This summer we went on a week-long family road trip. We spent three of our days in Portland, Maine with our two boys Benjamin and Jaxon, ages 1 and 8.
It wasn’t my idea to stay in Portland, Maine, but I’m glad we did. The city has a well-earned reputation for its beer and seafood, and surprisingly it was also a great little city to stay in with kids! Other than a visit or two to a lighthouse or park area, I was a bit worried how we’d spend our time there. We ended up finding so much to do and the kids had a blast!
We stayed at the Hyatt Place right in Old Port, within walking distance to everything in the Downtown District. The room was beautiful (sorry for the lack of a photo, it was a bit hectic with the kids when we first arrived) and plenty spacious for the four of us. I had read some reviews online and there were quite a few complaints about the noise from a nightclub across the street. There were ear plugs next to our beds, but the nightclub wasn’t open during the week, and our room didn’t face that direction anyway. If you plan to stay here, I’d request a room on the back side of the building, just in case.
Since we arrived in the afternoon our first day, we decided to just walk around the city and grab lunch. We ended up at Liquid Riot for lunch. It’s a newer brewery/pub. We figured it would be typical pub food and that Jaxon would be able to eat there as well, but they don’t have a kids menu. My son and I ended up splitting a House Burger with stout bacon jam and frites with Chipotle Aioli – it was a really good burger! Daryl really liked his burger too! Actually, all the food on the menu sounded really good to us, it’s just not the most kid-friendly place.
After lunch, Daryl and I grabbed some coffee at Arabica Coffee and then we took a really long walk along the water, then back through the city. It was beautiful! We headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and to give Benjamin a little time to get down and run around. We started doing a little research on restaurants for dinner so that Jaxon would be a little happier with his meal choices. We chose to go to Buck’s Naked BBQ after reading it was family friendly and had a play area for kids. While the play area was a beat up old play house and kitchen set, Jaxon still had fun climbing in it and signing his name on the roof. The food was okay. Daryl and I both order Pulled Pork entrees and sides and enjoyed trying all the sauces. We decided the yellow Carolina sauce was our favorite. Every night we were in Portland, Jaxon asked if we could go back for dinner again!
Our last stop was at Beal’s Ice Cream so Jaxon could make his own ice cream sandwich combo! They were huge and he ate the whole thing!
We really squeezed a lot into our second day. After breakfast at the hotel, we headed over to Old Orchard Beach. The beach itself is huge. It’s quite a walk down to the water. We didn’t swim here though since we had a reservation to get to next, but we did have lunch on the Pier. We tried the old Hot Dog and a Coke for 99¢ stand. Jax and I ordered hot dogs, fries, and Cokes, while Daryl got a Gyro. Benjamin had some pieces of french fries and the food we packed him. I was expecting the hot dog to be horrible, but it was good. The Coke came in a tiny paper cup. I don’t like soda and prefer Jaxon not drink it, so the small serving was fine with me. Next door was the Fried Dough stand. Jaxon LOVES dough, so we just had to try it. He loved it, but the powdered sugar was a nightmare to clean off of him afterward!
After lunch, we went to Monkey Trunks Adventure Park in Saco, Maine. It’s a rope and zip line course. Daryl and Jaxon did the course this time, while I stayed with Benjamin and watched. Jaxon was so brave and completed a lot of the course! After his first time down the bigger zip line, he was hooked. He wanted to do it again and again! We went on a weekday and it wasn’t busy at all. The staff was great and the boys had a blast!
Next up, we stopped at Ferry Beach State Park. This was a much smaller beach and there was a lifeguard there but she left soon after we got there, around 5pm. This time, Daryl and Jaxon braved the ice cold water and took a short swim! I don’t like cold water, and Benjamin doesn’t like anything about the beach haha! We watched and took pictures. We didn’t stay long since it was so late, and headed back to Portland.
We went to DiMillo’s on the Water for dinner. It’s a huge old boat that has been turned into a restaurant. Most of the time I didn’t notice the motion of the boat, but every once in a while I’d start feeling it rocking and it made me a bit dizzy. This was a bit pricier restaurant, but the food was delicious! I had a Butternut Squash Stuffed white fish (unfortunately their website requires a password at the moment so I can’t get the exact names of our meals) that was amazing and they have a kid’s menu as well, so Jaxon was happy! Reservations are suggested, but not required. The woman at the desk wasn’t the friendliest and seemed a little bothered we didn’t have a reservation. We had to wait about 30 minutes to be seated. Everyone else was wonderful and we had a great experience there!
Once again, we had breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the day. We planned to visit Fort Williams State Park first. This place was so cool! You’ll find the most photographed lighthouse in the United States there the Portland Headlight built in the 1700’s and still in operation today! There’s also a rocky “beach,” an old deteriorating mansion, and a lot of older fort remnants etc from many many years ago. I always wonder how things actually were when these places were built, how they just became abandoned, and then finally end up as park of a park. It was fascinating to learn some of the history here. Jaxon played with sticks and stones down near the water for a long time. He really loved exploring the coast everywhere we went on this trip.
We spent the second half of our day in Freeport, Maine. The L.L. Bean Factory store is located there, along with a ton of other stores. It looks as if it used to be an old town, and the houses have all been renovated into stores and restaurants!
We ate lunch at Linda Bean’s Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern. I ordered the Cashew Crusted Goat Cheese as an appetizer plate and it was amazing! I wasn’t as happy with my lunch. I felt I had to eat something that was local and ordered the Double Dog Basket with red Maine hotdogs. First, I can’t eat two hot dogs at once. Second, they were hot pink and had little knots where the casing was tied, which turned me off. Finally, they didn’t taste like very good quality hot dogs. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend the hot dogs, but the boys both liked their food and I really liked my appetizer, so overall I would recommend trying this place for yourselves.
We walked around Freeport and did a little shopping. Of course, everything I bought was for the baby or Jaxon, but that’s usually how it goes once you have kids. They have a great variety of stores. We really wanted to try Frosty’s Donuts, but apparently, once they sell out for the day, they close. If you visit Freeport, make sure to get to Frosty’s early – they must be really good! We also missed the candy store – they close earlier than the other retail shops so again, go early! I did manage to get a Black and White Latte from Coffee By Design and I’m not kidding when I say, it was the best coffee drink I’ve ever had!
We had dinner back in Portland at The Great Lost Bear. It was also listed as a family-friendly restaurant but seemed to be more for the bar crowd. The menu is huge and there is a kids menu too. We ordered the Chili Nachos (I feel like we always order nachos!) and I had the open-faced Turkey Melt. The food was really good once again. We really didn’t have a bad meal on our entire trip (minus my poor decision to order red hot dogs).
Overall, we loved our stay in Portland. The scenery is beautiful, the food was excellent, and there was plenty to do with the kids! I wish I was able to get pictures of our food, but my phone stopped working after day one of our trip and I didn’t want to pull out the DSLR. Next time I may just have to!
The last leg of our trip was to Sturbridge, Massachusetts to visit Old Sturbridge Village. Daryl randomly found it online while trying to map our route and figure out where we would stop on the way home. We enjoyed it so much – I’ll have a post up very soon!