Travel

City Guide: Portland, Maine

City Guide: Portland, Maine

Our city guide series continues today with Portland, Maine, a magical place known for wild blueberries, pine forests and rocky coasts speckled with lighthouses. We enlisted Maria Alexandra Vettese (known as MAV), who runs the creative goods shop More & Co., to give us a tour of her favorite places…

City Guide: Portland, Maine

MAV: I moved to Portland, Maine, back in 2004. When I came, I thought I would stay a year. Well, here I am, 13 years later! I love the deep and rugged seasons. I love the ocean! I love that people work hard and chill hard, too. Maine offers a lifestyle that can be close to nature — it’s humbling and grounding. Plus, it’s a beautiful place to spend a long weekend.

City Guide: Portland, Maine

City Guide: Portland, Maine

Drifters Wife

WHERE TO EAT

Drifters Wife is a newer spot in the Munjoy Hill neighborhood. It’s a wine shop and New American café, which has a lovely small menu that changes daily. Chef Ben Jackson puts care into everything he does, and the rest of the team makes you feel at home with their good vibes. Don’t miss the olives (warmed and perfectly herb-soaked) or their natural wines (buy a bottle for home, too.

Blue Spoon (Munjoy Hill) is a true neighborhood spot. It’s not trying to keep up with trends, but rather just wants you to come in for a cozy Italian meal. They’re known for their daily pastas made in a braising pot, delicious burgers (the Bistro Burger is served with smoked onions, thick-cut bacon and a fried farm egg) and their happy hour — “Wine Time” — which runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Make a reservation because it’s on the smaller side.

There’s a reason why the award-winning downtown restaurant Fore Street has been around for 20 years. Sitting at the bar is a true joy, and their every-changing seasonal menu always feels fresh. Everyone loves the mussels, and the cast-iron fish dishes are special, too. If you’re on a budget, slip in for their dreamy desserts with Maine’s famous berries and orchard fruits.

City Guide: Portland, Maine

The Lobster Shack at Two Lights

And if you want the true Maine seafood experience, stop by J’s Oyster (an easygoing spot for beer and seafood), The Lobster Shack at Two Lights (sit at picnic tables overlooking the rocky coast — there’s nothing better) and Eventide Oyster Co. (a town favorite).

Although it’s a 20-minute drive from Portland, Palace Diner (Biddeford) is on my must-see list. Located in an old diner car, they serve breakfast and lunch all day, every day. It’s simple food at its best. Everyone goes on about the tuna melt, but the fried chicken sandwich and the Lumberjack Breakfast (silver dollar flapjacks, eggs, potatoes and bacon) have my heart. Don’t be discouraged if the wait is long. It goes fast — and is always worth it.

City Guide: Portland, Maine

WHERE TO HANG

From the city, you’re a short drive to so many relaxed beaches. Plus, the salt and sea are the best ways to really take in Maine. A few on our list: Popham, Crescent, Scarborough and Ferry — and we especially love Willard Beach. When we go, we grab Scratch Baking Co. bagels (from up the street) and spend the day by the water.

Take a ferry ride! You don’t even need a destination. Our favorite is the Mailboat Run. It’s a three-hour ride around Casco Bay. You’ll see so many beautiful islands and get a real sense of the area. Pack drinks and snacks (and a sweatshirt!) and just cruise. In the summer months, this ride is offered at 10 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., but also love the sunrise (5:05 a.m.) and sunset (5:45 p.m.) runs. A ferry ride will be the best $16 you spend here.

Spend a morning at the Portland Museum of Art (Downtown) — Maine’s oldest (founded in 1882!) and largest art institution. You’ll find a wonderful collection of American, European and contemporary art, as well as beloved Maine works, like Winslow Homer paintings. It’s a small museum, so you can do the whole thing in an hour or two.

City Guide: Portland, Maine

More & Co.

WHERE TO SHOP

At my shop, More & Co. (Downtown), we believe everyday objects — the ones we reach for again and again — should also bring beauty into our homes. Our shop is in constant motion, and every season has a theme. We select goods based on our love of art and design, and on our desire to keep the things in our homes to a thoughtful minimum. Every product in the shop is something we already use, wear, treasure and love.

Blanche + Mimi (Downtown) has a great mix of antique and new goods for home and baby. We always go in when we’re looking for a sweet, one-of-a-kind gift.

