Mini Vacation to Maine

Tim and I took a week off from work at the beginning of September. At the beginning of the week, we stuck around Boston to celebrate my birthday and do a lot of wedding venue hunting. For the tail end of our week off, we headed north for a mini vacation to Maine. Portland is one of our absolute favorite places to go together, and we stayed there for three nights to just get away. Plus, it’s SUCH a foodie city, and we always revolve our entire trip around what we are going to eat and drink while we’re there.

We arrived on Thursday around lunchtime, and our first stop was at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth. My manager Julia and her husband Steve were also vacationing at the same time, and they invited us to stop by their hotel. The inn was beautiful, right on Crescent Beach, and we had fun hanging out for the afternoon. We ordered a little snack plate and a couple of drinks at the hotel restaurant before heading down to the beach.

Maine Vacation: Inn by the Sea

Maine Vacation: Inn by the Sea

Maine Vacation: Inn by the Sea

Tim and I left around 5pm to check into our hotel in Portland and get ready for the night. We actually ended up meeting back up with Julia and Steve for dinner at Fore Street, one of the best restaurants in the area. The menu changes daily, and I love the ambiance in there. It seemed like the service was a bit slower than it was the last time we went, but since I like to take my time and enjoy my meals out, it didn’t really bother me. We ordered a tomato tart to split among the four of us, and I ordered scallops for my meal.

Maine Vacation: Fore Street

After dinner, Julia and Steve headed back to their hotel. Tim and I continued on for another drink at a bar called The North Point, another place we really enjoyed hanging out at last year. On the way in, I snapped a picture of this funny sign:

Maine Vacation: The North Point

We only stayed for one drink before heading back to our hotel for the night too.

On Friday we woke up and decided to head to Kennebunkport for the day. We spent a couple of hours at the beach, and I finally felt like I could completely relax for the first time in weeks. We just sat in the sun just reading, napping, and enjoying each others company. We were in need of some serious quality time together!

Maine Vacation: Kennebunkport

Maine Vacation: Kennebunkport

Once we were done with the beach, we decided to explore the local area a bit and drove to Cape Porpoise. We walked around a bit and snapped some pictures of the pretty scenery.

Maine Vacation: Cape PorpoiseMaine Vacation: Cape Porpoise Cape Porpoise 2Maine Vacation: Cape Porpoise

After we were done exploring, we headed to downtown Kennebunkport to grab an appetizer and a drink outside. We ended up at David’s KPT, thanks to a recommendation from Monique! We ordered oysters and a cheese plate to share. There is just nothing like drinks and an app with a view, am I right?

Maine Vacation: Davids KPT

We sat here for a few hours! Eventually it was time to decide whether to stick around the area for dinner or head back to Portland. We decided to stay because we didn’t feel that gross from the beach. We changed into something a little nicer and ended up at The Tides Beach Club Restaurant thanks to another recommendation, this time from Dawn! We LOVED this place. This restaurant was part of an oceanfront hotel. It was cozy, and the prices were up there for us, but I did not feel out of place because the service was excellent and our bartender made us feel welcome. It cooled down pretty quickly, so we didn’t get to dine outside, but we had a great time at the bar anyways. We just kept ordering food over the course of the couple of hours we were there! That’s what vacation is all about right? We split the Maine lobster spring roll (cucumber, mango, napa cabbage, cilantro, mint, and citrus sauce) along with a bowl of clam chowder. For my meal, I ordered the swordfish with mushroom ragu and grilled asparagus. Amazing.

Maine Vacation: Tides Oceanfront Restaurant

If you are ever in this area and looking for a romantic dinner spot, I highly recommend Tides. Tim and I went for a walk on the beach after our meal before we drove back to Portland and called it a night.

When we woke up on Saturday, it was a bit cloudy and overcast, so we used the time to walk around the downtown Portland shops. We hit up all our favorites, including Cabot cheese! Yum.

Cabot Cheese in Portland

Once we got hungry, we stopped at the Portland Lobster Co. for lunch. We hung out there for a bit during the afternoon and enjoyed beers while listening to the live band that was playing. We did get caught in a downpour, but that’s okay!

