Hey everyone! My husband, Greg and I just returned from a weekend away in a new favorite city! Portland, Maine is a unique city full of top notch eateries, boutiques and people. Every single restaurant and bar that we stopped in became a place that we said, “I hope we have time to come back here before we leave!” Our taste buds were so happy! We had seafood, pizza, specialty cocktails, gelato, breakfast goodness… boy are we full today! I can’t wait to share it all with you guys. This is going to be a hefty post, but full of beautiful imagery and tips for your trip to Portland, if you’re lucky enough to visit! Everything I mention is linked throughout the post for your convenience. So grab a cup of coffee and get comfy 😉
First thing’s first: We stayed at the beautiful Press Hotel on Exchange Street. It was above and beyond our expectations–from the service to the food to the design of the hotel.
The building once was home to the Portland Press Herald, the state’s largest newspaper. The hotel retains virtually all of the building’s architectural details, including its vintage exterior lettering and the newspaper’s “City Room” repurposed as the Inkwell Bar. Many of its artifacts have also been salvaged, read more about the history here.
On the wall to the right are type writers!
We stayed on the 5th floor and our room was lovely! It was not big but it was so charming and comfortable, we loved it. The bed was perfectly comfortable for my taste, they left us all the best freebies. Chocolate, water, C.O. Bigelow toiletries.
Can we talk about this bathroom for just a second? Every choice they made in the design and finishes in this bathroom are now on my list of wants for our future bathroom reno. E v e r y t h i n g ! The marble counter is what I have in mind for our kitchen. The walls are absolutely dreamy as are all the hardware pieces. Chrome and gorgeous. The vanity lights were SO flattering, I may need to incorporate that style into our bathroom one day too.
As a graphic designer, I appreciated so many of the details influenced by the newspaper. Check out the back of the desk chair:
There was so much to see that I didn’t take photos of. They have no idea that I’m posting about their hotel, I just loved it that much. Check out their images here.
After we checked in, we headed straight down Exchange Street, which is chock-full of shops, restaurants, pubs and tattoo parlors.
Motifs along with so many others on Fore St., Exchange St. and the whole area are lovely–and so unique!
Portland Architectural Salvage. Okay, I’m jumping right into the good stuff with this one! This was the number one place I HAD to see while in Portland. That might surprise you later when you see how many places we went out to eat. But, a chance to see a place like this was NOT to be passed up!
Portland Architectural Salvage was started by Alice Dunn in 1994, in Portland, Maine. She began purchasing residential and commercial properties to restore and was shocked to find a shortage of Period materials. After scouring dumps and second-hand shops, she was forced to travel out of state to match Period floors, doors and plumbing fixtures. She made a conscious effort to start collecting these materials for resale down the road. The business has grown from a small retail shop on Munjoy Hill to a 12,000 square foot spectacular showroom of architectual elements, antiques and decorative accessories on lower Congress Street and now to the newest location on Preble Street. Portland Architectural Salvage now boasts 4 floors of unique architectural elements and antiques to meet the market demand for architectural salvage pieces. (Description is straight from their website)
4 floors full of windows, doors, hardware, light fixtures, bathtubs, heating vents, mantles, banisters, furniture. I could have stayed in there all day!
In the end, we found a light fixture for our kitchen that is p e r f e c t for over the sink! It is a solid brass light from a ship. It weighs about ten pounds. It’s been rewired so it’s all set to go. A piece of history, is always welcome in our home.
I was feeling quite pleased with the find, can you tell? Right next door is the Flea For All, which we didn’t spend a ton of time in because we were hungry but it looked wonderful!
Not to be forgotten are the Outlets in Freeport. Including, but not limited to the L.L. Bean flagship store and all of their specialty branches, home, hunting and fishing, boating… we bought some gifts and some beautiful bedding while we were there. Freeport was only about a 20 minute drive north of Portland so it’s worth it if you’re in the market for something!
Drinks and Eats
There was absolutely no shortage of good food in this city. We ate and ate….and ate. It was so all so good I couldn’t get enough! Below I’ve listed all our favorites (actually our favorites include almost every place we ate at….. did I mention to get comfortable?)
Vena’s Fizz House was at the top of my list of places to check out and we thought, what better way to start our vacation than with a cocktail?
I went for the Smoked Agave (Tequila, Vena’s Simple Syrup, lime and bitters) and Greg went for the Cider Smash (Bourbon, Vena’s apple cider reduced, lemon juice, and Segalas bitters). Both were a superb way to start our weekend. We also picked up some specialty bitters for our bar at home.
Their shop was full of gorgeous apothecary bottles of cocktail magic.
The Holy Donut. If you’ve been to Portland, you probably know all about this place.
They’re homemade donuts are made from Maine mashed potatoes. Greg went for a Maple Bacon and I went for a Chai Glazed. Both were amazing!
To die for. Just go.
Say hello to the best pizza in town! Hands down. Otto was the only place we made it to twice! Thin, crispy crust and high quality toppings left us with full bellies.
Dutch’s for breakfast and lunch! Oh myyyyy is this good!
It’s located on Preble Street which is right on the way to the Architectural Salvage. A local recommended it to us and we fell in love as soon as the smell hit our noses! I had the ‘Everything Avacado Toast’ special which was perfect (especially when paired with those crispy hashbrown bites!) and Greg had a sausage egg and cheese on MAPLE GRITTLE CAKES. Hello.
We left very happy people and the menu was pretty huge so we had hoped to go back (but our list of stops was too long!)
Timber was a perfect, moody spot to duck into for after dinner drinks. It’s steps away from the hotel and the bartenders are extremely knowledgeable, especially regarding bourbon. Flatbread Company is down on the water and it was packed! Fun atmosphere and even better food!
Gilbert’s Chowder House is good, simple seafood. We had fried clams and chowder here that were the awesome. It’s right by the water, so it’s perfect to get in the spirit.
Union is the restaurant in The Press Hotel and it is superb! High-quality ingredients, beautiful presentation and service, just like the rest of the hotel. It appeared that every single detail was thought of. We were so pleasantly surprised with the whole experience! Greg had a spectacular seafood dish with fresh Cod and mussels and I had a gorgeous squash salad. I would highly recommend this place even if you’re not staying in the hotel. (Sorry for the lack of photos.. was enjoying our time thoroughly!)
Harbor Fish Market —a hidden treasure down on the harbor! We found it on our first day and stopped back on our last day to pick up some fish to have at home. You can’t beat the prices OR the quality. We bought a beautiful 2.5 lb Cod fillet and it’s a beauty!
About 10 minutes from downtown Portland is South Portland which is home to this beautiful park and light house! It was a great way to end our trip. We grabbed Otto’s pizza again after this and headed back home.
It was so windy and cold but the blue made it all worth it for me. The New England coast will never get old to me. It makes me feel whole again.
I know this was a lot of information all at once, but I hope you found it helpful! We definitely plan on returning to Portland in the future to go to some of our new favorites and to get to some of the places we missed!
There is so much to do and see, I’d recommend it to any one of any age. Let me know if you’ve been and what some of your favorite spots are below in the comments, we’d love to hear! Thanks again for stopping by and getting through this crazy long post!