A Day in Portland, Maine
Visited on August 17, 2020
It was a beautiful August summer day in Manchester, NH when my team and I decided to head east to the coast of Maine. It was my first time in Maine and it did not disappoint. We were in the middle of a pandemic but life appeared normal as people carried on walking shoulder to shoulder on the busy streets of Portland. I have been in hibernation since March with everything locked down in California so it was a little strange for me. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my stay and cannot wait for my next visit.
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Where to Stay:
→ 298 Queen City Avenue, Manchester, NH, 03102
We were flying in and out of Manchester so we stayed at a modest hotel by the MHT airport. We booked rooms at the Comfort Inn for $95 a night. They offered a light continental breakfast which included granola bars, apples, and bananas.
My team and I rented a car from Enterprise for about $80 for the day. The drive from our hotel in NH to Old Portland took about an hour and 40 mins, about 100 miles. During our drive, we went through three toll roads. The toll roads were located at the following:
- Hotel to exit Hampton side I-95, exit 2 – $0.75
- York South: I believe there is a toll that is about $1.
- End Exit: Portland South Toll Plaza, South – $4
There are two types of payments for the tolls. We paid in cash. There is one line designated for cash. The other lanes are for E-Z Pass holders. Make sure you have ample cash with you for a round trip.
On the drive back there are also tolls.
- Portland South Toll Plaza
- York South – $4
- Hampton Side I-95, Exit 2 – $0.75
Parking in Old Portland is pricey. We parked at DiMillo’s Parking Lot because we were fooled by the $10 sign with the fine print of “before 10 am”. In actuality, it was $6/hour or $40 for the full day. DiMillo’s is the center of Old Portland. Everything was within walking distance.
I did some research and the most affordable parking was at Simba Parking Lot. According to their website, parking all day is only $15. We did come across this parking lot but did not see the sign the advertised $15 for a full day. It is worth checking out if you do not want to pay $40 for a full day of parking.
Old Port (Portland)
Old Port is a small historic district by the port with various restaurants, souvenir stores, and independent shops.
→ 56 Commercial St., Portland, ME 04101
There are several islands off the coast of Portland. Casco Bay Lines operates several ferries to these islands throughout the day. Due to covid, the only option we had was a trip to Peaks Island. It was a quick 15-minute ferry ride from Old Port to Peaks Island for an $8 round trip per person. You can view ferry times here. Tickets can be purchased at the departure location either through the window or at a ticket machine.
There is not much to do on the island but there are still a few leisure activities including biking and golf cart ride to keep you entertained. We strolled by foot and stumbled upon a quaint beach called Sandy Beach. Before we parted from Peak’s Island, we indulged in a scoop of ice cream at Down Front. Overall, the island felt small. We spent a good hour or two on the island before heading back to the mainland for dinner.
(photo taken by my coworker)
Sandy Beach is located on Peaks Island. The beach has quite a few seaweed that washed up ashore. The water was cold and refreshing at least during my visit in August. If you head over by the rocks, you will find a little water ecosystem that included a few crabs, sea urchins, and tadpoles.
Breakfast: Coffee Me Up
→ 221 Cumberland Ave, Portland, ME 04101
- Hours: Daily, 7 am – 3 pm
My team and I were running on little sleep so our first stop in Portland required coffee. I ordered a small vanilla latte ($3.85) and a croissant ($1.65). There are three beverage sizes at Coffee Me Up with two levels of expresso shots. I opted for the lesser option.
Lunch: Gilbert’s Chowder House
→ 92 Commercial St., Portland, ME 04101
- Hours: Daily, 11 am – 9 pm
Gilbert’s Chowder House is smacked in the middle of Old Port. They had a nice patio area to appease the CDC guidelines. My coworkers each ordered Maine lobster rolls ($19.95) and clam chowder. Due to my dietary restrictions, I settled for a good old chicken sandwich ($12.95). Gilbert’s is known for its clam chowder and has a nice variety from the traditional clam chowder to super seafood clam chowder (includes clams, shrimp, haddock, and lobster). There are three different portion sizes and a bread bowl option. My coworker suggested the traditional clam chowder ($5.95-$12.95) because the super seafood clam chowder ($8.95-$17.95) has too many flavors and overpowers the overall soup. The sandwiches are paired with chips and pickles. I substituted my chips for fries for an additional $2.50. I recommend the fries because they are nice and crispy.
Dinner: Luke’s Lobster
→ 60 Portland Pier, Portland, ME 04101
- Hours: M-T Closed; W & Sun 11 am – 8:30 pm; Th – Sat 11 am – 9 pm
We ended our trip to Portland at Luke’s Lobster Restaurant. My team and I were not too hungry but we needed a snack before our drive back to Manchester. I ordered popcorn chicken ($13) while my colleagues enjoyed their last lobster roll ($19/$26) on the trip. We did have a farewell toast. If you would like an adult beverage, we recommend getting a beer because the wines and cocktails were not good.
One cool thing Luke’s Lobster does is provide guests with postcards. You can write a nice message and the restaurant will mail the postcard for you. I used it as a nice memorabilia. I received the postcard by mail in about two weeks.
My day in Portland, ME was short but full of wonder. There is still so much the city offers and I cannot wait to explore more of it.