So you’re having your Bachelorette party in Portland and don’t know where to begin. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re planning a weekend of absolute debauchery or have your sights set on a more relaxed affair, Portland is the perfect place for your last hurrah. With a coastline adorned with lighthouses, one of the country’s best restaurant scenes, a vibrant nightlife, arts and culture galore, a rich history, and so much more, Portland won’t let you down.
You must be asking yourself, ‘Where do I even begin?’ Start with where to stay. Every bachelorette party needs a home base, and luckily, Portland has a diverse lineup of lodging options. One of the most unique and luxurious is The Press Hotel. Located in Portland’s Old Port, the boutique hotel lives in the former home of Portland’s largest newspaper, The Press Herald. The hotel is decorated with typewriter-themed decor, including a restored to working order 1925 Royal typewriter in the penthouse suite, and the 110-room hotel is home to several weddings each year, offering a classic atmosphere with local flare.
The views at The Westin Portland Harborview Hotel are second to none. Centrally located on the peninsula on which Portland sits, the Westin is surrounded by restaurants, bars, shops, and just across the street from the Portland Museum of Art. Originally opened in 1927 as the Eastland Park Hotel, it has been restored and updated to a high degree. Enjoy a visit to their Artné Spa for manicures, facials, body scrubs, and the like, and then head up to the hotel’s sleek rooftop lounge, Top of the East, for a craft cocktail, small plates, and panoramic views of Casco Bay.
Another local favorite in Portland is The Francis. From personalized service to the artwork to the mini bar, the Francis is very much a product of the culture and history of Portland. Located in a 19th-century red brick mansion, the rooms are elegantly understated, yet stocked with amenities. More than most, The Francis feels like a home away from home. Plus, one of the city’s most critically acclaimed coffee shops & bakeries, Tandem Coffee and Bakery, is just across the street. You’ll want to get there early, though, as the line is one of the longest you’ll find in Portland on a given day.
Not too big and not too small, The Portland Harbor Hotel provides a premium boutique hotel experience in nautically-themed guest rooms. Walk out the front door and you’ll find yourself in the heart of the Old Port with a wealth of things to do all around. Take advantage of amenities like complimentary bicycles and the outdoor fire pit to make your stay more than a bed in which to sleep. Also, take advantage of their 24-hour room service!
Having been acclaimed as one of the country’s most unique historic hotels, The Portland Regency Hotel & Spa is situated in a late 19th-century armory. The interior design finds a balance between historic and contemporary, making the hotel truly beautiful inside and out. The hotel is in a very central location in Portland’s quaint, elegant, and sometimes boisterous Old Port neighborhood. Also, the Regency is pet-friendly for a reasonable fee, so feel free to bring along your furry friend to participate in the festivities. Pro Tip: Some of the rooms have jacuzzi-style tubs, so ask ahead of your stay to claim one.
If you’ve chosen Portland for your bachelorette party, chances are you’ve heard about the food. Named bon appétit’s 2018 Restaurant City of the Year, Portland has plentiful dining options for every diet. Of course, the city is best known for its seafood, but there is an abundance of Italian, Asian, Irish, and other influences woven throughout the city’s restaurant scene.
Have a bevy of bridesmaids? Via Vecchia is a good reservation to make, as they have a community table that seats 8-12 to accommodate larger groups. A relatively new addition to the Portland food scene, VV is a small plates, Italian inspired restaurant. Not to mention, it’s located on a charming cobblestone street in an iconic brick and ivy cover building. Complete the tour de Italy with a scoop of gelato at Gorgeous Gelato, owned by Italy native Donato Giovine, just up the cobblestones on Fore Street. The shop even offers several vegan options for those who don’t sit well with dairy.
There’s a good chance your bachelorette will be a bigger group, so if that is the case, be sure to book reservations when you can, and always call ahead to be sure they will be able to host your whole party. Another great destination for a large group is Batson River Brewing & Distilling. Obviously known for their house-made craft beers and spirits, Batson River offers delicious higher-end beer snacks for a great afternoon stop, and is suited well for those larger groups.
The private dining room at Chaval is another excellent option for a high-end reservation without the long wait. Call way ahead, as reservations at the Spanish + French inspired eatery are in high demand. On paper, the dishes are deceptively simple, but they’re anything but. A focus on ingredients and flavor make for bold yet focused dishes like roasted beets with nectarine, lovage, pickled chili, lemon and puffed amaranth; or, Black Mission figs with local celery, anise hyssop, cashes, fennel, and lemon. One more: Albondigas, Spanish-style meatballs made from local beef and served with a tomato-onion sauce and guindilla chilis. ‘Nough said.
