More often than not, when I tell people that I love spending time in Portland, they assume I mean the city on the west coast. I’ve been there too, but my favorite happens to be the original, on the other side of the United States. This waterfront city in Maine is full of exciting things to do! It is walkable, has beautiful parks and other open green spaces, and has an exciting food scene.
For our family, no trip to Portland, Maine is complete without a visit to the Eventide Oyster Company. The casual raw bar and eatery is my favorite restaurant. Ever. Anywhere. The seafood is always fresh and delicious, and the preparations are innovative and exciting. You can’t go wrong with a dozen east coast oysters, and bonus, they often shuck them right at the bar while you watch over a cocktail. My six-year-old can gobble up a dozen on her own! And then she follows it up with a battered hake sandwich. My husband and I recommend the greens, broiled jumbo winter point oysters, and tuna crudo.
One of my other favorite spots to relax in Portland is Zapoteca Tequileria which has delicious margaritas, an extensive tequila menu, and fresh, modern Mexican dishes. It is a great place to linger over drinks and shared plates. The interior is dark and romantic and the food is consistently good.
In terms of places to stay when we’re traveling, my husband and I are usually huge fans of Airbnb and Vrbo, but our most recent visit to Portland we stayed at the Press Hotel which opened in May of 2015. It is housed in the former Portland Press Herald headquarters, which is the state’s largest newspaper. Today the interior of the boutique hotel pays homage to its printing press roots. The walls are covered with typeface paper and you can find antique typewriters throughout the hotel – our daughter loved playing with them…as did so many of the guests. The lower level houses a small art gallery.
Our room in the Press Hotel was very spacious and the finishes were luxurious. And upon our arrival, they brought my daughter a children’s book (Blueberries for Sal) and some fresh-baked cookies. She felt like Eloise living at the Plaza.
Our family also really enjoyed dinner at UNION, which is located on the main floor of the hotel. The setting was formal enough to feel special, but casual enough to make our child feel welcomed. One of the lovely servers brought over some “play” dishes and spoons so that our daughter’s dolls wouldn’t starve. Very thoughtful! Seriously, it is these little touches that elevate an experience to something truly special.
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Portland one day, and you have brought little ones along, they will love this city! Try the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum which offers short train rides along the water’s edge, the Children’s Museum of Maine with three floors of interactive exhibits, Eastern Promenade Park which has two miles of walking trails, a playground, and great views of Casco Bay, or walk the narrow cobblestone streets of Old Port. For a kid-friendly, low-fuss lunch spot, head to the Portland Lobster Company and grab a seat along the waterfront. Then help your kids find the statue of the Maine Lobsterman!
If you missed my earlier posts on our travels through Maine, check out Augusta Day Trips or Fun in Camden. Maine is a beautiful state – one of my favorite vacation destinations. If you haven’t made it there yet, I hope you will consider visiting this special place. It’s perfect for families who love outdoor adventures, great food, cultural experiences, and waterfront living. Take time to tour a few of the smaller, quintessential New England towns like Bath, Hallowell and Camden, and don’t miss an opportunity to see that “other” Portland. You will fall in love!
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on Montreal!