Here’s part 3 of our New England trip! If you haven’t read them yet, go back and look at Boston Part 1 and Boston Part 2.
I’ve been blogging now for 6 years, and one of my favorite things about doing something for a long time is learning where to put up BOUNDARIES. And I’ve gotten really rock solid on my boundaries for travel: I’m not a travel blogger. I don’t get paid to travel, I don’t accept travel partnerships, and it’s just not something I’m interested in. I have a young family and I love being at home with my babies, and when I do get the chance to travel I want to completely soak it all in and enjoy it…and not feel stressed about capturing content.
So, while I took a lot of photos (I love recapping my trips on my blog!), I put minimal effort into the photo quality. Haha. You’ll see.
This is not my greatest photography work, but this city WAS one of my absolutely favorite places I’ve ever been.
Portland, Maine: how in the actual eff have we never met??? I’ve visited lots of cities in the last few years (San Francisco, LA, Seattle, Denver, NYC, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Portland Oregon, Houston, Salt Lake City, Miami, and of course Boston), and I’ve never had such an urge to immediately go back to a city as I felt with Portland, Maine.
The beautiful old bricks. The water. The islands. The lighthouses. The history. The briny ocean smell. The breweries!! The FOOD!!!!
Holy moly. The food. This city is so dense with incredible restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, wineries, meaderies, ciders, kombucheries, bakeries, cheese shops, andspecialty food shops. I started making my list of restaurants I wanted to visit and went into panic mode when I realized we had less than 48 hours in Portland, and so much food to eat.
Anyway, I’ll start at the beginning of Saturday morning:
We woke up early-ish at the Godfrey Hotel in Boston, packed up our stuff, and went downstairs for coffee and breakfast at George Orwell.
Yum! A waffle with berry compote.
And some delicious avocado toast for me. And then we went straight to the Amtrak station to catch the train up to Portland.
Haha, I had to take a picture of this. ^ I didn’t realize this, but Dunkin’ Donuts (actually, I think they just go by “Dunkin'” now) is originally from Massachusetts, and there are SO many Dunkin’ locations in Boston. When I stood in the middle of the the Amtrak station I could see THREE different locations all just a few hundred feet from me. Ha!
So it’s pretty impossible for me to see that many donuts all freaking day long and not crave a donut. I had about 1/2 a cup of my black coffee left, and as we were waiting for my train I decided that something sweet would taste good to go with the remainder of my coffee. So I ordered a single plain donut. I didn’t want frosting and sprinkles and vanilla filling…I just wanted something with a little bit of sweetness.
Anyway, I looked down at my lap and realized I was drinking a black coffee and eating a plain donut, which is exactly what my mom used to do when I was a kid. My sisters and I would always look at her in disbelief: a PLAIN DONUT??? With your disgusting cup of BLACK UNSWEETENED COFFEE? We would be cuddled up around the kitchen table on a Saturday morning, all munching away on our donuts that our dad had brought home for us (chocolate filled, chocolate glazed, toasted coconut, chocolate-with-chocolate-frosting-and-chocolate-sprinkles, etc) and my mom would be eating her GROSS BORING PLAIN DONUT.
Well…guess who’s eating a boring plain donut now? 😉
And then we relaxed on the most beautiful 2.5-hour train ride of my life.
It was beautiful.
New England, I think I’m in love.
We made it to Portland, Maine and checked into The Press hotel.
They were very into the theme…ha. I loved this two-story art installation with dozens of vintage typewriters.
It was a lovely hotel! The room was quite a bit larger than the Godfrey Hotel rooms in downtown Boston. Also, I love that this hotel had wood floors. I rarely see that, and I thought it was so sophisticated.
Again…very into the theme.
I was in comfies for the train ride, so I got freshened up at the hotel while Nate ran out and got us a couple of coffees from Bard Coffee.
Thanks for the coffee, Nate!
And then we were ready to explore Portland!