Odds are you came to Maine with your sights set on a lobster roll. Luckily, you’re in the right place. Head to Highroller Lobster Co. for lobster everything: Maine-style rolls (fresh-baked brioche, romaine lettuce, and lobster) with a sauce of your choice, grilled cheese, tacos, rangoons, and more. What started as a food cart serving Maine’s most iconic sandwich, Highroller now has a brick and mortar space with a nice back patio featuring a gorgeous mural and twinkling lights. Be sure to grab some napkins because the whole menu is more finger lickin’ good than KFC.
Central Provisions is a can’t miss restaurant for brides who take their food seriously. The dinner menu is broken down into “Raw,” “Cold,” and “Hot,” pinging back and forth between seriously fresh Maine oysters to perfectly executed crudo and even a caviar service. Going “Hot” could mean anything from crispy Maine potato with peekytoe crab salad, sweet corn, and hijiki seaweed to sucklking pig and seared foie gras. Stop in between 2 and 5 pm for the “Rations” menu and choose from super snackable items like chicharones, spicy kimchi, and more.
In Portland’s Washington Avenue and Munjoy Hill neighborhood, you’ll find bakeries, breweries, and more. Check out Terlingua for an inventive take on BBQ, combining house-smoked meats with Latin American Fare. If seafood is more your style, walk just down the street to The Shop by Island Creek Oysters, where you can relax on the deck and throw back oysters like they’re shots.
How does one finish eating their way through Portland? Dessert, of course! Order the “Entourage Board” at Gross Confection Bar. It features four different desserts with the season’s best offerings.You really can’t go wrong.
In the morning, walk down to Commercial Street for breakfast at Becky’s Diner, or Becky’s Dinah, as the Mainah’s say. Whether you’re hungover or just plain hungry, there’s nothin’ finah’ than Becky’s Dinah. A worthy rival of the Portland institution that is Becky’s is Hot Suppa. They don’t take brunch reservations, so you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
We hope you saved some room in your stomach for drinks! Portland has an incredible bar scene with countless places to sip the day away. Start down on the water at The Porthole, a local’s favorite to grab a beer down on the wharf. Most of Portland’s bars offer a wide range of craft beers from Maine’s fantastic lineup of craft breweries. If you’re looking to try a little of everything, check out Novare Res Bier Cafe. They keep a solid beer cellar stocked with Portland favorites, as well as top draughts and bottles from around the world. Also, Novare offers build your own charcuterie from the bountiful selection of meats and cheeses: everything from a spreadable salami/Iberico pork with pimenton, hot paprika and oregano, to an alpine-style raw cow’s milk from Spring Brook Farm Tubby in Vermont.
If craft cocktails are more your speed, head to Blyth & Burrows on Exchange Street. The sophisticated cocktail & raw bar is named after two brave captains who were killed at sea and had their remains brought to Portland in 1813. Be sure to check out the basement parlor for a gram-worthy photo opp.
Just a bit farther up Market Street is the critically acclaimed Portland Hunt + Alpine Club. The family-owned bar is a two-time James Beard semi-finalist for ‘Outstanding Bar Program’ (2015, 2017) and was named one of the best cocktail bars in America by Thrillist in 2019. Lastly, the H+A Club was named a regional honoree in the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards for “Best American Cocktail Bar.” If that didn’t convince you, the menu, atmosphere, and hospitality will.
Not everyone in the wedding party entourage will necessarily be a drinker, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Make a stop at The Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box (currently take-out only, check @we.are.all.jewels on Instagram for updates) on Congress Street for some seriously good cocktails and mocktails. Sans alcohol, the Jewel Box offers options including hibiscus, lavender, and rose honey syrup with lemon juice over soda water. Other alcohol-free mixes include orange, ginger and cardamom.
Another local’s favorite is Maps, a European-style basement bar. The unique atmosphere, music on vinyl, and top-notch service make Maps a must-visit bar in Portland. In addition to a great draft beer selection, Maps offers small bites and one of the meanest grilled cheeses this Mainah has ever had. Did we mention that the walls are covered in maps? Oh, and there’s cake. And if you’re sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, head to the Bar of Chocolate for a nightcap.
So you’re getting married, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun. Portland is no Vegas, but the nightlife is still a blast, especially in the summer. If you really want to let your hair down and dance the night away, check out Oasis on Wharf Street. The upstairs dance club features a live DJ and state of the art lighting and sound, making it the most club-y atmosphere you’ll find in Portland. We’ve seen many brides let loose here before tying the knot. Beware, though, as the Cobble Wobble on Wharf Street is very real. If you’re not familiar with the Cobble Wobble, it’s when women attempt to walk along the Old Port’s cobblestone streets in heels.
