Portland: Authentic By Nature
As we pack away the winter coats and store the snow shovel for another season, we think the perfect way to welcome spring is with a weekend getaway to someplace new. Nestled along beautiful coastline, Portland, Maine offers all of the sophistication of a big city with the comfort only found in close knit communities. In just under three hours, you can depart Boston on the Amtrak Downeaster and arrive in downtown Portland ready to explore. Click To TweetWe caught up with Jennifer Hutchins, Executive Director of Creative Portland for a few insider tips on how to feel at home on your next trip to Portland.
Amtrak: Why do you think “a sense of community” makes Portland so appealing?
Jennifer: These days, travelers like to have authentic experiences. A great way to do this is to participate in the same things as the people who live and work there. Lacking the hassle and congestion of larger cities, Portland is a friendly, laid-back city where office workers, residents and visitors easily comingle in downtown restaurants, sidewalk cafes, shops and waterfront parks. In many ways, Portland is the epitome of authenticity.
The seasons are changing and spring will quickly turn to summer. What do Portlanders do to beat the summer heat?
When the temperatures heat up, Portlanders head to the water and eat ice cream—both of which are top quality and in ample supply. There are several grassy spots overlooking Casco Bay for lunch, naps, or a trail walk, and Casco Bay Lines offers several ferry trips every day to the various islands. The classic Maine summer wouldn’t be the same without an ice cream cone from one of Portland’s top ice cream (or gelato) spot. Mount Desert Ice Cream on Exchange Street and their salted chocolate caramel are personal favorites.
We know our Amtrak riders love Instagram. Where are the best scenic spots in Portland to grab a selfie?
For something edgier than the ever-popular lighthouse backdrop, I would try the colorful Portland mural on the back of Asylum on Free Street or an expansive urban shot from the top of the Portland Observatory. Of course, there are also many fabulous shots featuring the historic brick cityscape and, for something new, selfies featuring Portland’s Arts District—like SPACE Gallery on Congress Street or the Robert Indiana sculpture at the Portland Museum of Art.
Is there something Portland has to offer that you can’t find anywhere else?
A truly unique blend of geography, size and cultural amenities. Portland is a relatively affordable small metropolitan city with a quintessential Maine oceanfront that also offers a remarkable amount of art, cultural and outdoor activities. Portland is equally welcoming to families, young people, and older adults alike, and rapidly becoming a destination for people with a wide array of ethnic backgrounds.
Amtrak riders have made it loud and clear: will travel for food. What’s the one Portland meal that every visitor should have before heading home?
What a difficult question in a city that boasts one of the highest ratios of award-winning restaurants per capital! But, since I have to choose, it would be a plate of locally sourced oysters and mussels followed by a lobster roll and a pint (or two) of one of Portland’s many microbrews. Since you aren’t likely to eat just one, however, don’t forget there are award-winning bakeries, donut shops, pizzerias, steakhouses and almost every type of ethic cuisine available to please every palette.
How can weekend travelers use Creative Portland to plan their next trip to the port city?
Creative Portland maintains the only website that shows people what it’s like to live and work in the city. Liveworkportland.org is full of resources for people who want to experience the real Portland. We have section, “Connect & Visit,” that provides recommendations of what to do for the weekend directly from the people who live here, including testimonials and links to their personal profiles.
The Amtrak Downeaster offers five round-trips daily between Boston and Portland.