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One Day In: Portland, ME

Welcome to our new blog series, where we’re going to let you in on the best things to eat, see, and do in a city if you only have 24 hours. To kick it off, we head to Portland, Maine!

Lighthouse in Portland Maine

One Day in Portland, Maine

The first thing you might notice about Portland – besides the amazing water views and super friendly people – is that it has just blocks and blocks of incredible restaurants. To start your day off right, head over to The Front Room for a leisurely brunch. Tucked away in a quiet residential neighborhood, it’s open for brunch seven days a week until 2:00 in the afternoon so you can feel free to linger over coffee or blood orange mimosas. It also features an open kitchen so you can see exactly how your brioche French toast or grilled duck and goat cheese sandwich is made.

Afterwards, head to the Portland Observatory just a few blocks away for awesome panoramic views of the city and surrounding Casco Bay and Back Cove. For a small fee, you’ll be led on a 45-minute guided tour up all 103 steps for some fantastic photo opportunities and background information on the city. If you’re not walked out by the time you climb back down, check out one of the Portland Trails trail systems running through and around the city. The nearby Eastern Prom trail will take you for a couple miles along the water, or the shorter Fort Sumner Park Steps trail will take you from Fort Sumner Park to the Washington Ave commercial district.

Duckfat French Fries

Mmm…duck fat french fries! [Photo Credit: Keith Wan]

After all that exercise, head to Duckfat for lunch. You totally deserve it. Their famous fries are twice fried in duck fat (what else?), and dusted with seasoning before being served in a paper cone with your choice of eight different dipping sauce like truffle ketchup or curry mayo. You can grab a fresh grilled Panini for the side, or just order a double-thick Tahitian vanilla milkshake and call it a day.

Work off all that duck fat by walking around the cobble-stoned Old Port district, where some of Portland’s best bars and nightlife are located. You can take a brewery tour at Shipyard Brewing Company if you feel like starting your night off early, or head over to the Arts District to check out some of the city’s best artists. If you’re in town on the first Friday of the month you can also take the First Friday art walk, where museums and galleries open their door to the public and live performers take to the streets.

And, ok – it’s a little outside Portland, but if you can make the trip then head to Kennebunkport’s Clam Shack for what will probably be the best lobster roll of your life. The Clam Shack has literally won so many “best lobster roll” prizes that they can barely hold them all on the corkboard next to their order window, and you’ll be able to see why. The roll itself is deceptively simple – just a warm, grilled bun holding chunks of fresh Maine lobster slathered with your choice of butter or mayonnaise (or both, which is the far better option), with a single lemon wedge on the side – but that’s what makes it great.  Bring it across the street and enjoy it on a park bench overlooking the harbor, and finish your day by watching the water as the sun sets.

Lobster Roll from The Clam Shack

The “Best Lobster Roll” from The Clam Shack [Photo Credit: Keith Wan]

Have you visited Portland, Maine before? Let us know if there are other must-see visits to include!

Tags: good eats, New England, Northeast, travel food

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