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If you haven’t been to Portland, Maine, yet, summer is your time. Friends, as someone who regularly visited her grandmother in the southern part of the state and attended college in the northern, I can tell you with conviction that Maine’s license plates read VACATIONLAND for a damn good reason—it’s beyond gorgeous from June through September. The air is crisp (even when it’s hot), the sky is blue, the seafood and farm stand produce is fresh, and you will not regret going.
Here are the top 10 spots you should make it a point to visit—and take enviable Instagrams of—while you’re there.
Walk along the waterfront.
Casco Bay is one of the most beautiful harbors you’ll find on the East Coast, so make it a point to stroll and take in views of the (usually) calm Atlantic water and many different kinds of boats docking and passing through.
Go for a sail.
Grab a beer and a windbreaker and hop on board Portland Schooner for a two-hour tour of Casco Bay. The views of the Portland skyline, and the gorgeous homes that dot the Maine coast and its islands, are pretty epic.
Enjoy some Maine lobstah.
After working up an appetite on your sail, reward yourself with lobster, fried clam bellies, and a beer at 3 Buoys Seafood Shanty and Grille, a local go-to for casual, fresh-off-the-boat seafood.
Stay (or just eat) at the Press Hotel.
Chic and minimalist, the award-winning boutique Press Hotel features local artists in its rooms, and even has an entire floor showcasing gorgeous paintings, photos, and visual pieces. Snap a shot before heading down to UNION, the hotel’s high-end farm-to-table restaurant. Rooms from $278.
Grab a local cold brew.
People flock to the airy, atmospheric Bard Coffee shop for its locally roasted beans, bomb cold brews, and artfully made lattes.
Eat gourmet Chinese.
Seafood isn’t the only thing worth stopping for in Portland. Empire Chinese Kitchen makes one of the more memorable gourmet Chinese meals you’ll have. You won’t regret ordering (and ’gramming) the bacon fried rice, jalapeno shrimp, or any of the dumplings.
Treat yo’ self.
After spending the day traipsing around the city, unwind with a foot soak, massage, and snack at Soakology, a foot sanctuary and tea house that specializes in pampering the hell out of every guest—at reasonable prices.
Go wine tasting.
The just-opened Cellardoor Winery uncorks bottles in an old industrial space under sparkling chandeliers. Try a tasting flight of wines made in small, handcrafted batches with grapes sourced from premier vineyards across the country as well as local Maine blueberries.
Satisfy your sweet tooth.
For a sweet treat or snack, swing by Duckfat and order a cane-sugar craft soda, gelato, duckfat-fried donut holes, or a creamy milkshake with salted caramel or Tahitian vanilla bean. Oh, and if sugar ain’t your thing, the truffle fries alone are worth going for (and ‘gramming).
Have an epic eighties dancing night.
Bubba’s Sulky Lounge, a Portland institution, is so much more than a dive bar with standard dance tunes. Full of relics you’d find in a thrift store or your hoarder grandmother’s attic, the neon rainbow-tiled dance floor (which lights up different colors) is surrounded by baby carriages and dolls, vintage lunch boxes, taxidermy, and so much more creepy-kitschy décor. Don’t miss the Friday eighties night—though the Saturday “everything” night is also a blast.