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Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Student Group Tour magazine will continue to provide ideas for planning educational travel. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.


Students visiting Maine’s largest city find a true New England gem bursting with educational opportunities.

The city’s museums and galleries allow students to explore the state from a variety of perspectives. Historic buildings, renowned artists, botanical beauty, streetcars, demos, and activities can be found on display every season of the year.

The “city by the sea” offers a wealth of outdoor activities, including boating, hiking, biking, skiing and wildlife viewing. Students can step aboard a vessel for a whale-watching cruise or get active with a kayaking tour.

Greater Portland’s entertainment scene is known for its professional excellence in theater, its music, and its nationally recognized artists and renowned galleries. Students visiting the Arts District will find musical events and performances.

“Experiences in Greater Portland are as diverse and they are engaging,” said Robert Witkowski, creative director + media relations at Visit Portland. “Whether students are fascinated by arts and culture, music and entertainment, or activities and education, the region offers year-round venues and activities that can make their experiences unique and appealing, able to be tailored to a student group’s interests.”

Visit Portland
207-772-4994
visitportland.com

Portland Museum of Art

Portland Museum of Art
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine
Credit: Visit Portland/PMA

Portland Museum of Art offers significant holdings of American, European and contemporary art, as well as iconic works from Maine. The museum uses those works of art to inspire students and encourage critical thinking. Hourlong student tours are led by docent educators and can be customized to explore themes relevant to the group. Educators can request that tours connect to classroom curriculum, with specific artworks, topics, eras or people.

Portland Symphony Orchestra

Portland Symphony Orchestra
Portland Symphony Orchestra, Portland, Maine
Credit: Visit Portland

Students experience professional, live orchestra at Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO). The orchestra’s primary performance venue, Merrill Auditorium, is located in downtown Portland’s Arts District and can seat 1,908 guests. The orchestra comprises 82 professional musicians, 40% of them residing in Maine and the rest coming from the greater Boston area, New Hampshire and Vermont. PSO offers a variety of educational youth programs, as well as discounted tickets for students.

Fyood Kitchen

Fyood Kitchen
Fyood Kitchen, Portland, Maine
Credit: Courtesy VisitPortland.com/Fyood Kitchen

At Fyood Kitchen, playing with food is encouraged during its Chopped-style cooking challenges. Groups are split into teams and face off in two rounds of fast-paced cooking. Participants are given a mystery basket of four ingredients during each round and have 45 minutes to create their own dishes. After the competition, everyone can judge each other’s creations. Anyone over the age of 12 is welcome to play. 

Rippleffect

Rippleffect, Portland, Maine
Rippleffect, Portland, Maine
Credit: Courtesy VisitPortland.com/Rippleffect

Outdoor adventure meets experiential education at Rippleffect, a nonprofit youth and community development organization. Through all-season programs, students build confidence, develop leadership skills, strengthen relationships and grow their appreciation for the outdoors. The organization owns Cow Island, a 26-acre island in Casco Bay, and runs many of its programs from the remote eco-campus. Programs include a wide range of options, including sea kayaking, outdoor living, environmental education, arts and creativity, spirit and leadership development.

Victoria Mansion

Victoria Mansion
Victoria Mansion, Portland, Maine
Credit: Courtesy VisitPortland.com

A National Historic Landmark, Victoria Mansion is one of America’s finest and most complete houses of the mid-19th century. Also known as the Morse-Libby Mansion, the building features colorful wall and ceiling paintings by Italian artist Giuseppe Guidicini, brilliant stained glass and over 90% percent of its original furnishings. Educational tours and programs incorporate classroom curriculum. The mansion is open for tours May 1–Oct. 31, and the day after Thanksgiving through the first week of January.

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Courtney Birchmeier oversees the editorial department at Group Tour Media. With half a decade under her belt in the group travel industry, she's eager to connect tour operators and group leaders with new destinations. It's a great day at the office if her dog, a chow/lab mix named "Kiwi," is in tow. In her free time, she enjoys reading (for fun, with no red pen in hand), sampling craft beer (New Holland Brewing's "Dragon's Milk," anyone?) and adding new destinations to her travel bucket list (like Salzburg, Austria).