Buy a one-way ticket from Portland to Peaks Island, since the way back is free.
Good to know
Biking is the best way to see the island, but you can also rent a golf cart (which is best if you want the shade). There are no public bathrooms since it's basically a small town; plan on making a food stop at a restaurant so you can use the facilities.
Since this is an outdoor activity, head out in the morning or around lunchtime to give yourself ample time to explore the island.
Recommended time of the year
The island is beautiful in spring and summer, and even early fall.
Children under 5 ride the ferry for free.
About This Day
This little day trip from Portland, Maine, to Peaks Island is a 17-minute ferry ride. It promises relaxing outdoor fun with the whole family. Begin your day by heading down to the Casco Bay Lines. Check out the Waterfront District on your way down to the ferry to Peaks Island. Once on the island, grab a bike at Brad's Bike Rental and Repair and head off on your trip around the area. Seeing the island by bike offers the best options for taking in all the gorgeous nature and vistas Peaks Island has to offer. For those who have a sweet tooth, stop off at the little roadside honey stand for a souvenir. This stand operates on the honor system; drop in some money and take a jar of honey. Next, pay a visit to the The Inn on Peaks Island; not only is it one of the only bathroom options, you can also satisfy your hunger pangs with some local fare here. Continue around the island and work up a bit more of an appetite before heading to Milly's Skillet. This little food shack is well known and popular. And since you're in Maine, you shouldn't hesitate to get your fill of lobster rolls or fish tacos while you can. Next, finish the day with something sweet for the kids (or dessert-craving moms and dads) at Down Front and grab some ice cream to polish off a great little adventure.
Begin your Portland day trip to Peaks Island by walking along the Waterfront District on your way to the ferry. There are plenty of places to eat (e.g., a brewery, lobster shacks, restaurants), gift shops and boutiques to browse, and of course, the salty sea air.
DIRECTIONS The ferry (Casco Bay Lines) is located at the east end of the Waterfront District, along Commercial Street.
TIP Buy your ticket at the ticket counter. There is some seating in the outdoor waiting area. On the ferry, we like to sit on the deck to breathe in the fresh air and watch the water; it also helps with motion sickness.
Brad's Bike Rental and Repair
115 Island Avenue, Portland
The bikes at Brad's are set up outside in a shed. There's a good assortment of bikes, including tandem bikes. A 2-hour rental is the perfect amount of time. You can circle the perimeter of Peaks Island in under an hour if you ride straight through, but you'll want to stop leisurely along the way. The staff will provide you with a rudimentary map and point out sights, like the 5th Maine Museum and Battery Steele ruins. It's a picturesque ride past New England houses, flowers, and through sea salt sprays and a rock formation "garden" along the coastline.
DIRECTIONS Disembark the ferry at Jones Landing on Peaks Island. Make your way down the main street (follow the crowd). You'll make a left onto Island Avenue. Grab a bike at Brad's Bike Rentals, it'll be on your right.
TIP Brad's offers bike helmets and bikes suitable for kids.
Roadside Honey Stand
29 Beach Street, Portland
Take a break and check out the makeshift honey stand. Kids can drop cash (I think they ask for $5 now) in the pot and claim their jar of honey. It's also near steps to a sandy beach area. There's not much beachfront, but it was fun to stroll a little bit and take pictures of the views.
DIRECTIONS Peaks Island is small, so just follow the perimeter of the island and be sure to choose the coastline roads. You will eventually stumble across a roadside honey stand.
The inn and restaurant serves casual American fare, including lobster rolls. There's indoor and outdoor seating; choose the latter for water views.
DIRECTIONS Keep following the road around the island and it will lead you back around to your start point. As you make your way down Island Avenue, the Inn on Peaks Island will be on your left.
TIP There are no public restrooms along your bike route; so do yourself a favor and stop for lunch or early dinner here so you can have a bite to eat and freshen up in the bathroom. It's a good break for the little ones, too.
Down Front is the only ice cream store on the island and it's situated right by the ferry. And more than likely, you or your kids will be dying for a cone. You can also pick up souvenirs. It's a win-win.
DIRECTIONS Down Front is just down the block from the ferry landing. You can't miss it.