If you’re shopping for men and women, stop by Portland Dry Goods (a clothing store) and Portland Trading Co. (a general store), both downtown. They are always well curated and staffed by friendly people.

Judith (Downtown) is a stunning women’s clothing shop full of the loveliest brands, like Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Land of Women. It just makes you feel good to go in and see what’s in stock. (You’ll probably find yourself going twice while you’re in town!)

City Guide: Portland, Maine

WHERE TO STAY

If you’re looking to rent a house, stay in Portland’s West End or East End. Then do yourself a favor and park your car for the duration of your visit. Portland is a bustling city with lots of hidden gems; walk around and just see what you come upon! It’s a wonderful way to get a real feel for Portland. After all, the peninsula is just three miles long. You can easily walk from end to end.

What was once the Portland Press Herald building — Maine’s largest newspaper — is now The Press Hotel. It’s right in the middle of town, and the rooms are inspired by 1920s writer’s offices. It’s refreshing to have a hotel with a sense of character. My sweetheart and I like hanging out with a cocktail at Inkwell in the lobby; and the restaurant serves a delicious cheese board with honey and a stone fruit chutney.

If you’re in the mood for a treat, head to Cape Elizabeth for a night at the Inn by the Sea. This property is right on the water and is next to a few of the best beaches in the area (the area is known for its lighthouses, too, including the Two Lights lighthouse featured in Edward Hopper’s painting Lighthouse Hill). You’ll get the classic Maine experience there.

City Guide: Portland, Maine

FINAL TIP

Take advantage of Maine’s delicious produce. The seasons vary but there’s plenty of time for picking blueberries, strawberries and apples at local farms. If you can’t go picking, stock up at the farmers markets, where you’ll find some of the best cheeses, meats, fruits, yogurts, sweets and veggies in the country.

Thank you so much, MAV! Have you been to Portland (or do you live there)? What else would you add?

P.S. Where to eat, hang, shop and stay in Paris, New Orleans, Seattle, Minneapolis, Nashville, Los Angeles and Austin.

(Graphic design by Miss Moss. Photos of Drifters Wife via their Instagram. Lobster roll photo by Rita Sengupta. More & Co. photo by Erin Little via Racked. All other photos from Instagram via 3191 Miles Apart and More & Co. This series is edited by Stella Blackmon.)

  1. I’ve been living in Maine for the past decade. Maine will never run out of flavors. The food here is delicious, tasty and will surely satisfy your cravings. Maybe this is one of the reasons why since we moved to Maine, we stayed here for good.

  2. Awesome. Always looking for short breaks away from NYC and love following recommendations that are off the tourist path. This looks like an ideal place to explore.

  3. Hey Jo,
    Newbie on the blog here. I’ve always thought about how long and wonderful summer days might be in Maine. I’ve imagined lobsters and dramatic landscapes on the coast. This is a great post and the local products and berries sounds quite exciting. Looking for to my visit one day.
    Cheers,

  4. Cassie says...

    Thrilled to see New England represented here! I freaking love Maine so much — Portland is the coolest. I’m a Massachusetts native who moved back to Boston after a stint in Philly, but it’s been so pleasant reading through the comments and seeing all of the New Englanders gush about our lovely corner of the country. It truly is as dreamy as you all imagine, so for all of you dreaming about vacations and first-time visits, try to make it happen! You won’t regret it :)

  5. Brittany says...

    I have lived near and around Bangor, Maine for the last five years and seriously love everything about this state.

  6. Amanda says...

    I highly recommend Mercury Inn, a modern B&B. The place was clean and the owners were great. We loved waking up to a fresh breakfast and meeting people from all over. It’s located on State St. so it’s a quick walk to everything.

  7. Great information, thanks for sharing again!

  8. Megan says...

    This past summer, I had the good fortune of visiting mid coast Maine and just fell in love with this great state. Unfortunately, our destination did not include Portland (next trip!), yet, we did stumble upon the quaint and artistic community of Monhegan Island. Words cannot describe this beautiful island of pure goodness! Looking forward to our return.

  9. Sarah says...

    I can’t eat bagels anymore because Scratch ruined me for life. Their bagels are simply divine.

  10. Liz Abrams says...

    I love Maine!! The Portland Headlight is a gorgeous lighthouse on the coast. It’s breathtaking.

