Empress Avenue had the opportunity to chat with Shira about her city Portland, Maine (known for lobster, lighthouses and L. L. Bean!). Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, this fun loving and trendy floral designer recently made the move to Portland with her fiance and has wasted no time getting to know the city inside and out. From the First Friday Art Walk to the Speckled Ax, Shira provides us with insider tips on planning the perfect weekend getaway on the beautiful coast of Maine.
1. What city are you in right now?- Portland, ME
2. What’s the best kept secret about your city?- First Friday Art Walk. Every first Friday of the month hundreds of local galleries, loft spaces and store fronts extend their hours and open their doors to locals and tourists alike. There are new art displays and local artists lining the streets of downtown Portland with the focus mainly on Congress Street. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy some cheese and crackers and support the local artists.
Every first Friday of the month hundreds of local galleries, loft spaces and store fronts extend their hours and open their doors to locals and tourists alike.
3. Describe your city in 10 words.- A meca for young, progressive, foodie, artistic, and eco-conscious individuals.
4. Favourite place to catch up on some emails?- Speckled Ax. A delicious little coffee shop with free wi-fi that specializes in wood roasted espresso and individual pour-over coffees.
5. Best place to relax and enjoy some quiet?- The Eastern promenade is a luscious expanse of public parks and recreation area that includes a paved trail for bikers and dog walkers, the East End Beach, baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts and a gazebo. Whether you want relax on a bench and watch the sailboats drift in, have a picnic in the grass or get some sun on the beach this spot is picture perfect.
6. Best restaurant that offers atmosphere and good prices?- My personal favorite is Local 188. They have a beautiful bar area with friendly bar tenders, delicious pre-prohibition cocktails and a lounge area full of comfy chairs and couches for both drinking and dining. The dining room offers up tapas style and full entrees where you can sit at a counter top facing the chefs in their large open kitchen or in a cozy table with old church pews as benches. And the best part is their ingredients are mostly locally sourced which allows them to change their food and drink menus every few weeks so there is always something new to try!
7. Best shopping neighborhood and favourite store?- I’d say the best shopping is in the old-port district. The cobblestone streets are packed with small boutiques ranging from fine jewelry to Maine t-shirts. Commercial Street is right on the water and is great for people watching and outdoor dining. My favorite store to shop in is Found at Find which has the best selection of vintage, modern and designer second hand clothes for both men and women.
8. Tell us about your perfect weekend?- My perfect weekend would be dinner and drinks with friends at Local 188 and then a short walk to Portland’s historical and beautiful State Theater for a night filled with music and dancing. The next day we would either hop on the ferry to Peak’s Island to hit the beach and beach bars or maybe drive down to Kennebunk for a day of shopping and beaches. Then on the way home we would stop at one of the many fish markets and buy some local lobsters and cook them right at home while enjoying some nice cold Allagash beers (one of the many local breweries in Portland).
The new Westin is gorgeous and modern and right in the heart of downtown. It is rich with history and has even had some famous guests!
9. What hotel would you recommend for women business travelers?- Portland is currently building some beautiful new hotels and has just recently finished the renovations on the new Westin Harbor view, formerly the Eastland. The new Westin is gorgeous and modern and right in the heart of downtown. It is rich with history and has even had some famous guests! The crown jewel of the Westin is the Top of the East, a bar restaurant at the top of the hotel which offers 360 degree views of the city.
10. Where is the best place to meet new people in your city?- Anywhere at any time! Mainers are incredibly friendly! People will say hi to you on the streets and strangers will ask how your day is going. There is always live music to enjoy at the State Theater or the Portland Music Hall and intimate bars such as Novare Res or LFK.
11. What are the top places you would take a visitor?- I would definitely take a visitor for a walk on the Eastern Promenade, shopping in the old-port, and on a ferry ride to one of the many islands in Casco Bay. I would also have to show them the Fence of Love which is a small fence covered in couples love locks just like the Lover’s Bridge in Paris. And of course we would check out a few of the hundreds of delicious restaurants that pack the streets of Portland!
Image sourced from Pinterest