10 Things to Try in Portland, Maine: The Art and Foodie Heaven

One Of The Most Iconic And Beautiful Lighthouses, The Portland Head Light Under Early Morning Skies, Portland, Maine, USA

A compact city enjoying the rugged beauty of Maine’s Atlantic coast, Portland revels in providing all the attractions of its larger cousins to the south, but in a more relaxed, approachable, and affordable setting.

The Old Port district was once the heart of this seafaring town. While nautical activity still defines much of Portland, this once-derelict neighborhood is now the trendy heart of the city. Most of its shops, restaurants, bakeries, and specialty stores are independent and run by enthusiastic owners, with great variety and creative concepts.

The arts are well represented. On the monthly First Friday Art Walk, galleries stay open late with artist receptions and special events. The compact, but thorough, Portland Museum of Art displays American paintings, sculpture, and media from Colonial times through the mid-20th century. It’s well-known for its exhibitions of Postwar and Contemporary Art, and is the only museum in northern New England with a significant European collection. Check their schedule for lectures and screenings of indie films.

The Museum of African Art & Culture is the only gallery in New England presenting the art, culture, and traditions of Sub-Saharan Africa. The permanent collection features African-American artists living in Maine and other artists inspired by the African Diaspora. A separate gallery explains iconic traditional spirit masks.

For families, the Portland Children’s Museum is a must. It’s all about imagination and learning through play in age-specific areas. There’s a kid’s “circus” where they can try juggling, become clowns, and swing on a trapeze. The outdoor adventure area has trails and activities even in winter.

Portland is foodie heaven, boasting more restaurants per capita than San Francisco. Every cuisine and style is ready to taste, trend and innovation easy to find, as are celebrity chefs and up-and-coming ones, too. Try the lobster mac and cheese, the ultimate winter comfort food. The microbrew scene is equally lively. www.portlandfoodmap.com is an amazingly comprehensive interactive map searchable by cuisine, location, reviews, and links to restaurant websites.

Outdoor lovers can enjoy cross-country skiing along the oceanfront, ice skating on Sebago Lake, or sledding in the city’s parks. For more information, visit www.portlandmaine.com.

Don’t miss

  • a• Eat a Whoopie Pie, the official state treat of Maine.
  • • Food and brew tours, from a few hours to all-day trips. Try Maine Foodie Tours or Maine Beer Tours.
  • • Portland Head Light: The most photographed lighthouse in Maine.
  • • Harbor Fish Market: A waterfront landmark. They’ll pack and ship lobster and fish to your door.
  • • Freeport, Maine: 20 minutes north of the city and home to L.L. Bean, where the retail store is open 24/7.