A Perfect 24 Hours in Portland Maine 2024 1
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A Perfect 24 Hours in Portland Maine 2024

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Greetings Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel memoir Get Lost, and welcome to 24 hours in Portland Maine.

During the summer months, everyone and their grandmother wants to spend 24 hours in Portland Maine. In fact, the city is so busy that, according to one article I read, the hotels in Portland are the second most expensive in the country. (Only ultra-ritzy Martha’s Vineyard costs more.)

But what makes this smallish city in New England so fabulous? Why do the tourists come in lobster-crazed droves to spend 24 hours in Portland Maine? And what even is there to do in a city with fewer than 100,000 people? The answers all lie ahead in this blog post, Internet Stranger!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: 24 Hours in Portland Maine

#1 TOP PICK

A Perfect 24 Hours in Portland Maine 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
PORTLAND FOOD TOUR
✔️ Tons of amazing food!
✔️ Great bang for the buck

#2 PICK

A Perfect 24 Hours in Portland Maine 2024 3

SIGHTSEEING AND LIGHTHOUSE TOUR
✔️ Lighthouses are pretty
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#3 PICK

portland art museum

ALL OTHER PORTLAND TOURS
✔️ Choose your favorite
✔️ Find the best deals!

24 hours in Portland Maine

24 Hours in Portland Maine

Morning: The Wadsworth-Longfellow House

One of the most famous people to ever live in Portland, Maine was Mr. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His most famous poem was “Paul Revere’s Ride”, but he wrote many others. He was certainly the most famous and popular American poet of his day. So his home is the perfect place to start our One Day in Portland Maine Itinerary.

And we are in luck because we can actually go inside the Wadsworth-Longfellow House where he grew up on our One Day in Portland Maine Itinerary! It’s only open for tourists during the summer months, but why would you be visiting Portland outside the summer, Internet Stranger? Do you just delight in being contrary?

24 hours in Portland Maine

Once you buy your ticket, one of the helpful docents will let you inside the house. There you will be presented with much more than…

three fun facts: henry wadsworth longfellow

24 hours in Portland Maine
1) why was longfellow so famous?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Maine claim to fame was his long, historical poems. Aside from “Paul Revere’s Ride”, he also wrote HiawathaEvangeline, and “The Courtship of Miles Standish”.

The docent at the house told me that Longfellow was such a popular poet, he actually invented a woman’s name. Evangeline wasn’t a real name until Longfellow used it in a poem, and then it really took off. Longfellow was really a guy who knew how to make fetch happen.

The coolest artifact is the house is Longfellow’s own writing desk, on which he wrote his famous poetry. You can’t sit in the desk, but the docent will be happy to take your picture standing next to it. Longfellow was passionate about having his personal space just so when he was writing.

When he left home, his mother rearranged his writing nook and he wrote her an extremely dramatic letter about how it had killed his love for writing. I hope Longfellow took good care of his mother after he got successful, to thank her for putting up with this nonsense.

24 hours in Portland Maine
2) was longfellow famous for anything else?

Longfellow was also a master linguist. He was the first American who translated The Divine Comedy from Italian into English. But according to the docent, Longfellow didn’t always have such a proficiency for languages.

When Longfellow was a young man, he was hired to teach modern language at the prestigious Bowdoin College in Maine. This meant that he was supposed to speak several languages other than English. Unfortunately for Longfellow, he didn’t know any of them.

24 hours in Portland Maine

So he took a trip to Europe where he learned French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German without really stepping foot inside a classroom. Learning about Longfellow is starting to make me feel like I’ve literally accomplished nothing in my life.

3) was longfellow the only one to live in the house?

No. The house belonged to his mother’s family, and Longfellow had seven siblings. So even though he grew up in the house, he didn’t own it as an adult. The last person in the family to live in the house was Longfellow’s sister Anne.

Anne Longfellow Pierce married a lawyer. I know it’s hard to be sad when a lawyer dies, but it was most tragic for Anne when her husband died just a few years later of an Olde Tyme disease. So she moved back in to this home with her parents. She never remarried and dedicated herself to making crafts and helping to care for her jillion nieces and nephews.

Anne spent most of the Quality Aunt time with her brother Stephen’s children. Stephen was a hot mess whose wife divorced him for being a drunk and an adulterer. And that was back in 1850, when a man really had to be doing terrible things for his wife to divorce him. Stephen must have been the 19th century equivalent of Michael Fassbender in Shame.

24 Hours in Portland Maine

Afternoon: Victoria Mansion

I had been chatting to Wadsworth, and I mentioned I was very interested in history. So he suggested that I visit the Victoria Mansion, which is the most impressive historic home in Portland.

He might have been a little biased because his wife is a docent there. I never turn down the chance to go inside a mansion and pretend I am a fancy, fancy lady, so I said yes.

