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The Portland Head Lighthouse surrounded by rock formations, Maine

Portland, Maine, US

Squint your eyes and admit it: Doesn’t that skinny, bearded hipster walking down the cobbled street look a lot like a 19th-century sea captain heading to the wharf to check his ship? Modern Portland, first settled in 1633, carries the marks of both subsets of Mainers. The restored brick buildings and warehouses of the Old Port and the fine upright houses of prosperous captains, merchants and shipbuilders make the city’s past a living part of its present. And the waterfront is a going concern, not a museum: Fishing boats chug into and out of their berths, buoys clang, harbor seals bark. Those shop windows aren’t displaying hardtack, rope or hand salve, though. Juice joints, art galleries, bookstores (and comic-book stores!), worshipful temples to coffee, locavore bistros with national press, bespoke menswear designers and gelato shops all jostle for attention. Don’t limit your visit to the Old Port, though. Wander through the terrific art museum or take a tour of one of the city’s historic homes. Jump on a ferry or whale-watching boat and get out into the busy harbor. Head to the coast—craggy, windswept, dramatic—a glorious and undeniably New England panorama. Get out and take it all in. Welcome to Vacationland.

Featured Shore Excursions