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State Guides are a collection of all the places, recommendations, things to do and other tips I have for that specific state organized by county/region. They will be updated as I continue to travel an explore. Relevant posts that offer even more details will be linked.
I’ve always imagined Maine as a mash-up of lobster delicacies plus extreme terrain and a Stephen King style mist hanging over everything. While I’m may sound very stereotypical, our time there didn’t convince me that these aren’t key components of things to do in Maine.
Upon first writing of this guide, we have only been to the Portland area in Southern Maine. Our adventures were constrained, not by lack of wanting to venture further, but a lack of time. However, we are looking forward to planning a much more extensive Maine stay in 2020, so be on the lookout!
For right now, here is the first round of my state guide, presented with the hope that it will grow infinitely by the end of next year!
If possible, I always choose an accommodation that is slightly out of the way. I hate worrying about whether the neighborhood will be loud or if we’re inadvertently choosing to stay in a tourist hub as opposed to be being more in a local atmosphere. Staying in a slightly less popular area alleviates both of those issues.
I’ll be honest, our choice of where to stay in Portland was guided less by this purposeful logic and more by my own ignorance of the area. I didn’t realize that South Portland is actually its own section that is across the bridge from Portland proper, which means, of course, that walking between the two is possible but potentially a time consuming endeavor.
However, I was happy that we ended up across the bridge as opposed to in the city. There was nothing in walking distance of our AirBnB, but we basically got to visit two cities in one trip. If we went back to Portland, I would absolutely consider staying in South Portland again. I like the residential feel while being less than a fifteen minute drive from the city itself.
Driving and parking in Portland wasn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined it would be. We were able to park once and walk to most spots within the city that we wanted to see. As South Portland is far more residential, we didn’t have any issues driving or parking down its sleepy streets.
As previously mentioned, don’t forget about poor South Portland when planning a trip to Portland proper! (I’m so concerned you’ll forget, that I’m listing it before anything in actual Portland…)
As Foulmouthed Brewing is located only a short walk from the water, make sure to plan your visit around catching a beautiful sunset before (or after) you get your beer. Although they only have eight or so beers, they offer a wide range of types and are creative in their recipes. (I may be a little bias because I love their name and think it is an excellent theme for a brewery.) They also offer food. We didn’t try any, but the fact that they have a General Tso’s chicken sandwich on their menu seems like a promising sign.
While the reviews online were glowing, the true sign of excellence was the line almost out the door by the time we got to Scratch Bakery on that Sunday morning. With bread, bagels, pastries, and coffee, this place has a delicious smelling option for everyone in your party. They have two locations in South Portland, one of which is the bakery and one is something called a toast bar. We visited the bakery because I was dying for a pastry, but the other option may carry them as well.
If you’re interested in seafood/waterfront dining, there a few options in South Portland. However, we had our Maine lobster for lunch and were looking for something different. Elsmere BBQ kept coming up as a popular alternative and we were glad for it. Their meat is well cooked and they have plenty of sauce options, so, if you like barbecue, come on down to mix and match the smoked dinner of your dreams.
Whenever you visit a larger brewery, there is always the risk of it feeling more like an overpriced conveyor belt. However, Allagash Brewing Co. never did. (Although, I should note that we didn’t take the tour.)Between the two of us, we tried eight different beers and enjoyed all of them. I’m so sad that we don’t live closer because I would be here all the time.
At the top of our must-have food list was the obvious Maine choice – lobster! We never imagined we’d find it at a food truck parked outside Allagash Brewing Co., called Bite into Maine, but we lucked out! Alex had a lobster grilled cheese and I had the best lobster roll ever. (PS – Don’t fight me about who you think actually has the best roll ever. I loved my lunch and that is that…) Their prices were originally a little bit shocking to me (as it is a food truck), but it was absolutely worth it. Highly recommend!
Even though the International Cryptozoology Musuem did not change my opinion on the (non)existence of ‘hidden or unknown animals’ (some of which are folklore monsters), I enjoyed every minute we were there. Spend as long as you want walking down their hallways lined with glass cases and every type of artifact you can imagine. Also feel free to chat with their kind and friendly staff members – we had an interesting conversation on everything from the history of the museum to the New Jersey Devil. (Who, funny enough, is not Chris Christie – but I did ask…)
Still skeptical? This museum is for you if 1) you appreciate a unique experience 2) like to indulge in theories (whether or not you believe them is up to you) or 3) are drawn to passion projects and labors of love.
(For the record, I fit all three categories)
Another brewery, can you believe it? In all actuality, there are still so many breweries in the greater Portland area that we didn’t visit. We went to Rising Tide based on the recommendation of a friend (thanks Steph!) and I appreciated the huge outdoor seating space that they have and different types of beer.
One thing to note is that the neighborhood seems to be gentrifying around this brewery and the one next door, which made me a little uncomfortable. Not because I felt unsafe, but because it felt apparent that a large group of the local residents are not the same group of people who frequent the breweries. (I could be wrong, but that is just something that I observed.)
I believe it is a law that you can’t go to Maine without visiting a lighthouse, so you might as well see the best one. Although not located in Portland, the Portland Head Lighthouse is located a short drive outside the city and worth the mini-trip. While you can go up to the building (and tour it), I think the best view is probably from the rock outcropping to the right. Walk along the path until you see the gate door and head out. (Obviously, please be careful and wear the right shoes!)
We can’t wait to explore more parts of Maine and add things to this list! Have you been to Maine? Do you have any favorites for our future trip? Let me know!
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Hi, I'm Dylan, a photographer in the Philadelphia Metro Area. I love iced coffee, red wine, and am always up for binging Gilmore Girls or Parks and Rec..