Lobster and Light Houses.
Those were my only goals for visiting Portland, Maine. I can now say this place exceeded any and all expectations. I get that it’s cold, but how does everyone not already live in Maine?
When to Visit
The only caveat to this beautiful state is possibly weather. It’s cold. Not like fun, watch the snow cold, but wind chill that goes well below 0 degrees. Unless you’re a gluten for pain, summer is ideal and visiting in late August felt like a win.
What to Eat
You may have heard, but Portland became the restaurant city of 2018, and for good reason. They have it all.
The classic, absolute have-to would have to be High Roller. These sandwiches are expensive, but more than worth it. They pack on some serious lobster into these rolls, and the sauces let you make it your own. The jalapeño was incredible, but anything there is your best idea yet.
If you’re feeling fancy, DiMilo’s On the Water is a great place for gourmet options. The bacon-wrapped scallops stole the show for me, but their bread pudding has quite the fan base.
If you’re looking for solid sandwiches, good beer, and even better french fries then Duck Fat is the place for you. The place felt like a rustic dream. Get the poutine, and then any sandwich you order will be perfect.
I love a good bakery, sue me. Standard Baking Co. has the goodies to match the wonder of this city. There was an actual line out the door, so maybe get there early. Along the same lines, Holy Donut has potato donuts that actually blew my mind. I’m from Idaho, and I had never had a potato donut. I know, it was embarrassing for everyone involved. I dub these donuts legendary, and Idaho may need to pick up the pace.
My final dessert suggestion would have to be Mountain Desert Island Ice Cream. While the ice cream was exquisite, I more so note this place because Obama had ice cream here. Enough said.
Rising Tide is also a great hang-out place for good beers and the opportunity to meet locals for suggestions and good conversation. I recommend getting a flight.
What to Do
Lighthouses on lighthouses.
Here are a few that I believe to be worth the trip. The Portland Headlight at Fort Williams Park is the classic lighthouse everyone tells you to go see. It’s set on a gorgeous park making for a postcard perfect display. If you want to get in touch with your inner-youth, run around the park, look through the oversized binoculars, and roll down the green hills.
The Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse might be the most treacherous. You are guided out by jagged rocks into the ocean where this lighthouse resides. This one may feel the most adventurous, and certainly worth your time.
This final lighthouse requires a bit of a trip. A state-wide trip. Portsmouth is a quick drive away, and this quaint town will put a smile on anyone’s face. The Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse should be on your list if you have the time to head to New Hampshire and experience its history. The people are wholesome and the town felt like a historical movie set with colonial buildings lining the background.
Freeport is a fun area with cafes and L.L. Bean. If you want to be a total tourist, take a picture on the large boot. I won’t tell.
Alright, the absolute best thing I did while in Maine was take a ferry to Peaks Island. I can’t say enough about this experience. The ferry was cheap, you get to see more islands and lighthouses on the way, and the island itself offers something I can’t put into words. Rent a bike and hit the perimeter of the island, look at the rock formations, and don’t forget to hit up the Umbrella Cover Museum. I’m not kidding, this woman has the Guinness World Record for these covers sitting at 730. This place is about appreciating the ordinary and realizing everything has a story.
I have been to just about every state in America, and I can hands down say that Maine hosts the friendliest individuals. Maybe I just got lucky during my trip, but people wanted to help and genuinely cared about me and my experience.
If I had any advice, don’t be afraid to strike up conversation and ask for recommendations from locals. These people are the nicest in the United States.