Okay, so Portland is known for a lot more than just potato donuts and Duck Fat poutine but those are a huge draw among foodies alike. In recent years Portland has emerged as one of the best foodie cities around... you had me donuts!
If you are a wanderer at heart with a side of inner foodie like myself, Portland is just your cup of tea!
Wander & Rove with us as we explore all Portland, Maine has to offer from foodie destinations to independent shops and enjoying the scenic views around the city.
Before we dive into the endless amount of foodie stops Portland has to offer. Let's dive into a bit of history. My father is always one to fill us in on a cities history when traveling. It always amazes me how much he knew! I must admit I needed a wee bit of help from Google here...
Portland, is the largest city and most important seaport of Maine which is located on Casco Bay just 110 miles northeast of Boston.
Fun Fact: Its harbor is closer to Europe than any other transatlantic port in the United States!
Portland was first settled in 1632, but suffered many raids and was destroyed not once but twice by fire and rebuilt to what we see today.
Portland has the quintessential charm of a New England city. Parts of it resemble Boston and then again at times I felt like I was wandering through the streets of London which filled my heart. If you know me, then you know London has my heart.
When To Visit:
You really can't go wrong with the time of year that you visit Portland. During the Autumn you will be able to venture North during prime leaf peeping season, gorgeous colors everywhere yo turn and crisp cool Autumn air. The winter months will bring colder temps but visiting around Christmas will surely bring the holiday cheer! Spring time in Portland brings fresh life, as new blooms peep out from the no longer snow covered grounds. And Summer time brings warmer temps and the New England summer energy is in the air with endless outdoor activities.
Navigating to Portland:
By Car From The Boston Area:
Portland is only 110 miles northeast of Boston so you can make the drive from the Boston area just under two hours. Not to mention it is a lovely drive taking you from the big city through New Hampshire and along the seacoast to Maine. Making this drive during peak leaf peeping season is greatly advised (late September to early November).
By Train: For a more relaxing route you can take the Amtrak Downeaster from Boston North Station at TD Garden to Portland Transportation Center at Thompson Point in just over two hours and about $60. The Amtrak Downeaster also has other stops north of Boston, through New Hampshire and past Portland.
Airport: Traveling from a bit further away? You can fly into Portland International Jetport (PWM), only 5 miles from downtown. Doesn't get more convenient than that!
Portland By Neighborhood:
Portland is situated on a peninsula three miles long and a mile wide, as well as another peninsula to the east, and many Casco Bay Islands to explore. The city holds a few main neighborhoods, each unique in their own way and worth exploring.
- Old Town: The Old Port is a quaint and idyllic historic district with cobblestone streets and brick buildings home to many independent shops, restaurants, pubs, bars and breweries.
- West End: A residential area featuring beautiful brick homes, quiet streets, parks with walking trails along the Western Promenade and scenic river views. Longfellow Sqaure is a popular spot for trendy restaurants and breweries. Walking distance to the Old Town.
- Munjoy Hill: Also know as the East End, Munjoy Hill is know for it's laid back energy. Enjoy walks along the Eastern Promenade and Fort Allen Park with stunning views of Casco Bay and the food truck park! Discover independent shops, restaurants and breweries around Washington Avenue.
Navigating Around The City:
In my opinion the best way to see any new destination is by walking; 'wandering & roving' about, as much as possible. It gives you a better lay of the land and allows you to see things you may miss in a taxi or on public transport. And the best thing about Portland, it is extremely walkable!
Scenic Walks/ Outdoor Spaces:
- Fort Allen Park- gorgeous views from all angles, sitting high above Casco Bay it features incredible water views, a 10-acre oasis perfect for viewing the water, picnicking, and the historic monuments. Bring a blanket and a book if you looking for a relaxing afternoon to slow down.
- Eastern Promenade- just over a 2 mile paved trail that traces the shoreline of Casco Bay and Portland Harbor. A beautiful walk with water views in every direction.
- Back Cove Trail- a 3.5 mile loop, great for walking, running, biking and dog walking, provides beautiful views of the Cove, harbor, and downtown Portland.