  11. Hannah says...

    Big Sky Bread Company! The BEST bread made right there after the bakers grind their organic wheat berries into flour. You can try slices from steaming hot loaves on their sample board! The bakers work right in the open, so you can watch their hard work and incredible processes. Fresh loaves line the bread racks and it truly is a beautiful sight, one that seems hard to come by. They also have pastries, granola, breakfast sandwiches, and lots of lunch options featuring their breads. Plus, the building was the old Portland firehouse, so it’s full of great light due to the garage door windows. You can find old pictures scattered around and the fire pole is even hidden in a corner =]

    • Emily N. says...

      Omg I second you. I used to live in Portland Maine. Did you ever try the Big Sky English muffins? I cannot eat English muffins anymore bc those are just too freaking good and nothing else compares. Now I live in Austin, Texas. Still dreaming of making my escape back up north though…

  12. RT says...

    Woodford’s and Piccolo! Also Tipo is a new spot opened by the owners of Central Provisions off the peninsula. Love that you featured our sweet little city!

  13. Kate says...

    The Farmers’ Market is not to be missed in the warmer weather! There is such local pride and community surrounding Maine food.

  14. Tina says...

    Has anyone mentioned Two Fat Cats Bakery and their amazing pies? We almost always grab one to go before heading home south to Massachusetts.

  15. Eating a lobster roll in Maine has been on my bucket list for years. Gotta get there!

    I love the profile of the people writing your city guides… MAV has such great taste – especially he shopping tips :-)

  16. Cait says...

    Holy donut!

    And all the great beer! Specifically Oxbox in town and Allagash not too far away.

    • Kristin says...

      Second that- the salted dark chocolate donuts are the only donuts in the world I like. And I LOVE them. Also, it’s Oxbow Brewing. Allagash tasting room is right in Portland also.

    • Katie says...

      Completely agree – Holy Donut for dense, potato based deliciousnous is a must!

    • Amanda says...

      I think we eat at Holy Donuts at least 3-4 times in one long weekend. Absolutely the best!

  17. Meredith says...

    Holy Donut + Eventide Oysters. Best in show.

  18. MA says...

    Aw shucks – so cool to see my hometown featured. So many great recommendations in this post and in the comments. I am lucky enough to work just down the street from More & Co and wander over there every now and again to peruse their stock. I’ll give a shout out to Ten Ten Pie for breakfast or lunch. Amazing bento boxes and pastries. Also, if you are coming to visit and will stay in the city, consider ditching your car and take mass transit\renting a bike. This city is super bike-friendly. Now I want a Holy Donut…

  19. Mouse says...

    I second Rough and Tumble on Middle St. My husband fears it…..:)

    Sitting at the Fore St bar with a glass of wine and oysters was one of my great pleasures when I lived up the street. I travelled a lot for work, and that just felt like home, which is one of the reasons people keep going back to Fore St despite such an array of great restaurants in Portland.

    Micucci’s on India St for all foods Italian.

    Coffee by Design. Early local civic booster. And great coffee.

    Space Gallery for modern art and installations and events.

    Corey and Co on Danforth St and South St Linen around the corner on South St. Both local clothing designers and manufacturers, with Corey sewing in the back of the shop.

    Portland Chamber Music Festival in the summer–excellent wide-ranging programming with terrific performers and friendly performances. Started by a local violinist mostly out of her parents’ house, and now quite established. Not stuffy.

    If you want a quick and lovely walk, go to Mackworth Island just north of the peninsula and see (and construct) the fairy villages. (Very Maine) Kids love them.

    And venture an hour away to Stone Mountain Arts Center in the middle of nowhere, Brownfield ME, and hear all kinds of music in a 200 seat barn. Good wedding venue too.

  20. peg says...

    awww…well done, maria! love you and miss you and most importantly, need to come see you! xxo

  21. This seems cool! However, their website design is super frustrating. I wish I could check everything out without having to sign up first. :/

    http://objectsicantafford.com

  22. I’d recommend anyone coming to Maine also make the three-hour drive north from Portland to Bar Harbor – I’ve lived in Bar Harbor for four years and can’t imagine a better place to put down roots (or just relax for a weekend)!
    Much slower than Portland, BH has incredible hiking, biking, kayaking, and swimming spots plus ocean-front paths, friendly locals, and a quiet pace.

