Fun outdoorsy things around Portland, Maine?
May 27, 2010 2:07 PM   Subscribe

Hiking, kayaking around Portland, Maine? I'm visiting this weekend and I've read many of the previous threads but I have a few specific questions:

I'm looking for the best place to hike (within an hour's drive of Portland), that's on the sea coast - something like the seaside cliffs at Acadia but closer. (I'd love to go to Acadia, but it's so far)

Can you recommend a good kayak rental / guide outfit near Portland? Kayak Excursions is 45 minutes away, has anyone gone out with them or are there any closer alternatives? Maybe something on an island near Portland?

Final question: Looking for a good seafood restaurant in Portland, specifically for fish instead of shellfish. One more! A good dessert place, my wife loves sweets.
posted by exhilaration to Travel & Transportation around Portland, ME (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Crescent beach and the Biddeford Pool areas have a couple of nice walking areas --- not so much hiking, but you have your slippery seaweed rocks and tide pools.

Bradbury Mountain is a really, really nice place for a day's hike, though no sea coast. But it's beautiful, really worth a visit.

Seafood restaurants? In Portland? Close your eyes, spin in a circle, and point. But it would help to know what type of dining you are looking for --- need to get dressed all fancy, or wear a t-shirt because this overstuffed haddock sandwich is going to fall apart over you. can give you a good list to start with.

Dessert? Beals Ice Cream downtown for large ice cream cones. Havens Candies would also treat you well, though it's not so much a place to go and sit down for dessert. More of a place to buy a heck of lot of sweets and take them with you. Come to think of it, I don't think there's a specific dessert restaurant in Portland --- there could be, but I'm certainly not readily aware of one. Though plenty of places to certainly find dessert like items.
posted by zizzle at 3:04 PM on May 27, 2010

Best answer: If you're actually willing to drive for an hour, another beautiful walk can be found at the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area in Phippsburg. It's not actually much of a mountain, but the 2-mile walk through the woods ends on an expansive beach which is largely inaccessible to vehicles and thus has very few people, even in the height of summer. It is one of the mainland's ultimate picnic spots.

Wherever you go, don't forget your bug spray.
posted by qbject at 3:45 PM on May 27, 2010

Response by poster: Yes, a t-shirt-friendly seafood restaurant, with awesome fish! We'll check out but we'll take any recommendation!
posted by exhilaration at 4:33 PM on May 27, 2010

Best answer: Seafood: Gilbert's Chowder House

Do not, for the love of all that is holy, go to DiMillo's.

Old Port Sea Grill (sorry, I'm being lazy, but you can Google it) has good food but is kind of ... yuppified.

I have friends who swear by the Saltwater Grille but I've never tried it.

Sweets: go to five fifty five and just order desert (in particular, the ice creams). Be prepared to pay through the nose. Its worth it.

I adore the gelato produced by a company called The Gelato Fiasco. You can visit their flagship in Brunswick or eat their amazing stuff at a number of locations in Portland (click the link).

Kayaking: L.L.Bean offers $20 Walk-on Adventures that include Kayak adventures. Your $20 gets you a kayak rental and an about an hour long excursion. They also host some really, really nice Guided Kayaking Tours

Hiking: Get in touch with the nice people at Portland Trails. They should be able to suggest something.

Not much in the way of cliffs in Southern Maine. More craggy oceanfront property, but right at tide level. TNC in Maine also protects a lot of land and maintains trails. They might be able to help you out. Also, check out (Google) Rachel Carson National Wildlife preserve, but I don't know if you can hike there or not.
posted by anastasiav at 8:21 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's the Maine Island Kayak Company on Peaks Island, and an excellent ice-cream shop near the ferry landing, too. And in town (Old Port), too many sweet-tooth cafes, bakeries and creameries to count. You won't go wrong.

Gilbert's is the seafood equivalent of meat-and-potatoes eatin'. Sit outside on the patio, have a couple beers and a plate of delicious fried haddock, etc. or whatever catch specials of the day appeal to you.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 9:06 PM on May 27, 2010

If you want slightly different kayak experience, you can paddle in Scarborough Marsh.
posted by mikepop at 7:58 AM on May 28, 2010

Oh hey, the Inaugural Oyster Paddle is Saturday.
posted by mikepop at 8:16 PM on May 28, 2010

Saturday Sunday
posted by mikepop at 8:17 PM on May 28, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. We had breakfast at Bintliff's, fried Haddock sandwiches at Gilbert's, ice cream at Maineia Tea Shop on Commercial St because it was the only thing open at 10:45pm within walking distance.

We watched the sunrise at the parking lot at the end of this road (the nearby beaches were state parks, closed that early). The view was absolutely amazing. We rented kayaks from these guys and poked around the marina for like an hour. Then we hiked at Bates-Morse to the beach, definitely bring bug spray - there are swarms of mosquitoes but we didn't get bit once thanks to careful application. The drive there is beautiful, we passed a few kayak rental places at spots that looked far more interesting than Kennebunkport.

We had a great time, thanks for your help!
posted by exhilaration at 10:10 AM on June 1, 2010

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