Portland is about 2 hours north of Boston on the Maine coast. It is quite a large city, and it is best to drive to the coast and park in one of the many car parks located along the harbour. From here you can walk to most of the major sights within the city.
We parked in the multi-story car park at the ferry terminal and walked along the main coast road, Commercial Street. Here there are lots of shops, restaurants, views across the bay, and a very helpful tourist centre.
We did not have very much time here, so we decided to visit the Portland Observatory, which is located on Congress Street, about 5 blocks from the harbour. It is built like an inland lighthouse and is a very interesting building.
They offer walking tours of the building, which we did not feel was strictly necessary, as we could have done a self-guided tour just as easily. You do, however, get to ask lots of questions, and the guides are very knowledgeable about the observatory and the Portland area.
There are about six levels to the top, and you stop at each level to see artifacts relating to the building and see pictures of how it used to look, etc. The tour is very leisurely and not at all exhausting. With the tour, you find out why and how it was built and the history of how it was saved from wood beetles and renovated.
The views from the top are great, and you can see inland as far as the White Mountains in New Hampshire, across the harbour to all the local islands, and across the Atlantic