June 6, 2023

In search of a weekend getaway? Plan a weekend in Portland Maine with this information to the very best motels, eating places, and issues to do in our favourite New England coastal city.

We fell in love with Portland, Maine a few years in the past when our daughter began going to sleep away camp in Maine and we might spend no less than two weekends a summer time in Portland. Through the years, now we have seen the town develop with new motels, eating places, and retailers, and Portland simply retains getting higher.

Not a hidden gem, Portland is a well-liked weekend getaway from Boston and a standard cease on a Maine coast highway journey. The cobblestone streets of the Outdated Port are lined with boutiques and retailers that includes New England manufacturers like Maine Sea Baggage and Simon Pearce glassware.

Identified for its sturdy meals scene, Portland is commonly considered for lobster and New England seafood, however the metropolis has a thriving farm-to-table tradition and quite a lot of worldwide cuisines. The town has been acknowledged as a foodie vacation spot, named “Restaurant Metropolis of the 12 months,” in 2018 by Bon Appetit journal, and the seventh greatest foodie vacation spot in the US by Yelp in 2020, based mostly on person critiques and scores.

Moreover, lots of the metropolis’s eating places and cooks have been acknowledged by the James Beard Basis, with a number of nominations and awards together with Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley of Eventide Oyster Co., who gained the award for Greatest Chef: Northeast in 2017.

This seaport city can also be well-liked with beer lovers, as Maine is understood for its craft beer scene with Portland as its hub. Portland has over 20 breweries and taprooms within the metropolis, with many well-liked breweries close by. In case you have gotten the concept that a weekend in Portland Maine is all about consuming, consuming, and procuring, you aren’t far off. However don’t fear, there are additionally loads of issues for teenagers to get pleasure from if you wish to make it a household weekend (now we have achieved each — many instances over.)

Attending to Portland Maine

Weekend in Portland Maine - harbor with fishing boats

Attending to Portland, Maine is comparatively simple, with a number of transportation choices obtainable. Many individuals go to on a Maine highway journey, however you can even fly or take the practice. The town’s principal airport is the Portland Worldwide Jetport (PWM), which is positioned only a few miles from downtown Portland. PWM gives direct flights to many main cities within the US, together with New York, Chicago, Washington DC, and Atlanta, amongst others.

In case you are flying internationally, you may join by way of Boston Logan Worldwide Airport, which is positioned about 100 miles south of Portland. Driving to Portland from Boston takes about two hours. Another choice for attending to Portland is to take the Amtrak Downeaster practice, which runs day by day between Boston and Portland and takes about two hours.

When is the Greatest Time to Go to Portland Maine?

Portland Head Lighthouse

In my view, the very best time to go to Portland is throughout the summer time, from mid June by way of early September, when the climate is heat and you’ll extra simply benefit from the outdoor. Nonetheless, the lodge charges throughout this time could be sky excessive (e.g. $1000 an evening for a sequence lodge!) Belief me, these charges have pressured me to contemplate going to Portsmouth, New Hampshire or heading as much as Boothbay Harbor as a substitute.

Alternatively, fall is a perfect time to go to Portland. The lodge charges shall be somewhat cheaper, the climate continues to be nice, and you might even get to see some stunning fall foliage in the event you time it proper. After all, Portland is a vibrant metropolis 12 months spherical, with annual festivals such because the Harvest on the Harbor in October.

The place to Keep in Portland Maine

Word: This submit could include affiliate hyperlinks. In case you click on a hyperlink and make a purchase order, I could obtain a small fee. All opinions are my very own.

Press Hotel sign from the outside

Since now we have been to Portland dozens of instances, now we have stayed in so lots of the motels each within the Outdated Port and off the freeway. In case you are trying to economize, staying exterior of the downtown goes to assist, however you’ll have to take care of driving into city and discovering (and often paying for) parking. I positively desire being within the Outdated Port district as a result of every part is so walkable, in the event you can swing the worth tag.

We’ve stayed within the AC Hotel, Courtyard Marriott Downtown/Waterfront, the Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, and the Westin Portland Harborview, plus different motels exterior of city. Since lots of the chain motels are new, they’ve a recent design and are very well achieved. The Courtyard has been a stunning favourite and the one one we didn’t actually like was the Westin, as a result of it was farther from the guts of the Outdated Port and it felt a bit drained.