It’s all so charming! We walked around on the brick streets, took in all of the sites and smells, window shopped at the adorable boutique stores lining the streets. (Not 100% boutique stores, mind you…it’s a decent-sized city, so there were plenty of places like West Elm, Madewell, etc…but there were also lots of unique local shops.)
Lunch was at a little old-school spot called Gilbert’s Chowder House. Holy delicious…it was the best chowder I’ve ever had! I’ve been craving it again and again ever since that quick stop for lunch.
Wish I took a picture of the ambiance (google it, if you’re interested) but it was no-frills little spot with a small back patio overlooking the wharf. It was a great spot for our first quick meal in Portland.
Nate and I went separate ways for the next few hours. (Do you ever do this on trips? I remember doing it on our 1-year anniversary trip to NYC when we wanted to go to different museums, and I actually love having a bit of introvert time after spending all weekend together. Maybe it’s weird, but taking a few hours apart is a really healthy part of our travel days together.)
He wanted to visit a few breweries, and I wanted to do something a bit more high-energy…so I hopped on the ferry to Peak’s Island. Hello, cute little lighthouse! I’m pretty sure this one is called Bug Light, built in 1855.
It was a 17-minute ferry ride to get to Peaks Island. When I bought my ticket, I said “a round-trip ticket, please” and the guy at the ticket counter said “oh, you don’ need a ticket to get back. Don’t worry – we won’t leave you there.” Haha.
I got off the boat, turned left, and walked about 4 minutes until I got to…
This little recycled bike shop. For $10 an hour you can grab a bike (Brad has a line of them all tuned up and ready to go) and bike around the island.
It was sunny without a cloud in the sky, and I just felt SO HAPPY!!
Ha! Cutest little bike rental shop. You could also rent bikes by the day, if you wanted it for longer. (PS: lots of folks chose to rent golf carts and explore the island that way!)
I biked around the island. It’s small – you could walk around it in about 1.5 hours, but I was able to bike the entire thing in about 15 minutes. So I found I beautiful little spot, parked my bike, sat on a bench, and watched the waves.
I views are beautiful, but what I really wanted to do was capture the smells and sounds, too. The air smelled briny and fresh (not the fishy smell of Texas coasts) and it smelled cold, even though I wasn’t cold at all. The big waves were breaking on the rocks, and the wind was blowing through the native plants along the shore. There were birds overhead, sailboats in the distance, and a few friendly people biking past me every so often.
I could have stayed here all afternoon!
But eventually I made my way back to Brad’s Bike Shop to return my bike (he was gone, but this sign was outside.)
And then I stopped by a little cafe for a fresh-squeezed lemonade that I enjoyed in the sunshine while I waited for the ferry to arrive.
There were a few small places to eat on Peaks Island, but it was fairly quiet and calm. Such a lovely place.
I took the 17-minute ferry ride back to Portland and met up with Nate again!
We walked a little bit…
…haha to this. ^
And ended up at The Shop By Island Creek Oysters. It’s a wholesale market where you can purchase local Maine oysters from Island Creek Oysters (they send their oysters to restaurants all over the country) and you can bring them home or enjoy them on-site.
Here’s what I picked! Worth noting: since it’s a wholesale market, the oyster prices are about 50% the cost of what you’d pay in a restaurant. But this place is absolutely adorable! They also sell tinned fish, caviar, and drinks.
Eeeks! At my happiest here!
I got a frozen cocktail made with local apple cider. Delicious.
I didn’t make it to Eventide on this trip (another popular oyster place in Portland), but I would re-visit The Shop At Island Creek Oysters in a heartbeat.
I loved it. From there, we walked next-door to..
Oxbow Brewing Co. They specializes in farmhouse ales (think: Jester King.)
They had an outdoor bar where we stood and enjoyed a few beers. (Their indoor space was closed for a wedding.)
I loved this place!
^ Hair is still a bit crazy from my bike ride!
