Though it is the largest city in Maine, Portland is still a small city by most Americansï¿½ standards. However, that relatively compact size is not a demerit, but rather a crucial component of the townï¿½s charm. From the historic buildings and cobblestone streets to the scenic waterfront, Portland is a beautiful city with a vibrant culture thatï¿½s well worth exploring.
What to do
Portlandï¿½s past and present mingle perfectly in the cityï¿½s Old Port District, a five-square-block district containing some of the best restaurants, pubs and shops in town. Though it is certainly touristy, Old Port is worth an afternoon or evening stroll, and is also conveniently close to the waterfront.
Much like the city in Oregon that shares its name, Portland, Maine is well known for its incredible brewery scene. Brew bus tours will help you experience as many microbreweries as possible, but if you only have time for one stop, make it Allagash Brewery. Here, a fun and informative brewery tour is followed by a flight of free samples. However, you canï¿½t buy beers on draft at Allagash, so if you are looking for a place with a taproom, give Shipyard Brewing Company a shot instead. Head to http://www.allagash.com/ and https://shipyard.com/ to choose your preferred destination.
Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine, is an essential for anyone going sightseeing in the area. Bite Into Maine, a popular food truck that sells lobster rolls near the monument, makes picnicking here a breeze. See the full menu at http://www.biteintomaine.com/.
Where to stay
The hottest hotel in Portland is Press Hotel, named for the fact that it is located in an old newspaper building. The dï¿½cor is inspired by that history, with hotel rooms based off of 1920s writerï¿½s offices, right down to the vintage journalist desk and ergonomic leather writerï¿½s chair in each room. Enjoy some true New England flavor at the hotelï¿½s Union restaurant, or act like a true writer and spend all of your time at the Inkwell coffee bar and lounge. You can book your stay at http://www.thepresshotel.com/.
For something a bit cozier, book a room at Mercury Inn, a privately-owned bed and breakfast located within walking distance of Old Port. This small and affordable lodging option stresses sustainability, from its vintage and locally made furniture to its excellent and seasonal food offerings. Learn more about this unique inn at http://www.mercuryinn.com/about/.
Where to eat
Portland is truly a foodieï¿½s paradise, with a great variety of killer restaurants in the city. Though a relative newcomer, Central Provisions has quickly become one of the best in the business. Here, diners can pair craft cocktails with seasonal small plates, which are created from fresh and local ingredients. Peruse the menu at http://www.central-provisions.com/.
Another unique dining destination in Portland is Duckfat, a small sandwich shop that takes its name from the duck fat that it uses to fry up delectable Belgian fries made from Maine potatoes. The gelato-based milkshakes are similarly decadent, and if you really want to treat yourself, give the hand-picked Maine crab Panini a taste. See the rest of Duckfatï¿½s offerings at http://duckfat.com/.
No Maine vacation is complete without at least one lobster meal. So before you leave town, be sure to visit the Portland Lobster Co., which specializes in the stateï¿½s signature dish, and also boasts waterfront outdoor seating and a great selection of local beers. Whole steamed lobsters are available, but the eatery is even better known for its rich, buttery lobster rolls. Head to http://www.portlandlobstercompany.com/ to see the full menu.
Whether you are sipping a cold beer while looking out at the ocean, or enjoying lively conversation and artfully-crafted meals over dinner, itï¿½s hard to feel stress in Portland.