A Perfect Weekend in Portland, Maine

by Erica

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Although we’re not officially living on the road yet, we were able to make it up to Portland, Maine for a couple of days over the weekend with our friends. 

Our Maine event for the weekend (see what I did there?) was a concert at the State Theatre. Since we are undeniably festival junkies, the winter season is hard for us. During the warmer months, our calendar overflows with plans to attend music festivals, outdoor concerts and other fun events at every possible opportunity. 

During the winter in New England, however, we typically spend most of our free time hibernating, binge watching Netflix, and listening to podcasts. While we still get out to see live music at least 2 or 3 nights each month – our adventures to interesting destinations are vastly limited by the frigid cold and a desire to save money for summer fun. 

This weekend in Portland was a much needed break from the monotonous day to day life in our Connecticut town. The weather was close to perfect for February – sunny and in the 30°’s during the day, followed by a beautiful snowfall at night. 

I’m not one to love snow, especially when I have to actually be outside when it’s falling from the sky. But there was something enchanting about the way that the streets became deserted and the usual noises of a city were dulled to a silence, replaced only by our laughter and the crunching of snow under our feet as we walked back to our hotel. 

The weekend was, overall, a really great time! Every person that we crossed paths with was incredibly nice. It was my third time to Portland, and each time I love it a little bit more. It’s a really cool small city that has a lot of character. 

This weekend was the first time I’ve had a chance to spend a lot of time exploring Portland, and we really enjoyed everything we saw, experienced, and ate – so I figured I’d share it!

Where We Stayed in Portland, Maine

This weekend we stayed at the La Quinta in Portland. The building was under construction, so it wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but the room was pretty nice for about $125 a night (after taxes).

Typically, we like to rent an apartment or house through airbnb.com or other similar sites. However, this time it was just a lot cheaper to stay in a hotel because we decided to book so late. 

Our main criteria when we look for a places to stay is price and proximity to the venue we’re seeing a show at (we were about 1 mile away from The State Theatre).

Perks of staying at a hotel – rather than an apartment, were free parking and breakfast. Not having to leave the building for breakfast after a late night was great.. and they had a waffle maker. What more could you want?

Where We Ate in Portland, Maine

We arrived late Saturday morning and walked from our hotel to Congress street. We all really love to eat, so finding good food for lunch and dinner was a priority.

After exploring a few shops, we came across a pizza restaurant called Otto. There were three different entrances – one for slices, one for takeout, and a sit down area with a bar. 

They offered a variety of salads and specialty thin crust pizza, in whole pies or slices. Between 6 of us, we ordered 7 different types of pizza slices and everyone was impressed with their food. Mine and Tim’s personal favorite was the mashed potato, bacon and scallion pizza. 

For dinner on Saturday, we went to Salvage BBQ (also located on Congress street). This meal was the highlight of our food tour of Portland! The restaurant has a cool, spacious interior with string lights, tables of various sizes to seat yourself, and even live music. 

We ordered at the counter and our food was ready within 10 minutes. I had a chopped pork sandwich with corn bread, Tim ordered brisket with mac and cheese. All of it was delicious. Our friends highly recommend their bread pudding. I would definitely go back, and recommend it to anyone visiting Portland, Maine. 

On Sunday afternoon, it seemed as though most of the restaurants we walked past were closed. All of us were getting hangry (hungry + angry) by the time we found somewhere that was open, and looked good, only to find that there was a 30 minute wait for a table.

After that, we ended up crossing the street and eating at at restaurant called Bingas. It was a sports bar/restaurant with pub food. Most notably they had a huge selection of wing sauces. i wasn’t in love with what I ordered (chicken tenders, because I’m really a child), but everyone else enjoyed their food. The wings, sweet potato fries and burnt ends were the favorite choices from the group! 

Colorful hippie store Mexicali Blues in maine.
A selection of bohemian and hippie wears at Mexicali Blues in Portland, Maine! This is one of my favorite stores ever!

Where We Shopped in Portland, Maine

The first store that we stopped in was called The Green Hand. It’s a used book store with a wide selection of topics. There was so much to check out that we spent a really long time here! Being a lover of all things stationary, I loved their selection of notebooks. 

Catching up on Wizardology in the Green Hand book store in Portland, Maine

Next we visited two different music stores. The first one was called Electric Buddhas. This was a cool store on Oak Street that carried a ton of Vinyl, record players and speakers. The owner had a synth-pop band called The Art of Noise playing from a turntable, giving the store a cool vibe. 

Another great music store in Portland, Maine - Strange Maine. This place has tons of CDs, Records, Books, Games, and much more!
Another great music store in Portland, Maine – Strange Maine. This place has tons of CDs, Records, Books, Games, and much more!

The next store was called Strange Maine. As soon as we walked in, I could see how it had gotten it’s name. It’s a small dark store covered wall to wall with vinyl, CDs, cassettes, video games and books. Most notably, there was a variety of strange adornments hanging from the ceiling. We bought a used CD copy of Garcia Live Volume 9! Great find in a truly strange place. (We love strange!)

Colorful mexicali blues storefront in Portland, Maine
The colorful Mexicali Blues storefront in Portland, Maine
Clothing, Jewelry and World Goods at mexicaliblues.com

The last place we visited was called Mexicali Blues. It’s named after a Grateful Dead song, so obviously this was a good fit for us. I first visited this shop a couple of years ago and completely fell in love! There’s actually two separate shops, across the street from each other. The main store carries clothes and home decor. The other store carries jewelry, accessories and some additional home decor.

It was the ultimate one stop shop for all our hippie clothing, accessories, and home decor needs. I initially wanted to stop in because I’ve been on the hunt for some tie dye leggings and decor/textiles for the RV remodel.

I fell in love with pretty much everything I saw, but because I’m indecisive and had limited time, I only ended up taking home a sweet new utility belt for festivals (basically a cool fanny pack that fits my camera inside).

Check out Mexicali Blues here and use code ‘THRIVINGMEX’ for free shipping!!! 

Clothing, Jewelry and World Goods at mexicaliblues.com
Moe poster outside of State Theatre in Portland, Maine
Moe poster outside of State Theatre in Portland, Maine

The State Theatre – Our Favorite Venue in Portland, Maine

On Saturday night, we saw moe. at the State Theatre. This was our third time seeing a show at this venue, and we loved it! The theatre itself is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been in, and all of the staff members were super friendly and helpful. 

The show itself was phenomenal. We’ve seen moe. three times previous to this weekend, and this night blew me away! The bass player/singer underwent cancer treatment over the summer, and this was one of their first shows back together as a complete band.

You could tell they were all stoked to have their brother back by the way that they played. It was easily one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. The light show was also pretty incredible. 

Overall, I’d say the show experience was as great as it possibly could have been. I have, and will continue to keep an eye out for future events at the State Theatre. It’s definitely one of my top 3 venues to see a concert. 

We Love Portland, Maine!

We had such an amazing time in Portland that I wish we had more time there! Next time I would love to check out Port City Music Hall, Portland Head Light and a few breweries! 

If you’re looking for a few more things to do… check out this post featuring fun and free activities in Portland! 

Are there any must see places in Portland that we missed? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook! Bonus points if you know any free places to camp in the area. I’d love to hear about everyone else’s experience! 

Mexicali Cares: 1% of all Sales go to Charity

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