Guide to Portland, Maine
By Allison Fitts & Lillian Robinson
When deciding where to go on your Escape Campervan trip, it may seem like the Southwest region of the U.S. is the only place to go. Granted, it is a great area to visit, with hot spots like the Grand Canyon, Moab, and Zion National Park all within several hours drive from one another. However, a region often overlooked, but not to be missed, is the opposite corner of the country – the Northeast. Escape Campervans’ depot outside of New York City is a great jumping off point to cities like Philly, Boston and, obviously, NYC. A more hidden gem of the region is Portland, Maine.
Portland is a town of around 70,000 that combines the amenities of a large city with the charm of a quaint small town. The city is full of great restaurants, cool concert venues, and nautical novelties. These are some of our favorites.
- Standard Baking Co. – You can’t get a better pastry on the eastern seaboard. Lines for this bakery start early but move quick. Grab a ham and cheese croissant or a Morning Bun with walnuts before grabbing the ferry to Peaks Island.
- The Lobster Shack – Grab some classic Maine seafood at this casual spot overlooking the two lighthouses that are the nearby state park’s namesake. Lobster rolls, clam chowder, whoopie pies – you can’t go wrong here. Note: The Lobster Shack is open seasonally, so if you are not there from April through October, you are sadly out of luck.
- OTTO – This regional pizza joint serves up some great pies. Be sure to try one of their uniquely topped pizzas, especially the tortellini pizza.
Cool Concert Venues
- State Theatre – The premier venue in Portland, the State Theatre boasts almost nightly shows from national touring acts. A visit here is your first stop on a four-block tour of all three of these venues, snuggled together in the heart of Portland.
- Port City Music Hall – Sister venues with the State Theatre, you’ll also find some big names coming to this late-night venue built in 2009. One the few, if only, places you can stay out in Portland until 3 am.
- Empire – The most unique of the venues, Empire doubles as both a dim sum restaurant and live music space. Grab a bite and catch some tunes at this local music spot!
- Peaks Island – Located in the town’s Casco Bay, this quirky island is the perfect way to spend a morning. Grab an early ferry (about a 15-minute ride), then spend a couple hours exploring every nook and cranny of the island via golf cart from one of the island’s rental vendors. Some highlights for your self-guided golf cart tour are the Umbrella Cover Museum, Battery Steele and the beaches along Seashore Avenue.
- Portland Head Lighthouse – This is THE Maine lighthouse. Explore the grounds of the state’s oldest lighthouse, commissioned in 1791 by George Washington himself! There are great trails in the surrounding Fort Williams Park, so spend a few hours here.
- Two Lights State Park – Although you cannot see the lighthouses that are the park’s namesake, this place has a lot to see. From excellent coastal views to old military infrastructure, there is plenty to walk around and explore before heading to lunch at the Lobster Shack.
Portland, Maine, is a 6-hour drive from Escape Campervans’ New York rental site.