figuring out how to cram it all into one vacation.

When is the Best Time of Year to Go Camping Near Portland, Maine?

The best time to visit Portland, Maine is from late Spring to early Autumn. Anytime before and the weather becomes unpredictable and…icky. Anytime after and the mercury begins to drop precipitously, with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing in the evenings. We’ve included a brief guide to choosing the best time to go camping near Portland, Maine during each of the three (non-snowy) seasons:

Late Spring (June)

Pros

For those looking to beat the summer crowds, June is an excellent time to visit. It’s the first month of consistently good weather along coastal Maine. And while the mornings and evenings can be nippy, the weather during the day is phenomenal, with highs of 70 degrees generally expected. Gardens are in full bloom around this time and the strawberries have ripened on the vine. If you visit Maine in late June, you can pick your own at any number of local farms and enjoy a tasty treat for your trouble. 

Cons

Black flies, nasty critters that bite like mosquitoes, flourish in June and can turn a pleasant vacation into an itchy mess. Bring lots of bug spray with you, particularly if you’re camping near freshwater lakes or streams. June is also still officially considered the “off season” in Maine, so some seasonal campgrounds, shops, and restaurants may be shuttered. Call ahead of time to ensure everything you want to visit is open. 

Summer (July to September)

Pros

Summer in Maine is like stepping into a real life L. L. Bean catalog. The weather is the warmest; the water is the most refreshing; the fish are biting; life is good. This is the best time to visit Maine if you’re interested in spending most of your time outdoors. 

Cons 

In addition to bringing the best weather to Maine, summer also brings the most tourists. Prices go up and camping space goes down. If you want to visit Portland, Maine during this period, then you’ll need to book in advance to get the best campsites. All the attractions will be crowded as well, so plan accordingly and ditch the snooze on your alarm. Early to bed, early to rise should be the maxim for those looking to enjoy Maine’s attractions in summer without having to share them with everyone and their dog. 

Early Autumn (October to November)

Pros

The tourists have (mostly) come and gone, the kids have gone back to school, and the leaves are just starting to blaze in all their lurid glory. If you don’t mind a little chill every once in a while, then autumn in Maine is the time for you to visit. It’s prime leaf-peeping season and the woods are simply on fire from late September through October. 

Cons

November is really the last chance you have to go camping near Portland, Maine before winter’s icy grip takes hold. Sure, prices will have dropped to pre-tourist levels, but many seasonal establishments will also have closed until next year. As the calendar marches towards December, the days grow shorter, the nights colder, and the BBQs and ringing laughter of August feel like a distant memory. 

What Are the Top Outdoor Activities Near Portland, Maine?

Maine offers a diverse array of outdoor activities and pastimes, many of which are located close to Portland, if not in it. Below you’ll find the best things to do near Portland, Maine during your next camping trip: 

Hiking

Nicknamed the “Pine Tree State,” Maine is well known for the hiking trails that criss-cross its extensive wilderness. Thankfully, many of these trails are less than an hour from downtown Portland, making it easy to hit the trail early and get back for some well-deserved rest. A few of our favorite hikes are Back Cove Trail (which is in Portland itself), Eastern Promenade Trail (which connects to Back Cove), Summit Trail on Mount Bradbury, Pond Meadow Trail, Morse Mountain to Seawall Beach Trail, and the Peaks Island Loop. 

Fishing

Portland’s natural harbor and close proximity to freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers make it an ideal jumping off point for those looking to cast some lines. Less than 20 miles away is Maine’s deepest lake, Sebago, where salmon and bass love to congregate in the summer. If sea fishing is more your thing, you can charter a boat in Portland’s harbor and trawl for mackerel, striped bass, and enormous bluefin tuna in Casco Bay. 

Swimming

From beaches to rivers to lakes, Maine is full of dazzling swimming holes, many of which are within easy driving distance of downtown Portland. Of all its beaches, Old Orchard is probably the most famous and for good reason. In addition to soft sand and pleasant surf, there’s a boardwalk and shopping area located right on the water; think Coney Island, but with lobster rolls and flannel. Sebago Lake is also an excellent place to go for a dip, with water skiing and tubing available during the summer. Every Mainer has a favorite secret watering hole, so it might be worth your time to chat with the locals and get some insider knowledge.

Sailing

Maine has a rich maritime history that stretches back to before the state even existed. With so many islets and back coves to explore, it’s easy to see why sailing enthusiasts flock to its waters every year. If you like, you can rent a vessel to take you out on Casco Bay for the day. Luxury yachting more your thing? No problem! Portland has plenty of boatyards that are prepared to take you and your family out for a few days to explore the coast in style. 

Kayaking

Paddling around the numerous islands in Casco Bay is a popular pastime with tourists and locals alike. Guided tours leave Portland daily and take you out to some of Maine’s most historical sites like Fort Gorges and Peaks Island.

Surfing

At first glance, Maine doesn’t look like the kind of place surfers would frequent. Its icy waters and long winters seem incongruous when paired with the surfing stereotypes of suntans and California accents. In reality though, Maine is an excellent spot to catch some waves, albeit in a wet-suit instead of a bikini. Popular surfing destinations are Higgins Beach, Old Orchard Beach, and Fortune’s Rock Beach, all three of which are less than 40 minutes from Portland. 

