Category Archives: Portland

Best Islands in Casco Bay

“If once you’ve slept on an island…you’ll never be quite the same.” So goes the idyllic book by Rachel Field… Nowhere is that more true than on an island in Maine…in summer…

It’s magical being surrounded by water, your arrival and departure solely reliant on a boat, far removed from the traffic, hustle and bustle of mainland living… it’s surprising how life slows, how so-called “necessities” melt away and life’s real “niceties” emerge… quiet, calm, natural, just the sound and smell of the sea.

Casco Bay in Portland is dotted with beautiful islands, over 200, some more inhabited than others… like Peaks and Long Island being the most populated, and easily reached by Casco Bay Lines ferry system from Portland.

Here are three special Maine islands that come to mind, very unique from one another, well worth discovering …

Chebeague Island is a step back in time, although its Maine’s newest town – Chebeague became independent from Cumberland in 2007. This beautiful wooded island with several sand beaches is home to a hearty community of 350 islanders, year-rounders.

Chebeague – pronounced “sha-beeg”, is the largest island of the Calendar Islands… a reference to the number of islands equaling the days in the year in this region (slight hyperbole but a fun anecdote). Chebeague is actually comprised of 17 islands, the “Big” island is 3 mile long by 1 mile wide. Settlers in the 1740’s farmed and lived here, lobsters were so abundant they used them for fertilizer, not food. By the 1900’s Great Chebeague had five hotels, now there’s just one – the lovely 1880 Chebeague Island Inn atop a sweeping lawn that leads to the western shore and view of mainland, and Yankee power plant.

Spend the night at Chebeague Island Inn, you owe your soul the experience! Arrive by ferry or your own boat and be whisked up the hill in the courtesy van to this historic charming hotel. The cozy fireplace living rooms lead to a gracious veranda with sea views. Take bikes to the East Shore beach, or explore the two roads – North & South – past the Historical Society and Maritime Museum, the Slow Bell Café, the island grocery store, community center and school.

Back at Chebeague Inn, cocktails are served on the easy breezy porch, followed by the acclaimed Chef’s delicious dinner – lobster, local mussels, duck, in the classic dining room or out on the lawn – our preference. Sunsets do not dissapoint here from the west-facing hillcrest overlooking the bay. Sleeping at the Inn -with your ocean view windows open, the light white drapes fluttering in the sea breeze – is perfection.

Great Diamond Island is a gem in the heart of Casco Bay, just a mile from Portland. This historic island has remnants of 1890’s Fort McKinley – the country’s coastal defense system built to protect Portland’s Harbor. The Inn at Diamond Cove is in the beautifully renovated old brick army barracks.

Casco Bay Ferry delivers you to Diamond Island’s protected “Cocktail Cove” and you check in at Diamonds’ Edge restaurant before being carted up the hill to the Inn – golf carts and bikes are the preferred transpo around the 1.3 acres island – which is mostly private for the 100 residents and hotel guests. We  rode the elevator from the airy lobby to our modern room with a lovely balcony, note: views from the hotel are of the beautiful “parade grounds” but not the ocean from the  high forested point.

As guests of Inn at Diamond Cove, we could hop on a complimentary bike or stroll to the old artillery spots – from the Spanish American War, visit the beach or sit by the hotel pool, hot tub and Cabana bar. There’s croquet, tennis, even indoor bowling and basketball. After a day boating Casco Bay and exploring the island, our balcony was a delightful spot to rest and relax before walking down to the Cove and waterfront for a wonderful seafood dinner at Diamond’s Edge. We passed the Crown Jewel, another popular spot for diners that came by ferry or more fortunate like us spending the night. Our ideal island-hopping day concluded with a dip in the cool pool back at the Hotel, then nightcaps by the fire pit.

Eagle Island is for the explorer, truly. This dramatic island in Harpswell, eastern Casco Bay, is a Maine historic site, and former home to Admiral Robert E. Perry who ventured to the North Pole in 1909. You can tour his family’s 1904 summer home, complete with artifacts from his bold expedition, even a Polar Bear. Bring a picnic, and enjoy the ocean views from this prominent point, admission is $5-6, plus your sightseeing ferry ride to the island. Overnights on Eagle Island are not permitted, so allow yourself at least an hour to tour the island, home and museum.

