Portland, ME is quickly becoming the Brooklyn of New England. With more breweries per head than Bavaria, Portland is a funky foodie town. And it’s only 2 hours north of Boston!
When to Go
Being in Maine, the winters are cold and snowy, but the summer and fall are just heavenly. The summers are hot and filled with great beach days and the fall foliage makes for a great excuse to head up north. Pro tip: those chilly Atlantic waters just start to get warm in August, so I recommend making at least a day trip to one of the many beaches next month!
What to Do
Portland is a hub for fun, but its specialties seem to be beaches and breweries. On a hot summer day, heading down to Old Orchard Beach for a long stretch of sandy beach, complete with a little kitsch in the form of an amusement park and boardwalk is just what the doctor ordered. This beach really has something for everyone, either the excitement of the boardwalk or the quiet of the miles and miles of beach.
And if it’s sunny but not quite hot enough for the beach shoot over to Portland Head Light, which is constantly named one of the most beautiful lighthouses in America! I mean how you could disagree?
And on day that is better spent inside, the many local breweries will certainly keep you busy. But to be honest, Allagash is a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon as well because they have a great outdoor beer garden style covered patio.
Where to Eat
Portland is a foodie heaven, with some of the funkiest spots around, you really can’t go wrong. Some of my favorites are: Eventide Oyster, Honey Paw, Duck Fat, Pan Men Miyake and Otto Pizza. But on this trip, we also tried somewhere new, Lolita, located in the East End. Mediterranean in focus, Lolita is a crowd pleaser. I recommend starting out with some of the toasts, they switch up what toast they are offering quite frequently, so definitely try whatever the special is that night. We had the steak tartare, the roasted octopus and the pate. And then comes the real treat, the Torchio pasta dish is amazing. Honestly, I would consider driving all the way back up there just to get this. It is everything you want in a creamy bowl of goodness: the levels of spice, cheese, and heat are just spot on.
Then as you head into the main courses, the duck and the lamb and the swordfish are solid choices too.
Oh and another pro tip, on the way back to Boston stop off at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery! Amazing fried clams, clam chowder and lobster rolls!
Where to Stay
Portland is a walkable city, so while you are probably driving you should try to leave the car with the hotel valet as much as possible because half the fun is wondering the cobbled streets in the old port.
For convenience and a bit of a view the Westin Portland Harborview is the right choice. The high floors offer a nice little view of the harbor that make getting out of those Westin heavenly beds in the morning just a little easier! Another fun tip about this Westin is that if you head up to the top floor, there is a wonderful lounge with 360 views of the city. Called the “Top of the East”, some happy hour cocktails are not to be missed.
Portland is a growing city filled with startups, college grads and young families. The vibrant food scene, the fun breweries and the beautiful scenery will keep you coming back again and again.