    Maine is the best!

  23. MJ says...

    Ah! Palace Diner shout out! Owned by good friends of good friends. Love the love! Maine is the 1 state on the East Coast I have yet to travel. I’m a New Englander at heart (via Philadelphia!) and I’m dying for a visit. Portland as a summer babymoon destination? Hm, now who wants to watch our toddler?

  24. molly says...

    Love this! Portland is such a great city. If you are staying there for a few days, don’t miss the opportunity to take the 30 min drive to Kennebunk/Cape Porpoise – my all time favorite town in Maine. Oh and to those going to the beach – be prepared for frigid water (even in august).

  25. I went on a road-trip in Maine when my child was one year old. Unforgettable. We loved it. I actually stumbled on the More & Co. shop and chatted with who must have been MAV’s husband – and he gave me such great tips for our trip. Will never forget how nice he was!

    • Steph says...

      Oohh, we are thinking of going with our daughter this summer, she will be about 9 months – any recommendations for Portland with baby??

  26. Claire says...

    Check out Woodford F&B in Portland’s Woodfords Corner neighborhood. This place is a great find away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but still in the center of its own little slice of town. Amazing burger, specials and entrees, plus a great brunch on Sundays. @woodford_fb

  27. Meredith says...

    If anyone is looking for more Portland tips, UNE Online (full disclosure, I work there) put together a Portland guide for students coming into town for graduation, and it is awesome! Tons of great additional tips: http://vision.une.edu/une-online-portland-me-city-guide/

  28. Marina says...

    Such a great guide, it makes me want to go to Portland!
    I’d really love a similar one for Brooklyn, since I’ll be there in less than a month for the 1st time and really looking forward :)

  29. Wow, this guide brought back so many great memories. I lived in Biddeford as a baby and visited Ferry Beach State Park probably about 12 times every summer from the time I was 6 until I moved to NYC for college. I would add – go to Garside’s Ice Cream after a day at Ferry Beach! The ginger is to die for.

  30. On my to do list! I love soulemama.com blog and her ad free magazine taproom…I believe she lives in Portland or close by.

  31. Sara D. says...

    Born and raised Portland, ME girl here! I live in Los Angeles now but take my little family back home every summer. I’m always blown away by how many new places there are each and every time we go home! For what its worth, my 2 cents…

    You all MUST try an Italian Sandwich from Amato’s. If you’re in downtown Portland then hit up the one on India St. There are a few other locations around the city but you can always Google for that. You wont regret it.

    For a truly touristy and yummy seafood experience, Dimillo’s (its a restaurant on a ferry boat!) For a no- frills, super local, semi-divey, yet delicious seafood experience with VERY strong cocktails, J’s Oyster Bar.

    For an amazing and more sophisticated seafood experience, either Street & Co. or Scales (I believe they’re both still under same mgmt., along with Fore St. (Highly suggest too) and Standard Baking Co.

    Absolutely get in line early for the best oysters, local brews and small plates at Eventide Oyster Co. If you want to splurge and enjoy one of the best meals of your life, in one of the best cities in the world (leave the kids at home for this), make an ADVANCE res for Hugo’s (owned by the Eventide peeps and right next door to Eventide)

    You should probably also try the salted, dark chocolate doughnut from Holy Dount. Go do a mead tasting at Honeymaker Meadworks (strawberry and blueberry are the best!) Order a cone of Grapenut and/or Black Raspberry ice cream from Beal’s. Go drinking and dancing on the Saturday Night Fever style dance floor at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge. Recover with brunch and a killer Bloody Mary at Ruski’s.

    Other great places to eat and drink:
    Central Provisions
    Lolita
    Piccolo (Italian)
    The Honey Paw (Asian Fusion NOODLES)
    The North Point (Dinner and drinks)
    Vignola (Italian)
    Union (great hotel too)
    Local 188 (Great brunch and dinner)
    Outliers (Great Brunch)

    Shed all of the shame and calories with a 3.5 mile walk or run around Back Cove Trail.

    If working out isn’t your style, drive yourself (or Lyft) to Higgins or Ferry Beach for the day to chill out and catch some sun. About 30ish min from Portland.

    Lastly, if you’re in need of a great haircut/ color during your travels, Dathan Hunter at The Dathan Hunter Salon. I’ve lived in most all of the big cities and he’s still one of the best I’ve found :-)

    • Nancey says...