If you love Casco Bay, and sleeping on islands, surrounded by the sea, continue your tour of the Maine coast onwards, down east, towards Sebasco, or picturesque Boothbay Harbor – staying out on the dramatic peninsula at Ocean Point Inn, on Southport Island at Newagen Inn or the classic summer campy-style Linekin Bay Resort.

Monhegan Inn view in MaineFor real remote island life, venture out to sea to rustic Monhegan Island and lodge at the rustic Charles House or Trailing Yew. Hiking around the impressive ocean cliffs, seeing Monhegan Lightouse, the weathered granite shores and sand beaches is exhilarating. Witnessing how the islanders live, so humble and resourceful, is a lesson in independance, minimalism, and heartiness. Visiting Monhegan, even for a day by ferry, must be on your Maine Bucket List! Better to stay the night and feel the freedom, the solitude and the sea.

Cadillac Mountain viewPenobscot Bay – midcoast Maine – is loaded with beautiful islands and the scenic sailboat loaded harbors of Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, and Rockland.

Finally, Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor is Maine’s most magnificent island for touring, hiking, biking, boat rides to lighthouses, and seeing the sunrise first in the country atop Cadillac Mountain.

See our Guide to Touring the Coast, and Boating in Maineplan your vacation in #Vacationland… The way life should be…see our Guide to Visiting Maine!

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Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net, 2019

Top Romantic Things to Do in Maine in Winter

lobster-bouy-heartMaine is surrisingly romantic in winter, when #Vacationland resembes a #snowglobe and a vertiable #winterwonderland! Of all the pretty villages and serene settings, Kennebunkport is Maine’s most romantic town – especially in February when locals Paint the Town Red! Innkeepers and shop owners decorate with sparkling red and white lights, heart shaped everything. Kennebunkport’s best restaurants and pubs offer happy hours with craft cocktails and love potions, and red plates dining specials. Inns offer romantic lodging deals with champagne, chocolates, spa treatments, lavish breakfasts, even late check outs!

Top 10 Romantic Things To Do in Kennebunkport Maine
1. Have your picture taken by the big heart made of lobster buoys in Dock Square, then visit all the heart adorned boutiques and shop for “Red Tag” specials inside.

winter-beach-morn2. Walk the quiet beautiful beach. Watch the cool surfers riding the winter waves (brrr). Love the beach so much you don’t want to leave? Stay beachfront at The Seaside Inn, you ‘ll fall in love with their ocean view outdoor hot tub.

3.  February is full of fun romantic events… The Frozen Ice Bar Party at the Boathouse Bar and Avalanche at Old Vines Wine Bar. All month long, beer and wine tastings, cocktail classes and cooking demos take place at Alisson’s, Old Vines and Ports Of Italy!

4. Embrace the outdoors – Cross country ski or snowshoe at nearby Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm on their 7 mile of beautiful trails. Go on a skate date -ice skating on Kennebunks Waterhouse Pavilion, a free public covered ice rink in downtown Kennebunk. Date Skate is Feb 10 with a DJ on the ice, nice!

old-vines-bar-table5. Get happy at happy hours in Kennebunkport and Kennebunk and ask about “Red Plate” dining deals
and seductive cocktails specials at Alisson’s Restaurant, The Boathouse Bar, Kennebunkport Inn – Burleigh, Old Vines Wine Bar, Ports of Italy, Salt & Honey, and Striper’s Restaurant.

6. Reserve a romantic room overlooking the Kennebunk River at Breakwater Inn and Spa. Their Winter Valentine’s package includes lodging for two, Chocolates and a split of Prosecco in your room, Continental breakfast, afternoon Tea and snacks, and a romantic dinner at Striper’s Restaurant. Check out their Breakwater Spa package too.

7. Indulge in  “February is for Lovers” with Cacaptain-lord-mansion-kennebunkportptain Lord Mansion’s special mid-week package, your third night is free and you receive a split of sparkling wine, chocolate-covered popcorn and frequent visitor credits. Captain Lord Mansion lodging rates start at $199 per night including a delicious multi-course breakfast. Next door, Captain Fairfield Inn has a month full of love special!

love-kbpt-davids8. The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel has a “Love KPT” package with two-nights stay for two people with arrival goodies of wine and chocolate-covered strawberries, drinks for two at The Boathhouse Bar downstairs, and a late check-out at noon.

