Come Monday casserole-month will be in full swing. But before then I wanted to share my favorite places (so far) in Portland, Maine. As we approach Valentines I will say its a great place for couples to go any time of year. The thing I love about Portland is, for being a town on the smaller side, it is bursting with fun things to do. So much so, that even though E. and I spent three full weekends there in 2011 we still have not eaten at every restaurant, been to every brewery, and we’ve yet to be in the summer so we haven’t had a chance to do things like bike, sail, eat lobster outside, and much much more.
But I wanted to share some of my favorite highlights from our recent trips. If you’re planning a trip there soon, definitely check some of these places out! And if you’re not, maybe after reading this you’ll catch the travel bug. Don’t let the fact that it’s middle of winter stop you. We went our first time last February, and despite all the snow from the intense winter we had last year, we still fell totally in love with this town. The main downtown area is compact enough and has enough going on that you don’t have to be outside for too long in between your adventures.
And on to those lists!
Favorite Restaurants So-Far:
- 555 (Five Fifty-Five): We’ve been here twice now, both times for brunch and each time I have been so happy with what I’ve gotten. They have a great blood-orange mimosa and my favorite treat is the Blueberry Dumplings. They are so warm and sweet and the flavor just pops when you bite into them.
- Duck Fat: They’re set up is simple. Great hot sandwiches coupled with amazing fries cooked in what else, but duck fat. We stopped in here for lunch and were not disappointed… I’ve been craving a sandwich/fry combo from them lately. If only they had one in Boston!
- Street & Co. I love the bar side the most, which you can also eat in. Its so rustic, cozy, and a great place to stop in for appetizers before dinner or to visit after dinner for some wine and desserts.
Favorite Nighttime Spots:
- Blue: This is definitely a serious music club. We went for a night of jazz. Its dark and sparsely decorated with a small space up front for the band. I felt some of the folks in there were jazz snobs, but for the most part it was really fun and there’s always different bands playing. It was a great after-dinner spot to spend an hour or two.
- Old Port Tavern Billiards:On our last trip, after our visit to the jazz club we wandered around and ended up stumbling on this place and decided to give it a go. I am terrible at pool but have always loved playing. It wasn’t overly busy and we got some Shipyard beers and went a few rounds of really awful pool and had a great time doing it.
- Rabelais: OK, I may be a bit behind the curve in finding this store. But maybe not? Either way, for all you foodies out there you MUST go here. Its an entire bookstore filled with books on food and drinks only. Its amazing and we definitely spent a good hour in here and walked away with more than one book.
- Joseph’s of Portland: Every time we’ve gone here E. has walked out with some amazing find. A great pair of Frye boots and a gorgeous sweater for the winter. They have some higher end men’s clothing, so a lot of items aren’t cheap, but each item has been fabulous quality and looks great on him.
- Dean’s Sweets: Right next door to the bookstore this is a great place to pop in for a little sweet treat on the go. Its a chocolate-lovers heaven full of chocolate truffles. I chose 4 different truffles to try, including a salted caramel one, a chili powder one, a Scotch-infused one, and a dark chocolate truffle. All were delish and gave us that extra energy we needed to do more shopping and lots of beer tasting.
- Shipyard: They have two new brews that we got to taste last time we were there. The Applehead and The Smashed Blueberry. Both were awesome. The brewery normally only does full tours mid-week and on Saturday’s they show a short film then do a tasting only. But on our last visit they actually did a full tour and we finally got to see the back area. It was short, but still pretty cool! And I love their beer so either way I always love popping in there.
- Allagash: This one requires driving to and they have a set time for their tour. They do the tasting first then take you through the tour, which is unusual compared to how I’ve experienced other brewery tours, but it worked. Word of warning…eat a little before you go. We went before lunch and had a taste of four different beers, some with a fairly high alcohol percentage and I was definitely swaying a little after.
- Portland Regency Hotel & Spa: They’re not cheap during the high season, but we went in early November and the prices were ridiculously low. They have a bar and restaurant, although we haven’t been to either yet as there’s so much just outside the door. The great thing about this place is it is right front and center to the downtown area. We park our car when we get in and don’t bring it back out until the end of the weekend, except for once when we needed it to drive the couple of miles to Allagash. They also have a wonderful spa if you’re looking for some indulgence. On one of our visits I got a 90 minute facial, it was so relaxing.
Top Things on My List To Do Next Visit:
- Maine foodie tours
- Wicked Walking Tour
- Bike around Casco Bay.
- Portland Museum of Art
- Eat lobster outside!
Have you been to Portland, Maine? If so do you enjoy visiting and if so, what are your favorite things to do?