Last weekend I went to Portland Maine for a long weekend and seriously fell in love with the city. We stayed at the most magical AirBnB that is a room above a used bookstore. If you go to Portland you should stay here, or in this area, because it is right in the middle of everywhere you’d want to go.
Traveling to Maine from Michigan
We live in the greater Grand Rapids area, and we wanted to have a car with us in Maine so we drove the 15-hour trip there instead of flying. It really wasn’t as bad of a drive as it sounds and it wouldn’t take 15 hours if we didn’t stop for meals and bathroom breaks as often as we did.
The number of tolls we had to pay was surprising. There is a toll each time you cross the border, a toll for the NY Thruway (we paid $15.30!) and there are tolls throughout Massachusetts and Maine. Of course, there are alternate routes we could have taken but they would have taken much, much longer. A couple of the toll roads in Massachusets had tolls that will mail us a bill and we haven’t received anything yet so I don’t know the total amount we will end up paying yet. I would suggest getting an EZPass if you can because that would have made the tolls a lot easier to go through and then you don’t have to deal with having cash out all the time.
We drove through Canada to get to Maine because it cut about 1.5 hours off our drive time. We are lucky that we already have passports and enhanced licenses so crossing the border is really easy.
Main(e) Points of Interest:
I was most excited to go here because I’m 99% basic bitch. It is only a 20-minute drive from Portland and worth the trip. The outlet was better than I expected but that could be that I just got lucky on the day I went. The outlet has returns and last season looks so it depends on if your size is a popular one and if you care that someone else’s monogram is on a bag or luggage. I wear a Medium or Large in LLBean depending on what it is, so I had many options to look through. However, I looked for my sister who is an XS and there was almost nothing available in her size.
The main store is really fun to walk through, and there are taxidermied animals in the hunting section and a small fish pond in the store to look at which makes it more of an experience. It was also fun to see the bean boot-mobile and the large bean boot outside the front entrance. The prices and selection are the same as they are online, so I wouldn’t necessarily need to come back to the store now that I’ve been there. The home store did have more than they do online so if you like LL Bean-style home goods it would be worth the trip to look through it.
Broad Arrow Tavern in Harraseeket Inn
This inn is in Freeport and is old-timey and cute. The Broad Arrow Tavern is a little pricey, but the food was well worth it. We got the lunch buffet which had a great variety but the best part was the chefs that were keeping the buffet stocked. They would answer any question about the food and had sincere enthusiasm when talking about how something was prepared.
Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth (South Portland)
Since we’re from Michigan we’re no stranger to a lighthouse. There are at least 50 lighthouses on Lake Michigan alone. This lighthouse is not that different (I mean, how different can a lighthouse get?), but this one did have a working fog horn so that was fun. Mostly, it’s pretty to look at and that’s fine 🙂 The main parking lot is not paved, so don’t wear pretty shoes and plan to get a bit muddy walking up to it.
We had brunch here and it was the best restaurant we went to the whole trip. The service was amazing and the food was so fresh and tasty. We got specials that aren’t on the regular menu, but everything that we saw going to other tables looked equally as delicious.
We knew there would be a wait since we went at 7 pm on a Saturday night, but we ended up having to wait until 9 pm for a table. There is no waiting area in the restaurant so you have to wait outside or wait in the restaurant next door where there was… also a wait for a table/spot at the bar. They should really use the wait system that involves texting instead of the disks that get disconnected when you leave the block; so just know that it will probably really suck waiting if the weather isn’t amazing.
Once we got seated though, the food was really great. You should get the sampler of all the sauces with the fries and get one of their milkshakes at least. I really liked the garlic mayo and the truffle ketchup.
This place was made for Instagram. There will always be a wait and you order at the front so there is no service. It’s cute and trendy and the food is fine. It was fun to get our first lobster roll, but I wouldn’t go again.
We had ramen here for dinner our first night because it was close to our AirBnB and my stomach wasn’t feeling great so I wanted to eat something that would make me feel better. This is a small restaurant with limited seating so if you can’t find a seat you should get it to go. Shane and I love ramen so we just had to get some while we were in a city that had a good ramen shop.
They have potato-based donuts which are surprisingly good. The selection of allergy-friendly donuts and coffee was great. The constant line out the door was not great.
Shopping on Exchange or Commercial Street
They have a nice district of touristy shops that are fun to look through if that’s your thing. I can’t say that any store stuck out as a place you must go to, but they are all fun and cute.
What I Would Change About Our Trip
If I could go back and plan it again, I would have planned at least one more day there so we could have hiked or gone to Acadia National Park just to see more nature. Maine is beautiful and it would have been nice to see more of the natural beauty. Otherwise, it was a great trip!