In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Meredith Perdue and Michael Cain of Map & Menu take us on a tour of scenic Portland, Maine.
5 Things: Portland, Maine
Meredith Perdue and Michael Cain of Map & Menu
There are so many things about Portland that drew us to this city six years ago. The ocean, the historic downtown, the people, the food (oh, the food!), and just the simpler pace of life in Maine’s largest city were enough to make us fall in love. (“Large,” of course, is a relative term—the population of Portland proper is only 66,000, a far cry from Boston just two hours south of us.) Still, there’s so much that this small town has to offer just about everyone, from natural beauty to tasty cuisine—and just about everything in between.
People plan entire vacations to Portland around their meals, and limiting our selections to just a handful is nearly impossible. But if you’re only here for a short time, here are some of our favorite stops:
Central Provisions (414 Fore Street, 207-805-1085). A relative newcomer to Portland’s food scene, Central Provisions is likely topping any local food lover’s list of where to eat in town. With its cozy, casual atmosphere and its small plates of whatever’s local, fresh, and delicious by the season, Central has everyone in town talking, (and has garnered the attention of many a foodie outside the state).
Duckfat (43 Middle Street, 207-774-8080). You can’t go wrong with any of Duckfat’s savory panini, but the one thing that shouldn’t be missed here is their mind-blowingly awesome french fries. Try the Thai chili mayo and pair it with a gelato-based milkshake for a perfect afternoon snack.
The Well at Jordan’s Farm (21 Wells Road, 207-831-9350). Only open during the summer and fall, this is one hidden gem just outside of town that we try to visit as many times as possible in just a few short months. Ingredients don’t get much fresher or more local than this—and although the food is some of the best in town, the picnic table, gazebo, and BYOB atmosphere is both family- and dog-friendly.
More & Co., 112 High Street, (207) 747-4730
Walking into More & Co. is like walking into the home of a good friend with exceptional taste. Their colorful and stylish seasonal collections remind us of the beauty of unique, handcrafted goods.
Mercury Inn, 273 State Street, (207) 956-6670
Blending excellent design with an attention to detail and environmental sustainability, Mercury Inn is a small and affordable privately-owned bed and breakfast within walking distance to one of our favorite food neighborhoods, and of Portland’s classic Old Port. (We’re also keeping our eyes on the soon-to-open Press Hotel, which is located in the recently renovated, early 20th century headquarters of the city’s primary newspaper.)
Getting out on the water in Maine should be a requirement if you visit during the warmer months, and there are few better ways to do it than an evening acoustic sail aboard the Frances, where local musicians will serenade your sunset voyage.
And on a sunny day, there are few things we enjoy more than a picnic at the Portland Head Light with lobster rolls from Bite Into Maine at Fort Williams Park. The park features fantastic panoramic views of the water and lighthouse, and plenty of space to play, explore, or even fly a kite.
L.L. Bean Boots, $79-199
The classic leather and rubber L.L. Bean boots were invented (and are still produced) just up the road in Freeport, and are perfect for Maine’s often changeable fall or early spring weather.
Also, don’t forget a favorite sweatshirt. No matter the time of year, nights can get chilly here, so packing a cozy sweatshirt is a must. We couldn’t live without ours from Mollusk, Saturdays Surf, or Imagine Maine (from More & Co., above).
Thank you so much, Meredith and Michael! I can’t believe I didn’t make it up to Maine while we were on the east coast. Doing another forehead-smack having read this. (Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series.)
P.S. All entries in the 5 Things travel series.