By: Katy DeHaven
Jumping over to our next port of call from our Canada and New England cruise port series is Portland, ME.
Portland is the largest city in Maine with a population of about 66,700. Include the metropolitan area and the population is closer to a half million, about 1/3 the population of the entire state. The city is known for its dedication to the arts, revered dining scene and the historic Old Port area. There are also secluded beaches and centuries old lighthouses to explore. Let’s check it out!
Angie spent a day in Portland as part of her Hurtigruten cruise. Check out her recommendations:
The Old Port area is famous for the wide variety of shops, bars and restaurants. Visitors enjoy wandering the streets while simultaneously taking in the sights and sound of the boats in the bay and the ocean. For a look at the Old Port area, check out this video:
Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971, the Victoria Mansion, also known as the Morse-Libby House is a classic example of American residential architecture from the 19th century. The brownstone exterior and elaborate interior design combined with the early technological advances in the home provide a detailed portrait of lavish living from the time period. To learn about the home and its previous owners, please click here
For a bird’s eye view of the area visit the Portland Observatory. This is the last standing maritime signal tower in America and it was used in the 1800s to monitor ships nearby. Today it is a museum, and admission is free of charge. To learn more about The Portland Observatory, click here.
The Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine. Unfortunately visitors cannot go inside the lighthouse itself, but they can take lots of photos and visit the nearby museum. The lighthouse is adjacent to Fort Williams Park which offers picnic facilities, hiking, sports and recreation areas, historic structures and beautiful ocean views.
Explore the Casco Bay Islands, a group of islands located just off the coast, six of which are accessible by ferry year-round. Great Diamond Island is home to the historic Fort McKinley and is lauded for its quintessential Maine landscape. Cars are not allowed, so walking, biking and golf carts are the modes of transportation to get around. Stay for the weekend at the Inn at Diamond Cove, which offers many activities and dining options. Nearby Chebeague Island offers a storied history. The island is known for its stone sloppers - men that transported construction materials for 19th century ships, as well as the granite for the Washington Monument. Peaks Island features cafes, shops, museums and galleries in addition to beaches.
A popular excursion in Casco Bay is a Maine Lobster Boat Tour. Guests enjoy learning about a day in the life of a Maine Lobsterman and what it takes to bring in the haul. Check out this video to learn more.
Fans of trains will enjoy a visit to The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum. The collection consists of passenger and freight equipment, as well as artifacts from the 2 ft narrow gauge railways that ran in the state of Maine in the late 19th and early 20th century. Train rides on a historic two-foot gauge railroad are also offered. To see some of the trains in action, click here.
If you have a few days in the area consider a visit to the Portland Museum of Art, the oldest public art institution in Maine. The collection includes more the 22,000 pieces of art dating from the 18th century until present. To learn more, click here.
One of my favorite things about traveling is trying the local cuisine. For some food and restaurant recommendations in Portland check out this video…...
….and for a wonderful general overview of the city and its history, click here.