Another great way to see a new destination in a bit of a faster pace is going for a morning jog or renting a city bikes (Bike Town).
Independent Shops In Portland:
It is incredibly inspiring and heart warming to see a city so filled with small businesses on every corner you turn. It provides a strong community feel with everyone supporting their neighbors and keeping a vibrant economy alive! I may be biased but I believe that small businesses make the world go around. They allow you to connect with others, keep a thriving community alive and allow you to support local people living out their dreams. That just gives me the warm and fuzzies. On your next visit to Portland make sure to checkout these local shops.
- JUDITH- a concept shop with a focus on women's contemporary clothing, accessories & special objects.
- Located at: 131 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101
- A Case Of You- a thoughtfully curated lifestyle shop with an effortless aesthetic & sustainable focus.
- Located at: 33 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101
- Fresh Pickins- organic whole-body products; hand made, cultivated and foraged in Maine to elevate your journey.
- Located at: 93 Washington Ave, Portland, ME 04101
- Alice Yardley- unique handcrafted bags.
- Located at: 93 Washington Ave #3, Portland, ME 04101
- Ember Maine- a collaborative retail space created by Campfire Pottery and MULXIPLY to showcase their collections and the handmade work of emerging designers and sustainable brands.
- Located at: 5 South Street, Portland, ME 04101
- Portland Trading Co.- simply a general store for modern times. Covering both Men's and Women's clothing, accessories, footwear, apothecary, and homegoods. In addition, we cover a well-curated collection of all things vintage: wares, homegoods, books and unique items. Located in the Old Port of Portland, Maine, and have an online presence at www.portlandtradingco.com.
- Located at: 83 Market St, Portland, ME 04101
- Folly 101- a well curated assortment of home decor and goods.
- Located at: 101 Exchange Street, Portland, ME 04101
The moment you have all been waiting for! I have been to Portland many times and what always amazes me is that you can always find a new cafe, restaurant or brewery to try. Here are a few of my favorites and a few on the list for next time!
- Holy Donut- craft donuts made with potatoes, you'll find plenty of locations in and around Portland.
- Crispy Gai- Cocktails & Southeast Asian street food, with unbelievably delicious Thai fried chicken.
- Duck Fat- If your a lover of cheese, gravy and fries look no further, Duck Fat's Poutine game is on point! And they now have two locations!
- Ramona's- "classic Italian hoagies"
- Scales- land & sea, located on the beautiful historic Portland waterfront
- Standard Baking Co.- quaint neighborhood bakery, family-owned, offering a diverse array of daily breads & sweets, plus breakfast pastries.
- Street & Co- located in the heart of the Old Port on a pictureques cobble stone street with Mediterranean, bistro style, seafood.
- The Bar Of Chocolate- the perfect spot to top off your evening with a delicious dessert selection and sweet drinks.
For The Next Adventure:
- Belleville- bakery
- Portland Pottery Cafe
- Two Fat Cats Bakery
- Regards- Mexican
- Lazzari- Italian
- Solo Italiano Restaurant
- Schulte & Herr- German restaurant
What To Pack:
Now remember you are in New England so plan for which season you are visiting in and always pack layers just in case. Comfortable walking shoes are defiantly recommend as some of the historic streets are cobblestones. Portland has a laid- back, slow pace and down to earth vibe so packing causal pieces that can be dressed up or down are a great option.
Suggested Pieces From The Shop:
For Leaf Peeping Season:
- Nova Sweater
- Silvestre Trousers
- Cara Pants
- Chaya Top
- Adela Jacket
- Costa Sweater
- Rey Jacket
- Keaton Pant
- Vena Trousers
- Lexi Vest
- Susan Trousers
For The Holiday Season:
- Laila Roll Neck
- Hiral Top
- Nova Sweater
- Susan Trousers
- Thermal Henley
- Cohen Pant
- Tiny Tote
- Toasties Wallet
For Spring/Summer Time:
Wander & Rove