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Memorial Day Road Trip- First Time to Maine (HELP!)

My BF and are I planning to head up to Maine from NYC for the memorial day weekend...neither of us have ever been and were at a loss of where to go and more importantly where to eat!
A quick mapquest search puts Portland 5 + hrs away, and Kittery 4.5 hrs...
Since we only have Friday - Monday we dont have a whole lot of time to explore.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated,


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  1. In terms of restaurants and other things to do, if it were me I would stay in Portland. It's a great jumping off point to explore some of the coast and it's got the greatest cluster of top-notch restaurants. Whenever I have friends or family visiting from out of town for the first time, I always take them to the Two Lights Lobster Shack in nearby Cape Elizabeth: http://lobstershacktwolights.com. They serve whole lobster, lobster rolls, fried clams, etc. Their chowder is also very good. Plus, the view cannot be beaten.

    I'd also try to get a reservation at Fore Street. Hugo's, 555, Fish & Co., and Cinque Terre are a few others to look into if Fore Street doesn't work out. I'm sure others will have additional suggestions. There are so many great places to eat in Portland.

    1. Staying in Portland is a great idea but let me lure you north to the Bath, Brunswick area. I would not take a trip to maine without trying the Robinhood Meetinghouse in Georgetown, just over the bridge from Bath. M Gagne is doing a commercially available cream cheese biscuit that is out of this world, better at the resto. I would also suggest Back St Bistro in Brunswick. Take a drive up the coast and do a sunset sandwich on the deck at Sebasco Lodge on 209, an old style maine resort, great fried clams there as well. I am a long time, part time resident of Vacation land and there are too many places to go and eat than would fit into a weekend. If you wander north, drive to the end of 209 for a walk on the best beach in NE, Popham and enjoy the sunset at Sebasco afterwards, make a late dinner reservation for the Meetinghouse and you will have spent a glorious day in Maine.

      1. I would recommend driving a stretch of Route 1 which goes right along the coast from New Hampshire all the way to Canada. The most picturesque areas are north of Portland — Falmouth, Freeport (home to LL Bean), Booth Bay, New Castle, Pemaquid Point, and Camden are the places to spend the night. I'd pick where you are going to stay then find the good eats. If your heart is set on Portland then JenBoes later suggestions are perfect (my favorite is 555). It's hard to go wrong if you head to the coast.

        1 Reply
        1. I am prejudiced as I live there in the summer, but Ogunquit is a beautiful town worth at least a drive through, a walk on the beach and marginal way (a 1+ mile path along the rocky coastline) and one good meal. There is Barnicle Billy's where you can get excellent clam chowder, steamers, and lobsters and sit out on the deck and drink the best rum punch this side of Jamaica. Or have lunch or dinner at MC Perkins Cove, beautiful views and good food. Then, drive up to Kennebunkport or Portland to continue the good eats. It is worth driving north to the Bath area- I have never been to Robinhood but would love to try. But in that same area near Georgetown is the Five Islands Lobster Company- a beautiful place to sit on the water looking out to the five pine covered islands, eating crab claws, lobsters, steamers, fish sandwiches, etc. (do not use the bathrooms there, though). Wherever you go , have a great trip.

          6 Replies
          1. re: emilief

            thanks for the tips...after doing more online seraching seems like we should head to portland, and make a day trip to freeport / cape elizabeth..

            1. re: lemonyc

              Maine is my favorite destination and I've stayed in many places. Be sure to at least drive through Ogunquit and up the coast to Portland. There are wonderful views and great places to eat along the way. Have a wonderful time and enjoy it all.

              1. re: othervoice

                May I add my two cents, I agree with the other people who have given you the advice about Ogunquit, Its a great place to stay and to eat. Most places are now open. There is a great downtown area though not to large, but a nice place to stroll and have ice cream or a coffee and walk to the town beach, at night. I'm not to sure how much of a central area there is in Portland to walk and shop and just hang out,so I cant comment on it. but it is a large city. There is a really nice place to stay in Ogunquit at this time of the year. There rates haven't gone up to the normal summer season rates as yet. (http://www.meadowmere.com/) And you can drive along the coast up to wells and then to Kennebunkport and up route 1 along the coast to Portland, Hope this helps, Earle Ct.

