Travel Nurse Assignments: Live Like a Local – Portland, ME!

Welcome to Portland, ME! Often overshadowed by a distant cousin from Oregon, Portland, ME, is a major city in its own right. With a population of just over 66,000, Portland is Maine’s largest city and busiest commercial hub. The city has a rich history dating back to the Colonial era, and you can still walk down cobblestone streets and marvel at the historic architecture in Portland’s Old Port District. Portland has a little something for everyone, from stunning natural scenery and eclectic art museums to trendy bars and restaurants! Explore this charming New England town today!

Natural Scenery

If you enjoy outdoor activities and stunning natural scenery, you’ll quickly fall in love with Portland! One of the cities most popular tourist destinations are the Islands of Casco Bay. Just off the mainland, these Islands are a popular recreation spot with the locals and offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of mainland life. Hiking, walking, biking, and kayaking are all popular island activities, and all the islands are easily accessible by ferry. If you’re into golf, there’s a historic golf course located on Chebeague Island that has a view of the ocean at every hole! Peaks Island is the most populous island and is packed with great beaches and spectacular water views. Bring your bike on the ferry to explore the island, or rent a bike from Brad’s Bike Rentals. You can also rent a kayak for the day at Maine Island Kayak Co.

Great Diamond Island, one of the Casco Bay Islands

Just three hours away from Portland, Acadia National Park is the crown jewel of Maine. The park was established in 1929, and is one of the top 10 most visited national parks with 3.5 million annual visitors. If you make the trip, you won’t be disappointed! You’ll be treated to a diverse range of ecosystems, including coastline, forests, mountains, and wetlands. Hiking, kayaking, and birdwatching are all popular activities, and there are public areas for freshwater and saltwater swimming! You’ll have to register in advance if you want to camp in the park, but there are plenty of options for accommodations in nearby towns like Bar Harbor.

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Arts and Attractions

Portland proper is known for its vibrant arts scene, rich history, and colonial architecture, and the Old Port district is the neighborhood where you can experience it all! The neighborhood is lined with cobblestone streets and 19th-century brick buildings that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The charming quaintness of the historic architecture combined with modern bars and restaurants make the Old Port district one of the city’s best spots for nightlife. The area is also still a working port, with active fishing docks and vessels. The Casco Islands ferry takes off from here, or you could hop on an old-fashioned schooner for a private scenic tour.

Old Port District

In addition, the best museums in the city are just a few blocks away! The Portland Museum of Art is one of the cultural staples of the city, with over 18,000 works of art on display. The museum opened in 1882 and has moved several times throughout its history. The current building was designed by Henry N. Cobb, who worked closely with renowned architect I.M. Pei. The museum regularly hosts temporary exhibits and special events and also manages a free sculpture park outside.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park at sunset

Nearby, the Victoria Mansion is an iconic landmark of Portland and a 19th-century historic mansion. The estate was built between 1858 and 1860 and is one of the finest examples of the Italian Villa style in America. The inside of the mansion houses lavish decorations, including a 25-foot stained-glass skylight!

Feeling inspired? Check out more of our Live Like a Local Guides!

Where to Eat and Drink

After a long day of sightseeing and recreating, you’ll want to refuel with some delicious New England seafood! Harbor Fish Market is the place to go if you’re looking for fresh seafood. It’s also the place for fresh Maine lobsters. If you want more of a fine dining experience, try the Eventide Oyster Company, an American oyster bar famous for its brown butter Lobster roll.

A hiker in Acadia National Park

If you’re a craft beer enthusiast, Portland is the place for you! The city is a craft brew mecca, with almost 13 craft breweries per capita! Allagash Brewing Company is arguably the most popular, and they won a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional in 2019. Use Yelp to find the best breweries based on your individual tastes!

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