Ahhhh, Portland Maine: a whirlwind of savoring all the city had to offer (A LOT), thanks in large part to Phoenix-expat-and-now-Portland-resident-friend Sue, who took multiple days to welcome us and direct us to all the good stuff! What can you expect in Portland, Maine?
Iconic Lighthouses by the Dozen
Portland Head Light, Maine’s oldest, is the most photographed in the world!
(Side note, commissioned by George Washington himself)
More: Bug Light, Spring Point Ledge, Two Lights
Commercial Street and Downtown Harbor
Working waterfront wharves, ocean excursions, converted warehouses and the rich sea air
More: craft brewery tours, history walking tours, whale watching excursions
Strolling Old Port
Quaint New England feel, ancient cobblestone streets, bricked XIX-century buildings, boutique shopping and tons of craft-brewery-and-distillery offerings
More: Shipyard Brewing Company, DiMillo’s Old Port Marina, Rising Tide Brewing Co.
Craggy Cliffs and Beautiful Beaches
Sandy beaches, shale rock jetties, seagulls, salt water, and all the beauty of the Atlantic
More: South Portland, Willard Beach, Two Lights Area
Seafood Pulled from the Ocean Just A Hot Minute Ago
Harbor Fish Company has all the goodness and it’s just thatttt fresh,
thanks to constant drop-offs from area fishermen and trappers.
More: Portland Lobster Company, Two Lights Lobster Shack, Bayley’s Lobster Pound
(formerly Fishermen’s Co-op), Eventide Oyster Co.
Ferry to Nearby Casco Bay Islands
There are hundreds of islands surrounding Portland, and six with regular ferry service. Arrive at Peaks Island and grab a bike (pay with the honor system) to ride or stroll its 4-mile circumference.
More: Great Diamond Island, Long Island
Sea Bags are unique “statement” shopping bags made from old retired sales.
They can be purchased at multiple towns in Maine, but only at the original Portland location can you see them actually being made!
More: Uncommon Paws for handmade pet accessories (Sprinkles got a Lucky Charm collar!),
Abacus Gallery, many stores in Old Port
A serious foodie destination, with old standbys and bold newcomers offering something for every palate. Gilbert’s Chowder House had us swooning with their namesake soup and famous bright red hot dogs.
Otto Pizza, with unique ingredients such as a butternut squash, ricotta and cranberry pizza
Central Provisions, how about sea urchin crudo and crab and waffles
Duckfat, known for their Belgian fries made in duck fat (go figure)
Buzz-Worthy Baked Goods
Holy Donuts, with its cult-like following, hand-makes its donuts using potato flour.
The line is around the block at all hours of the day.
More: Standard Baking Company or Scratch for breads and baked goods, Two Fat Cats for fresh berry pie, Beals for homemade ice cream
Outdoor Recreation Under Bright Sunny Skies
In nearby Scarborough, the state’s largest saltwater marsh is teeming with wildlife and dreamy kayaking routes at high tide
More: Biking or hiking the Eastern Trail Bike Path, a 65-mile section of the East Coast Greenway which will eventually connect Maine to Key West, FL!
History and Prominence
Portland has 200 years of history to explore, including South Portland’s Memorial to the Liberty Ships, where during four short round-the-clock years in WWII, 266 emergency cargo vessels were built for Britain and the U.S.
More: Victoria Mansion, Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Underground Railroad Place Markers
Public Art and Culture Galore
Concerts, art shows, farmers markets and more are sprinkled throughout parks all through the city.
Portland’s parks were designed by the same fellas who designed New York’s Central Park, so you know they’re beautiful!
More: Portland Museum of Art, Congress Street, Arts District
Eastern and Western Promenades
a.k.a. Real Estate You Can’t Afford
You might not be able to afford to own here, but green spaces and public trails with breathtaking views on both ends of the city let you act like you do.
Location, Location, Location
Portland’s peninsula is an easy distance to a wide variety of wonderful towns just a short drive away.
More: Freeport (iconic LL Bean flagship store)
Ogonquit (Marginal Way Coastal Walk,
with gorgeous mansions on one side and the crashing waves on the other)
Kennebunkport and Wells Beach
(Avoid: Old Orchard Beach, an almost exact copy of the Jersey Shore with a million people and a cheesy carnival atmosphere)
We thought Oregon was dog-friendly until we came to Maine. Dogs are along for the ride anywhere and everywhere in Maine (even touristy things like trolley rides and boat tours)! It’s a canine lovefest and Sprinkles’ dream come true … she gets to go EVERYWHERE!
LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST ….
Lobster, lobster, and more Maine lobster! It’s everywhere, it’s cheap, it’s fresh, it’s addictive. Lobster rolls eaten at an outdoor picnic table right on the ocean …. one of the “Maine” reasons to love Maine!
We were so blessed to have Sue guiding our travels, and just a small portion of her advice is here in this blog. Visit Portland for at least 4 days to hit the high notes — a week or more would be better!
Maine has been definitively added to our very-short-list of places we could spend an entire summer, so we’ll no doubt return some day! Now, on to Mount Washington, New Hampshire, which continues to hold the world record wind gust … can you guess the speed? Tune in to the next installment of Charming Adventures to find out!