Portland Lobster Company

Saturday night was our last splurge dinner out, and we decided to try Hugo’s. This was hands down one of the coolest restaurants I have ever been to. Their menu is a tastings menu divided into three categories: foraged and farmed (meats), from the sea (seafood), and forest and field (vegetarian, mainly). Basically you can choose between 2-5 courses from all the different menus. The wait staff were some of the most knowledgeable servers I’ve ever had when it came to describing the food on the menu, and we got to watch some of the food preparation. Since these were tapas sized tastings and not full plates, Tim and I each tried three items and tasted each others. My favorites were the yellowfin tuna and the heirloom tomato.

Maine Vacation: Hugo's Yellowfin Tuna

Maine Vacation: Hugo's Heirloom Tomato

In between courses, we were given various palette cleansers. This was a Parmsean flavored broth, and Tim kept calling it cheese tea!

Maine Vacation: Hugo's Restaurant

We left Hugo’s feeling full and very impressed. It’s definitely somewhere to go for a culinary EXPERIENCE and refined food selection, that’s for sure.

Finally, Sunday was our last day up in Maine. We started our day with breakfast at Local 188. All the other breakfasts and lunches we prepped and brought with us so we’d be able to reasonably afford our really nice dinners out, but we did want to do breakfast at least one day. I ordered a spinach florentine omelet, and it came with English muffins and home fries. It was a nice way to start the day, with a cup of coffee and outside!

Maine Vacation: Local 188

After taking about a week and a half off from working out (I think maybe we did two light fitness days throughout our whole vacation?!), we were starting to feel pretty gross. Don’t get me wrong, my body definitely needed the physical rest for many reasons, and I am so happy I let myself take it, but after splurging for so many meals and not being as active as usual, it was starting to catch up with us. We decided to go for a 3.5 mile walk around Back Cove Trail, a really scenic route around the water with a great view of the Portland skyline. It was nice to get moving again!

Maine Vacation: Back Cove Trail

Maine Vacation: Back Cove Trail

About halfway around, we stumbled upon a fitness playground. We obviously stopped for a bit to play.

Back Cove Fitness Trail

We finished up our trip with one last beach stint at Willard Beach in South Portland before heading home. The water wasn’t as swimmable as some of the other beaches we went to, but it was a good choice for a quick couple of hours.

Maine Vacation: Willard Beach

After our insane summer, Tim and I really needed this little getaway to ourselves, but it went by way too quickly. Once I finally felt like I was starting to *really* relax, it was time to go home. We seriously think we could live up there, and as we were driving back into Massachusetts, I honestly felt anxiety and stress starting to kick back in. Not normal, right?!

Maine Vacation: End

Anyways, our mini vacation was great, and I highly recommend the beginning of September for a vacation week. Our weather was almost perfect minus that Saturday rainstorm. It wasn’t too hot, but it was still nice enough to be at the beach.

Until next time!

–Let’s chat–
Did you go on a big summer vacation this year or did you do several mini vacations or getaways instead? Have you ever been to Portland, Maine? What’s your favorite part?

For more F&F posts on Maine:

Portland, Maine: Eats & Drinks

Tonight I finally got around to uploading all my vacation pictures from Portland.  And then I got sad because I want to be back there.  Wah.  Anyways, here’s a recap of all the yummy food and drinks we had during our week away!

Portland Eats & Drinks

Before leaving for Maine, we reached out to everyone we knew for restaurant recommendations.  We got so many recommendations that we didn’t know what to do with all of them!  We tried our best to make it to all the big ones, but we’ll just have to go back to get to them all.

Duckfat
One of the places that almost everyone said we had to stop at for a casual meal was Duckfat, a small little sandwich place right down the street from our hotel.  When we arrived on Monday it was pretty chilly and cloudy out, so we figured this would be a great place to grab our first lunch of the week.  It was a small restaurant, with some parties even sharing tables, but it definitely made for a unique experience!  I ordered the duck confit panini and Tim ordered a pork belly panini.  Both were delicious!  We also split fries.  I normally do not like French fries, as potatoes don’t really do anything for me, but I figured I at least had to try the infamous fries in duck fat.  And I did like these.  We also had our first beers to kick off the week!  They came in mason jars, which I loved.