Nonetheless, if you’re searching for one thing totally different, particularly for a romantic getaway, then I might go along with The Press Hotel. One of many Autograph Assortment motels by Marriott, this has the texture of a boutique metropolis lodge and a historic lodge rolled into one cool house. The constructing as soon as housed the Portland Press Herald, the state’s largest newspaper, which operated there till 2010.

The lodge actually takes on that mantle and carries that design inspiration all through the lodge. Within the foyer, you need to use quaint typewriters to write down a letter and they’re going to even submit it for you. I like the click-clack sound within the foyer and the widespread chorus of “the place is the exclamation level?” Additionally, you will discover previous sort writers affixed to the partitions, newsprint lining the lodge hallways, and what seem like scattered sort strewn throughout the carpet design.

Press Hotel typewriters in lobby

Contained in the rooms, you pause and surprise what was once in that house with its odds shapes and angles. Our room had a big vestibule and a brief hallway to a small however properly designed room with a king mattress and nook workplace views. I used to be stunned by the big toilet and loved the trendy fixtures, giant bathe and upscale facilities.

The situation of the Press Resort is only a few blocks from the waterfront Business Road and proper within the coronary heart of the Outdated Port. However, if you wish to keep in, the foyer bar is a cushty hangout and the Union Restaurant deserves excessive marks, even within the aggressive Portland meals scene.

After all, there are all the time new motels popping up and the one which I’m anticipated opening is The Longfellow Hotel.

Word: I obtained a media fee at The Press Resort and complimentary admission to the Portland Science Museum. All opinions are my very own.

What to do on a Weekend in Portland Maine

Portland Head Gentle

Portland Head Light

The primary place that I take each one who goes to Mainewith me is Portland Head Gentle. Not solely do I believe it is among the most scenic lighthouses within the U.S., however I additionally love scrambling across the rocks and strolling alongside the cliffs in Fort Williams Park.

The lighthouse is positioned in Cape Elizabeth, simply south of Portland. It was first commissioned by George Washington in 1787 and has performed an necessary position in maritime historical past. Standing 80 ft tall, its mild could be seen as much as 24 nautical miles away.

You possibly can tour the keeper’s home and the small museum there, however my favourite factor is to discover the strolling trails alongside the rocky shoreline, climbing down onto the rocks throughout low tide. You possibly can carry a picnic and make the most of the assorted picnic websites within the park, however I desire to get a lobster roll from the Chunk into Maine meals truck that often units up store within the park (strive the wasabi lobster roll!)

A couple of issues to find out about visiting Portland Head Gentle. First, it’s a very talked-about spot so the car parking zone can get very crowded throughout busy instances and also you do must pay at a meter to park. There should not any restrooms however there are some port-a-potties. Cell service may be very spotty on the park so it helps to have your instructions offline and depend on spending time being current within the second as a substitute of in your telephone!

In case you do climb down onto the rocks, it may be a bit steep and exhausting for younger youngsters. As soon as you’re on the rocks, you will have a sturdy, non-slip shoe to stroll throughout the wobbly, uneven rocks. Additionally, don’t go too near the place the tide is coming in since you don’t wish to be caught unaware by a wave, falling may very well be very harmful.

If you are in Cape Elizabeth, you might wish to additionally take a look at Two Lights Lighthouse and State Park, which is simply one other quarter-hour to the south. Close by, you can even discover The Lobster Shack at Two Lights, which is extra of a correct restaurant with restrooms, indoor eating, and picnic tables overlooking their stunning view (which, sadly, are additionally cherished by the bees!)

Beer Tasting

Allagash beers

Whereas my favourite pastime in Portland is to eat…we additionally wish to drink and Maine has a occurring beer scene. You possibly can go to Shipyard in downtown Portland, hop on the Maine Beer Tours‘ Maine Brew Bus or a brand new Maine Brew Cruise, do some bar hopping, or go to one of many native breweries.