                1. re: Earle

                  Since the original poster is coming from NYC, I doubt she'll consider Portland, at around 75,000 people, a large city. That said, it is the largest in Maine. There are many places to stroll, shop and eat in Portland's Old Port area, which is also within walking distance from the downtown. It's a great place to visit and get a feel for Maine, if you don't have time to get down East, particularly if you wind your way up the coast on Route 1 a bit.

              2. re: lemonyc

                If you really want to get away go to Rockland Maine and take the ferry over to Vinalhaven. You will find absolutely NOTHING to do, which is why we go there and are going on Memorial Day weekend. We don't like crowds, only fresh air and real Mainers. Before heading on the ferry eat at the Rockland Cafe, it is on Main St. and they have fried clams with belly..No frills though, no frills on Vinalhaven. Just pure Maine fresh air and 'do nothing' time. We love it.

                1. re: nhgator

                  Is the restaurant still open on Vinalhaven?? Too cold but the quarries are a great hike.

            2. Given the timeframe, Portland or the southern coast makes the most sense to me. However, in my opinion, the coast is an overdeveloped tourist trap! ( and I live here).
              For a different( and more authentic) view of Maine, continue up to Bethel( 1.5 hrs north of Portland). Spend a night in Bethel....head to Rangely( 1 hr from Bethel) spend a night at the Rangely Inn.
              You can't go wrong with Portland......or anywhere else in Maine for that matter. I just find the coast to be too busy in the summer. The further "downeast " you go, the worse it gets. Western Maine is beautiful and realtively uncrowded in the summer.

              1. I'd point out that the water temperature in the Gulf of Maine is 49F at the moment. I live right on the coast and it's still pretty cold compared to a few miles inland. Memorial Day is pretty early for the Maine coast. Expect 15 to 20 degrees cooler than at home in metro-New York.

                Inland, it's right in the middle of black fly season. Somebody was recommending Bethel. Like anywhere in mountain country in northern New England at the moment, that requires 100% Deet.

                Given the driving distances, cost of fuel, and your relatively short time in Maine, Ogunquit and Portland would make the most sense. Save farther down east for when you have more time and for warmer weather. Both Portland and Ogunquit have a number of good restaurants.

                1 Reply
                1. re: GeoffD

                  Maine is my favorite place in the world. I grew up near there and now live near New York City. If you are just going up for Memorial Day Weekend, I would not go any further than Portland. Personally, I love Kennebunkport. I like to get away from the city when I leave New York. In Kennebunkport, you could stay at the Green Heron Inn, a B&B, where you will have the best breakfast you have ever had, and fantastic homemade cookies with coffee and tea in the afternoon and evening. If you want to splurge on a five-star restaurant, try the White Barn Inn. Other good places to eat in Kennebunkport are the Clam Shack (casual, sit outside on benches if you can find one), Cape Arundel Inn, which is across from Walker Point, and Bandaloops. Be sure to look at Compliments in Dock Square, the best shop there. Take a ride out to Cape Porpoise and see all the lobster traps and real lobstermen, if you time it right. Portland is nice, but, for me, Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise are Maine. Oh, and for a drink at night try Federal Jack's, a microbrewery with very good pub type food, Maine style. Have a wonderful trip whatever you decide.

                2. By the time you hit the Maine border you are a about an hour from Portland via I95 - I would avoid Rte 1 at that point because you're already tired, so save it for the ride back on Monday when you can take the side trip to K-port. I get a little steamed about not seeing enough coast from Rte 1 for long stretches anyway.

                  There's good variety in Portland Restaurants as already stated - most restaurants have their menu posted outside the door for your convenience. A good spot to finish the evening is the intimate "Bar of Chocolate" on cobblestoned Wharf Street. Nice Port selection and great desserts. It's almost across the way from "Street & Co", which is strictly seafood.

                  We have a little red-tide activity in Casco Bay at the moment so your clams will be from downeast or Mass so expect premium prices. Mussels will be Canadian. Lobsters are unaffected. Good local bakeries provide breakfast snacks while you wander in the Old Port. Casco Bay Lines run ferries out to the islands every hour. It's only $5 or $6. Take a picnic and some wine or beer (allowed on board) and get a nice lungful of sea air - even in bad weather it's a great ride and a nice way to spend an afternoon. When friends come from away it ends up being a trip highlight.

