We made plans to celebrate my sister's birthday at The Cliff House Maine and so we decided to turn it into a long weekend getaway. Instead of staying at The Cliff House we chose Portland Maine. Portland is only 1.5 hours north of Boston on interstate 95, or if you want a leisurely ride take old Route 1 North. The city offers a variety of hotels, quirky stores, amazing restaurants, a lighthouse, a harbor, and so much more.
When getting ready for a trip I used to pack at least 2 weeks before we would be leaving. I would lay out all the things I wanted to bring (from clothes to toiletries) and then add or subtract as the days went on. For some reason I can not pack early anymore! I actually keep packing later and later. On Saturday morning we woke up, packed, took out the trash, and hopped in the car to head north!
Our first stop along the way was in Kittery, Maine. I absolutely love gummy strawberries so we made a quick stop at Yummies Candies and Nuts. For the kid in you or for actually kids, you will find an enormous variety of candy along with some products from Maine. Further up the road we stopped in for some bread for later in the weekend at When Pigs Fly Bakery. I am now obsessed with their Pineapple Jalapeno Bread. The bread is savory, a hint of heat from the jalapenos, and then just a touch of sweet from the pineapples. A perfect bite!
Nearby is Cape Neddick, home to Nubble Lighthouse. The lighthouse is beautiful and we've seen it a ton of times, but whenever we're in the area we always stop for a quick walk and pictures.
We arrived in Portland and pulled up to the valet at Hilton Garden Inn Portland Down Town Waterfront. I have never seen this hotel so busy! Cars were constantly coming and going, people were checking in and out, and the elevators were always busy. I will say the valet staff were working very hard so that customers didn't have a long wait.
We checked into our room and were given vouchers for breakfast (thanks to being Hilton Diamond Members). Our room offered a view of the harbor, a king bed, pull-out couch, desk/chair, microwave, small fridge, and an average size bathroom. The room was clean when we entered and felt pretty well maintained. After the staff cleaned the room the next day we did notice that the floors weren't vacuumed and some items were left behind.
We didn't try the breakfast during our stay but my parents did and it could have been better. The eggs made to order were very good (especially the omelets) but the potatoes were under-cooked.
The staff are friendly, the rooms are clean, bar, room service (after 5 pm), and the location is great. We recommend this hotel for your Portland getaway.
Sunday morning we woke up to at least 3 inches of snow. Last time I checked the weather report it showed just a dusting for Portland (we also had a very slow ride to Portland from The Cliff House Maine the night before). Instead of having breakfast at the hotel we put on our winter gear and headed to The Holy Donut. The Holy Donut makes delicious natural Maine Mashed Potato Donuts!! Inside you will find a variety of flavors, gluten free donuts, and vegan donuts. On this visit I tried the vegan lemon and triple berry donuts. Both donuts were very satisfying but the lemon was the clear winner. The combination of tartness with the sweet glaze was addicting. Greg opted for the dark chocolate sea salt and the maple bacon donuts. I can't recommend a visit to The Holy Donut enough!
On the walk back to our hotel we stopped at Starbucks so I could get my usual Matcha Lemonade. After breakfast we hopped in the car with my parents and tried to get to Portland Head Lighthouse. Unfortunately, the park was still closed and covered in snow. We then had to turn around because just up the road was a 3 car accident and the road was closed.
We decided to drive back to Portland and head to Vervacious. Vervacious is usually a wonderful spice store, unfortunately, it didn't live up to past visits. I was only able to find 1 spice blend in the store. The woman working informed us they were actually out of a lot and hadn't had the spice blends in stock since the holidays.
We quickly popped into Bam Bam Bakery before heading out of Portland again. Bam Bam Bakery offers a lot of gluten and vegan baked goods. We purchased some gluten free rolls for a friend and I opted for a cinnamon and sugar "pop tart."
My mother was really hoping to visit Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and so we decided to enjoy the 20 minute ride to Freeport Maine. We are so glad we did! Freeport is an adorable town and we all agree we definitely want to return for a stay. We popped into LL Bean, Fiore, and my dad enjoyed a crepe for a nearby restaurant.
Back in Portland we were ready for lunch and called in an order to The Thirsty Pig. The four of us ordered a plain hot dog with mustard, the reuben dog, Matt's bbq banh mi, the Lithuanian Kielbasa sandwich, baked beans, and potato salad. All of our sandwiches were good and filling. My sandwich was the Matt's bbq banh mi and it had a wonderful combination of sweet, salty, crunchy, and freshness thanks to the cilantro. I didn't try the baked beans but heard they were good. The potato salad was good but only if you like dill so keep that in mind.
At the hotel we spent the afternoon relaxing with a bottle of wine and good conversations. For dinner we decided on The Honey Paw. The Honey Paw does not skimp on portions and so we actually ended up over-ordering. We ordered the fried wings to start (as well an a 2nd order for Greg's meal). The wings were crispy, salty, and unique with the addition of coconut. One order would have been plenty for us! The scallion pancakes were crispy and savory but a little too salty for me. The other entrees were wonton noodle soup, ramen, and half chicken. The wonton soup was delicious and slightly hot. The noodles were chewy and the wontons were nicely filled. The ramen was delicous and filled with vegetables. The half chicken was outstanding. The chicken was hot, crispy, and full of flavor. I didn't try the accompanying corn bread but more than half of it was definitely gone!
Monday morning we got up and were still full from last nights dinner so we opted for just beverages from Starbucks. While I went inside Greg had a nice chat with a gentleman who was in the area for work but lost his job. Without realizing what the other was doing I bought the man a hot drink and hot sandwich and Greg gave him some money towards a phone card he needed in order to look for work. Instead of just passing by a person looking for help take a second and help them out. Trust me it's a wonderful feeling to make someone else happy.
After saying goodbye to my parents and checking out of the hotel we decided to give a drive to Portland Head Lighthouse/Fort Williams Park another try. I'm so glad we did Fort Williams Park has walking trails, ruins, and fabulous ocean views. Portland Head Light house is stunning and provides wonderful pictures. We can't wait to return when the weather is warmer!
We continued on south and decided to stop back into When Pigs Fly Bakery for a loaf of bread for home. I was thrilled to see my delicious Pineapple Jalapeno Bread again. I also picked up their German Sourdough for breakfasts.
Back at home we unpacked the car, started laundry, got groceries at Whole Foods, and settled in to watch Wonder. It was the perfect end to a great long weekend!