If you’re planning a weekend getaway to Maine, Portland is one of the most obvious choices for a destination. There’s a number of reasons for this, from the classic New England charm of Portland’s Old Port downtown area with cobblestone streets and narrow alleys overflowing with shops, to the photogenic harbor. And if you’re a craft beer fan, Portland has more than its fair share of craft breweries, including Allagash, Peak Organic, and Shipyard among many, many others.
Portland is also a huge foodie town — we were shocked at how many amazing places to eat there were. Some of our favorites include:
- Duckfat: This place is famous for two things: their hand-cut belgian fries cooked in duck fat, and their milkshakes. But the sandwiches are also amazing. It’s a tiny place that gets super crowded and they don’t take reservations, so expect to wait a while if you come at a peak time like lunch or dinner. They do offer electronic pagers, so you can always walk around the area while you wait.
- The Holy Donut: This is (surprise) a doughnut shop. What’s unique is that their doughnuts are made from potatoes (I know, right?) and they are delicious. They have several vegan and gluten free options on the menu. They open between 6 and 7 am, depending on the location, and close as soon as they sell out. We were in line about 10 minutes before opening and there were a solid dozen people waiting by the time the doors opened, so definitely go early if you want to get a good selection.
- Union Restaurant: Located inside of the Press Hotel, this restaurant serves excellent dishes using local ingredients. We spent Thanksgiving at the Press Hotel in 2017, and had Thanksgiving Dinner at this restaurant, which was incredible. If you’re interested, they have a set Thanksgiving menu on their website, and we recommend booking several months in advance.
For great photo opportunities, take a drive to Fort Williams Park. This is a seaside park with an old fort and the iconic Portland Head Light. Completed in 1791, this is the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine.
Ogunquit is a cute, if not somewhat crowded, town with several beaches, including Ogunquit Beach and Footbridge Beach. It won’t be quite as overrun with tourists as Cape Cod gets in the summer, but it definitely gets busy. We actually usually visit off-season, because the prices are much cheaper and the crowds slimmer. In terms of a place to stay, we always book a room at The Gazebo Inn — the staff is wonderful and the rooms are gorgeous (particularly the ones located in the remodeled barn). And their breakfasts alone are worth the trip (try the scones, trust us).
When the weather is nice and you’re looking to take a walk, check out Marginal Way, a 1.25 mile scenic seaside walkway with 39 benches for you to stop and take in the view.
Just south of Ogunquit is York, another classic Maine town. You can do some shopping and grab lunch at the Stonewall Kitchen Company Store. If you’re familiar with Stonewall Kitchen, you know that they sell all kinds of jams, spreads, sauces, crackers, etc. The York store is an oversized retail store — and the best part is you can sample everything. Still hungry after all the samples? They have a cafe serving sandwiches and salads until about 4 PM.
York is also home to the Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick. This lighthouse sits on its own small island a few hundred feet off the coast. Constructed in 1879, the lighthouse is still in use today.
Kennebunkport is probably one of the more famous coastal areas in Maine because of its beaches, and the fact that it’s the summer home of former President George H.W. Bush. Goose Rocks Beach is a long, sandy beach that is very popular among tourists, and you can also check out the Goat Island Lighthouse, an iconic landmark located in Cape Porpoise, a small lobster-fishing village.
Kittery is best known for the Premium Outlets. These outlets can be a little tricky to navigate, as unlike some other outlet centers, the stores are distributed among several different shopping areas along the same street. Meaning, you will have to drive to visit different stores at the outlets, unless you’re fortunate enough that all the stores you want to visit are in the same place. This can get particularly tricky if you try to visit during November or December as holiday shopping picks up, as traffic in this area can be an absolute nightmare during this time. If you’re going to visit the Kittery outlets, try off-seasons like post-holiday months, spring or early fall.
So, that’s it for our highlights of Maine. We hope to continue updating this post as we explore new places. Have you visited Maine for a weekend getaway or a longer trip? What were your favorite things to do, see, and eat?
To view other posts in this series, see the links below: