Portland, located on Casco Bay, is Maine’s largest city as well as its creative hub. Many craftspeople, artists, and other creative types have chosen to live and work here, positioning the city as one of the most fashionable locations in the Northeast. Portland’s Old Port, constructed in the 1800s, has been converted into a first-class shopping and dining district. However, the original Federal-style architecture of the area has been impeccably maintained.
In addition to its commercial shipping traffic, the city’s “new” port is also the departure point for the ferry to Nova Scotia and commuter boats to the Casco Bay’s Calendar Islands. There are lots of things to do in culturally-diverse Portland, from hot air ballooning to deep-sea fishing. For food lovers, Portland has an abundance of restaurants and cafes. In addition to performances by local theater and dance companies, the city has its own symphony orchestra and opera company. It is also a great spot to catch top rock and jazz acts. There are several interesting museums to check out, including a first-class art museum, children’s museum and a museum dedicated to African tribal art. Scenic drives and walks can be found in and around the city. Cliff Walk, in nearby Prouts Neck, leads to the site of famed artist Winslow Homer’s former studio. To get in on the local sports action, see if the Portland Pirates (minor league ice hockey) or the Portland Sea Dogs (minor league baseball) have a home game scheduled.
Freeport is located along the shores of upper Casco Bay, approximately 20 minutes north of Portland. It is best known for its upscale outlet shopping and as home to the world-famous L.L. Bean outdoor store. Locally owned shops offering Maine-made items can also be found throughout the downtown area. However, Freeport isn’t all about shopping. The historical town is often credited as being the birthplace of the State of Maine. Many of the meetings leading up to the state’s separation from Massachusetts in 1820 took place in Freeport’s Jameson Tavern, which is still in operation today. A good number of the town’s original schools, homes, and churches have been preserved and refurbished, thanks to a very active historical society. The town’s dedication to historic preservation has also ensured that the old blends nicely with the new. Even the local fast food restaurants have a distinctively New England feel.
If visitors travel a bit off of the beaten path, they’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amount of green space that has been preserved in this bustling town. Wolfe’s Neck Woods is one of several well-maintained parks and sanctuaries ideal for bird watching and hiking along the coast. One of Maine’s most quirky attractions—the Desert of Maine—is also located in Freeport. The desert was once a fertile farm, but overproduction caused the topsoil to give way to sand. The sand eventually engulfed everything in its path.
Links to Maine Attractions:
Portland Visitors Guide, Coupons, dining and calendar of events,
Portland region and Cosco Bay events, attractions and dining
Rockport, Maine Attractions, dining, etc (One stop on the CODA Post-Conference Costal Craft Tour)