I just had to check out the *other* Portland. Since I’m from Portland, Oregon, I knew that part of my time living on the East Coast had to be spent visiting Portland, Maine. I’ve heard quite a bit about the state, like its famous lobster. As an avid beachcomber, I’d also heard a lot about its beaches and sea glass. All the more reason to go.
I took the Megabus from South Station in Boston to the Portland Transportation Center on July 2. Round trip totaled about $60 for a two-hour ride each way. It’s a nice tour bus with Wifi, too.
Here’s what I did during my one day in Portland after arriving at around 10 a.m. and returning at about 9:30 p.m.
As soon as I got to the bus station, I Ubered to the Eastern Promenade, which is the eastern point of Portland with a grassy walking trail, gorgeous views of the Atlantic (dotted with many sailboats) and access to the East End Beach, which was first on my list of beachcombing places to check out. I loved walking through the neighborhood with cute Maine houses that look so “small town” with white trim and lavender coloring. The beach itself was down a hill and a girl said hi to me on the way down—everyone was so friendly.
I spent about two hours walking the beach in search of sea glass, and it was actually a good spot to look! The beach is covered in tons of crunchy spiral shells, and hidden among them are pieces of sea glass, some more cooked than others. I also found some agates and pieces of granite. It’s a bit of a rocky beach with chunkier grains of sand, but perfect for the exciting act of hunting for sea glass. The water was cold but so refreshing! I also noticed I got a but sunburnt and tan, and a lot of families were out swimming and lying in the sun. I wanted to stay longer but I had other things on my list to do. But this was probably the highlight of my day—I love beaches.
I walked along this biking promenade trail, then cut up some stairs to a look out point of the forts from a gazebo. From there, I walked about a mile to Old Port, the main bustling area of Portland. I walked through some more industrial neighborhoods to get there and saw some vendors selling jewelry and maple syrup on the road.
I strolled the cute main street — so much brick — and made a beeline for Portland Lobster Company, which both Yelp and my Uber driver recommended. You first have to locate one of two lines to order food, either at the bar or inside a small café-like shop. It was about $19 for a lobster roll, the crème de la crème of Maine food. Then you find a different girl and put your name down to get a table, which was a 40-minute wait. They give you a red lobster toy that buzzes when your order is ready. I explored the wharf area which had boats tied up, and I went to get ice cream at Captain Sam’s, which had a line. I got the Kentucky Derby ice cream, which has bourbon, molasses, chocolate chips and walnuts. It was different from what I usually try, but just light enough to not make me hotter in the heat. The ice cream is certainly good, homemade quality, though I prefer JP Lick’s in Boston. But the cute cup said Portland, Maine on it, which is always a perk.
My lobster roll was actually ready before my table, so I just found a seat in the sun at a high counter and enjoyed the French fries, coleslaw and lobster roll. Now I know what they’re supposed to taste like. The lobster was so fresh, cold, flavorful, and the perfect soft texture on the toasted brioche bun.
Old Port is a charming street on Commercial Street and I walked a bit through the neighborhoods and shops a bit before Ubering to Spring Point Beach in South Portland to try to find another sea glass beach. It was a little deserted marina but I looked around the enclosed retirement village and onto another rocky, sort of gross beach, but didn’t see much to pick up. I rested on a bench and took some photos of Bug Light House to my right. It was a nice view, but not at all a tourist destination. It felt weird to be a bit alone save for a few couples nearby.
The next stop was Portland Head Light, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. It’s in a huge park, Fort Williams, that is a huge tourist locale with a gift shop and such. I got dropped off right in front of the lighthouse so I could check out the view of the whole Atlantic Ocean for 180 degrees, including rocky cliffs and sweeping waves. At one point, a sailboat even passed by the lighthouse for a perfect photo op. It was breathtaking and I just wanted to sit and absorb the view with the wind in my hair during the searing heat.
I followed the trail down to the beach to the left of the lighthouse, and the beach was covered composed solely of huge grey stones. I dipped my feet in the cold water to cool down, but it was pretty precarious and slippery, so be careful.
I went to the Bite Into Maine food truck, which is famous, but only got water and Moxie, which is apparently a Maine drink. It’s a soda that was kind of a mix of Dr. Pepper and Root Beet but quite bitter. The first time it touches your mouth is delicious and more root-y, like sassafras, but the aftertaste was too bitter for my liking.
I waited in the heat for my Uber and drove back to Portland’s Old Port for dinner and last minute exploring. It was about 5 p.m. and I had to head back to the station at 6. I got clam chowder at Gilbert’s Chowder House, which boasts award-winning chowder. However, I was extremely disappointed with my clam chowder. I got the medium for about $8, and I did not get a single clam in my clam chowder. I found a few tiny pieces, but it was all cream and potato. Although the flavor was good, I do not recommend it.
I walked around the Old Port shops and bought a lighthouse mug and postcards (I always get postcards), but I didn’t want to carry too much, so I window-shopped. I also walked down a wharf to listen to an outdoor concert that was taking place, like a Maine summer festival. After a flub where he mentioned Oregon, the lead singer said Portland, Maine is the more superior Portland in this country. I don’t know about that, but I definitely enjoyed my day in this gorgeous, vacation-worthy sea town in Maine.