I have always wanted to visit Maine. Anywhere with a population of fishermen and coastal areas feels like home to me. Maybe because some of my fondest childhood memories are of going out on the boat with my grandfather. (He let me take the wheel once and only once. In my defense, I was only five when I steered us in circles and almost capsized us.) At any rate, I knew before the plane even left the ground at BWI in Baltimore that I’d love every second of my trip and I was right. I was in the southeastern part of the state on this trip – mostly Portland.
What to Do:
We had fun exploring Cape Elizabeth’s lighthouse and ruins, as well as the Old Port waterfront. We spent quite a lot of time wandering through the shops and even the kids wanted to go back to look at the beautiful pottery at Maine Potters Market a second time to buy some gifts for grandparents. We also stopped to watch the historic two foot gauge railroad in operation at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum. (We didn’t go into the museum because we were on our way to Gilbert’s and were pretty hungry after hiking around Cape Elizabeth, but it looks like something families with Thomas the Train fans would definitely want to add to their itinerary!)
Where to Eat:
Our best dining experiences were at Grace, Street & Co, The Holy Donut and Gilbert’s Chowder House. Holy Donut and Gilbert’s Chowder House were the best choices for dining with children. Street & Co had plenty of options for children, as well, and the waitstaff is happy to provide something off the menu, like buttered noodles. Grace didn’t have children’s menu options, but our gang is adventurous when it comes to dining, so they still found things to eat.
Renting a car is pretty much a must for enjoying Maine. We would have had difficulty getting to some of the spots we visited without one. If you choose not to rent a car and book a hotel right in Portland’s Old Port area, you can spend a few days wandering through town, but you’ll miss out on exploring the coast.
If you fly into Portland with young children, plan on spending a few minutes at Playport, which is a kids’ play area right in the airport. We were traveling with kids who were too old for this preschooler friendly space and they still wanted to play in it.
You also may want to shop for your Maine sweatshirt right there in the airport gift shop. We looked in about a dozen stores and didn’t find one as nice or as reasonably priced as these. (The boys collect a sweatshirt from each place they visit.) For t-shirt aficionados, Liberty Graphics in Old Port is a must. There are several designs highlighting children’s books from the region and a fiddlehead lover’s design I absolutely loved.