Portland, Maine seems to have lived in the shadow of Portland, Oregon, over the past few years as the west coast city has continued to grow in popularity. But we wanted to see the original Portland – or at least the more original Portland. Portland, OR was named after Portland, ME, which was actually named after the Isle of Portland, in England. The further you head East, the older it gets.
We arrived just before sunset and immediately took to this city (check out our itinerary here and the previous day on the road here). It has a very old-school charm with an abundance of old brick buildings, but it is also a city that works, and where the ocean (and it’s fruit) heavily influence the city and residents. We had a great view of the water and harbour from our hotel room at the Holiday Inn By the Bay. Though, we tried not to waste too much time sitting around inside and headed out to walk the streets. It was a sunny, but unfortunately very cold day. As we walked around, the city was pretty sleepy on a late Sunday afternoon.
We walked quickly to stay warm, and soon were across town and waiting inside the bustling J’s Oyster. This small restaurant was recommended to us and seemed to be overflowing with unassuming locals, just there for a drink and some fresh seafood. The decor is basic, but that is also the charm. We had to try the steamed clams, one of the dishes they are known for.
They were good, but a bit more work than mussels, which also have more flavour. Next up was some quintessential New England Clam Chowder topped off with a shiny red lobster. All very delicious! We can recommend this place to anyone visiting Portland and looking for some great seafood! We will definitely come back here next time we are in Portland!
The next morning we were up and about and sampled more of the cities delicacies. First stop was obviously coffee. Bettina found the perfect coffee shop Arabica Coffee House.
Having heard tons about it, we couldn't walk around Portland without stopping by The Holy Donut, specializing in potato donuts!
The maple bacon donut had enough bacon to satisfy our breakfast needs, and we also tried the pure vanilla donut, in an attempt to see if we could taste the potato. Turns out, we couldn’t! While the texture is slightly different than a regular donut, if you didn’t tell us they were made of potatoes we probably wouldn’t have known! To be fair, we are definitely not donut connoisseurs.
We walked around the city for a little while longer before taking the short drive south to Portland Head Light.
Shop Bettina's Look
This historic lighthouse (completed in 1791 – the oldest in the state of Maine!) is beautifully situated in Cape Elizabeth, overlooking the entrance to Portland Harbour. Almost as beautiful as the lighthouse are all of the mansions along Shore Road as you drive up to the lighthouse.
The iconic Portland Head Light was the perfect end to our New England Road Trip and we soon headed south back to Boston to catch our flight to Europe.
Have you ever tried potato donuts before? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
What about these ones?