I’ve traveled all over the world but grew up in Maine. While I am gone sometimes the majority of the year, I have found one thing to be true, I can’t miss a Maine summer! I now am fortunate to live and work in the heart of The Old Port and call Portland, Maine home. The streets are full of small local shops and artists selling their creative goods. Craft breweries and some of the best food in the country surround us. We have a variety of music venues and we are fortunate to have it all situated next to the ocean. So what do I recommend while exploring this city this summer?
The Blind Pig Barber Company treatment can’t be beat. If you are a guy who wants to get the men’s version of pampering while on your vacation, business trip, or on your break from work, there is no other place to go this summer. Haircuts, shaves, hand detailing, waxing, and more, all found in a classy man cave environment and with a complimentary beverage in hand.
For Good Eats
The impeccable food in Portland is extensive but since it is summer it’s time to eat outside! Commercial Street is where you will find the freshest seafood at affordable prices at spots like Dry Dock, The Porthole, J’s Oyster Bar, etc. and for arguably the best chowder in town, hit up Gilbert’s Chowderhouse. But if you are from here or want to get out of the sea of tourists on Commercial Street and still eat outdoors, head to some of my favorite other spots. The Thirsty Pig on Market Street, just around the corner from The Blind Pig, has an outdoor space pairing beer with a variety of house-made hot dogs and sausages. David’s in Monument Square and The Grill Room on Exchange Street have outdoor seating and great Happy Hour specials. Bayside Bowl has recently expanded, and while I have yet to visit, they now have an open-air rooftop deck with tacos being sold out of an Airstream camper. If you have a car and are able to explore a little further from the center of town, The Treehouse on Stevens Avenue is one of my all time favorites, with an absolutely magical summer outdoor space, especially in the evening.
In the Mood for Music
Portland has become a music hub for the state, with artists who used to go no further than Boston making the trip a little further to put on performances to remember. There are large venues like The Maine State Pier, the newly built Aura, Thompson’s Point, and The State Theater, but also smaller venues where you can still find well-known artists, like Port City Music Hall and House of Music and Events (H.O.M.E). For an even smaller intimate setting, check out who’s playing at local bars such as Brian Boru, RiRa’s, Bull Feeny’s, Dogfish, and the list continues. All of these venues post their schedules on their web sites and social media pages.
A New Way to Party
The number of bars with outstanding cocktails and beer variety deserves a list of it’s own but, when thinking of summer and wanting to do something out of the ordinary while visiting, check out Maine Bay Cycle. This company offers a tour of the harbor by a boat powered by none other than you and your friends. Think of it as a party boat meets bicycle. You must book in advance (www.mainebaycycle.com) but don’t forget to pack some drinks as you are able to bring your own alcohol and other beverages while enjoying the 90 minute excursion.
Drink Your Way Around Town
As mentioned in a previous post, brewery hopping is a fun way to spend an afternoon with friends. Craft beer companies are popping up all over town and if visiting, a great way to try some of the beer that has become popular, and if local, a great way to try new concoctions. Some of the most popular breweries to check out are Allagash, Shipyard, Maine Mead Works, Geary’s, Bissell Brothers, and Rising Tide Brewing Company.
One popular summer adventure in Portland is exploring the Casco Bay Islands. Whether it’s the public ferry out to Peaks Island, the Mailboat Tour or one of the many other boat trips, this is an inexpensive and fun way to see wildlife, local communities, beaches, and the city from a new perspective.
With unending options that will keep anyone visiting or any local on their day off busy, this city’s charm and variety of activities will be sure to make your summer memorable!