Portland Lobster Co-Portland
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Ultimate Guide to Exploring Commercial Street in Portland Maine

Located on the waterfront of the City of Portland, Commercial Street has consistently been named one of the best tourist attractions in the state of Maine and one of the best streets in the United States.

It’s no surprise why Commercial Street tops these lists every year. With an abundance of delicious restaurants, quaint boutiques, high-end shops, markets, pubs with live music, and a bustling waterfront, there’s never a dull moment.

Visitors to Commercial Street love the cobblestone paths, the walkability of the street, and the historic feel of the buildings and piers. It has been revitalized over the years, changing with the times and always pulling in tourists and locals with its beauty and entertainment options.

Yet, it has maintained its charm as a historic working waterfront. Feel the sea breeze in your hair, taste the salt in the air, and take in the sights and sounds of the boats as they come and go throughout the day.

Commercial Street has something for everyone to enjoy, and it’s worth a trip no matter the time of year. You’ll find it hopping with activity in the spring, summer, and early fall and will experience a more laidback vibe during winter.

Widgery Wharf-Portland-
Widgery Wharf | photo via mike_ekberg

History of Commercial Street Portland Maine

Portland’s Commercial Street has a storied history that earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. To become the bustling street that it is today, the street was built over old piers.

Not only were the piers built over, but filler needed to be brought in from Casco Bay to pack in for the streets and railroads that would be built. Wharves from Fore Street and surrounding streets were also connected and filled in.

By the mid-1850s, Commercial Street was transformed from a bit of a run-down pier area to a developed streetway. It remained a thriving fishing and maritime hub for decades.

By the 1980s, the need for new development emerged as the fishing industry was less lucrative than it had been in years past. The area was again revitalized to include residential buildings, restaurants, offices, and entertainment options.

Union Wharf-Portland
Union Wharf | photo via 413valleyguy

Things to See on Commercial Street in Portland Maine

There’s so much to see and do on Commercial Street! If you’re into history, you’ll want to check out these wharves and park on your next visit.

Historic Wharves

Two of the oldest structures in Portland are located at Commerical Street — Widgery Wharf and Union Wharf.

The historic Widgery Wharf dates back to the late 18th century. The wharf was mostly covered when Commercial Street was built and filled in. Today, visitors can see a portion of the wharf where lobster boats come and go and traps are stacked outside of seaside shacks.

Much like Widgery Wharf, the Union Wharf was built in the late 18th century and has been mostly preserved throughout Commercial Street’s revitalization projects. The wharf is about 1,000 feet long.

To see Widgery Wharf and Union Wharf, visit the eastern side of Commercial Street.

Bell Buoy Park

A small park in the heat of Commercial Street, Bell Buoy is a pretty spot to take a picture with the bell statue or check out the shops that surround the park. Guests enjoy this small park as a resting spot along Commercial Street with a few benches and spots to sit and relax, people-watch, and re-energize.

Shopping on Commercial Street in Portland Maine

Commercial Street is known for its quaint boutique shops, unique storefronts with locally sourced goods, and friendly atmosphere. If you’re looking for a souvenir or a gift for someone back home, there are so many options.

If you’re looking for high-quality nautical-themed items, check out Local Color by Kate Nelligan. This shop features coastal designs for goods like tableware, textiles, glassware, and apparel. Another cute shop with maritime-themed items is Shipwreck & Cargo, which has fun decor, accessories, and souvenirs.

Looking for a high-quality, unique bag for the beach? Check out Sea Bags Flagship Store. This shop has beautiful bags — most with Maine or sea themes — that will have you ready for the beach in no time.

Stop into Portland Dry Goods for high-end brands that can be tough to find elsewhere, like Portuguese Flannel, Barbour, and Alex Mill.

Even if you don’t have anything in particular in mind to buy, window shopping at the numerous shops lining Commercial Street is a fun way to spend time in Portland Maine.

