A weekend visit to beautiful Portland Maine
When thinking about taking a short October weekend trip, driving 5 ½ hours to Portland Maine from Montreal is probably NOT the first destination that comes to mind. However, this small but sophisticated harbor city attracts thousands of visitors each year because of its historic charm and cosmopolitan vibe. This Northern New England coastal city has gained recognition as a cultural hub and routinely appears on lists of America's best places to live, visit, dine and play outdoors. It is also a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and fans of spectacular scenery. Greater Portland enjoys fall foliage that draws many visitors to admire the spectacular colors. Several festivals constantly draw visitors to the town and mark it as a wonderful weekend tourist destination.
Here are my suggestions for an interesting 3 - 4 day driving trip from Montreal to some of the best attractions in Portland and Southern Maine.
Where to stay:
If you’re looking to escape the city, take a scenic drive through White Mountain National Forest which boasts a lovely Scenic Drive Tour Route. There are numerous family oriented activities and camp grounds to spend the night.
If price is a priority, consider budget hotels that are situated in the Westbrook area just 15 minutes north of downtown Portland. Hotel and motels usually offer continental breakfast and access to a swimming pool.
For a more homely or coastal experience, Portland Maine and neighboring coastal towns boast several bed and breakfast or beach side resorts. Be sure to book early as rooms tend to be sold out closer to Thanksgiving and over weekends.
What to eat:
Once you cross the US border, if you need a stretch and snack break be sure to stop by the Eden Ice Cider tasting bar open on the main floor of the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center in downtown Newport. Not only are the owners Eleanor and her husband friendly and willing to let you taste a variety of ciders including their award winning Sparkling dry cider along with other local wine, mead and spirits, you can also visit their cider production facility downstairs!
If you want a sizzling dining experience, Kon Asian Bistro Steakhouse & Sushi Bar in Westbrook is an upscale Asian restaurant with a new and quite modern flair. They offer a mix of Japanese, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese Hibachi cuisine with skilled chefs that will dazzle you with their knife juggling and delicious preparation of fresh steak, scallops and lobster that will leave you wanting more!
In the heart of downtown Portland, there are numerous wonderful seafood and a fish and chips restaurants scattered across the waterfront. There are several takeout counters where you can take your meal on the go or sit and relax on benches near the waterfront. After your meal, if you have a craving for a unique dessert, head on down to the Holy Donut at one of their two locations on Exchange and Park Avenue that offer piping hot, fresh, delicious sugary sweet donuts made from Potatoes!
What to do:
Portland Maine and its nearby towns are wonderful venues for local and national artists, musicians, craftsmen and actors to shine.
Walk along the streets of downtown to appreciate the numerous art galleries and local craft stores. Several guided tours can give you a historical perspective of the waterfront that plays an important role in keeping the city alive by offering a variety of activities for both the young and old.
For a taste of refined life in the 19th century, take a guided tour of the beautifully furnished Victoria Mansion - also known as the Morse- Libby home in downtown Portland that is known for its extraordinary original interior, filled with antique furniture and art dating back to 1858. The mansion is open to visitors through October and for special holiday tours in December.
One of the more relaxing activities is to head on out to one of the great beaches in the Portland area all within 15 minute drive. You could also visit the Portland headlight - The second oldest lighthouse in the country that sits proudly on the shore of Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth.
Drive 45 minutes south along the coast to enjoy a high quality musical theater production at John Lane's Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit. Until October 26th the Broadway musical sensation The Addams Family will take the stage with an all-star National tour cast. Hauntingly good times indeed for adults and children of all ages !
To round up your evening, visit Jazz bar Blue on Congress Street to wind down and enjoy local beers on tap while enjoying jazzy beats and rhythms.
Although Portland Maine’s weather forecast in October and November often predicts gray skies and chilly temperatures spending Thanksgiving in Maine can actually be fun as summer crowds are long gone which allows for an atmosphere of total relaxation... ideal for a romantic getaway, laid back family vacations, or simply some personal "quiet time"