Vacationing in Portland, ME (Part 1 – Overview)

Welcome to Maine
This past weekend my wife and I vacationed in Portland, Maine. Over the next few days I’ll chronicle our trip in a number of blog posts. Today’s post is a summary of our thoughts and feelings about the city, as well as a full list of everywhere we went. In the coming days you’ll see posts about the restaurants, bars, brewery tours and all the other various things we did. This week will be Portland week on LIBA!

As for the city of Portland, my wife and I truly loved the city. It is nothing like we expected. Maine is moose and lobster country that we never thought we’d find a big city thriving in its midst. There are so many positive things to mention, and very few negative.

As you’ll see in posts later this week, the restaurant and bar scene is out of this world. There are endless options. All styles of food are readily available – Seafood, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Irish, etc, etc. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll be in heaven as a number of restaurants have great options. In Old Port, there are bars upon bars upon bars. Most of the bars also serve food.

The city is a beer-lover’s mecca. The city sports two major breweries (Shipyard and Allagash), a slew of brew pubs, and restaurants and bars with awesome beer selections. I tried more new beers in 3 days than I have in the last 3 weeks of reviewing!

Parking is very ample. Meters run on quarters as well as nickels and dimes (yes, dimes and nickels…seriously). There is a ton of parking garages, which we didn’t have to use. Note that we visited in May before the big summer rush.

You may not even have to deal with parking. If you stay in the Old Port area, you can easily walk to most places. If you’re not down with long walks, I’d highly recommend renting a bicycle. Buses and taxis are the main form of public transit.

Old port has enough shopping to keep you busy for an entire weekend.

Outside the city there is the beauty of Maine. State parks, harbor tours, fishing trips, lighthouses, and so on.

Portland Beauty

As far as downsides, the city has an unusually high number of homeless. This probably just comes with the territory with any big city, but we were surprised nonetheless. Half of the homeless we ran into were of the “you’re scary, go away” breed, while the other half were pretty easy-going, happy types. For instance, this particular (incredibly high/drunk/high and drunk) character who begged me to take a picture of him. After I took the shot and showed him, he thanked me and then went back to his business.

Homeless Dude

Another downside I could see is the lack of real jobs in the area. Note that this is my own personal opinion, not based on any actual facts. I believe that an area like Portland has limited jobs within the city walls, and vastly fewer outside the city.

The further into the weekend we got, the more we fell in love with the city. My wife was trying to convince me to quit my job and move up there. While I liked the city, I like my current paycheck WAAAAY too much to consider quitting. The city definitely has a ton to offer and is highly attractive. I’d be very interested in knowing what the city is like at the height of the tourist season, as well as the dead of winter. Maine in winter is not something I believe I would enjoy.

The below map shows all of the places that we visited during our trip. Stay tuned to LIBA this week as I blog about our experience at each of these establishments. Oh…and never fear, I drank a ton of beer (reviews of which I’ll weave into my posts).

View Portland in a larger map

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Author: Joshua Dion

I write about beer in an un-intimidating way, welcoming beer lovers of all experience levels.