But first, lunch!

One Day in Portland Maine Itinerary
1) highroller lobster company

I can’t allow you to go to the Portland Art Museum on an empty stomach! So before the art, let’s get some lunch. Like so many things, the Highroller Lobster Company started life as a cart. But it proved to be so successful that they were able to turn the business into a brick and mortar store. There’s always a bit of a wait here, but it is worth it.

The specialty at the Highroller Lobster Company is the fresh lobster roll served on a warm brioche bun. But I wanted to try something funkier, so I got the lobster taco in a cheese crust. It was mischievously spicy, with lime and jalapeno sauces. So delicious and so hard to eat!! I got cheese and jalapeno sauce all over my chin.

Good thing there were plenty of napkins because they don’t let you in the Portland Art Museum if you are covered in taco crumbs. Not even if it’s lobster taco.

2) mt desert island ice cream

One more snack before we hit the Portland Art Museum? I can never say no to you, Internet Stranger! Mt Desert Island Ice Cream is a shop that specializes in wacky flavors. They started in Bar Harbor, Maine, and the company really took off when the Obamas stopped in to have ice cream. So they decided to open up shop in Portland.

I strongly urge you to not just get chocolate or vanilla here unless you are truly committed to being a boring person. I recommend the Butterbeer (butterscotch + root beer) to any and all Harry Potter fans. But I was also tempted by the White Russian-flavored ice cream known as The Dude. Whatever flavor you try, I’m sure you’ll abide by it.

Once you get inside the Victoria Mansion, it’s a self-guided tour. However, there are plenty of docents hanging around in each room to answer your questions. Sadly, no picture taking is allowed inside the Victoria Mansion. So you’ll have to make do with some repetitive photos of the exterior as I share with you…

three fun facts: victoria mansion

24 hours in portland maine
1) who owned this house?

It was built for the Morse family, a couple named Olive and Ruggles Sylvester Morse. Ruggles Sylvester is the most amazing name I have ever heard. If I ever have a son, I’m naming him Ruggles Sylvester. He’ll get beat up every day at school, but it will be worth it.

The Morse family was from Maine originally, but they made their money in the hotel business in New Orleans. Well, if you want to make money in New Orleans, hotels are the way to do it. The entire economy of New Orleans is based on hotels, cocktails, and Mardi Gras beads.

They built the Victoria Mansion to be their summer home. Ask 100 people whether they’d rather spend summer in Maine or New Orleans, and I guarantee 99 will say Maine. (The one who says New Orleans will turn out to be a lobster disguised as a person.)

2) why is the home historically important?

One reason is that it helps document life in Maine in the period before the Civil War. As the Morses had ties in both Maine and Louisiana, the Civil War was very painful to them.

You can see the seals of both Maine and Louisiana inside. It’s easy to tell which is which because Louisiana’s seal has a pelican and Maine’s seal is a lobster wearing a blueberry as a hat while reading a Stephen King novel.

But even though Ruggles Sylvester had business in the South, he remained a supporter of the North and the Union cause. There’s a big painting of Columbia, the female symbol of the United States to show his Union affiliation.

Maine in general was and is an extremely pro-Union state. In fact one of the greatest Civil War generals, Joshua Chamberlain, was a college professor from Maine. He played a major role in the victory at Gettysburg.

24 hours in portland maine
3) what are some cool features of the mansion?

I wish I could show you photos, Internet Stranger! But sadly the cruel laws of Maine will not allow it. But there’s so many cool knickknacks, geegaws, and doodads inside the Victoria Mansion.

Ruggles Sylvester was a hotelier, and he brought loads of cool hotel tricks to the mansion, like mirrors that don’t need to be cleaned. Did he also have dishes that don’t need to be cleaned? My house could really use those.

Ruggles Sylvester also liked to entertain important gentlemen friends and clients. And naturally when important men are having important talks in the 19th century, they need to smoke important and manly cigars.

So Ruggles Sylvester had his own smoking room with a special floor you could drop ash on. It was the first of its kind in the United States. But did the floor clean itself also? I feel like Ruggles Sylvester’s housekeeper might not have appreciated this innovation.

24 Hours in Portland Maine

Late Afternoon: Catch a Flick!

At this point in your 24 hours in Portland Maine, you’ll probably want to rest your feet. Why not do it while taking in a film at the Nickelodeon Cinemas? This place has an excellent choice of both big budget Hollywood films and smaller art house flicks, especially considering Portland is such a small city.

