About Portland“The beautiful town that is seated by the sea,” wrote poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of his birthplace, Portland. Longfellow's town has become the largest city in Maine and a major industrial and manufacturing center for northern New England. Attractively restored 19th-century buildings, tree-lined streets and a fringe of parks readily evoke the grace that inspired the poet's tribute.
The Old Port on the waterfront was the heart of Portland's busy 19th-century commercial activities. After fire leveled the heart of the city in 1866, the district was reconstructed in a classic Victorian style. The architecture, cobblestone streets and old street lamps recapture the flavor of the city's early seaport days. Many of the warehouses, ship chandleries and merchant exchanges now serve as boutiques, restaurants, bars and bookshops. At the Maine State Pier on Commercial Street is the “Whaling Wall,” a 950-foot mural depicting sea life found in the Gulf of Maine.
Culturally, Portland is Maine's showplace. Dozens of galleries and museums on Congress Street offer free admission during Portland's First Friday Artwalk, held the first Friday of the month. Founded in 1974, Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave., produces seven to nine shows each season; phone (207) 774-0465. Three centuries of art and architecture are on display at the Portland Museum of Art. The Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., is home to the Portland Symphony Orchestra and hosts a variety of musical acts throughout the year; phone (207) 842-0800 for tickets.
Baseball fans can cheer on the Portland Sea Dogs, the AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, at Hadlock Field; phone (207) 879-9500 for information.
At the northeasternmost end of the peninsula is the Eastern Promenade , a 68-acre recreation area with grassy slopes and magnificent views of Casco Bay and the surrounding Calendar Islands. The 2.1-mile Eastern Promenade Trail runs along the waterfront and connects with Back Cove Trail. Maps are available from the ranger station at East End Beach (off Cutter Street).
The Calendar Islands, so called because their number was thought to be 365 (they actually number closer to 220), are east of Portland in Casco Bay. Capt. John Smith first explored these islands in 1614. Crescent Beach and Two Lights state parks are nearby in Cape Elizabeth.
The city has a network of more than 30 trails for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing; phone (207) 775-2411. Excursions and charters for whale watching, deep-sea fishing, fall foliage viewing and tours to lighthouses and the Casco Bay islands are available. For information contact AAA Northern New England, 68 Marginal Way, Portland, ME 04101; phone (207) 780-6800 or (800) 222-3760.
Visitor Centers Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau 14 Ocean Gateway Pier Portland, ME 04101. Phone:(207)772-5800
Self-guiding ToursBrochures for a walking tour of the city's architectural highlights are available daily for $1.25 at the convention and visitors bureau. Each map outlines tours through the Old Port, Congress Street, State Street and the Western Promenade.
The Portland Freedom Trail walking tour identifies 16 former Underground Railroad sites; phone (207) 591-9980 for information.
ShoppingGift shops and restaurants are housed in quaint 19th-century brick buildings in downtown's Old Port, between Congress and Commercial streets near Exchange Street. The Portland Farmers' Market is held on the Park Avenue side of Deering Oaks Park Sat. 7-1, late Apr.-late Nov. and at Monument Square on Congress Street Wed. 7-1, Apr.-Dec.; the market moves to 84 Cove St. Sat. 9-1, rest of year.
Things to Do Allagash Brewing Company
Portland Head Light see Cape Elizabeth
In-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. All hotels must meet the same basic requirements for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to be AAA Approved. A rating of one to five AAA Diamonds tells members what type of experience to expect, from no-frills to highly personalized.