A Local Guide to Portland, Maine and Beyond | ET REALITY

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T’s monthly travel series, Flocking To, highlights places you may already have on your bucket list and shares tips from frequent visitors and locals alike. Sign up here to find us in your inbox once a month and receive our weekly T List newsletter. I have a question? You can always contact us at tlist@nytimes.com.


Visitors often come to Portland, Maine, for the first time because they want to spend a summer weekend in a quaint waterside town, or because they’ve heard about the city’s excellent seafood (80 percent of the lobster of the United States comes from Maine). Seduced by the easy access to nature and relative affordability, many return for longer stays or even forever. Between 2020 and 2022, Maine’s population had the highest percentage increase of any New England state.

But Maine’s appeal is nothing new. Artists, artisans, and writers have long gravitated toward the state; They established an art colony with two painting schools in Ogunquit, on the southern coast of Maine, in the first half of the 20th century, and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, founded in 1950, continues to attract instructors and students. of all the world. More recently, the state’s creative spirit has resulted in a dynamic food scene. Walk down any of Portland’s cobblestone streets and you’ll find more quality restaurants and bakeries (both old and new guard) than you’d expect in a place with only 68,000 year-round residents. The same is true just northeast of the city in the Midcoast region, especially in the city of Rockland, an easy and scenic 90-minute drive away, which has a thriving food and arts scene on track to rival Portland’s. .

Kazeem Lawal, owner of clothing and accessories store Portland Trading Co., moved from New Jersey to Portland 14 years ago and has witnessed its stratospheric growth from a small port city to a destination city. “It’s a little like the Brooklyn of 20 years ago, where the old and the new coexist,” he says. “and continues to grow and evolve, as all cities should and do.”

Here, Lawal and three other Mainers share their favorite spots in and around the state’s largest city.

alex diaco-owner of Death and company. Cocktail bars (with locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, and Washington, DC) moved to Portland in 2019.

king lilyhe novelistHe has lived in Portland since 2002.

Kazeem Lawalthe creative director of the clothing and accessories store. Portland Trading Co.He moved to Maine in 2009.

Toshiko Morithe architect and director of Toshiko Mori ArchitectHe splits his time between New York City and an island home in Maine’s Penobscot Bay.


“Before my husband and I moved to Maine, we tried all the housing options in Portland. I like the AirBnBs in Munjoy Hill, but if I go the hotel route, The Francis It’s my favorite place: comfortable, centrally located, tastefully decorated, and home to one of Portland’s coziest restaurants. roadside tavern.” (Rooms from $129 per night) alex dia

Best gazebo is a contemporary guesthouse at the top of Munjoy Hill with six warm, charming rooms and rotating artwork by resident artists. blind tiger in the West End, whose pool hall was once a Prohibition speakeasy, offers more luxury; and on Chebeague Island is the magical Chebeague Island Innwhere drinks and dinner are served on its wraparound porch.” (Rooms at Best Bower from $165 per night, minimum two nights; Blind Tiger, from $259 per night; Chebeague Island Inn, from $219 per night) king lily

“I prefer new hotels, and the Portland boardwalk with canopy It is two blocks from the center. Choose a room with a water view and plan to have a drink at the rooftop bar.” (Rooms from $199 per night) Kazeem Lawal

“In Rocklandia, 250 main It is extremely pet friendly. The hotel offers dog treats from Loyal Biscuit Co., a great pet supply store just down the street. The rooms are simple and comfortable, with harbor views and excellent coffee from your neighbor. Rock City Coffee Roasters.” (Rooms from $169 per night) Toshiko Mori

Little ones, a small cafe-bar and neighborhood supply store in the West End, produces some of the best coffee and small plates around. On quiet Sundays, I stop by for a cappuccino and then walk to Zu Bakery for a textbook croissant. AND J Oyster “It’s the perfect combination of old-school charm, a fun team, and delicious seafood that couldn’t be fresher.” — ADVERTISEMENT

“It’s hard to eat bad food in Portland. Dok Mali It is my current favorite restaurant. Opened less than a year ago by chef and owner Nonglack Thanephonesy, (this Thai restaurant) is new enough that you can still get a table in high season. “I am completely addicted to their drunken noodles.” — L.K.