Biking

Portland’s narrow streets and alleys have turned it into a haven for bikers. You can rent a bike for the day and take a ride on the Back Cove Trail, which offers picturesque vistas of Portland and Casco Bay. Mountain biking is also a popular pastime in the region, with many locals escaping into the mountains each weekend for some off-road fun. 

What Sights Should I Absolutely Not Miss in Portland, Maine?

Portland, Maine is a happening place with a generous mix of boutique shops, museums, and public parks. Below, you’ll find a list of the best things to do in Portland, Maine during your stay.

Portland Head Light

Less than 15 minutes from Portland’s downtown sits one of Maine’s most recognizable destinations: Portland Head Light—the oldest lighthouse in the state.This iconic lighthouse stands atop a steep headland overlooking Casco Bay; on clear days, you can expect spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and nearby coves. The surrounding Fort Williams Park has plenty of walking trails along the coast, some of which take you down to white-pebble beaches. There’s no better spot for a picnic on a warm summer’s day in Maine.

The Old Port

Portland’s Old Port—the site of its original harbor—is a warren of spindly alleys and crooked buildings that has been converted into the city’s boutique shopping district. Full of quirky stalls selling everything from sailcloth tote bags to hand-made pottery, the Old Port is a mix of wacky, whimsical, and downright peculiar.

Children's Museum and Theater of Maine

This non-profit children’s museum and theater contains fun, interactive exhibits that teach kids about science, problem solving, visual arts, culture, and community engagement. It’s a great place to take the kids for an afternoon to spark their imaginations and broaden their minds.  

The Portland Observatory

The last remaining signal station in the United States, the Portland Observatory serves as a reminder of Portland’s maritime heritage. From atop its 86-foot tower on Munjoy Hill, you’ll find stunning views of downtown Portland and the surrounding region. The signal station is only open seasonally. To enquire about its status, call 207-774-5561 or visit Greater Portland Landmarks

Where Can I Get the Best Food in Portland, Maine?

A foodie's paradise, Portland, Maine offers a rich assortment of restaurants, pubs, and food trucks that serve everything from lobster rolls to micro brews. 

The Holy Donut

Serving gourmet potato donuts (yes, you read that right), the Holy Donut is one of the most popular eateries in Portland. This hole-in-the-wall establishment makes its donuts by hand daily and sells them until they're gone. Be warned, these bad boys sell out fast, so get there early to make sure you get a chance to try these little, puffy masterpieces.

Duckfat

This family-run operation serves a sophisticated array of traditional pub fare elevated with local-sourced ingredients. Their sandwiches and salads are delicious, but if you pay them a visit, we insist you try the poutine, a French-Canadian-style french fry dish. It’s composed of thick Belgian fries, cheese curd, and duck gravy, which sounds ridiculous until you try it. Trust us, you’ll never want to eat fast food french fries again. 

Eventide Oyster Co.

Nationally recognized for its oysters and lobster rolls, Eventide Oyster Co. should be on any seafood-lover’s bucket list. Whether you’re looking for a flight of oysters on the half shell or just a classic fish sandwich, this old-timey oyster bar has the perfect thing to whet your appetite.

Flatbread Company

Situated right along the Portland Pier, Flatbread Company is the perfect spot to grab a couple beers, eat some pizza, and relax after a long day of hiking Maine’s backwoods. The atmospheric dining room is casual and family-friendly, with high ceilings and an open floor plan. Towards the back crouches the enormous stonefire oven where the pizzas are cooked daily. Take a seat at the conveniently placed bench, grab a blanket, and get toasty as the aroma of baking pizza envelopes you in a warm hug.

Where Else Should I Travel in Maine While I'm in Portland?

Visit Acadia National Park

Known as the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast,” Acadia National Park is one of Maine’s most popular destinations. Around two million people go there every year, some to explore the 125 miles of hiking trails, others to just relax at the shore and take in the stunning vistas. No matter how you slice it, a day spent at Acadia is guaranteed to leave you feeling relaxed and reinvigorated. The drive from Portland to Acadia lasts about three hours and takes you through some of the loveliest scenery in Maine.

Ride the Ferry to Peaks Island

Only accessible by ferry, Peaks Island is a popular retreat for artists, retirees, and those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Its laid-back environment and lovely ocean views unite to salve jangled nerves and rejuvenate the spirit. While there isn’t much to do, that’s kind of the point. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the calming atmosphere. 

Go Puffin Spotting

These adorable, photogenic birds exist nowhere else in the U.S. besides off the coast of Maine. Every year, over 4,000 of these penguin impostors come to nest on Maine’s remote islands. The best time to see them is from June to July, right at the height of the tourist season. Tours are available from May through August. 

Hike Mount Katahdin

Meaning “Great Mountain” in the language of the indigenous Penobscot people, Mount Katahdin is Maine’s tallest, and perhaps most famous, mountain. It’s a bit of a trek from Portland, the drive taking between four to five hours. That said, it offers some of the best hiking trails and views in the entire state. If you’re a hiker, and don’t mind a long drive, Katahdin is definitely something you should have on your bucket list.