                  Welcome to Portland.

                  1. Portland is a great choice. If you end up there, consider eating dinner at Fore Street as others have recommended. It may be hard to get a reservation at this late date, but they accept walk-ins for the first seating. I think they reserve 1/3 of the tables. They start taking names at the door at 5:00 PM for seating at 5:30. The bar is open at 5:00.

                    Another placw I would strongly recommend is Caiola's in the West End of Portland. It's a great neighborhood restaurant with excellent, creative food. If you search this board, there are numerous discussions about Portland.

                    The Portland Art Museum is also wonderful.

                    1. If you decide on Ogunquit, Cape Elizabeth and/or Portland, I recommend:

                      Barnacle Billy's and walking on Marginal Way in Ogunquit
                      Two Lights Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth
                      Mailrun Ferry Cruise (Casco Bay Ferry), Caiola's and Street & Co. in Portland

                      1. Do you want fine dining, or other types of food? The new Evangeline on Longfellow Square is wonderful. (190 Congress St)

                        I also second Caiola's. Definitely go to the Lobster Shack, but wear a windbreaker!

                        1. Just got back from our first trip together to Maine. We stayed in Portland at the Wild Iris Inn and had an excellent time. She enjoyed the boutiques etc. I enjoyed the art museum and the breweries. We both enjoyed the food. We tried 555, Fore St. and DuckFat.

                          555 was absolutely amazing. One of the best meals I have had in years. Excellent service, inventive cuisine... (ok someone should redecorate the bar, but that is really just me stretching to find something to critique)

                          Fore St. was quite good, but having had 555 the first night had raised my expectations for Portland restaurants a bit too high. Great use of fresh local ingredients, friendly staff.

                          Duckfat is a great lunch spot, really nice panini, awesome frites.

                          We will be going to Portland again. I would go back to 555 for sure, I might try Hugo's instead of Fore next time.

                          On the way back we went through Kennebunkport and Ogunquit. We stopped at a seafood shack to get a dose of that postcardy Lobstah feel.

                          1. Maine has been our favorite Memorial Day Weekend getaway for about a dozen years. We stay in Ogunquit, and will do a day trip up to Portland or Freeport if the whim strikes us. In Portland, we love the Old Port section, and the marketplace. The Art Museum is also nice. A fun excursion is the ferry to Peaks Island in the Casco Bay. It is easy to bring a picnic lunch and find a quiet beach area.
                            Don't forget to visit the lighthouses along the shore. The Portland Headlight is the most famous, but the Cape Neddick one is also beautiful.
                            LL Bean flagship store is open 24 hours a day, so you can visit anytime.
                            Whatever you do, you'll have a blast. Enjoy!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: jerseydiner

                              I would advise you NOT plan to eat in Freeport if you head there for the yupscale shopping delights. Last time my other and I (both longtime resident Mainers) stopped at LL Bean, which we do about once every 15 years when we need some odd camping item, we had a great laugh at the squalid street vendor peddling $15 "lobstah rolls" to the tourists. From the quaint and oh-so-discreet Golden Arches nestled on Main St. to the trendy little cafes cozied up next to the big-name retailers, it seems Freeport is poised and ready to fleece the tourists who are too tired and hungry to venture off the beaten path.

                              Catching the ferry to Vinalhaven or into Casco Bay is a great suggestion. Pack a lunch. The above recommendations for Portland are good, too. The Old Port is sort of 'Freeport lite' and you can still find some inventive good, cheap (or not so cheap, if you like) eats in amongst the window-shopping. Venturing inland can also find you some true culinary surprises, often in the unlikeliest places--if you have time, go for it! Here in central Maine the blackflies are actually on the wane, so don't let that stop you. Do bring repellant or a big hat if you're exploring the interior; we have mosquitoes too.

                              Have fun!

                              1. re: Kinnexa

                                No, no, no — there's great food in Freeport! A favorite is Azure Cafe — http://www.downeast.com/Down-East-Mag... plus there is always the Harraseeket Inn.

