Although I’ve been going to Maine almost annually since I was born, I haven’t explored much of the state outside of the Bar Harbor-Acadia National Park area. I’ve been meaning to change that, so when we visited Maine last August we fit in a mini-getaway to Portland, Maine’s largest city, which is about two hours south of Bar Harbor (or two hours north of Boston, from the direction people more commonly visit from). Portland has recently become a hot vacation spot that has just as much of a foodie reputation as its west coast counterpart, so I was excited to check it out.
Our first afternoon in town, we walked around the Old Port, a trendy neighborhood filled with restaurants, art galleries and shops.
We ate an early dinner at OTTO Pizzeria, a local pizza spot famous for its inventive toppings. We shared two small pies: a butternut squash, herbed ricotta and cranberry pizza with white sauce and a more traditional red sauce pizza topped with tortellini. Both were yummy, but the butternut squash pizza totally blew my mind. I loved these flavors together and their ricotta was incredible.
That evening we explored the Old Port some more and found incredible gelato at Gelato Fiasco. We had just returned from Italy a few months before, and I swear this gelato was as rich and creamy as most of what we had there. Plus, I loved that they offered some non-traditional flavors (I had dark chocolate sea salt and burnt sugar).
The next morning we fueled up for a day of sight-seeing with breakfast at Marcy’s Diner. I had eggs, hashbrowns and Texas toast with a grilled blueberry muffin on the side (I think this might be a New England thing – they split the muffin in half and cook it on the griddle next to the hashbrowns and pancakes). It was a good breakfast but not an especially memorable one and I’d probably skip this place if it has a long wait, which I hear it often does.
When I was planning this trip, the one thing that came up over and over again as a “can’t miss” in the Portland area was a visit to Portland Head Light in nearby Cape Elizabeth, Maine, so after breakfast we drove out there (it’s about 20 minutes from downtown). The lighthouse is set on a really pretty bluff, and there is a nice walking trail with views of the lighthouse and the Casco Bay Islands.
Since we were already in the car, we decided to stop at another lighthouse on the way home – the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse at Bug Light State Park in South Portland. It wasn’t as scenic but I think all lighthouses are cute and there were nice views of Portland from here.
Our fifth wedding anniversary was that night, so we got gussied up and headed to Street & Co for a fancy dinner. The food here was so delicious! My husband loved his pasta with mussels and my sole francaise was incredible. I don’t think there’s much on the menu here that isn’t seafood, but I definitely recommend this place for seafood lovers.
Our last morning in town, we did a bit of a breakfast crawl, stopping at both Standard Baking Co. and the The Holy Donut. My favorite pastry at Standard Baking was the chocolate chip financier, but the famous morning buns were pretty good too. The Holy Donut makes their donuts with potatoes but you would never know that from the taste or texture. They’re just incredibly rich, moist donuts. I loved the dark chocolate sea salt.
After breakfast we walked around the waterfront area for a little while before hitting the road for home!