Travel Guide: Portland & The Southern Maine Coast

Maine is filled with laid-back, outdoorsy towns and social locals.  We decided to explore the Southern Coast of Maine after flying into Portland. Summer and Fall are the most popular times to visit, and for good reason.

Summer in Maine: for stunning beaches and wild blueberries

Fall in Maine: for legendary foliage and festivals

It can be easy to focus on the disadvantages of traveling with kids but I’m doing my best to focus on the positive aspects as well.  We have always talked about traveling to Maine but before Stella, we always chose to go farther.  Now that our priorities have changed, I get to experience the joys of short travel times.

I must say, getting on a plane around 8 am and arriving around noon is a game-changer. No jet lag or mental and physical preparation for this trip.  It’s important to reflect before traveling on what you need out of that experience, and if you need a break then focusing closer to home is key.

Portland: Lighthouses & Lobster Rolls

Portland is considered the big city of Maine but also a foodie city.

Once we landed, we drove straight to the famous, The Holy Donut to try the famous potato-based donuts with gluten-free options too. There was a line out the door, always a good sign, so we decided to get a half dozen and try as many as we could stomach. I have an endless sweet tooth so that wasn’t too difficult for me.  The winner by far was the chocolate sea salt donut.  With a little sugar rush, we explored the cobblestone streets and shops.  Our favorite coffee cafe during our visit was Tandem Coffee Roasters.  Make sure to try the iced malt coffee – so good!

A must-visit is absolutely the picturesque Portland Head Light, the first tower commissioned by George Washington in 1791, still working today! A great surprise for me was how large Fort Williams park was, surrounding the lighthouse. So many families down on the rocks, cooking out in the grass, and of course, waiting in line at Bite into Maine food truck. It was the perfect way to begin our trip, nothing says Maine like lighthouses and lobster rolls.

While it was nice to have the convenience of the food truck at the park, we saw several people parking prepared with take-out, blankets, and games for a full day at the park.

Maine is filled with so many walking trails and outdoor activities, you can stay entertained without feeling in a rush.  The Portland Head Light is less than 20 minutes from the airport making it the perfect start to the trip.  Any destination where I can exit the plane and immediately feel enveloped by my new city is a win.

Jetlag kick-in? This could also be a great stop before the flight home.

Where to stay?

The Press Hotel is a former printing plant and the hotel redesign embraces its history.  Each room design is inspired by a 1920s writers’ office with vintage journalist desks and newsroom references throughout the hotel. Located on the corner of Exchange and Congress Streets in the Old Port District, it’s an ideal location to stroll by some of the best restaurants and shops.

110 luxury guest rooms, including a Penthouse Suite with rooftop access and 360-degree views of the city.

UNION restaurant by Executive Chef, Joshua Berry is attached and the Inkwell lobby bar is great for craft cocktails.

The Art Gallery features local artists and the entrance includes a two-story signature piece of vintage typewriters called the SWARM.

Book with Melted&Moved for perks:

  • Complimentary breakfast for two
  • Priority for a complimentary room upgrade, based on availability upon arrival
  • Early Check-in/late Check-out, based on availability
  • Complimentary WiFi daily

Cliff House Maine

Less than an hour’s drive from Portland, you will reach Cliff House Maine in York with plenty of nearby attractions of its own.

Cliff House Maine opened in 1872 with a rich history, constantly being renovated and transformed to enhance the dramatic ocean views.  The massive renovation in 2015 really made Cliff House a destination stay.

▫️226 rooms & suites
▫️70 oceanfront acres

I was so excited to arrive at Cliff House, it’s such an iconic property for its coastal views.  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.  Just walking into reception, you immediately see nothing but water.  The entire property is designed to make the view from Bald Head Cliff the star of the show. The new section of the hotel, where we stayed, had floor-to-ceiling windows, a private balcony, with a king-sized bed and plush robes.

Yes, the robes deserve specific attention because they were plush and warm and made me feel like a spa day.  Cliff House caters to all four seasons and this is just what you need to enjoy the morning on your balcony when there is still a chill in the air.

We felt so relaxed listening to the ocean waves and taking it all in.