                                1. re: Kinnexa

                                  Kinnexa: i don't think you have a clue about restaurants......
                                  Freeport has some excellent restaurants and here is a list of high quality wonderful places that do big business because they earned it:
                                  Mediterranean Grill
                                  Buck's Naked BBQ
                                  Harraseeket Lobster in South Freeport on the water
                                  Broad Arrow Tavern at Harraseeket Inn

                                  1. re: irwin

                                    I echo that and add the Thai place just south of town on Rte.1 and the homemade soups at Royal River, the health food store (also sandwiches and other goodies).

                              2. Please report back, I would love to know what you did and what you ate!

                                1. Where to go:

                                  First up is Kittery. Kittery is a small downtown area, next to a marsh, right over a huge green bridge from NH. It's on RT 1, which is the road you want to be on to go up the coast. There you'll find the Kittery Trading Post, which has clothes, hunting gear, and a small gift shop. And right next to that, where I always stop to eat, Bob's Clam Hut, where you can see a mural of Elvis in a fisherman's raincoat, singing into an ice cream cone while standing in a rowboat, and inside, an even better one featuring Gilligan, The Skipper, and Ginger enjoying some of the hut's cuisine. The rest of the town is full of retail shops which are probably of little interest.

                                  Continuing up Route 1, you'll hit York Coner, where you'll want to take a left onto Route 1A. This will take you to York, and if you stay on it, to York Harbor. You'll pass by Long Beach. But don't stop there. Just past that, take a right onto Nubble Road, and you'll head out onto a little pinnensula at the end of which is Nubble Light House, and some little cottages. After yout stop there, keep following the road around the pinnensula, through the narrow streets, till you hit ocean ave, where you'll see Short Beach. Stop here, and walk around town, where there's many small gift shops and an arcade. Here you'll also find The Goldenrod, a place which appears from the outside to sell taffy and candy, but inside has a restaraunt where they serve a great breakfast:


                                  In town, away from the beach, you'll also see what looks like an amusement park. This is the York Zoo, which I'd also reccomend checking out. Just walk through the amausement park, no ticket for entry required, and on the other side of it you'll see the entrance to the zoo itself. The zoo is large, and near the entrance has bears, an elephant, a duck pond, an aviary, and behind that, a butterfly house which is not to be missed. On the other side of the park you'll find lions, tigers, kangaroos, prarie dogs, antelope, deer, emus, crocodiles, reptiles, and many other species. You can even have your picture taken with a python draped around your neck.

                                  From there, continue up the coastline, up Main St, and onto Shore Rd, across a short bridge. Follow shore road all the way up the coast to Ogunquit.

                                  I don't remember what's in Ogunquit exactly, but just before you reach it, you'll pass Perkin's Cove Rd. It's easy to miss, but it's just after a neat looking motel on the right, there'll be a turn on your right which you should take, and that same road the right fork takes you on to also merges with shore rd, in a sort of triangle. If I remember correctly, the intersection which is just after the ideal road to take is pretty weird and has only a blinking yellow light. Just after it is a gas station on the right which has a no-uturns sign. If you see that you've gone too far!

                                  Perkin's Cove is home to many small shops, some docks, and a neat bridge which goes over the cove. There is a candy shop in town with the best chocolate I have ever tasted! Get some of the dark or regular chocolates they have in bags. All sorts of fillings to choose from. Stuff will melt in your mouth, and you'll probably finish a bag in five minutes, so get some extra to take with you. There is also several seafood places here. I have not eaten at them, but they look good.

                                  And just at the entrance to perkin's cove, on the left side of the parking lots for the cove, is another don't miss, the entrance to "Marginal Way"... A nice smooth walking path which is about a 30 minute hike along the ocean past many mansions. The path has several benches if you need to rest, and many scenic views. It ends at a little building shaped like a light house.

                                  Once you're done with Parkin's cove, if you've done all that stuff, you'll probably be near the end of your day if you started in the morning, and didn't take the time to go to the York Zoo. If you did go to the York Zoo, maybe you should stay in town and have breakfast at that candy shop I mentioned? There are some nice cottages at the lighthouse, but those might be weekly rentals.

