I was fortunate enough to be able to travel over the Labor Day Weekend. Francisco and I decided a few months back that Maine was going to be our destination, and in true procrastinator fashion, we didn’t actually end up planning anything until the day before.
Luckily, we have a few friends who had visited before and we took their awesome suggestions. Portland is a foodie town, and we knew we would be eating a tonnnn (and we did, of course) so we were beyond excited to spend some time there!
It’s about a 7 hour drive from Philly to Portland. To break up the drive, we decided to stop in Boston, MA and Portsmouth, NH. After about 5 hours in the Kia were totally ready to explore Boston. And although we only had about two hours to do so, I’m pretty sure we killed it.
Just kidding. I want to go back and actually visit. But what little time we spent there was awesome! We ate a lobster roll from Neptune Oyster (waited an hour for a table, were seated in a teeny tiny crowded corner…completely worth it). Hands down, top five favorite meals of all time. It seemed like the roll was stuffed with an entire mutant lobster and then dipped in butter. It was a religious experience.
Portsmouth, NH is only an hour away from Boston, so it’s a great place to stop before getting to Portland. I would describe this town as a smaller Portland. Al fresco dining at great little restaurants, independent clothing stores selling Pashmina scarves and smudging sage, a local brewery. Portsmouth is quaint and lovely.
DAY .5 (We got there around 10, so it doesn’t count as a full day): When we finally got to our Maine cottage rental in Portland late Thursday night, we were starving and exhausted. We drove over to Slab–an awesome pizza place with local brews, live bands, and a lively crowd. The pizza was fluffy, the beer was tasty, and the band kept everyone on their feet. This place is happenin’.
DAY 1: We got up on Friday morning with a plan. First stop was Scratch Baking Co. Scratch is located in South Portland (very close to where we stayed) and the locals go crazy for this place! We got there at 10:30 hoping to snag a bagel before they sold out, but we were too late. Le sigh. I kicked myself for sleeping in and vowed to wake up earlier tomorrow.
Although we didn’t get a bagel, I was fortunate enough to grab one of these sea salt snackers (and a cookie, naturally). Cisk got a turkey sammie on fresh baked nine grain bread and we both made sure to get coffee. We took our goodies to Willard beach–located just down the street–and we sat and ate and watched the kids play in the small waves.
Later that day we made our way to downtown Portland. Going off a tip that our Air B&B host, Mercedes, gave us, we bought two tickets to Peaks Island.
This was by far my favorite part of the trip. Peaks is located just off the coast of Portland. Its own little island community, you need to take a ferry to get there. The ferry itself is even a trip–you can actually drive your car right onto the ferry and take it to and from the island. Cisk and I opted to rent bikes to explore the island once we got there. For $5/hour, there is not better way to see this place. The views are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. We biked around the perimeter of the island, and I collected wildflowers in my basket whenever we stopped. The flowers were growing everywhere and it was just gorgeous.
During our little self-guided tour, we came upon a large area of rocks. A few people were stopped and walking around, gazing in amazement, so we waked over. Someone (or many someones) had built hundreds of tiny sculptures..no, they weren’t quite sculptures…formations? Well, anyway, they were built out of these rocks and they were incredible.
After a seafood dinner we visited Novare Res, an awesome beer garden with an absolutely ginormous selection of brews. Really cool place.
DAY 2: The next day we got our bagel (woohoo!) and took some really cool brewery tours. There are a ton of breweries and distilleries around Portland (I’m talking dozens of them). For the most part, they’re all totally free. Score!
We ate dinner at a restaurant called Fore Street. Go there, admire the open kitchen, and order the lobster. I didn’t even know lobster could be that tender.
DAY 3: Our last day, Sunday, was spent perusing the town. We meandered down the cobblestone streets with no real plan. Exploring the shops, admiring the views, and not wanting to go home. We stopped at Standard Baking Co (sorry, Scratch!). I ate a blueberry hand-pie that I still dream about.
We ate much more than I could possibly write about here. We enjoyed so much, indulged so much, saw so much, and we still want to come back again for more.
Although it’s not usually what people think of when they talk about Portland, South Portland really stole my heart. I already miss the sea salted air and cozy beach bungalows. Downtown was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something so peaceful about the beach-townieness of South Portland. I definitely recommend staying there if you get the chance (Portland is just a 5 minute drive over the bridge). You can find a good amount of Maine cottage rentals and Maine Beach rentals on Air B&B
Has anyone else been to Portland? Visit if you can!