Top 10 Best Things to Do on Peaks Island in Maine

Peaks Island, part of Portland, Maine, is the perfect summer day trip with plenty of things to do. You can explore the island by bike or golf cart, wander through a WWII bunker, and visit one of the most unique museums you’ve ever seen.

Peaks Island ferry dock

Peaks Island is a small community off the coast of Maine and part of the city of Portland.

For decades, Peaks has been a summer destination for those seeking quiet and an escape from urban living. Each summer, the island’s population swells from just under 1,000 year-round residents to an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 residents.

A popular thing to do while visiting Portland is to take a day trip to the island. The island is only two miles long and one mile wide, making it easy to see all the main attractions in a single day.

Where can I catch the ferry to Peaks Island, and how long is the ride?

Casco Bay Ferry

Taking a ferry to Peaks Island is easy and only takes thirty minutes from downtown Portland!

From the middle of June to the beginning of September, Casco Bay Lines operates a ferry to Peaks Island once an hour, beginning around 5 AM. The last ferry leaves the island close to midnight.

You’ll likely find that half the fun of visiting Peaks Island is the ferry ride itself! Along the way, you’ll see the Portland city skyline, possibly see some wildlife, and have the chance to view the island at a distance.

It’s an incredible contrast to step onto tranquil Peaks Island and realize you’re still in a city! The only telltale sign of city life is the City of Portland trash cans waiting for pick-up at the end of driveways.

The ferry terminal is centrally located in Portland at the pier, 56 Commercial Street.

Things to do on Peaks Island

Peaks Island is tiny – only two miles long and one mile wide – making it relatively easy to get around. And despite its small size, you’ll still find plenty of things to do on the island.

Explore the island by bike

A road along the edge of Peaks Island in Maine

Unless you plan to only walk within a short distance from the ferry dock, you’ll need a way to travel throughout the island to see its many sites.

Traversing the island by bike is one of the best options. There are plenty of paved roads, and, for the most part, cycling is easy (not too many big hills).

If you own a bike and have it with you, you can take it on the ferry. But you can also rent one at Brad’s Bike Rental, steps away from the dock. (115 Island Avenue)

And if you’re looking for an easier way to see the island, golf carts are also available to rent. Peaks Island Golf Cart Rentals (62 Island Avenue) and Mike’s Carts (1 Welch Street) offer rentals.

Wander around the village

You’ll immediately land in Peaks Island’s small village when you get off the ferry.

While there isn’t an extensive list of things to do here, it’s worth spending an hour or so popping into retail shops and galleries, grabbing a bite to eat, or getting some ice cream.

A few spots you’ll likely see include:

Explore Battery Steele 

Battery Steele on Peaks Island
Photo credit: Reagle / Creative Commons

Among the more unusual things to do on Peaks Island is to visit an old World War II bunker called Battery Steele.

Built in 1942 to protect Casco Bay from an attack, Battery Steele consists of fourteen acres on the eastern oceanside of the island. It was formerly part of the Peaks Island Military Reservation.

Today, Battery Steele is overseen by the Peaks Island Land Preserve, which designated the property as a public space.

Visitors can walk among the concrete bunker and view the ocean from the lookout. Since the bunker was left vacant for decades, graffiti artists have left their mark, and visitors often take time to observe their work.

Battery Steele can be accessed from Florida Avenue, a short bike ride from the ferry.

Visit the Umbrella Cover Museum

The Umbrella Cover Museum is among the best things to do on Peaks Island
Founder Nancy 3. Hoffman plays the accordion in the museum. Photo credit: Piguy101 / Creative Commons

Among the most unique things to do on Peaks Island is to visit the Umbrella Cover Museum.

This quirky and lighthearted stop celebrates the mundane with a collection of umbrella covers from around the world. It showcases hundreds of displays in a variety of exhibits.

A museum tour takes about twenty minutes and includes prizes, interactive exhibits, and even a theme song!

Admission is by donation. The Umbrella Cover Museum is only open in the summer. Check the website for open hours.

Take a short hike on one of Peaks Island’s trails

In addition to Battery Steele, Peaks Island Land Preserve also maintains several hiking trails on the island.

Most of these trails are on the island’s eastern side and consist of short jaunts through conservation land.

Click here to see an excellent map of all the trails on Peaks Island. 

Explore Picnic Point

Among the fun things to do on Peaks Island is to explore Picnic Point on the southwest edge of the island.

This small peninsula juts into the Atlantic Ocean, making it the perfect little green space to explore and take in more ocean views. It’s also the ideal place to have a picnic!

You can access Picnic Point from New Island Avenue, turn right on Whitehead Street, and proceed down Lobster Street and Hadlock Point Road.

Visit the Peaks Island History Museum (The 5th Maine Museum)

The exterior of the 5th Maine Museum also known as Peaks Island Museum
Photo credit: Caitlin Regan / Creative Commons

Stop into Peaks Island’s History Museum during your visit to learn about the island’s rich maritime history and the lives of its residents.

The museum’s exhibits showcase the island’s evolution, from its early days as a fishing community to its role in military history, offering a deeper understanding of its cultural heritage.

While exploring the museum’s exhibits, note that the building, built in 1888, is a former gathering place for Civil War veterans of Maine’s 5th Regiment. It was here where they gathered and drew comfort from each other.

The Peaks Island Museum is open from the end of May to the beginning of October. Admission is $8 per person and $20 per family. In July and August, the museum is open daily from 10 AM to 3 PM and open on the weekends during other warm-weather months. (45 Seashore Avenue)

Try kayaking or paddleboarding

Casco Bay’s calm waters make it an ideal location for kayaking or paddleboarding.

Rent equipment and explore the coastline during your visit, enjoying the peaceful surroundings and the chance to encounter marine life.

Kayak and Paddleboarding rentals are available at Maine Kayak Island Company. You can also sign up for half-day, full-day, and sunset tours, exploring Peaks Island and other islands in the bay. (88 Island Avenue)

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Dine at a local eatery

You’ll likely want to grab a bite to eat while on the island, and Peaks has several good restaurants, cafes, and eateries to choose from.

Here are a few choices:

Go on a tour of the island

Among the fun things to do in Peaks Island is an island tour.

Peaks Island Tours offers a regular tour called The Spirit of Peaks Golf Tour. It’s a 75-minute ride showcasing the history of the island.

Special reservations can be made for two other tours – one that explores the island’s history on foot and the other, seen by golf cart, that showcases Peaks Island’s involvement in WWII as a military base.

Tours occur daily between the beginning of May through the end of October. Reservations are highly recommended. The cost per adult is $25. Check the website to confirm details.

(As a GetYourGuide affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.)

A photo of Kerry Flatley leaning against a wall

About Kerry Flatley

Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.

One Comment

  1. I’m so happy to read someone else recommending Peaks Island. I took the ferry out there on my last trip to Portland and had the most wonderful time. It’s so fun to ride around in a golf cart exploring the island.

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