Portland, ME Travel Guide

Portland, ME Travel Guide

Living within easy access to some of the cutest towns in New England (all within driving distance, I must add!) is one of my absolute favorite parts about living in Boston, especially when I actually make a point to visit some of the areas I’ve never been before. Today, I’m diving into a full Portland, Maine travel guide!

Just two hours north of the city, sitting on the coast of Maine lives Portland, a city I hadn’t been to before. Which, now that I think of it is actually crazy. TWO HOURS AWAY AND I HAD NEVER BEEN?! In order to avoid some of the weekend craziness, we opted to tack a few days to the end of our weekend and went up to Portland Sunday thru Tuesday.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Obviously, it was still busy (summer, duh) but it wasn’t as bad and much easier to make reservations!

Portland, ME Travel Guide

Where We Stayed

During our visit to Portland, The Francis hosted us at their gorgeous hotel located at on Congress street, along the edge of the West End and Downtown. We honestly couldn’t have stayed in a better location, either. Tandem Coffee is right across the street, making it easy to grab a coffee in the mornings, it was far enough outside of the downtown area that it was quiet and easy to get to other parts of Portland, but it was also close enough to downtown!

Once home to Mellen E. Bolster in the 1800s, the hotel has undergone a restoration and is now on the National Park Service’s Registry of Historic Places! Each room within the hotel is spacious, has a minimalistic vibe, and is perfect for couples, families, and even dog owners. The Francis team was so amazing and helpful, and someone is always greeting you when you walk through the doors.

Read my full review of The Francis here.

the francis portland maine
the francis hotel sitting area

I do have to admit, one of my favorite spaces in the hotel was the front living space. The belt chairs, the amazing fireplace, and the amazing light is so dreamy!

Where to Eat & Drink

Since we were only in Portland for two and a half days (we went up Sunday early afternoon!) and with so many food options, we put a heavy focus on checking them out. And a heavy focus on eating we did. We practically ate through the city.

Since Portland is on the coast (and in Maine..), there is a heavy focus on seafood although Chris has a shellfish allergy so we tried to avoid the heavy seafood-based restaurants to avoid any issues.

That being said, if you do have a shellfish allergy or just don’t like seafood, there are so many other options available!

The Honey PawLocated downtown, Chris and I stopped into this nondenominational noodle house for a quick drink and appetizer on our first day in Portland (between checking into our hotel and dinner) and it was delicious! Due to the way a couple of their appetizers are made, Chris couldn’t have too much, so we opted for the fry bread with ssamjang butter and the assorted pickles (minus the shrimp ones). Both were freakin’ delicious. For drinks, I got a glass of the VRAC and Chris got the Strong Paw (tequila, mezcal, honey, lime, chili). They also have wine on tap, which is pretty cool!

Union – We wanted to do a nicer dinner one of the nights we were in Portland and figured the first night would be best and oh my god, Union did not disappoint. I actually think I would rank it as one of the top three meals I’ve ever eaten. The restaurant is attached to the Press Hotel, so if you’re staying there, it’s as easy as walking downstairs! I do recommend making reservations, as the space is small and gets filled up quickly. All of the meals and ingredients are constantly changing depending on the season because they are all locally sourced, which is so awesome!

What we ordered: Cheeseboard (three Maine cheeses), smoked Brussel sprouts, brook trout (Christ), grilled hanger steak with king oyster mushrooms (Rachel)

Dinner at Union Portland ME
crisped brussel sprouts union portland me
Union Portland ME Dinner

dinner at union

Speckled Ax Chris stopped into the Speckled Ax one morning to grab a quick jolt and opted for the tower, which was an espresso shot and cold brew combined. It was strong, and not my cup of tea.

Fore Street – Fore Street was a recommendation from one of our friends but we were unable to get reservations for when we were in town, so we opted to stop in for a drink on Monday evening! If you are interested in visiting for dinner, I highly recommend making reservations ASAP (there are also a handful of walk-in tables available if it’s a last-minute decision). I forget exactly what I got for a drink (it was tequila-based and SO good!) and Chris got a Manhattan. We also shared a cheese board (duh).

Tandem Coffee – As I mentioned before, Tandem Coffee is right across the street from The Francis and it was so good! Located within a restored gas station, there’s a small sitting area inside with a handful of tables and an outdoor area where the gas pumps used to be with picnic tables. The cold brew was delicious and I wish I had an endless supply of their everything scones (complete with cream cheese filling) and sticky buns.