      Just ate at the North Point, heaven of heavens! Stopped in to the Holy Donut, which was Holy. hah! great trip, new place Gorgeous Gelato was to die for.

  32. Rachel says...

    Love Portland! My family has a place in southern Maine, I’m counting the days until we get there and I’m super excited to try all these spots recommended. Do any natives know where I can pick WILD blueberries? We can only find the high bush ones and they are just not the same. Of course I pick them up at the farmer’s markets but I’m itching to pick my own with my kids.

  33. Gretchen says...

    This city is a little foodie heaven! On our last visit we seriously hit 10 restaurants in 24 hours. Standard Bakery is must, we always grab bread and croissants on our way out of town. Rough & Tumble is a super cool shop that makes these gorgeous and functional bags. So many pockets!!

  34. WMom says...

    Cup of Jo – can you give us Maria Alexandra Vettese’s beauty uniform? I love her natural fresh look. What lipstick is she wearing? Is she wearing lipstick?
    Thank you!

  35. Annie says...

    I live in Portland and feel lucky every day!

    I want to add Material Objects to this list. It’s a consignment shop that has been downtown forever — vintage and new clothes, and great jewelry/accessories too. Also, check out the Portland Public Market for fun food options like Sticky Sweet, a Maine take on Thai sticky rice with fruit — amazing!

  36. A few of my favourites: Holy Donut, amazing potato donuts (go early as once they sell out the store closes), Flatbread Pizza on the waterfront of the Old Port and my favourite Bao Bao Dumpling House!

  37. We live in Freeport (just 20 mins up the road from portland) we used to live in portland but moved out to have some land ;) we go into Portland for date nights and to hang out with friends etc. LOVE More and Co btw she gave a wonderful list! I would add to a few things to the list- go to Honey Paw for cocktails (best I’ve ever had!) and for their lovely asian fusion dishes. We sometimes put our name in at eventide and then grab a cocktail next door at Honey Paw while we wait to be called to get our lobster rolls at Eventide. For AMAZING authentic Italian food hit up http://www.paciarino.com in the old port. It’s owned and run by a couple from Milan and the food is sooo good. I love their goat cheese raviolis. And shop for more funky Maine made goods at Merchant co on Congress st (including prints of my art ;) )

  38. We were in Portland last summer, but sadly only for one day. We loved our stay at The Danforth Inn!

  39. Kiki says...

    The Holy Donut! The most fantastic donuts paired cold brew coffee (coffee ice cubes a huge bonus)!

    • Preach!

  40. Rosie says...

    Did she mention Tandem Coffee & Bakery? ‘Cause do it. Miss living here.

  41. MB says...

    Don’t miss independent bookstore Print! You might just run into local (Pulitzer Prize winning) author Richard Russo there!

  42. Sarah says...

    Super excited to see my dear city featured! The Eastern and Western Proms are both definitely worth checking out. In the summer, there are often food trucks camped out by the Eastern Prom, so it’s a great place to grab a bite to eat and relax on a blanket overlooking the water. Also, I highly recommend trying a water sport or two. Portland Paddle has fantastic kayak and stand-up paddleboard classes/tours of Casco Bay that are geared for all levels.

    And, no trip to Portland is complete without a stop for ice cream and gelato! A few of the local faves are Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream, Beal’s, Gelato Fiasco and Gorgeous Gelato. :)

  43. Sarah says...

    Thank you for featuring Portland!!! My husband runs an amazing all boys 7 week summer camp in the lake country of Maine and I take care of our toddler! (We live in Florida in the winter.) Last summer when my son was just crawling, I would drive to Portland (45 min) for a day out of camp! I would stop at Tandem bakery for coffee and amazing lavender scones. Go to the beach, The Children’s Museum, or even the public library downtown which is beautiful and open and has a whole free room for babies to play! Then I’d order a lobster roll and let my son chew on French fries and drive home. Maybe stopping at one of Maines many farm stands for frozen custard on the way back to camp! We’d arrive in time for camp fire, sun soaked and sleepy! I can’t wait to try some of these places!

