We chose to drive our first visit to Portland. This was an easy mode of travel and allowed for us to make several stops along our journey to check out other towns and places of interest at our leisure.
Parking in Portland
There are plenty of parking meters that allow you to park in the street in downtown Portland and many allowed three or four hours of parking but you will need lot quarters to put into the machines.
Alternatively, there is ample off-street parking. I found it to be very expensive but Portland does run a scheme called Park ans Shop. If you eat in participating restaurants or make purchases from shops who are involved in the scheme, you ask for a stamp and each stamp allows for an hours free parking.
Details of this scheme are on the City of Portland web-site.
- Road Trip
There is a clean modern terminal for Concord Trailways bus service from Boston, Logan , and to Bangor located just off Congress Street the train service leaves from the same terminal to Boston. There is complementary coffee and juice available in the lobby
- Budget Travel
Choose YOur parking
Not all parking is equal. I ofund one htat charged $2.25 the first hour and $1.75 after. In questioning the attendant, he said one about a block away was 1/2 that price. Sincce I already spent some to get in, it did not pay to move then. The City also offers park & shop--but few, if any I found honored that program. It is to give you a free hour for every store where you buy something. The street meters charge 75 cents an horu and only 2 hours for most.
Try and find the multistory lot on Spring St; the cheaper of those.
- Arts and Culture
The Portland transit centre at 100 Thompson's Point Road is where the Amtrak DownEaster terminates and has connections to the local Portland Explorer and Metro bus services. This is a pretty good transport centre with its complimentary coffee service, vending machines, rest rooms, telephones and even an ATM.
This is also the depot for Concord Trailways Bus Company with connections around Maine and New Hampshire.
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
For a leisurely way to get to Portland from Boston the Amtrak operated DownEaster is a great little train journey, following sporadically the Atlantic Coast as it briefly passes through New Hampshire. Passing through 8 stations this is not the quickest way to get from Boston to Portland but it certainly is the most relaxing and with the cafe-bar serving the excellent Portland-brewed Shipyard at $3.75 a bottle I sorta hoped the journey would have taken longer.
Even in standard class (coach in yankese) the seats are wide with plenty of leg-room and most have power points should you wish to do some laptop work or even just recharge the camera batteries.
When I went in April 2006 the each way fare was $22 and worth every penny of it.
- Beer Tasting
Casco Bay Lines
This company is essential in touring Casco Bay and heading over to one of the islands.
This isn't mainly for tourists...it's the lifeline of the islanders...it transports groceries, lumber, mail, school children, not to mention those who live on the island but work in Portland.
You can go on a dinner cruise, sail over to one of the islands for dinner or enjoy a lobster bake.
Check out their web site for schedules and prices for each of the trips.
All tickets are roundtrip. Tickets are collected in Portland. You don't need a ticket in order to board the boat from one of the islands.
The oldest ferry company in the U.S, Casco Bay Lines prides itself for not canceling its routes due to inclement weather. While it may be snowing and blowing in Portland, causing school and group cancellations, the ferries keep on trucking.
- Sailing and Boating
Downeaster train Boston to Portland
Downeaster makes seasonal stops at Old Orchard Beach in season. This is an alternative to route I 95 traffic delays. This sand sculpture of the Downeaster was created at Old Orchard Beach by "the pier"
There're many ways to get to Portland. If you're coming from far away, you can fly into Portland International Jetport. It's a good size airport and is served by a number of airlines. If you're already in New England, it's a fairly easy ride - Portland is only 2 hours from Boston by car or bus, or about 5-6 hours from NYC. Or you can even take The Downeaster train from Boston's North Station.
The best way to travel to and...
The best way to travel to and from Portland, if coming from away, is by plane. If you are within 6 or 7 hours, driving would be a good way also.
If you only want to stay withing Portland, there is really no need to rent a car. You can walk, take a taxi, or ride a bus. However, if you want to see other places outside of Portland (Kennebunkport, Freeport, Boothbay Harbor, are some good choices), you will definitely need a rental car.
We flew - as usual... but you...
We flew - as usual... but you could drive there, or take a boat.
A car is a must - there is no public transportation (well, there are a few buses, but not enough to enjoy all the sights). We rented a car - and it was easy to find our way around, and it enabled us to go further south to see some of the lighthouses!
Driving scenic Route 1 north from Portland
You will see many quaint port towns and lighthouse state parks when driving the scenic route 1 north from Portland.
- National/State Park
From Quebec : take the route...
From Quebec : take the route 173 (CND). Cross the border after Saint George. Follow the route 201 (US) which merges with the I 95 at Fairfield.
CLICK TO ENLARGE.
An easy drive on rt 95 which...
An easy drive on rt 95 which is the same as 195,295, and the Maine Turnpike.
Cars are easy, because every one drives 2 speeds: slow, and stop :)
If you have the means, drive...
If you have the means, drive this Ferrari Modena that we saw parked neatly in front of a hotel in Portland. Sweet car!