We spent the last unofficial week of summer in Maine. We have visited a few times before but, this was our first trip with Jack in tow. Maine is one of my favorite places to visit because it emanates quintessential New England charm with its beautiful coastlines, fabulous seafood, and welcoming communities.
We flew from NYC to Portland, which door to door was three hours! Although flying adds a few extra steps with a baby, it was great to shave off a few hours of sitting in traffic and forced us to really whittle down on our packing.
We stayed in a beautiful rental house in Willard Beach, right outside of Portland, Maine. It was walking distance to a local beach and a 10 minute drive to both Portland and Cape Elizabeth. With my minimal travel-with-baby experience, I can definitely say that, if you can, renting a house is a much easier option than staying in a hotel, especially if you are dealing with early bedtimes, multiple naps, and messy feedings. Once Jack was asleep, we were able to hang out outside and could cook multiple meals. We also had plenty of room to spread out and allow Jack to crawl around and work off his energy.
Bon Appetite Magazine just named Portland, Maine the "2018 restaurant city of the year", which took care of a lot of the hard work in researching where to dine. As new parents, we haven't dined out much with Jack, but traveling really encouraged us to change that. Key take-aways when dining out with baby are:
- Go early. All of our reservations were for 5pm.
- Bring some easy and minimally messy items for baby to eat in case there is a wait for the food or there is nothing on the menu that is baby appropriate (We went to an oyster bar one night). Easy items were organic string cheese, steamed vegetables, and cut-up fruit.
- Check out the menu in advance and have a plan of what you are going to order.
- Tell the server that you have a "ticking time bomb" and to either "fire all the food" together or "keep it coming" to prevent your table from getting too crowded for you and your little dining companion.
- Help clean up the mess and leave a generous tip.
We typically have one or two mediocre dining experiences when we travel, but this round we really nailed it. It is possible that our standards were slightly lowered since we were dining with Jack and maybe we were slightly distracted, but I would highly recommend all of these Portland area spots.
Upon landing in Portland, we headed 20 minutes south to Palace Diner in Biddleford for the most epic tuna melt and delicious egg sandwich. Jack had scrambled eggs and toast and they even had a little booster seat for him to sit at the counter.
In the morning we picked up freshly baked sourdough bagels, english muffins, and herb cream cheese from Scratch Bakery in South Portland, which was walking distance from our rental.
For a pick-me-up, Tandem Coffee had fabulous cold brew.
Everyone mentioned Eventide as a must, so it seemed like the perfect place to celebrate Andrew's birthday. We enjoyed incredible local oysters, probably the best I've ever had, crudo, and ceviche as well as a tiny lobster roll on a Chinese-style steamed bun. (Jack was a fan).
For the classic clam shack experience, we had fabulous fried clams with a gorgeous rocky coastline view at The Lobster Shack at Two Lights.
We snagged a last minute cancellation at The Well at Jordan's Farm in Cape Elizabeth for a BYOB farm fresh dinner. We sat at a picnic table while Jack crawled around in the grass, drank ice cold wine, dined on local fish, veggies, and a house made doughnut with local blueberries. I especially loved that the kids menu featured grilled fish and veggies - my kind of place.
Our last meal in Portland was at Drifters Wife for fabulous natural wine and local eats. We were all fans of the brick chicken
For easy sightseeing, swings, and beach time, we headed to Fort Williams Park, which is home to the Portland Head Light. We dipped Jack's toes in the ocean for the first time and enjoyed the salty air and the sound of the waves crashing on the nearby rocks. Willard Beach and Crescent Beach were also lovely local beaches that were very kid-friendly.
I am already looking forward to our next visit to Maine when Jack will be older and can really enjoy the ocean, sand, and boats. Have you traveled to Maine? What are your favorite places to eat and stay? What would you recommended doing? Also, what are your favorite dining out with kid tips? I would love to hear from you!