9. Can’t escape without the kids? Rhumb Line Resort, Kennebunkport’s affordable family resort, has the solution. Book a Romance Red Tag Package for you and your restaurant-lobster-dinnersweetheart, starting at $199, including two nights, breakfast, flowers & chocolates, and you can get an extra room for the kids for just $20. Rhumb Line Resort has an indoor pool and
hot tub, plus an outdoor hot tub, a fitness room, free WiFi and Continental breakfast, and you’re just a few miles for Dock Square and the beach.

10. If Portland and the romantic city streets of the Old Port are more your speed, check in to The Pomegranate Inn, visit Portland’s best restaurants and shops, livley bars, theatres and the watefront. Their lodging package includes a book of love poems, bubbly, sweets and a sutie room will set the stage for #Vacationland romance in February~

Be social – tag your romantic, fun or funny photos with #LoveKPT #Vacationland and share with us @VisitMaine.net Blog MaineFacebookPinterestTwitter

Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net, 2019

Fall in Maine, the best festivals, foliage and fun!

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great-heron-fall-flight

What’s the most beautiful time of year in Maine? We love Fall on the southern Maine coast and in the Lakes & Mountains. You can still walk the beaches along the southern Maine Coast, kayak, bike and hike, golf, and explore. The summer beach crowds have diminished and the temperatures are ideal. Fall brings cool crisp evenings, while you still have warm sunny summer-like days. The temperatures in Maine in fall are splendid, 70-s by day and 50’s at night – perfect for sitting by a fireplace and sleeping under a down duvet at a cozy bed and breakfast.

Autumn gourd and pumpkin display in Maine

Fall in Maine

Fall in Maine brings a bounty of festival and events – and of course a harvest of delicious fresh Maine foods. Apple picking is a Maine tradition not to be missed. Farmer’s markets are abundant with squash, kale, pumpkins, and corn stalks for your Halloween decor.

Red maple leaves in Maine

Maine fairs are among the best in the world with the big daddy being The Fryeburg Fair now in its 167th year. This agricultural, carnival, farm, food, craft and music festival is early October, peak foliage. Don’t miss the hilarious Pig Scramble, Harness Racing, Tractor Pulls and and the Skillet Throw.

fall-sky-trees4Columbus Day Weekend is typically the height of fall foliage colors in Maine. Its also the Fall Festival at Sunday River, a great time to peep leaves as you ride the Chairlift. This weekend at Sunday River also marks the 19th annual Wife Carrying Championships. See couples compete, as husbands carry their wives over obstacles, under logs, through the mud, to win their wife’s weight in beer! Yup, its down and dirty and a sure road to divorce or a full fridge or Budweiser. Sunday of Columbus Weekend is Sunday River’s 5th Annual New England Corn Hole Championship and a Blue Mountain Craft Fair plus Chondola Rides.

Cadillac Mountain viewAcadia’s  Invitational Oktoberfest includes an  annual Wine tasting Festival and a Brewfest, part of a 10 day celebration in Southwest Harbor – the quiet side of Acadia National Park.

Boothbay Harbor celebrates its Fall Foliage Festival October 7-8. That same Columbus Weekend Sugarloaf hosts its Homecoming Weekend when skiers can get their season pass, see their ski buddies, buy ski gear at the CVA Used Ski Equipment Sale and compete in the Infamous Uphill Climb race, then enjoy the Maine Outdoor Film Festival.

York Maine LighthouseOctober 14 in York is Harvestfest at York Beach with games, crafts, music and prime foliage near Nubble Light.

 Ogunquitfest is October 21-22 with the funny high heel race, pumpkin decorating, craft shows, wagon rides, culinary and wine tastings, and a classic car display.

Hay Roll CatCamp Sunshine’s Maine Pumpkin Festival is October 21, a tradition that started in Maine in 2003, takes place at LL Bean in Freeport with over 10,000 jack o lanterns illuminated for this important Maine charity provides sick children and their families a respite and vacation in Maine at Point Sebago Resort.

