Portland is Maine's biggest city and is the state's cultural and economic hub, attracting over three and a half million visitors each year. Originally a fishing and trading settlement, the town was destroyed three times over a hundred year period, and finally regained stability as a shipping port.
Portland Head Light © Paul VanDerWerf
Unfortunately, overzealous Independence Day celebrators managed to set fire to most of the city's commercial buildings, hundreds of houses, and roughly half the city's churches in 1866, with the city rebuilt once again, this time in a Victorian style.
Mansions along the famous Western Promenade, as well as the Victoria Mansion on Danforth Street, feature beautiful examples of this architecture. Companies and proprietors may offer tours of their well-preserved interiors.
Despite its tough beginning, Portland remains a beautiful city, ideally situated on a peninsula that juts out into Casco Bay and flanked by several small islands. Historic houses blend with modern amenities and the city is a bustle of activity, making it one of the country's top cities to live in.
Resplendent in natural beauty, Portland is highly popular in summer and visitors can enjoy boat rides; sightseeing, shopping, dining and people-watching at the Old Port historic waterfront and the East End; and a visit to the Downtown Arts District or the prominent Portland Head Light Lighthouse.
The city is also home to poet Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow, as well as the Maine History Gallery. For the kids, there is the Children's Museum of Maine. Portland has an abundance of good restaurants, especially those offering renowned local seafood specialities like Maine lobster, clam chowder, and scallops, which are cheaper and more plentiful than in any other state.
As Portland is the most culturally diverse city in Maine, you'll find a variety of cuisines, including Vietnamese, Thai, African, Greek, and Indian. The city boasts no fewer than five microbreweries, and dozens of bars, pubs, and nightclubs.
Portland has plenty of attractions, activities and sights for the visitor, and it is also a useful base from which to explore the rest of this beautiful state. Smaller towns in the area like Freeport, Cape Elizabeth, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and Kennebunkport offer their own amusements that are worth exploring on a trip to the city.
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