After Oxbow, we went to (surprise, surprise…) another brewery! Gritty’s McDuff’s brewpub was so dang cozy.
Look at all of those mugs on the ceiling! They’re for the pub members.
At this point it was starting to get dark and cold outside (around 6 pm) so I went with a dark and toasty porter. Cheers.
And on Saturday evening we met up with some folks we know in Portland and had a long, leisurely dinner at Petite Jaqueline.
I will gladly eat all the shellfish while I’m in Maine.
It was a beautiful, lively spot for dinner!
My Confit Duck was absolutely delicious.
After dinner we attempted to get into Gross Confection Bar for dessert, but it was completely packed with a 2-hour waitlist. So make a reservation in advance if you’re hoping to get into this hot little dessert spot in Portland!
And that was our Saturday. 🙂
On Sunday, we slept in a bit and went out in search of donuts.
Good morning, beautiful Portland!
We grabbed donuts from both Holy Donut and Hifi Donuts. I just wanted to eat all of the donuts.
The sweet potato donut with a crumble topping was my favorite.
And this maple crueler from HiFi donuts was delish (and super sweet!)
So we got coffee, we ate donuts, we enjoyed them all, we walked around… This was the theme of the trip. Food + town.
Leaves with COLOR! Never gets old to this Texas girls, haha.
And then just oooonneneee more breakfast stop because I really wanted to check out Katie Made Bakery. The woman in line in front of us ordered the last piece of their blueberry coffee cake and I was about to cry. (Not really…but kind of.) And then the kind lady behind the counter appeared with a fresh new cake cut into thick wedges, and I promptly ordered a piece.
It was just as delicious as I hoped.
And after 4 donuts and a coffee cake, we decided some protein might be a good idea. The Virginia ham + brie + egg sandwich at Kate Made Bakery was phenomenal.
I’m not going to give you a play-by-play of the next 6 hours of the day, but we went to breweries.
Lots of them.
Before the trip, Nate and I each made our wish list of what we hoped to do in Portland.
Me: see a lighthouse, visit an island, eat as many lobster rolls and raw oysters as possible, walk around the town.
Nate: visit breweries.
Haha. So on Sunday, we visited breweries all afternoon! We went to Geary Brewing Co, Federal Jack’s, Sacred Profane, Rising Tide, Shipyard, and Allagash.
We got to do tours at some of them, and others we just enjoyed a few beers in the tasting room.
Sacred Profane was really cool! They do two beers: a light and a dark Czech lager.
It’s owned by Brienne Allen, a brewer who has become an amplifier of women’s voices in the brewing industry. It’s really cool to see how she shares stories and uses her platform to create a better working environment and more equality for women in the beer world.
In addition to being a beautiful brewery with delicious beer, Sacred Profane has a full food menu.
Poutine on a cold and cloudy Sunday afternoon!
I also absolutely loved visiting Allagash. It was the largest brewery we visited, so they had a pretty robust tasting room and outdoor patio.
There’s also a really great lobster roll truck parked at Allagash called Bite Into Maine.
We had the best afternoon going to all of these breweries. I was shocked by how many are in the area!
For our final evening in Portland, we did two dinner stops:
The Highroller for some absolutely delicious lobster rolls.
^Note: he’s still drinking beer to try a few tastes from some of the breweries we didn’t get to visit. Haha.
And our second stop was at Duckfat for the most delicious poutine of my life!!
We also got their lobster roll, because #wheninmaine.
We sat there eating our poutine with duck confit and streaming the Austin FC on Nate’s phone. (They beat Dallas and are going to continue in the playoffs!! GOOO AUSTIN!!)
^ One final picture from Sunday night in Portland. It started to drizzle a little bit, and I’m so thankful that we lucked out with beautiful weather for almost all of our four-day trip.
Phew! That was our trip! If you made it through all those photos, I’m amazed by you. Haha. It was just the most magical time, and like I said: I’ll be back in Portland, I know it.