                                  After Perkin's cove, you'll merge back onto RT1. Keep following RT1, and you'll soon hit a fork where you should turn right onto RT 9. This will take you to Kennebunkport.

                                  Just before you reach it though, on your right will be Sea Rd, which you should take to get to Beach Ave which continues along the ocean and past several beaches, then turn back inland, taking you back to RT 9, which you will need to take a right onto. Somewhere along the ocean here is the Bush mansion, on the right. You can't really miss it, there'll probably be lots of people stopped. I think it's brown. It's built on a rocky shoreline. Just before it is a little church on the right hidden behind some bushes. And just past the mansion a little ways is another tiny on the left which is made of stone and neat.

                                  Continuing this way, you will soon pass over a bridge, and arrive in Dock Square, which is another place you don't wanna miss. Stop here! Lots of neat little shops in this area, plus several eateries, docks, and even a horse drawn carraige. I don't have any reccomendations for eats in this area, but there's several restaraunts and I think I read a few in the area are good.

                                  If you don't want to eat here though, head just a little past Kennebunkport, you'll find Cape Porpoise. A nondescript area which one might easily pass by without another look, keep going straight, and you should merge with Peir Rd. This will take you back towards the ocean, and end at a somewhat scenic peir in a cove. Here you'll see a small fish place, and to the right of that, a larger restaraunt. The larger restaraunt is the one you want to eat at. If it's not open, or if you're in the mood for a little less fancy dining, walk down the ramp to the bar under the restaraunt. I found this place by accident and while it is a tiny place, it's very nice, and the food is excellent.

                                  And so we come to the end of my reccomendations. I haven't traveled further than this up the coast. Just beyond cape porpoise is goose rocks beach and biddeford pool, which both look interesting from the shape of them on my map, but I don't know anything about them. And past that is Old Orchard Beach, which I hear is less quaint and more like a biker area, which is also a tourist spot.

                                  Hope this helps!

                                  Oh and if you have any interest in submarines, you can go inside one if you stop in Portsmouth just before the bridge into Maine.

                                  And if you like antiques there's also many little shops along the way I mentioned with those.

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: Ratatouille

                                    great post where is the great hot dog stand?????

                                    1. re: jspear

                                      Flo's hot dogs is located on Route 1 in Cape Neddick between Stonewall Kitchen and Ogunquit Center. That is the original and the best. Flo also has a stand in the parking lot of the Kittery Trading Post and one further north on Route 1 in Wells.

                                    2. re: Ratatouille

                                      "Continuing up Route 1, you'll hit York Coner, where you'll want to take a left onto Route 1A."

                                      Right, not left. :-)

                                      1. re: Ratatouille

                                        I went to Maine yesterday, and had breakfast at the Goldenrod before heading north to Portland via the seacoast.

                                        I must say, I was dissapointed in my breakfast. The last couple times I'd gotten eggs, but this time I got french toast. The french toast was thin and soggy and tasted strongly of egg. And the real maple syrup I ordered with it wasn't very good compared with the brand I buy. Tasted like fake maple. Also they didn't have any blueberries available even though they're on the menu and they were serving blueberry pancakes and what looked like little fresh baked blueberry pastries. I guess next time I go there I'll stick with the eggs which are a safe choice. The bacon was still nice and thick and good at least.

                                        As for Portland... a word to the wise. Beyond porpoise cove, maine is a wasteland. It seems all the mansions and scenic ocean drives are south of there. Old Orchard Beach can be summed up as RUN DOWN CARNIVAL. Literally. I didn't even stop.

                                        When driving by, if you make the mistake of heading that way, you'll head down this narrow little street that feels like you're in a cheap amusement park with no view of the ocean even though you're right next to it because on the right there's this wire fence all along the sidewalk behind which is a bunch of carnival rides blocking the view. And to your left are a bunch of little run down shops.

                                        Past that, there's nothing worth seeing the rest of the way up to Portland. And Portland itself was pretty run down. Very industrial, but not in a cool way like parts of Boston. A lot of the infrastrucutre looks like it hasn't been upgraded since the 70's. Old rusty fire hydrants which haven't been painted can be seen along the highway leading up to it, with yellowed sidewalks. Some of it is being redone and is landscaped nicely, but the downtown area which wasn't too bad wasn't all that interesting.