Tandem Coffee

Bard – Another quick stop, Chris and I popped into Bard on Tuesday morning before we left for a coffee and a quick bite! We only ended up getting coffee due to a limited amount of breakfast food items available. Coffee was good, though!

Saltwater Grille – On Monday, we did some of the breweries in Portland (more on this below!) and did a quick Yelp search to see what was in the area for food before heading back to our hotel. Saltwater Grille is located right along the marina and had a great deck right on the water, which I was loving. The food prices were pretty high for what they were and Chris couldn’t eat much due to his shellfish allergy so we ended up grabbing a drink (wine for me, dirty martini for Chris), french fries, and pimento bruschetta, which was (excuse my language) fucking amazing.

The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club – Alpine Club had an amazing menu! We both settled for espresso martini’s and they were so freakin’ good. We didn’t get food, but the couple next to us got the shishito peppers and the popcorn with green chile powder, which both looked really good. The space is cool, too!

Blythe & Burrows – Blythe & Burrows was another recommendation and it did not disappoint! We both opted for a glass of wine and shared the pork belly bao (SO good) and the kombu cured watermelon. TBH, I’m not a watermelon fan, but the kombu cured watermelon were out of this world.

Hifi Donuts – What’s a visit to Portland without visiting one of the fifty (okay, there’s not actually that many) donut shops!? At Hifi, I went with the salted caramel crueler, which was good but I wouldn’t say it was out of this world.

hifi donuts

The Holy Donut – I’ve heard amazing things about The Holy Donut but was honestly a little skeptical. I’m not a huge fancy donut fan and am more than happy with your basic chocolate glazed from Dunkin’. Since we tried Hifi, I figured it was only necessary to try The Holy Donut as well to compare the two and decided on the blueberry. It was good, but Chris’s maple donut was better.

If I had to choose between Hifi and The Holy Donut, I’d choose The Holy Donut.

the holy donut

What To Do

Alright, alright. I know we basically only ate and drank the entire trip, but isn’t that why people go to Portland in the first place?! In addition to eating our way through the city, we did do a lot of walking and poking around in local shops. Below, I’ve rounded up some of my favorites! (We also stopped into your “find anywhere” shops – West Elm, Anthropologie, etc.)

Blanche + Mimi – A melting pot of boutique stores, Blanche + Mimi features both vintage and modern pieces, home decor, children’s clothing and toys, and everything in between. Chris and I were swooning over all of the glass containers (below) and meant to go back after walking around to pick a few up for our new space but completely forgot. That just means we need to go back, right???

glass containers Blanche + Mimi
Blanche + Mimi gifts

Grippy Tannins – And just when you thought you were done reading about all of the drinking we did in Portland… I had seen Grippy Tannins on Instagram prior to visiting and knew I just had to go in, and that’s just what we did (it was our very first stop in Portland before we checked into our hotel or used the restroom!). The neighborhood wine shop and tasting lounge just opened just two months ago and let me tell you – the space does not disappoint. We were the only ones in the shop and had a chance to chat with the owner, learn more about the space, and learned SO much about wine. If you haven’t heard of Grippy Tannins or been into the shop yet, it’s a must-visit.

grippy tannins wine wall
grippy tannins portland me

How gorgeous are these chairs?! The distressed pink velvet is amazing and I need them for my apartment!

Flea-For-AllIf you love antiques and mid-century modern pieces, you need to stop into Flea-For-All during your Portland trip! They have a lot of small home decor pieces, as well as large furniture! I wish I had a Uhaul with me so I could have made a few purchases! There’s always next time 😉 There are new pieces added to the store every day, so keep an eye out on Instagram for the newest arrivals.

flea for all antiques portland me
antique shop portland me
flea for all portland me
flea for all portland

Harmon’s Floral Company – You can take the girl away from her plants, but she’ll find some more to keep her company 😏 After breakfast at Tandem Coffee one morning, we popped into Harmon’s to check out what they had going on and the space they have is so spacious and filled with so many amazing plants!

