My foodie friend came to Portland, Maine for a visit! We indulged plenty and we managed to balance it all out with a good amount of fun activities that kept us moving.
I’ll share our itinerary as well as additional places to eat and explore that can help you achieve your ideal balance of a “healthy” vacation in. Mix and match for optimal fun. 🙂
Day 1 – Morning run/walk around Willard Beach/Bug Light (South Portland) and breakfast from Scratch Bakery (South Portland). You can walk on the actual beach or along the path that connects the beach to the lighthouse. We grabbed coffee and walked out along the rocks to the lighthouse and then followed the Greenbelt Trail to Bug Light, another cute tiny lighthouse with a great view of Casco Bay and the city of Portland. The walk is maybe about 2 miles, so you can walk it with coffee or have a morning jog and treat yourself with breakfast from Scratch Bakery. This bakery has THE BEST BAGELS and BAKED GOODS in the whole world, in my opinion. I’m definitely biased because I worked there. But I guarantee you will not be disappointed. To keep in mind, about a 5 minute drive away, is the Scratch Bakery Toast Bar. (If you prefer a fancy bagel or bread sandwich instead of the classic bagel and cream cheese.) They don’t have the baked goods at this location.
If you want more ideas, here are additional popular running spots:
- Baxter Boulevard (views of city of Portland and walking distance to Trader Joe’s)
- Eastern Promenade trail (along the water and bring you into downtown Portland)
- Downtown Portland/Old Port (before the crowds start, a morning run around the city would be a easy and fun way to get to know the place.)
Dinner at Silly’s! The menu is endlessly unique and extremely vegan/veg friendly. You’re sure to find a filling and tasty salad, if that’s what you’re looking for. But don’t deprive yourself, the sweet potato fries and milkshakes are signature.
Day 2 – Day trip/hike to Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor.
This is about a 3 hour drive from Portland and if you take Route 1 all the way, you pass through several picturesque Maine towns and cross a few big rivers and lakes. It’s a gorgeous drive. When you get to Acadia, you have quite a few options. You could drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain, (panorama views of Mount Desert Island) and chose a hiking trail to get active. Grab a map and pick one depending on how long you want to hike. Much of Acadia is accessible by a one way road called Park Loop Road. You could simply follow that in a car or bike to view Sand Beach and Jordan Pond, two well known landmarks. There is also a very flat and easy path that follows along Sand Beach too, if we had more time, we would have parked and followed that for a bit.
If you want Maine hiking ideas but Acadia is too far, check these spots out:
- Pleasant Mountain (about 1.5 hour drive from Portland, several trail options)
- Mackworth Island (10 minute drive, easy walking loop)
- Eastern Promenade (right in Portland)
- Bradbury Mountain (20 minute drive, several trail options)
Dinner at Taco Escobarr in Portland. It might sound crazy we didn’t eat in Bar Harbor, but it was so crowded because there was a cruise ship in town. After hiking, we were too exhausted and a bit delirious to make decisions at that point, so we figured getting on the road was the best call. We stopped by a grocery store and grabbed granola bars and fruit to hold us over. By 8pm we pulled into Portland. We started with two Habanero Peach margaritas (made with habanero infused tequila) while we waited for seating. Then we devoured nachos, a burrito bowl and a pitcher of beer. Highly recommend Taco Escobarr as the top Mexican place in Portland. Want more Mexican? Check out El Rayo or Taco Trio.
Day 3 – Beach day, yoga and chill. Our bodies needed rest so we slept in, went to yoga and then hit the beach! Either Willard, Crescent, Scarborough, or Ferry Beach are all wonderful options. In the morning we went to Portland Power Yoga. I also love Greener Postures Yoga and TULA for a studio workout. We wrapped up the day strolling Crescent beach and collecting beach memorabilia, aka rocks. We planned an Italian dinner with my Dad, so we stopped at Terra Cotta and got fresh “take out”. They sell baguettes from Standard Baking Co, which pairs perfectly with the mouthwatering eggplant dip. Then we prepared their homemade Italian meat stuffed ravioli with the Bolognese sauce. Dessert followed with gelato from Gorgeous Gelato. Got it all at one little place!
Evening out in Portland followed: Started with beers at Novare Res Bier Café. Walked through Blyth and Burrows just to show the cool set up (it was super crowded). Got $5 dollar gin and tonics at Lincoln’s (all drinks are $5 cash.) Enjoyed live music and a couple classic Allagash Whites at Amigos. Finished off the evening dancing at Old Port Tavern.
Day 4 – Walk/explore/tour downtown Portland. We walked from the Eastern Prom to the end of Congress and everywhere in between. Portland is easy to do in a few hours and there are plenty of spots to grab a coffee or bite to eat. My favorite coffee spots are Arabica and Bard. If you’re looking to sit down and eat, The Front Room (bomb brunch), Duckfat, or Nosh are all great choices, depending on where you are when hunger sets in. I love ending a long walk on the Eastern Prom. Swing by Rosemont Market for a bottle of wine or a few snacks and enjoy the panorama view of Casco Bay. I had a smoothie bowl for lunch from Maine Squeeze and it was SO GOOD. They have super *food* smoothies as well for a healthy snack or post workout pick up.
Day 5 – Peaks Island!
Just a 20 minute ferry ride from downtown Portland, we went for a day and night, but you can easily check this place out in a day. You can run/walk/bike around the whole island, it’s about 3 miles. There are amazing ocean views, cute cottages to look at, and little shops to peruse at leisure. We had dinner at the Peaks Island House but I also recommend the Cockeyed Gull as well. Both are great local spots.
Day 6 – Back to Portland for tattoos! Allycia and I designed a tattoo to remember our time in the Peace Corps together. We made an appointment at Hallow Ground with Pete. They came out great and so we further treated ourselves at Flatbread. This pizza place has a lovely local beer selection and thin fire oven baked pizza with the freshest ingredients. A local favorite spot over and over again. Lots of seating and great for large parties.
Day 7 – I saved the LAST day to get lobster rolls. I took my friend to Portland Head Light/Fort Williams to get pictures of Maine’s infamous lighthouse and we walked the ‘cliff walk’ in the park. This is a good spot for kids or dogs and you can walk around it for a couple hours. There are various forts and paths to explore. We ate lobster rolls from Bite into Maine and paired it with a salad from the Scratch bakery deli, which we stopped by right before (it’s on the way). In the afternoon, we saw a movie at the Nickelodeon Cinema, which offers $5 movies on Tuesday. Then we walked up Congress and got dinner at my ALL TIME FAV restaurant, Boda. It’s Thai-fusion and the curry entree is probably my favorite meal ever.
I hope this post inspires you to visit Maine and take full advantage of not only our incredible food and dining, but all the fabulous places to hike and explore.
EAT WELL & TRAVEL OFTEN.