Maine Event: What to do, see and eat in Portland's quaint coastal city
US Short Breaks
Published 17/04/2016 | 02:30
Portland has two speeds, says Emily Westbooks. Whichever you prefer, it's one of the US's best short breaks.
Set the mood
Maine's Portland may be lesser known than its west coast counterpart, but the quaint coastal city, with crisp sea air wafting through the streets and a hopping restaurant scene, has more than enough to keep you busy for a weekend or longer.
Portland has two speeds - laid back vacationland or open air adventure. Fill your days wandering the cobblestoned streets and testing lobster rolls, finishing up with a memorable dinner at an award-winning restaurant.
The more adventurous traveller can book a kayak from the city's east end beach to paddle between moored lobster boats, or pack a picnic for a sunset cruise on the bay. No matter your itinerary, be ready to fill your lungs with fresh air... and your belly with delicious food.
Portland is a foodie's dream, especially when it comes to seafood, so arrive with a healthy appetite. Head to Eventide (eventideoysterco.com) for New England oysters laid out on a massive marble counter filled with crushed ice, with a side of house-made crisps sprinkled with a special, salty seaweed mix.
Portland Lobster Company (portlandlobstercompany.com) is the place for fresh lobster rolls, and don't leave the city without trying a Maine potato donut from Holy Donut (theholydonut.com).
If the weather cooperates, the Portland Mail Boat at sunset is the best $16 you'll spend. Stock up on snacks, a few local beers (try the Craft Beer Cellar across from the dock) and pack a cardigan to spend three hours taking in the beauty of Casco Bay. The Mail Boat services the nearby islands, ferrying people, goods and, of course, mail.
Get a real sense of the city with an early morning visit to Portland's working piers. Watch lobstermen take in pots while seagulls swirl overhead, hoping to catch an easy bite.
Portland's main glitch is just how popular it's become in the last few years.
The city is working hard to increase hotel room numbers and improve parking, but in the summer months it can get crowded. To avoid disappointment, book accommodation and make special restaurant bookings several months in advance.
Get me there
A flight from Dublin or Shannon directly to Boston (aerlingus.com) is the fastest route to Portland. Rent a car at Logan Airport and drive 90 minutes north up I-95.
The city is relatively walkable, but a car is necessary for daytrips.
Stay at the central Press Hotel, former home of the city's Press Herald newspaper (thepresshotel.com; from €155), or the Mercury Inn B&B in a renovated Victorian town home (mercuryinn.com; from €120).