Duckfat

The Garden Cafe at the Regency
After walking around the downtown Portland shops for a few hours on Monday, we stumbled across a cute little garden restaurant called The Garden Cafe.  This restaurant/bar is associated with the Regency Hotel, but it was the perfect place to hang out and get a drink.  So pretty!  I ordered a glass of wine and finished that up with the most delicious strawberry vodka lemonade.  I highly recommend this place for a drink on a nice day.

The Garden Cafe

Sonny’s
On Monday night before dinner, we stopped at Sonny’s for a pre-dinner drink.  My friend Cristin recommended this place for its cocktails, and I enjoyed a glass of their house made white sangria.  We wanted to go again another time during the week, but we unfortunately never made it back.

Sonny's Restaurant & Bar

The Grill Room
Dinner on Monday was at The Grill Room & Bar, which was recommended to us by the bartender at the Garden Cafe earlier in the day.  After taking a while deciding whether to each get one big entrée or to go for several smaller dishes, we decided to just a few  smaller options.  First up were the oyster shooters, then wood oven baked brie, then two scallops, and last up was lobster pizza.  We both agreed that the brie was the best of the bunch.  I also think my stomach regretted ordering so much bread the next day!

The Grill Room & Bar

Gorgeous Gelato
On Tuesday we spent the day at Scarborough Beach State Park, so of course gelato sounded perfect after a day in the sun.  My co-worker Mike recommended Gorgeous Gelato, and it did not disappoint.  This place is owned by a family right from Italy, so you just knew the gelato was going to be good.  I ordered raspberry.  Yum!

Gorgeous Gelato

Gilbert’s Chowder House
Tuesday night after the beach, all we wanted to eat was chowder!  We headed to Gilbert’s Chowder House, which we heard had some of the best chowder in the city.  We both got pretty big cups of seafood chowder, so that’s all we needed for dinner that night.  Went pretty nicely with a Shipyard Summer Ale.  I liked this place because it was casual and right on the water.  We ate on the back patio before heading next door to the Portland Lobster Company for some live music and more beers.

Gilbert's Chowder House

Spread
Spread was our last stop on Tuesday night.  We had passed it on Monday and thought it looked neat.  The restaurant itself seemed a little big and upscale, but their interesting drinks were enough to catch our attention.  My drink of choice was gin with muddled strawberries, bail, fresh lemon sour, and a balsamic vinegar reduction.  And Tim got some crazy blood orange tequila drink with jalapeno.

Spread

Federal Jacks
One of my favorite stops of the week was Federal Jacks Restaurant & Brewpub.  On Wednesday we took a day trip to Kennebunkport, and while we really wanted to check out Earth, we just weren’t appropriately dressed for something like that.  We loved “Feds” because it had the prettiest view, the most amazing beer EVERRRR (Shipyard Sunfish Wheat), and really good food.  I ordered the blackened haddock tacos after splitting mussels with Tim.  Apparently this place turns into a dance scene with a DJ, but we headed out before it got like that.

Federal Jack'sFederal Jack's

Peak’s Island House
On Thursday we took the ferry over to Peak’s Island, and after walking around we stopped at Peak’s Island House to eat.  This restaurant had a beautiful view of Portland from across Casco Bay, and I had a yummy lobster salad for lunch.  Aside from the lobster salad, I was surprised at the lack of seafood options on the menu.

Peaks Island House

Fore Street
Our dinner at Fore Street was by far our favorite meal of the week, which didn’t surprise me because six different people recommended it to us.  It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but don’t let that fool you!  We loved that the menu changes every single day there.  I ordered flounder with greens over a tomato and mushroom sauce.  Tim ordered roasted duck with risotto.  And we split a side of heirloom tomatoes.  Everything tasted so fresh!  This was a top-notch dining experience.

