Salt and sea water fill the air. Fresh “lobstah” is served throughout town. Charming coastal lighthouses blink a classic “Welcome to New England” greeting.
Few places embody New England charm quite like Portland, Maine. It’s everything you’d expect from a seaside town – shellfish, coastal shorelines and tiny islands – with its own unique charms. Think breweries – of which there are dozens. Or dog love – your furry friends are welcome almost everywhere.
OK. So as a beer, beach and travel-loving dog mom, of course I love Portland. But here’s why you’ll love it too!
1. ALL THE LIGHTHOUSES YOU’LL EVER NEED
From the iconic Portland Head Lighthouse to the lesser-known Bug Light State Park, this northeast town is nothing if not photogenic. Bring more film than you think you’ll need because trust me, it’s easy to get on a photographic roll.
2. THERE’S A BREWERY FOR EVERYONE.
Outdoors lover? Grab a drink at Allagash. More of a music girl? Head over to live music and food truck-filled Rising Tide. Or if you just love all things beer, go on a tour to see (and taste) them all!
3. THE LOBSTER SHACK PAIRS SEAFOOD WITH STUNNING VIEWS.
This is not your normal ocean view restaurant. The Lobster Shack is a teeny, no-frills (scrumptious) kitchen with picnic table seating along the coast. Oh, and it’s BYOB. So… yeah. Enough said.
4. PEAKS ISLAND
A quick 15-minute ferry ride will take you to the charming, quiet Peaks Island. Just five miles from start to finish, you can bike, walk or kayak around the scenic island. And double plus for dog moms — the ferry welcomes your pup with open arms.
5. DOGS ARE (ALMOST) ALWAYS WELCOME.
Speaking of pups, the city of Portland and its surrounding areas are super accepting of dogs. My little guy Harry went to lighthouses, restaurants and breweries – oh my! (Side note, I’m kind of obsessed with my dog. In case you couldn’t tell…)
6. CARB HEAVEN AT SCRATCH BAKING CO.
There’s a reason Scratch has a line every morning – its bagels are fresh and made from some sort of delicious sourdough substance you can’t get anywhere else. I spent the weekend carbo loading on all things bagel, fueling up for the long (zero-calories-burnt) drive home.
7. PORTLAND HAS A BEACH FOR EVERYONE.
Whether it’s the calm Crescent Beach State Park or the dog-friendly Willard Beach, everyone can enjoy the sea and sand in Portland. And trust me — Harry did!
8. PROXIMITY TO THE LL BEAN OUTLET.
Outdoorsy girls, get pumped: The LL Bean outlet store – and its larger-than-life boot – are just a 20-minute drive north of Portland. I spent way more than necessary on wool socks and hiking boots, but when in LL Bean land, do as the Beaners.
9. IT’S AS RELAXING – OR ROWDY – AS YOU WANT IT TO BE.
Downtown Portland knows how to party, but if you’d prefer to take it easy, the condos in South Portland (just 5-10 minutes away) have all the quiet you need.
While Oregon may get all the Portland attention, this small, adorable and delicious New England town has its own identity. Check out the breweries, bring your dog, relax on the beach, but whatever you do – take a trip out to Portland, Maine!