I was meant to be in Portland, Maine right now, but here I sit, sweating in my wooden chair from Ikea in northern Colorado, drinking a Coors Light. If any of you get the chance to try out this itinerary before I do, can you let us all know how it goes? (Thanks to NYTimes, Serious Eats, and Design*Sponge for all the suggestions).
Stop for a drink on the deck of Portland Lobster Co., where a local band might be playing blues or rock. is a restaurant, bar, and also a distillery and brewing establishment, churning out an impressive list of libations, including beer, rum, whiskey, vodka and what its website touts as “Maine’s first Fernet.” Or try the kombucha, mead, and fruit beers at Urban Farm Fermentory.
Eat an overflowing plate of fried clams on the skeevy patio of 3 Buoys Seafood Shanty & Grille. Have blueberry pie at Two Fat Cats Bakery. Belgian fries at Duckfat. Spudnuts at the Holy Donut. And for dinner, Scales looks pricey, but the menu recently included a creamy, briny lobster bisque and pan-roasted halibut with hazelnuts and brown butter. Order the Parker House rolls if only for the raw cream butter served alongside. Dinner, about $80, with drinks.
The seating is communal and the dishes are funky at Honey Paw, an East-meets-New England menu including smoked lamb khao soi, with house-made noodles, fermented mustard greens, lime and Burmese coconut curry, and lobster won tons with confit mushrooms. Get small plates at Central Provisions, with dishes like rich caramelized sheep cheese embedded with Bosc pear slices.
Becky’s Diner has kitschy Formica tables beneath a press-tinned ceiling and fills you up on buttermilk pancakes, eggs done any way you want, and huge sides of home fries for cheap. Oh yeah, they have lobster rolls later in the day, too.
Portland Observatory: Climb the 104 stairs of this former maritime signaling tower, which offers a 360-degree view. Captain Moody, who originally built this place, has a burial site among the tombs and tilting gravestones in nearby Eastern Cemetery, which is also supposed to be quite lovely.
Below a row of rambling, mostly turn-of-the-last-century houses, the Eastern Promenade is one of two parks that curve around either side of old Portland. Above the bayside trail, Fort Allen Park, with its gazebo and sloping lawn, offers a serene glimpse of the bay. Several blocks away is the wood-and-brick Abyssinian Meeting House, once a hub on Portland’s Underground Railroad and one of more than a dozen sites on the city’sFreedom Trail. Portland had a robust anti-slavery movement:who knew?
CatchCasco Bay Lines’ ferry to Peaks Island. Rent a bike at CycleMania in East Bayside and hit the trails. One choice for an hour-long ride is the Back Cove trail, which curves 3.6 miles around a circular cove.
the Portland Museum of Art offers weekly tours of native son Winslow Homer's home and studio, as well as some 18,000 works by artists like N.C. and Andrew Wyeth, Alex Katz, Louise Nevelson, Monet, Matisse and Kandinsky, among others. Congress Street has lots of galleries, including She-Bear, with a strong focus on regional artists, and Space, a visual arts and performance arts venue. The Wadsworth-Longfellow House, dating from the late 18th century, is also nearby, and has a great garden for contemplating the meaning of life. Danforth Street, is home toVictoria Mansion, an Italianate mansion with a grand flying staircase and lavish interiors by Gustave Herter.