“If you want the Ferrari of lobster rolls, go to Remember. The buns are steamed, the lobster meat is drizzled with brown butter, reservations are extremely limited, and when they tell you how long to wait to get a table, you’ll probably faint. Go early, write your name, and then spend the hours of waiting exploring. If lobster isn’t your thing, the fish and chicken sandwiches here are also popular.” — kl

Leeward, a restaurant with seasonal Italian-style fare, focuses on pasta, but the menu also highlights local seafood, such as raw Maine bluefin tuna with pickled rhubarb or a cucumber salad with smoked eel, sumac, and fried capers which is fresh and earthy.” — M.T.


“A few steps from our house, the Fore River Sanctuary, A series of hiking trails that wind through forests and marshes, it is a charming refuge from the bustle of the city. I like to start from Jewell Falls and wander towards the Fore River. The deep banks as you approach the end are the remains of a 19th century canal that connected Portland to Lake Sebago.” — ADVERTISEMENT

“Hop on a ferry at Commercial Street and visit any of the Casco Bay Islands. Or, if you want to see them all, book a ticket on the mail boat. It leaves three times a day (at 10:00, 12:00 and 15:00) and the journey lasts between two and a half and three hours. Take it all in: the crews working on the boat, the fishermen sailing their boats in Portland Harbor, the beauty of Maine’s rocky coast.” — kl

“He Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland has a detailed collection of works by Maine artists (from the 19th and 20th centuries), including Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, and Louise Nevelson, as well as the work of young contemporary artists. Across the street (behind Atlantic Bakery Companywhich is an excellent apricot and pistachio cookie) is the Maine Contemporary Art Center, located in a building I designed. It has temporary exhibitions of work by artists who live in or are connected to Maine, including Reggie Burrows Hodges and Lois Dodd.” — M.T.


“I can waste an hour at the knife and kitchen utensils store. Strata leafing through books, admiring the delicate Japanese glassware, too thin for my clumsiness, or, as one must do here, talking to the incredibly knowledgeable and friendly staff about the store’s enormous collection of culinary knives, much of it made by Japanese blacksmiths. “I have yet to convince my husband that a knife sharpening workshop is an acceptable date night.” — ADVERTISEMENT

“For antiques, drive 20 minutes north to Cabot’s Mill Antiques in Brunswick, which is a multi-dealer antique mall located in an old mill. Or drive to Arundel, Arundel Old Town. In both places you will find things that are difficult to find in most big cities.” — kl


“I consulted the shopping expert of my life, my daughter Eloise King-Clements. She says Blanca + Mimi “It has the best quilts around, like block prints made of soft cotton.”
L.K.

“In Rocklandia, Trillium Soaps is a small, family-owned producer of handmade soaps subtly infused with the fragrance of nature found in Maine. My favorites are pine, Maine kelp, black rosemary and orange marigold soaps, and I can’t live without Trillium gardener’s soap, which has poppy seed and cornmeal as a scrub, calendula petals, geranium and oil of cedar to keep hands soft afterwards. gardening. The store also sells antique farmhouse baskets, pottery and linens.” — M.T.


“One of the reasons I moved to Portland is the convenience of our small airport. You rarely have a TSA line of more than a couple of people. But in the busy summer months, when flights get horribly expensive, I fly in and out of Boston’s Logan Airport. I’m generally pretty skeptical about taking a bus, but the Concord Coach arrives right outside the baggage claim area and heads directly to Portland (a two-hour trip), and on the way back, drops you off right in front of security. It is cheap, clean and has very friendly drivers and Wi-Fi.” — ADVERTISEMENT

“Bring a book. At some point, even on the most dazzling summer day, you’ll want to curl up in a hammock, swing, or window seat and read. I don’t know if that sensation is in the water or in the air, but it will invade you. If you have a foggy day or two, you may need several books. To be prepared.” – L.K.

“The best times to visit are June and September. June is green, with amazing flowers, like lupins and lilacs, and it’s strawberry season. The air is clear and fresh and you’ll be here before the tourists arrive in July and August. In September the largest organic farming fair is held, the Common Ground Country Fairand the Camden International Film Festival, the best documentary film festival, there are fewer people and the weather is great for sailing.” — M.T.

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