Although people don’t usually think of Maine when they hear the name, Portland, Maine has a lot to offer despite its small size. Visitors should make sure to do these five things:
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In 2009 a nationally-syndicated food magazine named Portland the “Foodiest Small Town in America”, and for good reason. The state of Maine has a long-running dedication to fresh, local ingredients. Of course, the fact that the city is located so close to the ocean is used to its fullest advantage; it is easy to access some of the freshest and least-expensive seafood in the country. Everything from oysters, mussels, clams, and the world-famous Maine lobster.
In addition to the delicious seafood, Maine also utilizes its resources in fresh produce: sweetcorn, potatoes, and fiddleheads run rampant, and most restaurants proudly display signs indicating that all food is Maine-made. But apart from the delicious ingredients, Portland’s restaurant scene is famous for using these foods to create highly original dishes. Alongside the classic diners are Mexican and Asian-fusion restaurants that take creative liberties with traditional ingredients in order to make highly unique dishes.
2. Drink beer
American beer has developed a bad reputation worldwide, but that’s probably because most international travellers don’t make the pilgrimage up to Maine. The state of Maine has more breweries than almost any other state in the US; and the majority of Portland’s breweries are small and do not distribute very far. However, most of them are very friendly and happy to show people around in order to show off their brewing techniques and unique recipes.
If sampling local American beer is not your thing, there is also an incredible amount of imported beer shipped from all around the world. Novare Res Bier Cafe serves beer from that has been tracked down from some of the best locations in the world including Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy, and England.
3. Watch a game
Maine is dubbed “Vacationland” for its nearly-perfect summer atmosphere, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the number-one sport to watch is the classic summer pastime: baseball. The Portland Sea Dogs, a minor-league team associated with the Boston Red Sox, play all summer long. Because of the relaxed atmosphere and a stadium which is large for the size of the city, tickets to a baseball game do not need to be reserved in advance and can run fairly cheap.
Even after the summer has ended it’s still easy to take in a professional sports match; the Portland Pirates (Maine’s local minor league hockey team), and the Maine Red Claws (the local basketball team), play games throughout the winter.
4. Take in the art scene
Like all other major sites in Maine, the Portland Art Museum places special emphasis on locally-produced works. However, the Museum also houses works by Picasso, Renoir, Winslow Homer and Rockwell Kent. If you don’t want to pay an entrance fee you can wander down to the Arts District which is full of great galleries and quirky antique shops.
5. Take a ferry to one of the local islands
Take advantage of the famous Maine coastline and catch a ferry to one of the local islands. Once you’ve arrived, talk a walk or a bike ride around to see some beautiful scenery and even more local art. Bring a picnic to eat on the beach, explore some of the tide pools, or just swim around in the Atlantic Ocean. There’s really no wrong way to spend a day on an island in Maine.
Tips for travelling in Portland ME
Maine is one of the more remote areas of the United States, so public transportation is an option but not an easy one. The best idea is to rent a car, especially if you want to explore more of Maine’s natural landscape.
Maine weather is notoriously fickle, so bring a sweater with you wherever you go just in case.
If you’re ever lost or need advice don’t be afraid to talk to the locals. Maine is a notoriously friendly place!
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