About This Place
Portland, Maine, may stir visions of quaint wooden wharves and steaming lobster and clam bakes, but there is more to this city than meets the walleye. Portland is the state’s largest city, and while picturesque wharves are present, tourists and residents also sample innovative cuisine, explore nationally recognized museums and seek out inspiring sights.
Set the mood for a stay in Portland with Robert Moody’s “La Vie Bohème,” a mix of Puccini’s classic and the contemporary productions of “Rent” and “Moulin Rouge.” The Portland Symphony Orchestra presents the show at the sensationally restored Merrill Auditorium, located in the Portland City Hall Auditorium.
Half a mile away, concert goers can partake in a fabulous meal at Five Fifty-Five before or after the show. Executive chef Steve Corry serves up locally sourced, organic and fresh-caught ingredients with palate-pleasing dishes like the truffled lobster mac ’n’ cheese.
For shoppers, Portland offers diverse retail districts. Old Port, at the intersection of Exchange and Fore streets, features cobblestone streets lined with one-of-a-kind boutiques. The downtown district is a goldmine for thrifty seekers of vintage threads. Round out the Portland shopping experience with a stop at Freeport’s L.L. Bean Outlet. Kids can get geared up in the store, and then try out rock climbing and camping at Discovery Woods, the retailer’s sponsored exhibit at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.
For adults, Portland’s Arts District is a cultural haven. The district begins at the Portland Museum of Art on the corner of Congress and High streets. The “Maine Art” collection provides a look into the state’s tradition as a colony for creatives.
From the museum, walk a few blocks southeast to the Victoria Mansion, also known as the Morse-Libby House. The 19th-century mansion is one of the nation’s most substantial examples of Italianate architecture. Perfectly preserved today as a museum, this Portland attraction showcases interior decor and furnishings from Gustave Herter, a top designer of the era.
Venture east for a 16-site walking tour of the Portland Freedom Trail. This historic path brings to life the city’s role in the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movement. For great city views, continue to East End and tour the beloved Portland Observatory, or walk the Eastern Promenade Trail for a stunning panorama of Casco Bay.
From here, travelers can hop a ferry to explore the Calendar Islands, watch whales or partake in a lobster bake. Dock at remote Eagle Island to explore the summer estate of Admiral Robert E. Peary, known for his pioneering adventures in the Arctic.
Back on the mainland, travelers should venture to Cape Elizabeth to see Portland Head Light, commissioned by Gen. George Washington in 1790.
Portland Stage, the largest local nonprofit theater, is the premier scene for live entertainment after dark. The Big Easy nightclub is a Portland attraction known for its live blues, soul and rock music.
Tourists in town for the weekend should take to the streets for the First Friday Art Walk. One evening each month, art galleries, museums and studios open their doors to the community and visitors for a free tour.