What to Do This Summer: Portland, Maine


It was 1846 and the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was walking through his childhood home in Portland, Maine, when he stopped and, as he wrote, “listened to the lashing, sleepy sound of the sea right at my feet. It was a beautiful afternoon and the harbor was full of white sails that came and went. “

Almost two centuries later, visitors still stop to admire the sails that line Portland Harbor – between shopping, galleries, and dining, of course. Maine’s most populous city, known for its award-winning food, has expanded its outdoor dining guidelines during the pandemic, turning streets, parking lots, sidewalks and squares into culinary hotspots. In the Old Harbor, brick buildings and stone alleys add a touch of romance to outdoor dining. And a wave of new art shows and open-air concerts in historical surroundings makes Longfellow’s hometown seem like a city not only for eternity, but also for the moment.

With the delta variant of coronavirus now prevalent in the United States, Maine is following the updated CDC recommendations for face coverings, which require all to wear masks regardless of vaccination status “in enclosed, public settings in areas of ‘significant’ or ‘high “Communicating” and outdoors when you are unable to socially distance yourself. Masks are required in certain locations, such as the Portland Observatory and the Children’s Museum & Theater of Maine (for visitors 5 years and older). Capacity and hours can also be limited. In addition, some venues, such as the State Theater’s Summer Concert Series at Thompsons Point, have safety initiatives such as a vaccination certificate or a negative Covid-19 test. Check websites for the latest guidelines.

So pack your sunscreen and mask. While it’s impossible to see (let alone list) everything that’s happening, here are some of the fleeting joys of the season.

One of the prestigious restaurants that hit the streets this summer is Central Provisions, which has small plates and a new terrace where you can enjoy, for example, a caramelized bocadillo sandwich with feta cheese, saba (Italian grape must syrup) and membrillo paste ($ 12) while looking out over a distant pier (414 Fore Street). This part of town is saturated with James Beard Award nominees, and Standard Baking Co. (semi-finalist more than once) gives early risers the best selection of irresistible breads and pastries, like hand-rolled ham and Asiago croissants ($ 5.20) , Pain au chocolat ($ 3.40), and marinated olive bread ($ 6.25); Online orders are accepted (Handelsstrasse 75). Stroll to Fort Allen Park for a little bit of American history while you polish this flaky croissant.

Just a short walk from Standard Baking Co. is a busy section of Middle Street that looks like an open air food festival these days. Crowds line up for alfresco tables and innovative seafood at Eventide Oyster Co. (86 Middle Street) and noodles and Asian-inspired entrees at Honey Paw (78 Middle Street), plus paninis and addictive Belgian fries that are fried in duck fat (Jan. $). up to $ 9.50) at the aptly named Duckfat, which has seating under a new pavilion (43 Middle Street). Prepare to wait for a table if you haven’t received any of the few reservations available. Or order online for pickup from Eventide (a 2017 James Beard Award winner) and Honey Paw (a semi-finalist), or hop on Duckfat’s outdoor takeaway line and then take a short ride to the Western Promenade where you stop picnic on a bench overlooking the water (there’s also the walk-in Duckfat Frites Shack on 43 Washington Avenue).

When it’s time to nourish your soul, visit the Portland Museum of Art. Spend a few hours with Renoir and Winslow Homer exploring Icons of Nature and History, an overview of the art by David Driskell and its media Includes watercolor, gouache, and collage (through September 12). Born in Eatonton, Georgia, he was also a curator, art historian, collector and professor who, as The Times wrote after his death from the aftermath of the coronavirus last year, “was instrumental in gaining recognition for African American art and its importance.” in the broader history of the art in the United States and beyond. ”Admission: $ 18; Discounts for seniors and students from 22 years of age; Free for members, 21 years and younger and everyone on Fridays (7th Congress Square).

Drifting to and from the harbor, people watching, licking an ice cream cone – that is the pleasure of a visitor on a sunny afternoon. For items from Maine artisans, head to Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine (35 Exchange Street), where shelves are lined with handmade soaps, decorative wooden lobster buoys, jewelry made from crushed lobster shells, and of course, maple syrup. At Liberty Graphics (10 Moulton Street), which has been making t-shirts in Maine since the 1970s, you can find ornate water-based ink prints featuring nature motifs such as plants, mushrooms, frogs, birds and stars, while at Cool as Moose (388 Fore Street ) you can grab trinkets like magnets and stickers and, if you feel like it, a tie-dye T-shirt with a moose on it.

Grab a lounge chair and head to Thompsons Point, the revitalized riverside industrial area where nights are filled with live music at the State Theater’s open-air summer concert series on a grassy peninsula (10 Thompson’s point). The State Theater website for tickets to shows (from $ 40 upfront), including upcoming performances of St. Vincent (September 3) and the Trey Anastasio Band (September 17). Participants must be fully vaccinated or tested negative within 48 hours of an event, and wearing masks is recommended. Please refer to the website for more information on the requirements.

Local and regional bands, lawn games, craft brews and food trucks like Falafel Mafia (for your falafel pita bags and bowls) and Cheese Louise (supplier of grilled cheese sandwiches with names like the Baconator; the company also has an up-and-coming restaurant in Old Port) are at Summer Sunsets Live! Series. Thursdays and Fridays from 4:00 p.m. to sunset (9:00 p.m.) until September 10th. Check the website for an updated schedule (Thompson’s Point Road).

Not far away, a 100 year old former wagon repair building has been reinvented as the popular Bissell Brothers Brewing. Nowadays, in addition to the servings, you can order home cooked food – fried chicken sandwiches ($ 15), wings ($ 14), sausages ($ 26) made with local meats and cheeses – from the new Bissell Brothers Kitchen (38 Resurgam Place).

Libbytown isn’t just for adults. The Children’s Museum & Theater of Maine has moved to a new, multi-million dollar home that it built here. Inside there are around 30,000 square meters of exhibition space such as “From the Mountains to the Sea”, where touch tanks with marine life such as horseshoe crabs, chain cat sharks and anemones are intended to give visitors an insight into marine life. Outside there are playgrounds for children to climb and dig, as well as a “teaching garden” where they can learn food systems and biology. Reserved ticket sales are required. Theater tickets: $ 10; free for members. Museum tickets: $ 15; free for members and for babies up to 17 months; For discounts, visit the website (250 Thompsons Point Road).

An exhibition, event, workshop, and studio space, Cove Street Arts is one of the many places transforming East Bayside, where cafes and breweries have sprung up in warehouses and industrial buildings. The Here & There exhibition celebrates the enduring connection between Maine and the New York art world with the works of more than a dozen artists who, like their predecessors – including modernists like Marsden Hartley and Max Weber – find inspiration in Maine. Until September 11th (71 Cove Street).

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