coastal maine | d.s. weekend guide

coastal maine, usa

 
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this isn’t too much of a city guide because the three days i spent in portland was simply not enough time to enjoy all that coastal maine has to offer. that in itself also kind of seems like an understatement, but in any case, i’d like to throw out ideas in case you had zero. i’m however determined to extend this list in the coming summers *fingers crossed* 🤞!

i deadpan joked that coastal maine will be the place where i would go to retire (given that traditional retirement is still a thing in forty years). i mean, why wouldn’t you want to spend the rest of your life driving through lush woods, going for a morning runs with your eyes closed on a nearly empty beach, gulping down some sweet sweeet oysters in the afternoon, sipping local blueberry sparkling wine, browsing through a seemingly endless farmers’ market, and hanging out with farm animals all while being in the sweetest company? what a privilege that would be.

i definitely got a glimpse of my ideal retirement this past weekend and my soul swam in a big ol’ floofy pile of rainbow marshmallows speckled with glitter.

while there was a lot to enjoy in portland, the highlight of my trip was not in the city, but rather in a town that’s an hour and a half drive north called rockland. there’s a farm-to-table restaurant called primo that is a wonder-filled place that i’d file away in the category of “disneyland for people who enjoy real food”. i might be projecting now, but the experience of primo began with a suggestion to stroll through a garden, greenhouse, and farm all to help the diner transition from the demands of life, be it living and working in a bustling city like new york city, and into the warm embrace of food that had been tended to with thought and care. chef melissa kelly and her realized visions inspired me to my core, and through this meal, i saw that it is possible to have an approachable, welcoming, and down-to-earth dining environment. it almost felt like you entered her home, and then offered real unfussy food where you marveled endlessly at their elements, deep uncompromised flavors, quality, and execution.

i can go on an on about primo, and i can also confidently say that it sits at the top of my most memorable and favorite dining experiences i’ve ever had. ok, now that i’ve managed to confess my love for a restaurant, here’s what you actually came for - a few recs to portland/coastal maine. enjoy!

xo, christine

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coastal maine guide

google maps: here

do:

  • picnic on the beach: grab a beach towel, charcuterie or whatever your heart desires, and enjoy the beach! some beaches that are open to the public are goose beach, crescent state beach park, and pine point beach.

  • hiking: there are several hiking destinations in coastal maine to check out - burnt meadow trailhead, speck mountain, and mount battie, sprint point shoreway.

  • portland farmers market: if you plan a visit during the weekend, please check out the farmers market at deering oaks park. it was a dream.

  • hang in downtown portland: there are a bunch of cute restaurants, boutiques, and breweries to check out. i’d recommend walking down india street, washington street, and commercial street. one of my favorite shops was heritage seaweed, a store dedicated to just seaweed! we also checked out a neat brewery with a patio out front that serves fries from duckfat - the place is called oxbow.

  • for next time: given that i only had a few days to explore portland, i didn’t have time to experience other ideas that came up while planning the trip. if you have time, try giving this greenhouse tour or sea-to-table food tour a go. also am determined to go lobstering and on this windjammer cruise next summer!

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eat

  • lobster rolls and lobster anything: maine is known for their lobster so eat your heart out! i had lobster rolls twice, one from eventide which came with a steamed bao kind of bread and another from portland lobster company which came on a traditional hot dog roll kind of bread. both were delicious so i highly recommend eating as much lobster as you can until it comes out of your pores!

  • sweets: uh, yeah you have to get donuts from the holy donut and that is a command. they mix in potato bits in the batter, and it’s deeelicious. they have a few locations around the city so you really have no excuses! i didn’t get to go to standard baking co, but a few instagram friends said that it’s a must. oh well, there’s always next time right?

  • oysters: a lot of restaurants around coastal maine serve oysters so you shouldn’t have to look too far. i thoroughly enjoyed the oysters at eventide, especially because they’re served with oyster toppings that come in form of a granita-like ice. it was deeeelicious!

  • primo: if you haven’t noticed, primo was a special treat that highlighted the trip. try making reservations in advance and show up 15-20 minutes before your meal to check out the farm.

  • restaurants: portland has other establishments like duckfat, the honey paw, chaval, drifters wife, and plenty more that you can visit. they’re all pinned on the google map so be sure to check the list out.

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stay

higgins beach inn: while i usually opt to stay in airbnbs, it was nice to switch it up and stay at an inn that was seaside. while it’s also convenient to stay in central portland, it was so much nicer to stay in a quieter area that was a bit more tucked into nature and also steps away from the beach.

getting there and around

portland is accessible by plane, car, and train if coming from new york. we initially planned to drive, but instead opted for the train which was actually much more preferable because you can sit, relax, eat, and drink on the way up and back. once you get to portland, i’d highly recommend renting a car so that you can freely explore.

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