On every journey we strive one thing new, however one in every of my private favorites is Allagash Brewing Company. Allagash is a Belgian-style beer you could generally discover all through New England and different components of the U.S. Previously, Allagash provided free excursions, however now it appears to be like like they simply have the tasting room or an immersive 1.5 hour Cellars tasting expertise.

Oxbow Blending & Bottling Company additionally has an outpost within the hip and occurring East Finish neighborhood and shares a courtyard with the Duckfat Frites Shack, which has a shorter line than the unique location within the Outdated Port. The house can also be residence to Gallery 49 which hosts our rotating artwork exhibitions, and it’s a brief stroll to Fort Sumner Park and the Japanese Promenade for a stroll alongside the water with views of Casco Bay.

Oxbow is generally recognized for its pale ales and farmhouse ales, however like most craft breweries, they’ve a big choice of varied beers to strive. In case you take somewhat drive as much as Freeport, you can even go to one in every of my husband’s favorites, Maine Beer Company. He’s a enjoyable of its IPAs and Pale Ales, comparable to Lunch and Peeper.

Purchasing in Outdated Port

Cobblestone street in Old Port Portland Maine

The primary place individuals head to in Portland itself is the Outdated Port neighborhood, which faces the waterfront with energetic wharfs the place ferry and fishing boats depart. It’s recognized for its cobblestone streets, historic structure, and bustling waterfront. This neighborhood can also be residence to a few of Portland’s greatest eating places, bars, and retailers, lots of that are housed in fantastically preserved brick buildings courting again to the nineteenth century.

Fore Road, Alternate Road, and Business Road are among the principal procuring streets within the space, the place yow will discover quite a lot of boutiques, galleries, and specialty retailers. I like popping into the Maine Seabags flagship retailer to see the newest types, purchasing for energetic put on at Nomads, and window procuring on the boutiques.

Among the well-liked retailers embody Maine Potters Market, which options handmade pottery from over 50 artists in Maine, The Portland Buying and selling Co., Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine retailer, which sells domestically made presents and souvenirs, and the Stonewall Kitchen flagship retailer, which gives a wide array of connoisseur meals merchandise.

If you are strolling round Outdated Port, it would be best to get a snack and I’m so comfortable to see that Holy Donut has returned to Outdated Port on Business Road. Their potato-flour donuts are the bomb and I drool over the chocolate sea salt. You too can get ice cream at Beal’s or Mount Desert Ice Cream (strive the blueberry taste after all!)

Ensure to stroll alongside the wharfs and check out the piles of lobster traps, watch the fishing boats are available in and unload, and attempt to spot the chunks of the Berlin Wall in the event you like quirky sights.

Berlin wall Portland Maine

Portland Museum of Artwork

In case you are an artwork lover, or want one thing to do inside, cease into the Portland Museum of Art. Portland isn’t an artwork city the best way that Rockland is, but it surely does have a thriving Arts District. The Portland Museum of Artwork was based in 1882 and has a set of over 18,000 artistic endeavors, starting from up to date items to European masterpieces.

Among the highlights of the gathering embody works by Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, and Claude Monet. The museum additionally options quite a lot of particular exhibitions all year long, showcasing works from each native and worldwide artists.

Take a Ferry Round Casco Bay Islands

Casco Bay Islands ferry

Portland is positioned on Casco Bay, which covers an space of about 200 sq. miles and is residence to over 200 islands, lots of that are uninhabited. The islands of Casco Bay have performed an necessary position within the historical past of the area, serving as fishing and buying and selling outposts for lots of of years. Among the main islands within the bay embody Peaks Island, Little Diamond Island, and Nice Diamond Island.

When you find yourself visiting Portland, a enjoyable solution to discover is to get out on the water and perhaps even get to discover among the islands and the remnants of previous navy forts that also exist. A few years in the past I stayed on Nice Diamond Island and a few guests to Portland even got here out to the island by way of boat to have dinner on the island.

Portland Downeast duck tour

There are a lot of methods to discover together with narrated cruises, fishing charters, lobster boat excursions (extra on that later), Maine Duck Tours, and eco-tours that provide an opportunity to see the native wildlife up shut. The Casco Bay Traces ferry service additionally gives a handy solution to go to among the islands within the bay, with common service to Peaks Island, Little Diamond Island, and different well-liked locations, together with the Mail Boat Run that drops off mail and packages on the varied islands.