EU Alternative

A lot of my clients are interested in European travel and with the limitations in place, we have gotten creative with itineraries that have a similar scenery or atmosphere to some of our favorites across the pond.  One of those is Ireland, and when you think Ireland you think Cliffs of Moher.  The view here is enough to make you nostalgic and it was absolutely the most impactful view we saw on the southern coast.   There is a path carved around the hotel but we saw several venturing out onto the rocks.  The entire property is situated to make the view the focus and let me tell you, it did not get old.  We enjoyed the view cocktails in the two-story lobby at dinner, and left our patio room door open to listen to the sound of the crashing waves.

Each floor has a coffee bar in the hall and everyone was walking around in their robes to get coffee or tea, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The communal aspect of a shared coffee bar gives the resort a more cozy, casual vibe.

If you plan to visit, I can help you pick the best room for your needs and coordinate nearby attractions.

Book with Melted&Moved for perks:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Breakfast for two in Tiller Restaurant.
  • $100 Resort Credit
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi,

Best for: families, cruisers, corporate and group retreats 

Avid cruiser?

Honestly, it started to remind me of a cruise ship suite in the best way because of the expansive view.  When you look out onto the water, it’s endless, making you feel a sense of solace and distance from the rest of the world.

Nubble Light

A short drive from Cliff House Maine in Cape Neddick is Nubble Light.  One of the most well-known lighthouses in Maine. This historic beacon, completed in 1879, sits on a tiny island just a few hundred feet off of York’s rocky coastline. Back in the day, a cable car was connected to the mainland to bring supplies to the keeper of the lighthouse. Drive to Sohier Park for incredible lighthouse views.

To do in Ogunquit

Ogunquit literally means “beautiful place by the sea” and that’s exactly what you can expect from your time here.

Ogunquit Beach is one of the top 25 beaches in the US due to its 3.5 miles of white sand and footbridge access.  You can actually cross over the Ogunquit River to reach the middle of the beach.

Perkins Cove is a small fishing village with plenty of boutiques, art galleries, ice cream shops, and lobster rolls.  We ordered from the Lobster Shack to go, so we could enjoy clam chowder and lobster by the water.  If you want a sit-down spot with a view, visit Barnacle Billy’s.

Marginal Way is a 1.25-mile walking path that connects Ogunquit to Perkins Cove.  Not only is it a beautiful coastal walk but it lets you fully explore vacationland without the need of a car for the day.

Inn by the Sea

▫️Just outside of Portland (15 minutes) in Cape Elizabeth 

▫️Lots of kids, dogs, and families

▫️Its location on Crescent Beach is perfect

You can see the ocean from the top of the property or take the private path to the uncrowded beach below.  Beach chairs and umbrellas are put out daily. The beach here is sandy instead of rocky and the true selling point of the property.

Sea Glass Restaurant

We enjoyed lunch on the restaurant’s patio where guests can enjoy live music, nightly s’mores, and incredible food.  Sea Glass is a foodie destination thanks to Chef Chadwick, a James Beard award winning chef. He makes this idyllic location just as delicious.  I enjoyed scallops and cheesecake overlooking the resort grounds that include the pool.  In the coming summer months, poolside service will begin so you can stay out and about all day long! (It’s heated.)

Local? Great retreat for special occasions

Flying? The convenient location makes it the perfect start or end to an itinerary

Several room categories to choose from but their new beach suites face the beach with 2 and 3 bedroom options. The large living area makes this a great option for a multi-generation or extended stay trip.

Book with Melted&Moved for Perks:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast for two guests
  • $100 resort credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

I heard a great metaphor for what it’s like traveling with an advisor (as your advocate.)  Not everyone understands why the relationships I’ve built with hotel partners are so vital but everyone can relate to status.

Essentially traveling with me is like traveling with a frequent flyer.  You may not have the status but if the person you are traveling with is a Delta Platinum member, then you get access to early boarding, free checked bags, etc. based on their status.  That’s what I can do for you with hotel partners – you get special treatment based on my preferred status.

I loved this example because it’s so simple, yet relatable.

Let’s set up a complimentary Discover Call to discuss how we can co-create the perfect trip for you.

Let’s Talk Travel