Before your trip, check out the event lineup at Aura, an intimate rock club showcasing local & national acts, plus a dance club. We know that’s what you really came for. And if your dancing shoes still aren’t worn out, end the night at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge, a legendary local party establishment.
If you’re looking for something more lowkey but still hip, try your best to find Lincolns, a “hidden” underground bar located in Portland’s Old Port. Everything at Lincoln’s costs $5, so make sure you’ve got a few Abes in your wallet. One last spot worth checking out is Arcadia National Bar, a bar featuring a rotating selection of arcade games including pinball, video games, and board games.
Despite some recent temporary closures due to COVID-19, the Portland party scene is coming back with even newer options. Coming in the summer of 2021 is Citrus, bringing frozen drinks, tasty snacks and citrusy cocktails into the nightclub experience, complete with an open-air patio.
After all, Maine is Vacationland. For brides, bridesmaids, and all bachelorette party participants, getting in some spa time is part of the tradition and the fun. Mix a little relaxation in with the raging at any of Portland’s luxurious spas, but be sure to book ahead, as the following spa spots stay busy.
One of the great things about Portland is how walkable it is. With that being said, you’re going to want to kick your feet up. Head to Soakology, a spa and teahouse specializing in foot soaks. Foot soaks are customized with herbs, florals, and essential oils to best fit each individual’s preferences. Many of the treatment ingredients are purchased from local vendors. If you’re really trying to channel your inner zen, enjoy a cup of tea at the conjoined teahouse. Pinkies up, ladies!
Nine Stones Spa offers a full range of spa services and a relaxing space in which to enjoy them, including stress-relieving saunas for those who want to sweat out the weekend’s toxins (and alcohol). Spending time here is more than a treatment, it’s a transcendent experience. Getting there won’t add to the stress, as it’s located right on Fore Street in the Old Port. Nine Stones is also a great place to pick up gifts for the bride or her maids, carrying premium skincare products, specialty teas, and tinctures.
If you choose to stay at the Portland Regency Hotel, stop by The Spa at the Portland Regency Hotel for facials, body treatments, hot stone massages, and a fitness studio. But just wait, we’re not done. The spa also offers calm-inducing features like jacuzzis, saunas, Vichy showers (so many jets!), and steam rooms. Pro Tip: Order snacks and wine from room service while you’re here because, well, why not?
Lastly, if the beach is your happy place, visit the Inn By The Sea in neighboring scenic Cape Elizabeth. Located about 15 minutes from downtown Portland, the Inn is surrounded by stunning ocean scenery and state parks, including Crescent Beach and Kettle Cove. The therapeutic process starts immediately upon arrival: get changed into a robe and sandals, enjoy the private steam room, signature massages, and other amenities. Before you go, sip on a glass of wine on the deck overlooking the Atlantic, because who says wine isn’t an essential part of R&R?
While Portland’s restaurants and bars are one of the city’s main attractions, the surrounding area offers endless opportunities for exploration. If you find yourself in Portland’s East End, check out the Eastern Promenade, which offers sweeping views of Casco Bay. A popular spot for food trucks and picnics, as well as home to Portland’s annual 4th of July fireworks, the Eastern Prom is a great place to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Pro Tip: Order takeout from LB Kitchen and picnic on the prom!
After you hit the Eastern Prom, walk down to Monument Square in the Old Port. Standing tall in the Square’s center is the “Our Lady of Victories” statue, which is perhaps the city’s most prominent and historic piece of public art, having been dedicated to the city of Portland in 1891. Make sure you snap a shot of the bride and her maids in the statue’s shadow to show the groom who wears the pants in the relationship. The ladies, of course!
From there, follow the cobblestone streets down to Wharf Street, one of Portland’s most popular but simultaneously quaint streets. Lined with bars on both sides, Wharf St. tends to get rowdy in the evenings, so take a stroll during the day for a quieter experience.
If you prefer to pedal your way around Portland, the Portland Party Bike offers three separate tours on a pedal-powered BYOB “bike.” Up to fifteen can ride, with up to ten providing the pedal power as your tour guide and driver take you through your own customized pub crawl on the Old Port tour, or explore some of Portland’s many breweries on the Industri-ale Way tour, or escape the Portland crowds and tour neighboring Westbrook for a rich history lesson of the Paper City.Drive over the Casco Bay Bridge to South Portland where you’ll find Bug Light Park and Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. Looking out at the harbor, you’ll see Fort Gorges, a former U.S. military fort built in 1858, which ironically never saw a battle or even any troops. Only accessible by boat, the Fort is a popular destination for weddings, kayak trips, yoga classes, and more.
