The succulent fresh-as-they-come lobster rolls would be a good enough reason to visit. But we recently discovered that Maine’s largest city has much more than seafood and maritime history to offer, like its local wildflower wine, a new supper club, free art museums, and a dreamy, bike-able coastline. Use these tips to plan an affordable, relaxing trip to Portland this spring.
What to do
Portland Museum of Art | Seven Congress Square
Catch Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist before it relocates on May 28, or From Portland to Paris: Mildred Burrage’s Years in France, opening April 21. If you’re planning a fall trip, don’t miss Weatherbeaten: Winslow Homer and Maine. The museum is free on Fridays from 5-9pm.
Lighthouse Bike Tours
Maine itself is home to 63 lighthouses along 5,000 miles of coast, and the greater area Portland alone has six. The city offers several self-guided bike routes starting at about 22-miles roundtrip, including routes along Cape Elizabeth and South Portland. Need a bike? Head to Brad and Wyatts Bike Rental on Peak’s Island (115 Island Ave., 207.766.5631, $5 for one hour).
The downtown Old Port district has charming shops, cobblestone streets, cool taverns, and at least one floating restaurant, as well as a few National Register of Historic Places, like the Old Portland Customs House and Gignoux Courthouse. Every June, Old Port hosts an annual festival and one year attempted the world’s largest lobster roll, coming in at 60 feet. A ten-minute walk from Old Port, you’ll discover everything you love about the Brooklyn Flea at the Flea-For-All, except the vintage clothing, handcrafted goods, and funky antique items are unique to Maine. The flea launches April 14, and will continue to operate every Saturday and Sunday.
Where to eat and drink
Shipyard Breweries | 8 Newbury St.
One of Portland’s most noted micobreweries is The Shipyard Brewing Company. With some of the best seasonal beers, like Pumpkinhead Ale, Longfellow Winter Ale, and the new Applehead Ale, Shipyard Brewing gives visitors a true taste of New England tradition. Free tastings and video tours are available daily.
Portland Lobster Co. | 180 Commercial St.
Serving one of the best lobster rolls in town, Portland Lobster Company offers happy hour drink specials every hour (visit their website for details) and delicious seafood without breaking the bank. The restaurant, which reopens in May, is seated right on the Fore River, giving diners a view with their fresh fare. Lobster rolls vary by market price, but count on heaping helpings of meat on those buns.
Cloak & Dagger Supper Club | Secret Location
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, see what the underground food scene has to offer at this new supper club in Portland. The next dinner is dubbed Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and will take place on October 31 at 7:30pm. BYOB. Check the site for future events.
Maine Mead Works | 51 Washington Ave.
Visit Maine Mead Works for a taste of their signature HoneyMaker, one of Portland’s most flavorful wines. Made with locally sourced wildflower honey, HoneyMaker is semi-sweet mead that prides itself on being the “fields and forests of Maine in a glass.” HoneyMaker is handcrafted in small batches from Portland-only ingredients, which is why each batch is reflected by the season. Free tastings are available, so check their website for tasting room hours.
Where to sleep
Fireside Inn and Suites | 81 Riverside St.
The charming inn is within walking-distance of some of Portland’s best attractions, including downtown’s Old Port and several beaches. Fireside offers seasonal deals and getaway packages, including spring discounts, a romantic Wine and Dine Getaway, and various Family Activity packages, starting at an additional $20. (Room rates start at about $74.99 per night.)
The Regency | 20 Milk St.
An elegant setting at the center of Old Port, The Regency offers luxury deals at affordable prices. In addition to discounted rates on Bed and Breakfast and Business packages, the hotels offers both Father’s Day and Mother’s Day packages (from $259 and $279, respectively), allowing guests to treat their parents for a relaxing weekend. Moms can indulge with a $90 spa credit, extended late checkout, and sparkling wine and chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival, while Dads can enjoy a complimentary drink, dinner credit, and full breakfast.
Want more ideas for what to do in town? Read Maine Things: Pounding the Streets and Shores of Portland
Photos: julianmeade, Shipyard Brewing Company, Fireside Inn
How to get there: Consult oM’s public transportation guide to Portland
View Spring Getaway to Portland Maine in a larger map