                                        The best part of downtown was going to that restaraunt on a boat, which I can't remember the name of. That was really nice inside. I tried sitting outside before moving back inside, because they just had plastic furniture out there, whereas the inside is really swanky, and to be honest the view outside wasn't worth looking at. But the inside... wonderful. Lots of neat nautical stuff like diving suits. But the prices! Ouch! The entrees were almost all over $20, some as high as $30. I managed to get away with spending only $30 for baked stuffed haddock which I didnt enjoy very much and a beer which was also a poor choice. The food was nicely prepared, I just didn't enjoy the taste of the fish. I'm sure they have plenty of tasty items on the menu.

                                        The only reason to travel all the way to Portland in my opinion though isn't that restaraunt. It's the portland lighthouse, at fort somethingorother. The park that surrounds it is huge and nicely landscaped. There's stuff for kids to do, like swing sets, and some fields for sports. And there's several stone forts to explore inside. Also a gutted stone mansion with bike trails behind it. You can even grill on some barbecues they have right on the beach. The lighthouse itself also has a gift shop and a museum in it.

                                        So it's something you might want to take a look at after you pass through kennebunkport and get back onto I95. If you're on your way somewhere else, like Bar Harbor.

                                        Oh and a word of warning about I95: Tolls tolls tolls. Going from York to Manchester I paid over $3.00 in tolls, and I paid $.75 on my way up, and I only avoided paying more cause I drove up the seacoast.

                                        1. re: Ratatouille

                                          You're kidding, right?

                                          If not, where do we start to correct your impressions and your inaccuracies? You're entitled to your opinions, but please, get the facts right.

                                          1. re: Mainegal

                                            Kidding about what? Not liking Maine north of Kennebunkport?

                                            This is the exact route I took up. I didn't deviate from this line, except on my return trip where I took Highland Ave back to I95:


                                            By all means if you have a suggestion as to where I went wrong, someplace I missed that I should have seen, I'd like to hear it.

                                            As for my impressions of Portland... Commercial street looked like Nashua to me. And the outlying areas which I passed through on my way back were like the outlying areas of Nashua. Sure, you might see a nice church here and there, but it's framed by an old Getty gas station and a McDonald's. Not my idea of Vacationland.

                                            Driving up the coast of maine I expected to see more seacoast, more scenic areas, more cottages right on the rocky shores, and more fishermen. You get that stuff around York, and Kittery, and Kennebunkport. But past there, you're driving down streets with ordinary trees and houses on either side. Except for the occasional glimpse of water, you'd think you were in Windham.

                                            1. re: Ratatouille

                                              If you want to see the seacoast, you have to drive along the water (grin). Next time you come to Maine, arm yourself with a DeLorme Maine Gazeteer and noodle down all the backroads that head to the water--that's how you see the coast and scenic areas north of "Porpoise Cove" -- I think you meant Cape Porpoise. You'd have found Goose Rocks Beach and Fortune's Beach, Biddeford Pool (and goldthwaite's general store/Pool's lobster), Hill's Beach (and Bufflehead's restaurant, overlooking the beach) and Camp Ellis (with two classics, Huot's and Wormwood's).

                                              No, not a lot of fishing villages in this section, geography didn't lend itself to those, but there are pockets. Yes, OOB is campy and honky tonk, but isn't there a kid somewhere in you who craves pizza, fries and saltwater taffy--and a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl?

                                              Do realize that many Mainers consider anything south of Portland part of Massachusetts. If you want lobstermen and fishing villages and seafood joints, diners and lobster shacks, the numbers increase as you head north along the coast, and the further downeast you head, the more authentic they are.

                                              As for Portland, it's the state's largest city--it's not a quaint village, so of course it's surrounded by suburbs and sprawl, but loop out to Two Lights and the Lobster Shack or out Black Point, where Winslow Homer had a studio. Hop a ferry out to Peak's for lunch for more of that postcard image. Or mosey to South Freeport, for lunch at Harraseeket.