Solo Italiano-Portland
Solo Italiano | photo via iheartexclamationpoints

Portland Restaurants on Commercial Street

Many visitors are drawn to Commercial Street Portland Maine for the delicious dining options. Whether for a date night, a fun spot to meet up with friends, or a family-friendly meal, there’s a place for everyone and anyone on Commercial Street.

Check out a few of these popular Portland dining destinations on your next visit.

Solo Italiano

When you think of Portland, you probably think of seafood, but an amazing Italian place has become one of the hottest spots on Commercial Street!

Solo Italiano has a daily changing menu and is considered farm-and-sea-to-table, meaning that you’re getting the freshest ingredients daily.

Examples of dishes that you’ll find at Solo Italiano include a raw bar with catch like scallops and tuna tartare and entrees like gnocchi, linguine, bolognese, shrimp, and chicken dishes.

Salt Yard Cafe & Bar

The Salt Yard Cafe & Bar is a relative newcomer to the Commercial Street scene but has made quite an impression on guests. The vibe of the Salt Yard Cafe is fun and laidback, featuring industrial architecture, a library, and an open-concept lounge.

The menu features breakfast and brunch dishes like avocado toast, curried chickpea stew, spiced buttermilk waffles, flatbread, and seasonal dishes. You’ll find unique concoctions and traditional dishes served here.

Salt Yard Cafe & Bar-Portland
Salt Yard Cafe & Bar | photo via drinkeatmaine

Old Port Sea Grill & Raw Bar

Old Port Sea Grill & Raw Bar is the place to stop for fresh, Maine-caught seafood. The menu includes lobster dishes, scallops, sole, salmon, haddock, and a full raw bar.

Classics — like a burger, New England clam chowder, mixed green salad, and more — round out the menu. Also, there’s a full bar menu with beer, cocktails, and wine to accompany the freshest seafood dishes around.

Portland Lobster Co-Portland
Portland Lobster Co | photo via courtyardportlandmaine

Portland Lobster Company

Looking for Maine lobster and not sure where to go? Check out Portland Lobster Company for the freshest lobster dishes in Portland. Lobster rolls and steamed lobster dinners are the highlight of the menu.

Other fried delights — like clams, shrimp, scallops, and a full fisherman’s platter — are available too. For non-seafood eaters and children, there are chicken tenders, grilled cheese, hot dogs, steaks, and more.

Portland Regency Hotel & Spa-Portland
Portland Regency Hotel & Spa | photo via liathappleton

Lodging by Commercial Street

Many of the lodging options on Commercial Street are chain hotels and inns. If you’re looking for a place that has a homey feel and is family owned and operated, your best bet is to look into lodging options a street or two over from Commercial Street.

Here are a few lovely Portland accommodations very close to Commercial Street that will have you steps away from the action.

Portland Harbor Hotel

The Portland Harbor Hotel is located in the Old Port District and features 103 boutique-style rooms. Each room has its own vibe and decor. The hotel is within walking distance of all of the restaurants, shops, and wharves of Commercial Street Portland Maine.

Portland Regency Hotel & Spa

Featuring 95 luxurious rooms, the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa is the perfect home away from home. Amazing views of Portland’s downtown area, spacious rooms, and an on-site restaurant and spa make this hotel a real treat for visitors.

Black Elephant Hostel-Portland
Black Elephant Hostel | photo via tyrone_baker123

Black Elephant Hostel

If you’re looking for budget accommodations that are clean and comfortable, the Black Elephant Hostel is a lovely, fun spot. This hostel isn’t just for cash-strapped young travelers. It welcomes visitors 18 years and older to enjoy shared accommodations with funky designs and clean spaces.

Commercial Street -Portland
Commercial Street | photo via the_third_and_only

Add Commercial Street Portland Maine to Your Itinerary

Commercial Street invokes the feeling of old-world charm with a modern flare. With so many amazing restaurants featuring ever-changing menus, there’s always something new to taste and experience.

Be sure to stop by the waterfront and the wharves to take in the sights and sounds of Portland, and then casually peruse the many souvenir shops, high-end boutiques, and quirky storefronts. There’s so much to experience and enjoy on Commercial Street that it’ll be hard to fit it all into one visit!

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