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Overview

Just a short train ride north of Boston, Portland is at once old and new. Once Maine’s major commercial shipping port, its docks have been lined in turn with the masts of sailing ships and fishing boats and the stacks of modern tankers. Now cruise ships make it a regular stop, mooring right in the heart of the city after sailing in past the stately Portland Head lighthouse, into a bay of islands. Visitors can also board day cruises right from downtown Portland, including a lobster boat cruise with a hands-on experience at setting and hauling lobster traps. Oilskins and rubber gloves are provided. Rows of old mercantile buildings have been ...

Just a short train ride north of Boston, Portland is at once old and new. Once Maine’s major commercial shipping port, its docks have been lined in turn with the masts of sailing ships and fishing boats and the stacks of modern tankers. Now cruise ships make it a regular stop, mooring right in the heart of the city after sailing in past the stately Portland Head lighthouse, into a bay of islands. Visitors can also board day cruises right from downtown Portland, including a lobster boat cruise with a hands-on experience at setting and hauling lobster traps. Oilskins and rubber gloves are provided. Rows of old mercantile buildings have been restored to hold restaurants, cafes, ice cream makers, boutiques, craftsmen’s studios, galleries and shops. Within an easy walk from the harbor, the home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow offers a window into Victorian life, and the Portland Museum of Art offers a stunningly well-chosen collection of works by Winslow Homer, Monet and others. Less dedicated sightseers can just sit on benches by the waterfront and soak up sun as they watch the fishing boats unload for the daily fish auction. Choose any of the several restaurants in town and see why Bostonians are happy to drive two hours north for dinner.

Barbara Rogers
About the Expert

Barbara Radcliffe Rogers has written or coauthored more than 30 guidebooks, including The Portugal Traveler, Drive Around Portugal, City Spots Munich, City Spots Helsinki, City Spots Stockholm, Eating New England, and the Maine section of Thomas Cook's Independent Traveller USA.

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Barbara Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Portland is a year-round destination, with cruises and street life in the summer and an active cultural scene all year.