Columns, Opinion

Wake Me Up Boston: A winter weekend escape in Portland

This weekend I discovered Boston’s long lost northern twin, and her name is Portland. The city of Portland, Maine, proved to be the perfect getaway from the crowded streets of Boston, where college students and working people alike travel in flocks to their next destination.

The cobblestoned, quaint sidewalks in the coastal city of Portland allowed for peaceful, introspective walks while exploring the many shops, cafes and restaurants on every block. For a summer town, Portland seemed just as vibrant in the winter, minus the access to the surrounding East End beaches that remain a summertime favorite.

In the meantime, I’ll be saving a Maine beach trip for another weekend when the weather decides to warm up just a tad.

The two days I was in Portland were action-packed. I wandered around and walked into as many coffee shops as humanly possible. There are so many original coffee shops unique to Portland, each offering their own freshly brewed spin on classic caffeinated drinks.

Bard Coffee, Tandem Coffee Roasters, Speckled Ax, Coffee By Design and Arabica Coffee House are some of the local favorites. I can proudly attest to Bard Coffee and Arabica living up to the hype.

The interiors are cozily decorated, but not without a trendy touch that leaves coffee drinkers feeling both creatively inspired and comfortably at home. There are also no shortages of creperies and gelato places, sometimes the best finds for authentic European delights, especially when sweet tooth cravings are at an all-time high.

Many of Portland’s best restaurants and eateries offer the freshest ingredients — locally sourced and organic, another plus to the food scene. And of course, seafood — especially lobster — is the local specialty with places such as Portland Lobster Co., J’s Oyster, Scales Restaurant and David’s Restaurant serving up some of the best in town.

In addition to lobster, Portland is known for its arts, which is evident in the artsy architecture the entire town boasts. Exposed brick and multi-colored cutesy mom-and-pop shops are the norm. The Arts District is home to the Portland Museum of Art, the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, the Maine Historical Society and the Port City Music Hall.

My time in Portland was limited, but otherwise, I would’ve loved to have peeked into the array of art galleries the city takes pride in, emphasizing the importance of local artwork as well as some of the European and American greats.

Part of the Arts District borders the Old Port section of downtown, another hip area with bohemian vibes, which leads the way to the popular Eastern Promenade along Casco Bay. The Eastern Promenade was a beautiful waterside walk, even in brisk 25 degree weather. It overlooked a wide expanse of hills and water lined by a mountainous range, and the bay was still as blue as ever. It was fun to observe the sleepy houses with front porches overlooking the bay, imagining the life that flows out of them come summertime.

Looking back on the weekend, I’ve come to the conclusion that Portland truly is the gem of northern New England, encompassing all of its attributes in Maine’s signature low-key style. 10/10 would come back again — sorry, Boston.

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