Fore Street

The North Point
Another week favorite of ours was the bar we went to after Fore Street on Thursday, The North Point.  Although we had really good cocktails at Sonny’s and at Spread as I mentioned above, this was my favorite cocktail place of the three.  It was smaller and cozier inside, and the staff were super friendly.  I think it still had an “upscale” feel, but without seeming “la dee da” like at Spread.  They had a pretty big wine list and ten beers on tap, but I went a little martini crazy this night.  Cucumber and peach martinis for me!

Cucumber Martini

The Front Room
When we woke Friday morning, it was raining and I had a headache from my martinis the night before, so our Greek yogurt wasn’t going to cut it for breakfast that day.  We met a couple earlier in the week who recommended The Front Room (sister restaurant to The Grill Room) for its brunch menu, so we decided to check it out.  We had to wait a long time, but that didn’t matter much to us.  I ordered three items off the sides menu – a fruit bowl, whole wheat toast, and 2 eggs over easy.  Tim’s breakfast was eggs benedict, but instead of over an English muffin it was over gnocchi, and instead of ham it had thick cut bacon.  His was more exciting than mine, but at the time, mine was exactly what I wanted.

The Front Room Restaurant & Bar

DiMillo’s
While I definitely don’t recommend DiMillo’s for food (we had eaten there a few years ago for my birthday and were not wowed), Dimillo’s is a Portland experience because it’s a big floating restaurant in the middle of the seaport.  On Friday we went there for a drink to enjoy the weather before lobstering.

DiMillo's

Portland Lobster Company
Another really fun dinner we had was after our lobstering excursion on Friday evening.  After lobstering for a couple of hours in Casco Bay, you could buy the lobsters for $5 each and carry them over to the Portland Lobster Company where they would cook them (and offer with corn, salad, etc.) for just an extra $10.  We thought this was so fun and so cool!  We hung out at Portland Lobster Company a couple of times during the week because they had live music, fun local beers, and were also located right on the water.

Lobsters after lobstering Portland Lobster Company

Novare Res Bier Cafe
I keep saying every restaurant was our favorite, and bloggers saying everything is their favorite is a pet peeve of mine), but Novare Res was honestly another favorite!  So I’m saying it!  This place was somewhat hidden, but has a HUGE back patio with tons of outdoor seating, cornhole and outdoor darts games, and over 100 beers to choose from.  Beer lovers, a must visit if you are in Portland!

Novare Res

Billy’s Chowder House
For our last day, we headed to Wells Beach, so before heading home we were on the hunt for one last seafood meal.  We thought we picked a decent choice with Billy’s Chowder House, but unfortunately, this was my least favorite meal of the week.  The chowder was very good (thinner than most chowder I usually eat, but the chunks of clam in there were unreal), but my scallops were so disappointing.  Which is ironic since the menu told me they would not disappoint.  They were under-seasoned and my fresh veggie side was a bowl of super buttery corn.  Totally not the way I wanted to end our trip, but I guess one food disappointment isn’t too shabby.

Billy's Chowder House

Although it probably seems like going out to bars and restaurants was all we did, it’s not!  We had a ton of other fun day trip activities that I’ll recap soon, and we did come prepared with other food as well.  We had most of our breakfasts packed and several options for lunch on the days we didn’t go out to lunch.  We brought along cold cuts and bread for beach sandwiches, and I also brought along a big batch of my favorite cucumber salad.  Half the reason we love the Residence Inn so much is for the full kitchen in the room.  Other things we brought along ahead of time included almond flour chocolate chip cookies, almond flour banana muffins, carrots and hummus, Clif bars, cashews, peanuts, crackers, and lots of fruit – bananas, strawberries, plums, and nectarines.  Doing this helped us stay on track when we weren’t splurging, but it also saved us some money!

Packed Food

Unpictured in this post are Gritty’s Brewpub (Tim’s favorite!) and Sebago Brewing Company.  Gritty’s for beers and live music after Kennebunkport, and Sebago for late night food on our last night.  Whoops!

Have you been to any of the restaurants I mentioned above?  What Maine favorites did I miss that I’ll have to check out next time?

Hope everyone’s Sunday is winding down nicely!