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If you haven’t caught on to my summer schedule yet, I’m working in Maine for the summer. Luckily, my schedule has a fair amount of time where I get to explore the surrounding areas and I’m so excited to share some of my discoveries with you. I’m actually working about one hour from the city of Portland, Maine!
In this post, I’ve got the goods on some fun views, museums, and eats if you ever decide to visit Portland, Maine. I was able to visit Portland over a couple of different trips so these might have happened on different excursions. You may not be able to visit all of these places in one day, but if you’re looking to experience a few fun parts of Portland, Maine, here are some great places to start!
On our visits, I got to try a variety of foods for all palates! When you’re in Portland, I will recommend any place with seafood since it’s all so fresh. Not to mention that it’s super easy to get ahold of in any restaurant in the area. Here are some of my top recommendations!
Mi Sen Noodle Bar
I don’t often jump for Asian Fusion-style restaurants, but I did this particular day. We were with a group of friends that had some specific dietary needs and this place met every single one! Not to mention the KILLER lunch deal! I should have taken a pic of the menu because there were seriously so many options for the cool price of 14ish buckaroos!
Gilbert’s Chowder House
If you’re looking for the quintessential “right off the boat” seafood experience during your time in Portland, check out this place! Nestled in the heart of the Old Port area, this unassuming gem brings some great seafood options to their menu.
Fun story: I was gallivanting around the area with four dudes and they all ordered pink lemonade while I ordered a Shipyard Summer beer. I got a chuckle about the 4 dudes with pink lemonade and being the lone lady with the beer!
Between the four of us, we had quite the combo of food! We had bread bowls of clam chowder, cheeseburgers, and I opted for the Lobster Roll! When in Maine, order the lobster! Reasonably priced, outdoor or indoor seating, friendly & helpful service – totally recommended if you’re in need of a seafood fix!
I came in here with a giant group of teenagers, so this was already destined to be a major experience of epic proportions. However, it went so flawlessly, that I hardly even realized the size of our group being an issue at any point.
I split a pizza with some other guests at my table – the Casco Bay Community Flatbread. Three of us ate a large one and were pretty satisfied. Our particular pizza was loaded with caramelized onions, mushrooms, cheese and I didn’t get a photo before it was devoured! SAD!
When you come in with a party of 50-60 to any restaurant, it can get chaotic. It never once felt that way during this entire dining experience, so kudos to Flatbread!
The Porthole Restaurant & Pub
Again, I ended up here with my giant group of teenagers! We had called ahead and they had a giant section of their outside seating reserved for us. Their breakfast menu was ON POINT! They even have iced coffee! That makes them a true breakfast hero in my book. For some very reasonable prices, you can get just about anything you might want for breakfast. I opted for a standard Eggs Benedict – once again, devoured too soon for a photo. Aside from us on that bright & early morning, the place wasn’t too busy. So if you’re looking for breakfast in the bustling Old Port, this is an excellent option to check out!
This was a fabulous place to take a group of people who all needed separate checks and had different dietary issues! Fabulous lunch special – included a drink, main dish, and a dessert, so that was fantastic. Taiwanese food and bubble tea were all in one building, so that made pleasing teenagers super easy that afternoon!
Mount Desert Island Ice Cream
Guys, so many choices here!
I had a group of campers with all kinds of restrictions and there was definitely something for everyone to try. There’s definitely a reason why it’s called the “Best of New England.” Environmentally as friendly as possible, artisanal ice cream, and a great Portland location make this a great stop to check out if you’re strolling and craving great ice cream! I’m just sayin’!
THINGS TO DO
Portland Museum of Art
This was one of the “Maine” reasons we went to Portland on one of our excursions! We didn’t really have any other plans than just going to the museum, but we ended up running around all over that general area! We parked at a nearby garage and toddled over to this downtown gem! Who would have thought that a pretty expansive museum would fit so quaintly downtown? Not me!
This nifty museum is housed in three very distinct buildings in downtown Portland. One building is an 1801 Federal-style mansion, another is a 1911 Beaux-arts style museum, and then a building that has more of a contemporary museum design. If you know me, you know I geek for museums and overall museum design! So I was pumped that we ended up here!
Yup, one of my group trips included one of these infamous “duck tours.” You literally board a vehicle that looks kind of like a bus, but eventually, it turns into a boat once you reach the water. It was probably one of the most interesting vehicles that I’ve ever ridden on!
You climb about 10 steps into this strange looking vehicle to take a little tour of the Old Port area in Portland. There’s plenty of history and humor to be enjoyed. That is if your guide is entertaining of course and ours definitely was. We weaved through the tiny streets of downtown Portland on this huge vehicle before we rode into the Casco Bay for some beautiful views during “Golden Hour.”
Ferry to Peak’s Island
My campers and I also got to venture over to Peak’s Island on the ferry, so that was pretty cool! You board the ferry in the Old Port area and head over! It was fascinating to see all of the people, vehicles, and cargo that pop onto this ferry boat during their multiple trips each day. As someone who has always lived in a land-locked state, it blows my mind!
On Peak’s Island
Well…there isn’t much to report here. There really isn’t a whole lot to do here. There are a few fun shops that are worth checking out and some really nice waterfront homes to look at.
The island has some great WWII history that a few members of our group got to see.
There’s a very nice walking path that takes you right along the Casco Bay! There are some great opportunities for photos and just watching the water.
Portland Head Light
Sadly, the actual museum part was closed on the day we visited! #Sad! We did not let that ruin our visit at all! This is Portland’s oldest lighthouse and the land it’s on is quite beautiful!
Bug Light Park
Another opportunity to check out a lighthouse, except this one was much smaller and I was pretty exhausted by the time we made it here. Still pretty to look at and there were a TON of kites in the air on this particular day!
If you’re visiting the Old Port area, be ready to drop some cash on parking. The popular downtown shopping destination fills up pretty quickly. Imagine trying to park 15-passenger vans in the area and then be grateful that you are only a driving a normal family vehicle since it gets THAT packed.
There is plenty of street parking available if you get lucky or make it down early enough in the day. Lucky for us, we were fortunate to find a parking lot on two occasions – for a growing hourly rate. However, on our last day, a Hampton Inn Valet Parking Agent found us squeezing our vans into a tiny parking lot and waved us over into his valet lot for a flat-rate for the whole day! #WINNING
Needless to say, I had a blast checking out Portland, Maine during the few days that I had a chance! I’m hoping to make it back at least one more time this summer, but we’ll see!
Have you ever been to Portland? Have any recommendations or things that you would like to see?