  44. Molly says...

    10 of us Boston gals are driving to Portland for the weekend and we leave bright and early tomorrow am! Perfect timing!! :)
    I love Fore Street (the best), Eventide (lobster roll on a dim sum bun!), Duckfat (Omg, their FRIES), Standard Baking Co. (AMAZING), and Holy Donut. I totally recommend the children’s boutique, Little. It’s so perfectly curated. All my favorite brands in one spot! If you want a heavenly experience go to the tea house Soakolgy for a decadent foot soak. It’s an experience like no other. Pinecone & Chickadee has fun retro wares and LeRoux has a delightful selection of infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We were hoping to try Central Provisions tomorrow night – after reading this I’m worried it may not happen. OH WELL guess I’ll just have to go back. ;)

    • Rebecca says...

      Molly – go to CP at 5pm when they open for dinner and put your names in. They’ll take your cell phone number and call you when a table opens up (if you’re flexible with timing). We’ve done that with large parties and it’s worked out every time. Good luck!

  45. Very cool. She did an awesome job really covering all of the great things about Portland, Maine! Can’t wait to visit again.

  46. Vanessa says...

    We went to Portland two New Year’s Days in a row, AND for our babymoon. Love love love Holy Donut, Duckfat, and, you know, the beer. Vacationland is the best!

  47. Rebecca says...

    OMG! I got so excited & emotional seeing Portland as the newest “City Guide” destination. I moved here a year ago to be with my boyfriend (now fiance – we got engaged on Christmas Day!) after three years of long distance. I’m a Boston area native, so it took me a while to adjust to Maine life, but I’m now so appreciative of the very real work ethic and grit that emanates from Portlanders. The beauty of the entire state and view of the harbor from my office helps, too. It’s a city you can really sink your teeth into.

    A couple of our favorite spots that haven’t been mentioned yet (either in the article or the comments):
    Eats – Central Provisions is the best restaurant in the city, IMO. It’s definitely hyped and hard to get a table for a large party, but we sneak in between meal services just for the snacks and drinks at the bar. Totally worth it.
    Drinks – Great Lost Bear is off the peninsula, but has the best, most extensive list of draft beer in the city, including some of the awesome local brews (Austin Street is our favorite). Wine tastings at Cellardoor Winery are fun, too. And our favorite brewery is Lone Pine (if you go, you can stop into Urban Farm Fermentory across the street for some amazing kombucha!).
    Exercise – I have to give a shout-out to Freeport Yoga Company, located about 20 minutes north of the city. Terry Cockburn is the owner and leads the best classes in the world, ever. I also love the recently-opened Rooted Collective (barre/yoga mix). Great classes & instructors in an awesome space on Market Street. And Reve Cycling is amazing for spin and a class called Tone & Trim (hybrid barre/yoga/bootcamp).

    I could go on forever, but these places have shaped my Maine experience thus far. Enjoy!

    • Meredith says...

      Freeport Yoga is the BEST. You probably already know this, Rebecca, but if you’re looking for classes a bit closer to Portland, they now have a studio in Yarmouth as well!

      There are a lot of great yoga studios in the area, but FYC has, hands down, the best community, in my opinion. So open, so down-to-earth (its never a “scene”), so fun, so nurturing.

    • Rebecca says...

      Thanks, Meredith! Totally agree with everything you said. The lack of the yoga “scene” is exactly why I love FYC so much. I’m doing my 200 hour teacher training through FYC and Boston Yoga School, so I’ve spent some time in their Yarmouth location, too. They’re both great. Maybe I’ll see you in class sometime! :)

    • Meredith says...

      Rebecca, I was in the last 200 hr BYS/FYC teacher training! It was an INCREDIBLE experience – I hope you’re enjoying it!

    • Rebecca says...

      No way! That is too funny! Did you know BYS is doing a 500 HR starting next January?

  48. Melanie Price says...

    Our family has cottages in Jonesport, Maine. We go there every summer and take advantage of the fresh lobster, blueberries and wild lilacs. My daughter and her cousins are outside from morning until dusk when we are there. Maine truly is a very special place and I am blessed to call this state home for a few weeks out of the year.
    We do rent our cottages during the summer and we get a ton of renters from NY to Canada. Thank you for this lovely post. Cheers!

  49. Yay I love portland! Also must do a shout out to Sea Bags– a cool company that makes bags out of leftover sails. They’re based in Portland as well: https://seabags.com/

    • Gah! AND Holy Donut which has amazing gluten free donuts! Guys. GF DONUTS.