Day Journey to Freeport

Tamara in front of L.L. Bean boot

One other well-liked day journey from Portland is to move 20 minutes to the north to Freeport, Maine, residence of L.L. Bean. Along with the L.L. Bean flagship and outlet shops, many different manufacturers, particularly out of doors manufacturers, have shops in Freeport.

I’ve struggled to discover a restaurant that I like in Freeport (though Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster out on the coast close by is nice – however carry money!), however you may simply spend a day procuring and exploring city, particularly in the event you make a cease at Maine Beer Firm (see above.)

Issues to do in Portland Maine with Children

As I discussed, Portland is not only for grown ups. For no less than half of our journeys to Portland, have been with our daughter. Listed below are some enjoyable issues to do in Portland Maine with youngsters.

Lobster Boat Tour

Portland Lobster Company

We’ve really by no means achieved this in Portland, though now we have in Boston, however my friend Mary has gone together with her youngsters and he or she cherished it. Fortunate Catch Cruises takes you out for a 90-minute cruise to be taught all about lobstering and what it’s wish to be a lobsterman. You additionally get to cruise previous  picturesque lighthouses like Bug Gentle, historic civil conflict forts, and the “Seal Rocks”, the place you might get fortunate to spy some seals.

These excursions are interactive and company are given gear and put to work loading traps and measuring the catch. In case you catch some lobsters, you should buy them on the wholesale “boat value” after which carry them to Portland Lobster Firm, who will cook dinner them for you.

Youngsters’s Museum & Theater of Maine

The Children’s Museum and Theater of Maine, positioned in a stupendous new constructing on Thompson’s Level, is a superb spot for youthful kids. It’s open 5 days every week, along with scheduled theater performances. It options hands-on, interactive reveals which were designed to create experiential studying and enjoyable on the similar time.

The constructing options over 30,000 sq. ft of reveals spanning three flooring and the Outside Journey space. These areas replicate Maine’s distinctive character and encourage exploration throughout a broad vary of topics.

Baseball or Hockey Sport

For sports activities followers visiting Portland, Maine, there are two minor league groups value trying out – the Portland Sea Canine baseball crew and the Maine Mariners hockey crew. The Portland Sea Canine are a Double-A affiliate of the Boston Purple Sox and play their residence video games at Hadlock Subject, which is positioned only a few miles from downtown Portland.

The Maine Mariners are a minor league hockey crew that performs within the ECHL, which is among the prime skilled hockey leagues in North America. The crew performs its residence video games on the Cross Insurance coverage Area, which is positioned within the coronary heart of downtown Portland. Along with the video games themselves, the Maine Mariners provide quite a lot of particular occasions and promotions all through the season, together with theme nights, giveaways, and post-game autograph periods.

The place to Eat in Portland Maine

I’ve written a complete submit about the place to eat in Portland Maine, however listed here are just a few of my favorites:

  • Eventide Oyster Firm – strive their model of a lobster roll in a steamed bun
  • Duckfat – wonderful french fries, poutine, and milkshakes
  • Chunk into Maine – attention-grabbing number of lobster rolls
  • Luke’s Lobster – nice views on the wharf

As a lot as I like Portland, I ought to level out just a few of its flaws too. There has all the time been a little bit of a homeless inhabitants in Portland, like another metropolis, and this appears to have elevated lately.

It isn’t problematic within the Outdated Port space as most people you see are innocent, however while you head into another areas, like round Deering Oaks Park, it is a little more prevalent and the realm feels a bit sketchier with numerous addicts and suspicious characters. So simply use widespread sense and hold your wits about you, lock your automobile, and don’t go away valuables in plain sight.

There are a lot of enjoyable and funky neighborhoods in Portland to discover so don’t really feel like it is advisable stick simply to the Outdated Port. I hope you will have an opportunity to get pleasure from this little metropolis and fall in love with it the best way that I’ve.


Plan a weekend in Portland Maine with this guide to the best hotels, restaurants, and things to do in our favorite New England coastal town.

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