Planning a trip to Portland, Maine? Peaks Island is nearby.
It’s Cathy from My Book a Day. My family stopped in Portland, Maine with our kids (18, 18, 13, and 5) on a New England road trip last summer. We love water and nature. As we searched for fun family activities, Peaks Island seemed to fit our travel style perfectly.
Peaks Island is located in Casco Bay, and it's part of Portland, Maine. There were amusement parks and theaters here a hundred years ago, but the island is a lot quieter now. If you like scenic views, history, art and local color, this is your kind of place.
Peaks Island is a great day trip from Portland, Maine. Here are my tips for a fun and easy visit with kids.
The Casco Bay Ferry is the best and least expensive way for most people to get to Peaks Island. The ride is only about 15 minutes each way, and riding the ferry was a unique experience for my family. The kids loved it.
Park your car in Portland and walk onto the ferry. You can drive on, but it costs a lot more and you don't need a car on Peaks Island.
We parked at Cumberland County Garage, a few blocks north of the ferry terminal. The Municipal Parking Garage is closest, but it fills up in the summer, so it's good to have a backup plan and give yourself plenty of time to park and walk to the ferry. Find more parking options at https://www.cascobaylines.com/about-us/parking-and-directions/.
The ferry departs about once an hour. A round-trip ticket cost about $8 per adult (age 14-64) and $4 per child/senior (age 5-13 or 65+) at the time of our visit. Kids under age 5 ride free of charge.
Bicycling is a good way to get around Peaks Island. There is a small charge per bicycle if you bring your own. You may bring your dog, but will be required to buy an animal ticket.
Peaks Island is not huge – the loop road around the island is less than 4 miles long. It’s fun and easy to see the whole thing. You can rent bikes or ride your own, walk, take a golf cart tour, or rent your own golf cart, which is what we did.
We rented golf carts from Mike’s Carts and do recommend them. Mike’s is located a short walk from the ferry terminal on Peaks Island. We made online reservations for two carts. Availability is limited, and there is a discount for advance booking.
A map is provided with the carts and we found it helpful. Their suggested route around the island provides plenty of amazing ocean views.
Golf cart rental from Mike's Carts currently costs $90 for 3 hours with a reservation. The minimum rental is $70 for 2 hours.
Driving a golf cart is fun and easy, but you must have a driver’s license to use a golf cart on Peaks Island. Be sure to obey the rules of the road, or risk a traffic ticket. Riding a golf cart is also an unusual experience for our kids, and they thought it was lots of fun.
Things to Do
We enjoyed driving around the island. It's so lovely. We made several stops to take photos of the scenic coastline.
We made a stop for a short walk at Battery Steele. It’s an old World War II site that was well worth our time. There are a couple of dark tunnels. Our phone flashlights were not strong enough for these. Bring a better flashlight if you want to walk very far inside.
There are a couple of other WWII-era regiment buildings along your way. The Fifth Maine Regiment Building has a museum.
There are three public beaches on Peaks Island: Sandy Beach, Cairn Beach and Centennial Beach. Sandy Beach and Centennial Beach are better for swimming. Cairn Beach is rocky. We did not spend time on the beach on this trip.
Related: Fun Things to Do With Kids in Boston
Where to Eat
There are only a few restaurants on Peaks Island. We finished our visit with lunch at The Inn on Peaks Island. We loved dining al fresco there, and found the service and menu to be family-friendly.
There is one grocery store on Peaks Island, if you want to pick up snacks, drinks or picnic supplies during your stay.
The population of Peaks Island triples during the summer. There are a lot of vacation homes and day trip visitors like us. Expect crowds if you visit in June, July or August – especially on weekends.
That said, we visited on a summer Saturday and didn't think that the crowds were too bad. A lot of people boarded the ferry with us, but there was room for all. Once we arrived, we didn't have any trouble with crowds.
Just plan ahead if you visit during peak season. Park your car in Portland and walk on the ferry to avoid a wait. Make reservations if you want to rent a golf cart or bike, take a tour or stay overnight.
Peaks Island is beautiful and charming, and I recommend that you go if you get the chance. My family made some fun memories here. I hope that yours will too.