  50. Allison says...

    No beer on the list!?! Allagash and Bissel Brothers should be can’t miss.

    • Kate says...

      Portland is one of our top beer destinations! Oxbow Blending & Bottling, Novare Res, King’s Head Pub, Bissel Bros at Thompson Point, Brew Bus Tour…so much beer so little time :)

  51. Love this guide! I’ve been following Mav since her early letterpress days-probably shortly after she moved to Portland. Holy smokes does time fly.

  52. YESSSSS!!! I am going here in one month for my sister’s bachelorette trip, and it has been SO hard to find a comprehensive guide to Portland! Thank you thank you thank you!

  53. Maria in Maine says...

    I live right outside Portland and must say this guide nailed all the great spots. For vegetarian/vegan option the Green Elephant is so good
    http://greenelephantmaine.com
    Also our go to date night spot is Boda http://www.bodamaine.com

    Best Bakeries: Standard Baking
    http://standardbakingco.com It’s takeout but on warmer days you can sit on their outdoor patio

    Holy donut -theholydonut.com
    So yummy.they even have gluten free and vegan options

  54. Kate says...

    Highly recommend pai men miyake!! Also sitting on the patio at the beer bar novare res.

  55. ES says...

    Popham Beach is absolutely gorgeous and has been named Maine’s best beach many times. It’s outside of Portland, but totally worth the trip!

  56. Leah says...

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned Holy Donut! They make potato donuts…no joke. But they’re the most delicious cake donuts you’ll ever have. My favorite is the dark chocolate sea salt, but am also a fan of their chocolate coconut.

    Eventide Oyster is not just a “local favorite” it was up for a James Beard award. :O

    We also can’t forget the many local breweries. So amazing!

    My husband and I stayed at the Press Hotel for our mini-moon, and they thought of EVERYTHING. Homemade candies and cookies on our night stand, beautiful robes and sheets. Marriott rocks!

    • Shay says...

      For real… Holy Donut is what dreams are made of. And The Press is one of my all-time favorite hotels of all time! My husband and I stayed there for 1 night while we scoped out Portland. Needless to say… it sealed the deal, and we moved to Portland 6 months later!

  57. Jami-Lin says...

    HOW WONDERFUL to see my lovely little home state featured on my favorite blog!!!! :D You’ve made this Mainer very happy. Popham Beach was a mainstay (Maine-stay?) of my childhood and Portland has so much exciting food stuff going on these days. It’s really changed a lot in the last twenty years. You truly cannot beat coastal Maine in the summertime.

  58. Megan says...

    I second the recommendations in the comments for OTTOs pizza and Peak’s Island, and I also want to add that Portland has so many fun breweries! Definitely worth checking out. Portland is one of my favorite places – thank you for featuring it!

  59. Britt H says...

    I’ve been waiting for this one! Neither my fiancé or I have ever been to New England (He’s from Texas and I’m from Colorado) so we are going to Portland in August for our honeymoon! It looks totally dreamy and we can’t wait. Thanks for this lovely guide and all the reader suggestions in the comments.

  60. Laura says...

    Adding a few things: Definitely check out the (worlds only) cryptozoology museum, Duck Fat fries, and for honestly some of the best pizza I’ve ever had- Slab, for sicilian street-style pizza.

    • Kate says...

      Yes! Don’t miss Duckfat! Nothing beats a cone of fries and an Allagash.

  61. Lauren says...

    Love everything about this blog! I’d like to put in a request for a Dallas city guide – we’re
    moving there in July :)

  62. kayla says...

    Le sigh. Now I’ll be daydreaming about an East Coast getaway all afternoon while sitting at my desk. Loved this!

  63. Oh I am so happy seeing/reading this tour of Portland. I have been living in S.F. for 9 years transplanted from Newburyport, Ma. which is about an hour from Portland. We used to visit Portland frequently. Such a wonderful city.

    Wondering if Walters is still there!

    • Rebecca says...

      Walter’s is still here! I moved to Portland a year ago and have been for lunch & drinks — I need to go back for their delicious-looking desserts!

  64. Dana Cunningham says...

    One more tip! Newish (and NOT TO BE MISSED) Izakaya Minato for freshly sourced Japanese small plates and delicious cocktails and sake. Minato’s owners, Thomas and Elaine, are the sweetest people too. It’s on Washington Ave, which is seeing a boom of cool restaurants and breweries. Here’s a review with photos that’ll make you drool: http://themainemag.com/eat/izakaya-minato/

    • Jody says...

