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Portland on our own?


emarismom
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2 hours ago, Haljo1935 said:

I may have missed it in here and the map on their website is blurry so not much help - can anyone tell me how far the station for the Maine Narrow Guage Train is from the cruise port?

Looks like  a short walk

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Ocean+Gateway+Pier,+Portland,+ME+04101,+USA/Maine+Narrow+Gauge+Railroad,+Thames+Street,+Portland,+ME,+USA/@43.6600087,-70.2489261,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x4cb29c412d5974b1:0xe03a90ca551555f3!2m2!1d-70.2459649!2d43.6592415!1m5!1m1!1s0x4cb29c4389434423:0x51ce47f13de64d19!2m2!1d-70.2457198!2d43.6607543!3e2?entry=ttu

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On 7/8/2023 at 10:41 PM, CruiserFromMaine said:

We live in Portland and have done the mail boat run a few times. Play it by ear and see what the weather is like. I don’t think it sells out. It’s about 3 hours (a three-hour tour🎶). You can get off briefly at the outermost stop. There’s a general store there to get a snack or an ice cream. 
 

As other said, a short ferry ride to Peaks Island is a good option too. You can walk around the island or rent a bike, or get lunch near the ferry terminal. The ferries run frequently during the day and it’s a 15 minute ride or so. 
 

The ferries run regularly and reliably. 
 

Eastern Cemetery is interesting. But I’m biased, our son gives tours there in the summer!

 

Thanks useful to know about the mail boat.  Do they sell any drinks/food on the boat and are there toilets on board?

 

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18 minutes ago, tring said:

Thanks useful to know about the mail boat.  Do they sell any drinks/food on the boat and are there toilets on board?

I don’t recall that they sold food or drinks. I also don’t recall whether there is a toilet but I bet there is. You can call them to find out for sure. https://www.cascobaylines.com

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2 hours ago, CruiserFromMaine said:

I don’t recall that they sold food or drinks. I also don’t recall whether there is a toilet but I bet there is. You can call them to find out for sure. https://www.cascobaylines.com

 

Thanks a lot, the website is very useful.  The FAQ's say there are vending machines on board for drinks.  No food, but they do say you are welcome to bring food and drink with you.  We intend to do the mail boat trip, or get the ferry if the seas are a tad choppy.

 

 

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On 7/16/2023 at 11:38 AM, georgiacat said:

I booked directly with Portland Discovery Land and Sea Tours.  We won't be going until October, but I will report on it then.  You might check them out.

 
We did that tour a few years ago, and it was excellent. The guide/driver was informative and funny, a terrific combination. Very interesting ride through the old area of the city, then out to Portland Head Light.  Back in time for lunch, and dessert at the Holy Donut (do not miss that place).
 

image.jpeg.56ecea9edd82d4ace03e75788c26afbc.jpeg

(photo by turtles06)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Portland is so easy to do on your own!  I wrote a post about this last year you can find by searching, but I’ll share some ideas here as well.  FYI - we spend our summers in the Portland Area - and love playing tour guide for our friends who come visit.  

 

The Old Port area is easy to reach from the cruise dock.  Don’t miss Wharf Street, Exchange and Milk Street.  Lots of places to grab a drink or a meal (Lobster Rolls!) along the water or in Old Port.  

 

You can take a stroll up to the Eastern Promenade and walk along enjoying the view.  Then head down to Washington Avenue for some oysters at The Shop.  Great selection of Maine oysters, which I think are the best in the world and I’ve tried them all.  

 

For beer lovers - head to Fox, Anderson and Cove streets (short walk from Eastern Prom or a very short Uber from the Cruise port) for tons of craft breweries.  TONS!  My favorites are Belleflower, Rising Tide, Lone Pine and Goodfire, but there are probably over a dozen more here, not including the wine tasting rooms, hard seltzer and liquor distillers, which are all worth a visit depending on what you like.

 

Want more boat rides - take a ferry from Casco Bay Ferry Terminal.  The mail run is a great option for a long tour or just ride over to Peaks and get a lobster lunch at Island Lobster.  

 

Lighthouses more your thing - get an Uber to Portland Head and spend a while exploring the shoreline walk and Fort Williams Park.  Then head over to Bug Light to see great views of Portland and the Harbor and the very interesting display on shipbuilding in South Portland during WWII.  Or head to Spring Point Light and explore Fort Preble, the beautiful shoreline path and a walk along Willard Beach.  If you want to stretch your legs the walk between Bug and Spring Point Lights is about 20-30 minutes and if you really want to get a long walk in you could walk all 3 lighthouses.  The walk along Shore Road has some gorgeous homes and great views.  

 

Eastern Cemetery has a good self guided tour if that is your thing.  Western Cemetery is also nice to explore, but in my opinion Eastern has more interesting history.  

 

The west side of town has some gorgeous mansions including the Victorian that does tours. 

 

There are great restaurants all over town.  Congress can be interesting to explore and there is a walking tour (it has been years since I did it, but you used to be able to get info for the DIY tour at the TIC near the cruise Port) but the homeless drug addicts seem to be more crazy on Congress than other parts of town, in my experience.  Deering Park is gorgeous on a map, but has been given over to homeless encampments.  We go to the farmers market and steer clear of the park at all other times.  

 

You can rent bikes or kayaks to get around and get different views.  Kayaks are easily available at Eastern Prom.  BTW - Eastern Prom has different paths at the top, bottom and mid slope of the hill.  I prefer the top for the views, but sometimes the Beach Trail has a better breeze on a hot day.  

 

There are tons of gorgeous hikes around and so much more to do!  I’m happy to provide more info if anyone has specific questions.  

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/22/2023 at 7:51 PM, Haljo1935 said:

I may have missed it in here and the map on their website is blurry so not much help - can anyone tell me how far the station for the Maine Narrow Guage Train is from the cruise port?

I haven't been there, but when I checked google maps it gave me a 1 minute walk from the cruise terminal to the narrow guage train.  Can someone tell us if that's accurate?  If it is I'm going to change my plan to include the train, as it's so close.....

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11 hours ago, Kitty Ellas Mom said:

I haven't been there, but when I checked google maps it gave me a 1 minute walk from the cruise terminal to the narrow guage train.  Can someone tell us if that's accurate?  If it is I'm going to change my plan to include the train, as it's so close.....

That does sound accurate.  If you are starting from your ship, the longest walk will be the pier, from ship to land, equivalent to a city block or so. The building at the end is the Visitors Center, a good place to get a map and perhaps info from the friendly and helpful people there.  Then just walk across the track to the plain one-story building where you can buy tickets/browse the gift shop.

If you are already on shore for other attractions, you won't even have to do the pier walk at that time, unless you want to go back to the ship to change your shoes or something.....

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