You’ll recognize the theater because there’s a big statue of Maine’s greatest hero outside: a dude catching a lobster. That’s not a joke. Lobster Man is very real.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: 24 Hours in Portland Maine

#1 TOP PICK

A Perfect 24 Hours in Portland Maine 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
PORTLAND FOOD TOUR
✔️ Tons of amazing food!
✔️ Great bang for the buck

#2 PICK

A Perfect 24 Hours in Portland Maine 2024 3

SIGHTSEEING AND LIGHTHOUSE TOUR
✔️ Lighthouses are pretty
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#3 PICK

portland art museum

ALL OTHER PORTLAND TOURS
✔️ Choose your favorite
✔️ Find the best deals!

24 Hours in Portland Maine

Evening: Dinner at Miyake

Interested in trying some seafood in Maine that doesn’t have claws? No, it’s not officially against state law to eat non-lobster seafood within Maine limits. So I’ll conclude our 24 hours in Portland Maine with dinner at Miyake, arguably the best Japanese restaurant in the state.

You can order dishes you like a la carte, but for the full experience, I recommend getting the chef’s choice omakase menu. You won’t get to choose what you eat, but you will experience whatever seafood is freshest that day. I hope I can convince you to give omakase a try with…

approximately top 5: miyake

24 hours in portland maine
1) sushi plate

This sumptuous platter featured all the fish that was fresh enough to turn into sushi today. There were common fish like salmon and tuna and more surprising choices as well…like lobster tail. Did I say there’d be no lobster at Miyake. I lied! This is Maine; there’s always lobster.

Some were served with seasoning on top, while some fish were served plain. You can use soy sauce and wasabi, but not too much or it will insult the sushi chef.

24 hours in portland maine
2) chawanmushi

The next dish, chawanmushi, is a Japanese savory egg custard. You can put pretty much anything at the bottom of chawanmushi, but at Miyake they used crab.

It was a good combination because the sweetness of the crab balanced the umami (savory) of the chawanmushi. Also I liked the gold leaf on top. It made it fancy enough even for Mr. Ruggles Sylvester.

24 hours in portland maine
3) arctic char

Back to the fish! The arctic char was served with mustard. A little zing from mustard is good with a fish this fatty and flavorful. But there wasn’t too much mustard, so you weren’t drowning the beautiful fishy-ness of the arctic char.

Simplicity seemed to be a theme at Miyake, in keeping with its humble Mainer origins. After all, these are a people who think a potato is a candy.

24 hours in portland maine
4) unagi tempura

I’ve eaten unagi. I’ve eaten tempura. But this was the first time I had eaten unagi tempura. It was so light, you could hardly believe it was fried. The Japanese really are the best at frying things.

Tempura has all of the fun of fried foods with half the guilt. I wish someone would use Japanese frying techniques on Mars Bars or turducken, just for fun.

5) duck (not turducken)

I’ve eaten duck. I’ve eaten shishito peppers. But this was the first time I’ve eaten duck WITH shishito peppers. But since both are so delicious separately, it’s obviously a great idea to bring them together. Like peanut butter and chocolate or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

The duck was drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I’d like to believe it was that blueberry vinegar from Vervacious because that would tie this blog post together nicely. But I have no evidence to prove that is the case.

24 hours in portland maine
6) chocolate time!

Speaking of great flavor combinations, how about whiskey and chocolate? I personally never say no to either. Usually in a Japanese restaurant dessert is an afterthought, so it was exciting to get something so rich and luscious.

It was the perfect end to the meal because so many of the earlier courses were light little bites. But by the time I finished dessert, I was definitely full. So that just proves the tasting menu has the perfect amount of food, even if there are no blueberries involved.

24 hours in portland maine

24 Hours in Portland Maine

Where to Stay?

Did I mention that Portland was the second most expensive hotel city in the United States? I think I did. So that means you really have to save your pennies if you want to afford a room in the city itself. Since I don’t drive, I really wanted a central location, and I also wanted a hotel that wouldn’t put me in the poorhouse.

That’s why I was thrilled to find the Portland Regency Hotel and Spa. Was it cheap? Absolutely not? Did it wipe out my travel budget so I could even afford one bite of lobster during my 24 hours in Portland Maine? No, no it did not. And it was within walking distance of pretty much everything in the city, so I could drink as much craft beer as I wanted and still get home safely. Can’t ask for more than that!

If you’re looking for a great deal at this hotel, click here.

And if you’d rather explore other great deals at many hotels in Portland Maine, click here.

This search engine will help you find the most affordable and convenient hotel during your 24 hours in Portland Maine. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Portland Maine!

What would you do with 24 hours in Portland Maine? Have you ever seen a lobster wearing a blueberry for a hat? And if I have two sons, can I name them both Ruggles Sylvester? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Portland Maine.

Add a one day in Portland Maine itinerary. Try 24 hours in Burlington Vermont. Try another day with a Burlington walking tour. Find the best attractions in Portsmouth NH. Enjoy the best things to do in Downtown Portsmouth NH!

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