Portland’s best food and wine fest is Harvest on the Harbor October 17-22 where Maine’s best chefs compete for the top title and Maine wineries and breweries tap their best vintages for foodies at avenue overlooking Portland Harbor.

Fresh lobster dinner served with steamers

Of course shopping in Maine’s Freeport, Portland and Kennebunkport are great fall pastimes as you prepare for the upcoming holidays. Fall brings post-summer sales to Kittery Outlets and The Boothbay Harbor boutiques. What could be better than poking around the shops then lunching on Maine clam chowder or a Lobster Roll.

So plan your fall visit to Maine, and you are sure to fall in love with Vacationland and the beautiful foliage that blesses this beautiful state each season.

Three Dories and a scarecrow in Kennebunkport, ME

Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net, 2018

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All Aboard! Maine Lighthouse Boat Tours

Lighthouses are an iconic symbol of Maine, part of the seafaring history and culture. Today, lighthouses are the more popular attractions for Maine visitors touring the coast. Few lighthouses in Maine are stationed with lighthouse keepers, many are now automated, but they continue to serve as beacons to guide boaters, sailors, fishermen and pleasure yachts safely back to their Maine harbors. Read on for coastal boat tours offering lighthouse sightseeing. Continue reading

Things to do in Portland, Maine

You don’t find many cities like Portland, Maine. It’s truly a gem and not only a great place to live, but to visit as well. Situated on the mouth of the Casco Bay, visitors can find lodgings in Portland with ocean views, walking distance to so much, even ferry boats to explore the islands, or just indulge in city life.

There are many things to do in Portland, Maine that only include the typical city scene checking out new boutiques, concerts, bars and restaurants, but you can have outdoor experiences too.Casco Bay Ferry

You can embark on one of Casco Bay Ferries and tour the islands of Casco Bay. Some islands also have bike rentals to tour around the island or reach a nearby beach. The ferry ride itself can also be an adventure as the Casco Bay Lines often have events or sunset cruises to enjoy. Summertime, take the ferry to Peaks Island for Reggae Fest on Sundays.

You can also ride your bike or walk the Back Bay loop. Here, you can also play tennis at the nearby tennis court or pick up some snacks at the Hannaford across the street for a picnic at the park. From the walkway on the I-295 bridge section, you get a great view of the Back Bay area. Nearby Cape Elizabeth is a nice spot for picnicking or bike tours in the Fort Williams park area. Here, you can take a walk around the large park estate and visit the Portland Headlight as well. Alternatively, you could visit the park on Munjoy Hill where you have your walking area along the Eastern Promenade. Nearby, you could visit the Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum which has affordable ticket rates.

In the summer,  see a Sea Dog game at Hadlock Field. Players like Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Kevin Millar have played at Hadlock Field, a Minor League team for the Boston Red Sox, so you’re likely to see some sluggers at the Sea Dogs

Walking the Old Port and Art District areas in Portland is popular. Shopping boutiques, antique shops, comic book stores, and craft shops between Commercial and Congress Street. One of the must things to do in Portland Maine is the monthly Art Walk held on the First Friday of every month.

Looking forward to some night life? Portland Maine has a thriving club scene in the Old Port along Wharf Street for those who want to dance the night away. You can also check out plays or concerts at the State Theater or Port City Music Hall.

The Maine Brew Bus tours the Portland breweries, a fun way to let someone else drive while you drink in the scene and local craft brews. See our Guide to Maine Breweries.

What sets Portland Maine apart from most cities like nearby Boston or Manchester  is that it still retains a small town atmosphere, quite walkable and friendly,  reminding you that you’re not in a place surrounded by strangers, but friends you haven’t met yet. You even feel a sense of safety walking the streets at night. Don’t be surprised if you happen upon a friendly conversation while dining out at one of Portland’s restaurants.

See our Maine Lodging Guide

Copyright 2018 VisitMaine.net

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Maine can be Fancy too!

There is more to Maine than camping – roughing it in the great outdoors in a remote campsite. And while we’re on the subject, let’s do away with the stereotype; most of us are not missing teeth. Maine is a large state with diverse lodging choices, rustic to luxury hotels and resorts. Browse luxury lodges in Maine, or continue reading to learn more about luxury lodges you’ll find here. Continue reading