                                              "Rundown" Commercial Street edges the working waterfront--it's authentic; this isn't Murder She Wrote (shot in Mendocino, Calif., by the way). The waterfront's lined with fishing piers and boats, lobster/seafood stores are plentiful as are restaurants--DiMillo's, the ferry boat, is probably the most touristy, a fave for bus tours. If you'd walked the wharves, you'd have found a few other places, and restaurants line Exchange and Middle Streets in the Old Port, just off Commercial Street.

                                              Portland is a beautiful city with fabulous architecture--take a Landmarks walking tour, head up on the Eastern or Western promenades, walk along the waterfront on the marked trails. It's all there, if you look, and what you'll also find are the neighborhood restaurants and food shops, places like Miccuci's Market, Caiola's, North Star Cafe and the funky spots, Silly's and the ethnic hole-in-the-walls, and, I could go on and on.

                                              1. re: Mainegal

                                                You are truly a sweetie to try and help Ratatouille out here, but from the sounds of things I'd save your breath. Leave the real Maine to folks who make an effort to find it, like yourself. You can lead a horse to water, etc.,etc.

                                                1. re: johnnydj

                                                  Hey now, she's not wasting her breath. I appreciate the feedback.

                                                  Maybe I should have gone down some of the side streets, but it was a long drive, and I was dead set on seeing Portland, which I imagined to be something it's not. I left around 9am, had breakfast in Maine, and by the time I headed home from the lighthouse it was around 6. Perhaps I would even have enjoyed Portland if I hadn't gone through Old Orchard and all the intervening streets with no oceanfront to look at first. Also it might have helped the place look prettier if it was morning or evening rather than the afternoon with the sun high overhead.

                                                  As for Maine folk considering anything south of Portland to be Massachusetts... surely you jest! I could see them saying that about the area between Kennebunkport and Portland, but Kennebunk itself, and York, and Kittery? Beautiful areas. Nothing Massachusetts about them, unless you're comparing them to Rockport, which is also a beautiful area.

                                                2. re: Ratatouille

                                                  Ahya, Rat, you was in Little Boston, not Maine. Remembah, the real Maine starts east of Ellsworth.
                                                  Mothah, why are there so few cases of hemorhoids in Maine?
                                                  All the anal orafi are in New Hampshire!
                                                  Most expensive tolls per mile in the USof A are in New Hampshire, Cappy!
                                                  Gov. King tried suing NH, because the tolls represented "cruel and unusual punishment". Try New Jersey next time.

                                              2. re: Ratatouille

                                                This is perhaps the most bizarre comment I've ever read on Chowhound. I've just spent a wonderful week in Maine, for the first time. Mostly working (outdoors) but with quite some time to explore. I don't think anyone who "literally. Didn't even stop." at a place should even comment. It is out of line entirely.

                                                We spent a wonderful day at Old Orchard Beach on a sunny and crowded weekend. We meant to go back on a quieter weekday off, especially to hit up a lobster shack at Pine Point but have run out of time. Our job was to talk to people so we found many people from Canada, NH and Mass, but also Mainers from all parts here for a fun weekend.

                                                The area has a wonderful beach, very clean and sweepingly long, with native grasses being nurtured behind the dunes. This has been a long time resort town and has a charming old beachtown amusement feel to it. I understand it has been cleaned up from some party town disrepute it fell into and we saw lots of families with young kids, couples young and old as well as plenty of singles. Yes, there are some rides in an old style amusement park. We didn't go, but one of our group wanted to. It is silly to expect a resort town to feel like a deserted beach shack. You can enjoy both, imo.

                                                The funky old pier is interesting and has great views of the beach (and Thursday firework shows, in season) from the bar at the end. They had $3 Red Stripes until 5PM.

                                                I had some fantastic clam chowder, just perfectly briny and milky and thin--I just loved it (I hate thickened chowder) and a perfect clam cake, crisp and greasless, at Dewy's clam stand. That was a great $5 lunch, and I got a free rootbeer cause she mispoured.

                                                Later I had a slice of cheese pizza at Bill's and it was quite good. Everyone all over were eating the Pier fries. I decided to pass, but people rave about them, must be something special.

                                                Although OOB is a busy hub, quiet areas are just down the street anywhere along the beach.