Harmons Flowers

Bissell BrothersWe stopped into Bissell brothers on Monday to grab some beer for some friends and the space was so cool! I’m not a big beer drinker, but I can get behind a great brewery. The open space was really cool and you can bring your own food in, which is right up my alley!

bissell brothers portland me

Allagash Brewing Company – Okay, so I might have just said beer isn’t my thing (and it’s not, I am a wino!) but one of the spots I wanted to check out while in Portland was the Allagash brewery. Allagash White is so good! We did opt to do the tour, which was only $5 and an hour-long – complete with four samples of beer (two small samples and two full size pours!). Guys — if you do any brewery tours in Portland, make sure it’s this one. It was SO good. You’re on the floor a majority of the time so you get up close and personal with all of the equipment and the information they share with you about the brewing process, the history of Allagash, and how their beer flavors come to be is astonishing.

Portland, Maine Travel Guide
allagash brewery tour portland me
whisky barrels allagash brewery portland me
classic american style

Leave a Reply

34 Comments

  1. 7.24.19
    Lizzie said:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Maine! This looks like the cutest place to visit!

    Lizzie
    http://www.lizzieinlace.com

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      It’s the freakin’ best and there’s so much to do!

  2. 7.24.19
    Rach said:

    Portland, Maine is high on my list! I’ve always wanted to go! For sure saving this post, because I love all the things you shared.

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      You would love it, Rach! It’s the perfect quaint little town!

  3. 7.24.19
    miriam said:

    looks like a fabulous trip! i would love to visit portland one day!

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      Such a fun trip!

  4. 7.24.19
    Briana said:

    This looks so cool!

    Briana
    https://beyoutifulbrunette.com/

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      Thanks!

  5. 7.24.19
    Stephanie said:

    And you didn’t pack me up and take me with you WHY? Portland looks like so much fun! Isn’t it funny how when traveling, the majority of what we do is eat and drink? Heck, that’s most of what makes a trip enjoyable! Sounds like Portland had plenty to offer on that front!

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      UGH you need to come up and visit and we can take a trip up!

  6. 7.24.19
    Greta said:

    I’m going to Boston this fall and am dying for an excursion to Maine! It all looks so pretty and quaint!

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      YOU NEED TO! Let me know if you need any suggestions!

  7. 7.25.19
    Morgan said:

    Wow – your hotel looks like it was gorgeous! Also, I’m gonna need all the pieces in that sweater blazer outfit!

    -Morgan
    How 2 Wear It [] http://how2wearit.com

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      It was so pretty!!

  8. 7.25.19

    Totally putting this city on my travel bucket list! Looks like you had a great time!

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      It was such a blast, you need to visit!

  9. 7.25.19
    Amanda said:

    So many cool spots– and a $5 brewery tour? Sign me up!
    I’ve never been to NE and definitely need to book a trip here!

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      RIGHT!? You need to make a trip out!

  10. 7.26.19
    Anna English said:

    Portland looks like such a cute little spot to visit! I’m definitely adding it to my list.

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      OMG you would love it! It’s so charming.

  11. 7.26.19
    Minhal said:

    The hotel looks so nice and cosy! And I’d like some Holy Donuts right now please. They look DELISH! Portland seems like the perfect place to have a lovely staycation. And it seems like you had a very lovely trip too!

    https://lifewithmins.blogspot.com

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      The donuts are made from potatoes, too!! You need to visit.

  12. 7.26.19
    Laura S said:

    Who knew that Portland was such a cool place?! Looks like y’all had a great time!

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      It is so awesome! I highly recommend taking a trip up there if you get the chance!

  13. 7.29.19
    Kari said:

    Such a beautiful place and great photos!
    After reading some Stephen King books, Maine has been on my bucket list for a while now!
    xo, Kari

    http://www.styleandcafe.com

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      I still haven’t read any Stephen King but need to check out some of his books ASAP!

  14. 7.29.19

    I was in Maine in May and was only able to stop in Portland for a short time and would love to go back! Thank you so much for sharing your guide!

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      It’s such a fun city! I’m trying to get back up this fall to check out a few more places!

  15. 7.29.19

    That hotel looks D A R L I N G ! Your trip looks so so fun! ♥︎
    XOXO

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      It was so freakin’ cute!!

  16. 7.31.19
    Kelsey said:

    Looks like such a great and fun trip!!

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      It was such a blast!

  17. 8.1.19
    Tracy said:

    Looks like you both had so much fun! The food looks delish I would really love to visit Portland soon!

    Tracy
    https://www.findyourdazzle.com

    • 8.16.19
      Rachel said:

      It was such a fun trip! You need to visit soon, and eat all the food!!