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For feel of New England experience Portland, Maine is the place to go

Marla Martin |
One of the prettiest Old World U.S. states is definitively Maine. It is unofficially nicknamed “Vacationland”.

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Maine is a favorite U.S. destination among travelers. It covers almost half of New England's land area, conveniently located on the Atlantic coast between the rest of the U.S. and the Canadian provinces. Portland is the closest U.S. transatlantic port to Europe and if you want to feel the New England experience Portland, Maine is the place to go. Portland offers some of the best water access to neighboring islands, historic forts, and lighthouses in all of Maine. Portland has maintained much of its 19th century architecture and you will see evidence of it all around.

The heart of Portland is Old Port and its waterfront where boats hauling in their catch mix with other boats, creating a joyful mix of old and new experience. The cobblestone and brick streets and 19th century architecture is what makes it special. Cruise experiences are of course near but some of the best bars (and beer!), boutiques and restaurants can be found in Old Port and just a few blocks from one another. Congress Street, Portland’s “main street" was once an access road for farmers bringing their goods. Today it is the commercial hub of the Portland Peninsula and home to lots of prized stores.

Stroll through the Arts District. It covers a large part of upper Congress Street towards the West End. Here is where you can see exhibits from world best museums. Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Winslow Homer are among the icons showcased within the Portland Museum of Art. The collection contains more than 18,000 pieces so it would take 10 years of constant rotations to see it all. Fine dining choices, small, intimate art galleries, historically preserved buildings, performers of all kinds, shops, monuments, and all things creative can be found here.

If you love nature, Parkside Neighborhood is for you. The city's largest public park Deering Oaks is in Parkside with tennis courts, a baseball field, and a playground for children. There you will also have a chance to enjoy events from the Portland Farmers' Market to Shakespeare in the Park to everything inbetween. From there you can go east and find spectacular views of Casco Bay on the Eastern Promenade where you can stop by for a picnic. There are also Portland's Observatory, the last remaining signal tower in the U.S, and the historic Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum.

The Eastern Promenade Trail which was a rail line will take your from the center to the banks of Fort Allen Park. Then after a climb a grassy hills you can reach East End Beach, Portland's only public beach where local people enjoy whenever they can. Then you can continue your walk following the Eastern Promenade Trail, the Back Cove Trail and visit the Longfellow Arboretum. Lighthouses are an iconic symbol of Maine and Portland is home to several lighthouses from the 18th century. One of the most visited is Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth thanks to its excellent museum and stunning sea views.

Portland has the International Cryptozoology Museum. This is the only museum in the world dedicated to mythical creatures like Bigfoot, and there you can have hours of entertainment and fun. A quick, 20-minute ferry ride will take you to Peaks Island. This is one of the best vacation spots in the state and although it is a just a few miles away it feels worlds away. Once there, rent a kayaks and explore water, pedal past beaches and cute seaside cottages, explore old military bunkers, stop for an ice cream and enjoy the view of endless blue seas. Good food in a number of bistros is there for you to explore, too.

Portland is not just about scenic views, thanks to its position it is a town focused on sea food. Everyone love lobsters and in Portland you can be a part of the crew of Lucky Catch Cruises. They will take you on a boat ride with fishermen to work with them and try to catch your lunch. If you catch a lobster, you can buy it at a wholesale price and take to a seafood restaurant that will cook it for you. You can also enjoy in numerous restaurants serving dairy products, fresh fish, seafood, and organic fruit and vegetables farmed in the region. No lazy afternoon is complete without good food, good beer and good company, isn't it?

A bit out of town are the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens considered to be one of the top attractions in New England. It stretches as far as you can see and along the great scenes of grass, forests and ponds, you can also enjoy in boat tours and the cafe. Back in the city you may enjoy something romantic with the the Portland Symphony Orchestra. One of the top orchestras in the country it performs a wide variety of concerts at the Merrill Auditorium throughout the year. This year, the Magic of Christmas will be held in-person December 10 – 19, 2021, the great overture to your visit to Portland, Maine.

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