      We went to Izakaya the night of our last big storm hoping it would be dead. We still had to wait 20 minutes for a table and boy was it worth it!

  65. Alexandra says...

    These photos are gorgeous and I love that she calls her significant other her “sweetheart”! I love these City Guides, Jo.

  66. Denise says...

    This makes me want to switch Portlands, at least for vacation. I love Portland OR, but I’d love to love Portland, ME too.

    • I did the Portland to Portland move 2.5 years ago. Fun to know there is someone else in Portland, OR. :)

  67. Kate says...

    I’ve wanted to visit Maine ever since I was little and my parents read me “Blueberries for Sal” and “One Morning in Maine”! I’m going to suggest Portland to my husband for a vacation this summer…

  68. I’m a Portland native! Visit June through October, any other time of the year can be too unpredictable with the weather. If you love coffee, don’t forget to stop at Tandem Coffee in either of its locations. For the best brunch, Hot Suppa is the clear winner. For ramen Pai Men Miyake is extremely popular for locals but there’s a new spot, Ramen Suzukiya which is owned by sweetest man who used to be a journalist. Also if you want a night in, get takeout from OTTOs pizza (mashed potato, bacon and scallion or ricotta, cranberry and butternut squash are among some of the fun combinations they have) or Flatbread Pizza Company which is on the waterfront.

  69. cait says...

    If your looking for a cheap day trip from Portland, hit up peaks island. It has a beautiful small beach right next to the ferry, and you can jump right off the docks in to the water. Or take your bike and go for a ride around the island and find your own private beach!

  70. Alexandra H. says...

    J’s Oyster Bar for life! My now husband Kyle and I had the BEST lobster stew and lobster roll at this great spot while we sipped local brews from McGritty’s. Experiencing some major wanderlust at the moment, thanks for bringing back great memories.

  71. Lucy S says...

    My brilliant friend lives and blogs Portland food! (Hi Suzy if you’re reading). You can find her on Instagram- eatcentricme. She does great reviews of a load of Portland spots so while I’ve never been I feel like I have.

    • Kate says...

      Seconded from a fellow friend of Suzy! Food is her life, and she has great dining tips (and droolworthy photos).

  72. Janna says...

    Great guide!
    Question for MAV- when would be the best time to visit Portland? Looking for a weekend getaway soon and would like to walk on the beach with our toddler. Thanks!

    • cait says...

      July or august, or even early September!. Its warm and not buggy, the beaches can be pretty packed during the summer. But September is my favorite time of year here.

    • Andrea says...

      September in Maine is the best! Many tourists have cleared out & it’s still warm and lovely! (Have lived on the Maine coast all my life save for college and a few years after!)

    • Laurel says...

      September in Portland is lovely but also still prime tourist season. It doesn’t quiet down til late October….

    • Mouse says...

      Winter. No tourists. Maybe slightly less to do, but it’s a truly local city then.

  73. Brianna says...

    I’ve never been to Portland, ME (or Portland, OR, for that matter), but this post makes me want to pack my bags and book a flight (sans return ticket). I’ve not spent much time on the east coast, but now I’m definitely going to plan a trip.

    • Colleen S. says...

      I’ve been to Portland, ME, and it is nice. I didn’t spend a lot of time there, as my dad visited touristy spots, but the drive up there was gorgeous (I lived in New Hampshire at the time). I went in April, so it was a little chilly, but lovely.

    • ES says...

      Maine is breathtakingly gorgeous. You’re in for a treat!

    • Brianna says...

      I have itchy need to get away bones in my body and this post is making it worse. Something will be planned before winter sets in again. I love winter, but travel is a bear during snow season.

  74. Mandy says...

    i love this! Portland is the best. so beautiful and has great people. i love her little shop.

  75. Lindsay says...

    Oh how I love Maine and also MAV’s gorgeous shop. I would love to slowly replace the objects I use daily with more beautiful perfect ones. Now I really feel like lobster shack… I tried a lobster roll everywhere and their’s were the best!

  76. I’m glad to see that Portland Maine (and all the lovely surrounding areas) is being celebrated and shared. I grew up in the area and, after some time away, love living here still. So many great things here at any time of year.