                                                And I also wished for more time in Portland. Commercial Street is fine--it is a commercial fishing port, not a disneyland or a grotesque fisherman's wharf-- and there are good places to go, especially Becky's for all day breakfast-- open at 3AM for the fishing crowd. We loved our breakfast/lunch there. They have clams and lobster too. A classic, and well priced.

                                                The Old Port area and along Fore Street is extremely charming with a mix of independent shops, pubs and eateries. Monument Square had a cheese market with an impressive (yes and expensive) selection of Maine and NE cheeses.

                                                The one awful experience was the floating restaurant on the pier-DeMillo's. I was warned not to get talked into going there, but our work had a thank-you meal. We only had choice of fish, steak and chicken since there were 20 of us. It was a fusty old place with no charm and horrible waitresses, one scolded us for showing up at 6 for a 5:30 reservation (we were only informed about the dinner at 5:15.) They gave us okay thickened clam chowder, a servicable but indifferent salad and entrees served with ginormous piles cooked naked baby carrots (I loath those cooked) and cold and flavorless red potato halves. The saving grace was the broiled haddock, which had nice toasted buttery crumbs. My friends had the strip steak and they were disappointed. Dessert was again servicable, a bread pudding with rum sauce, but I couldn't eat it after the big meal. I tasted it but it was not good enough to splurge on. I would not go back and I would never reccommend this place. It is strictly for elderly tourists, and indifferent banquets. Seek out one of the newer, more caring and unique places in Portland instead.

                                                We are pretty much at opposite ends of the spectrum here. I really wanted to give my POV, because I'd hate for others to miss what were some fun times for me. And I'd hate for anyone to end up at the over priced and underwhelming DeMillo's, esp if they had to pay themselves.

                                                1. re: Ratatouille

                                                  Coming to this thread late. You crack me up. Stay out of Portland. You might as well be in Windham. With the sun directly overhead, you'll never notice the occasional glimpses of Sebago Lake.

                                              3. No sense talking here. Portland is a wonderful city. Does it have some wrinkles and warts, of course but I have been to parts of Mass and NH far worse for wear, aka Hampton beach. I love maine, it is near and dear to me. Love it or leave it, I'd suggest this writer do the later.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: jspear

                                                  I would say the same things about Hampton Beach. :-) The only redeeming features of it are the marsh you pass through on 101 on your way there which is pretty in the evening, and that three floor restaurant/bar where you can eat overlooking the ocean. That and it's close to maine and rye beach which is nicer.

                                                  Don't hate me because I didn't like one small stretch of Maine. :-) I didn't say all of Maine isn't worth seeing, I said that one stretch wasn't.

                                                  My father's been up to Bar Harbor and he says it's beautiful. I was just dissapointed that I couldn't get that so much farther south. I plan to visit Bar Harbor this summer sometime. I didn't go this week only because the weather wasn't supposed to be nice.

                                                  1. re: Ratatouille

                                                    Definitely try some space north of portland. The roads off of 1 have some great places to see and eat, I am particularly fond of the Bath/Brunswick areas.....

                                                    1. re: Ratatouille

                                                      Somebody tell me a good restaurant in Hampton Beach, Salisbury, Newbury Port or West Newbury — dang, a tourist could starve to death! Some places just need local guidance.

                                                      1. re: Farnam897

                                                        If I'm not mistaken, this one at the north end of Hampton Beach has been reccomended here:

                                                        Me, I usually just eat at the Sea Ketch:

                                                        Sea Ketch has three floors, with a smal bar on the third and dinner and lunch served on the second. Indoor or outdoor dining. Food's not bad. They serve fish and pasta dishes, as well as stuff like burgers.

                                                        1. re: Ratatouille

                                                          Seems like a culinary wasteland — you'd be better off in Portland! :-)

                                                          1. re: Farnam897

                                                            I didn't say Portland didn't have any good places to eat! :-)

                                                            1. re: Ratatouille

                                                              Next time you should probably skip Hampton Beach And Old Orchard Beach. Chow has many great Maine recs, Bar Harbor, and that area has so much to offer. You might want to give Portland another chance. Maine is very special, do your research.