Before heading back into Portland, drive just a few minutes down the road to Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. Home to Portland Headlight, the most photographed lighthouse in the world, Fort Williams is a must-visit destination in Southern Maine. The Headlight is the oldest lighthouse in the state and was commissioned by none other than old school party animal himself, George Washington. Perched along wave-lashed, rocky shores, the Headlight is also the finish line of the annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race, which is probably the only weekend (the first of August) you want to avoid the park. Besides, did you really come to Maine if you didn’t go on a tour de lighthouse?
If you prefer to explore by sea, sign up for a Maine BayCycle Cruise. Much like the Maine Party Bike, the pedal-style party boat will take you on a private tour of Portland’s Casco Bay. The cruise is BYOB, so make sure to buy a six-pack (or more) before heading to the boat. Or, purchase the add-on Brews Cruise ticket, which guarantees a mixed pack of local craft beers (3 per person) curated by the team at the Maine Brew Bus waiting for you upon arrival. Other things to bring include snacks, a bomb playlist, and high energy. While enjoying the ocean breeze and brews, keep an eye out for seals along the harbor. Make sure to book your cruise in advance. Cruises can accommodate 15 people maximum and depart from Bell Buoy Park, located between Casco Bay Lines and Flatbread Pizza on Commercial Street.
Portland has quite a few of Maine’s most coveted shopping options, both quirky and high end. On the middle of the spectrum is Portland Flea-For-All. Situated right in the thick of things on Congress Street, Flea-For-All offers a unique collection of vintage furniture, clothing, houseware, jewelry, and even vinyl albums. Get ready to dig!
Sticking with the thrift theme, check out Haberdashery Resale Clothing for both modern and vintage clothing. Haberdashery has a dedicated Instagram following, so many items are sold before they even make it to the store’s shelves. Follow them to stay ahead of the curveball.
For the foodies in the group, head to LeRoux Kitchen on Commercial Street. LeRoux offers up all things cooking, from kitchen equipment to olive oil and even cooking classes, in case that’s up your group’s alley. It’s a great stop for the home cook, as well as the professional, with stock classified depending on the level of each individual’s cooking skills. Novice burning anything and everything? Covered. Have advanced skills and need specialized equipment? Covered. Bachelorette parties don’t always have to be centered around drinking, making LeRoux Kitchen the perfect stop for those not interested in bar-hopping.
Two of the best local shops for gift-giving are Pinecone+Chickadee and juju. First, Pinecone+Chickadee is an adorable shop full of hard-to-find, limited-edition apparel, houseware, jewelry, posters, prints, books, and more. If you’re in need of some good juju, you won’t find a better place than juju on Congress Street. Juju boasts colorfully curated goods for your home and health, with products ranging from astrology to incense, home decor to stationary, and so much more.
For a more upscale experience, head to Bliss Boutiques, a popular and stylish women’s clothing boutique in the Old Port. Best described as a mix of sophisticated and sweet, Bliss offers a selection of risque yet comfortable lingerie, in case the bride-to-be has some last minute honeymoon shopping to do. Aficionados of high-quality jeans and designer clothing should also stop by Bliss.
You know a shop is local when the owner’s studio is right in the back. Ferdinand Studio & Storefront is the brainchild of owner Diane Toepfer, who founded the shop in 2001. Toepfer designs and manufactures about half the items on sale here, which include handmade cards, jewelry, journals, tote bags, and uniquely sourced vintage items. The shop’s hours are limited, so check ahead before stopping by. Located next to L.B. Kitchen, add Ferdinand to your route before picnicking on the nearby Eastern Prom.
And lastly, you can’t forget your souvenirs. From Maine-inspired apparel to art to trinkets of all kinds (think lobsters, lighthouses, moose, and Moxie), check out either The Blue Lobster on Commercial Street or the Maine Souvenir Shop on the corner of Fore and Exchange. Both shops are located in Portland’s bustling Old Port, making them a convenient pit stop before or after the day’s activities
Guess what? Weed is legal in Portland! Though most shops are only medicinal, there are options for both medical and recreational weed outlets, including dispensaries, delivery websites, and/or settle for CBD, which is ubiquitous in Portland.
For a high-quality selection of both CBD and THC products, check out Higher Grounds on Wharf Street. The coffee shop slash dispensary, the only of its kind on the East Coast, serves coffee of the highest standard and offers a selection of CBD and THC ranging from candy bars to joints and everything in between, all fueled by Maine-grown cannabis. For the true Maine experience, try the ‘Moose and Lobsta’ strain.
If you’ve got a medical card, you’ve got options. Fire on Fore, the first medical weed dispensary to open in the Old Port, has everything you could imagine. If you’re a recreational user, stop by Seaweed Co. on Marginal Way for edibles, flower and more.
As far as delivery sites go, their legal status seems to be in question, but barely (disclaimer: we’re not lawyers!). They are widely used around the city, there’s no doubt, and are available to anyone. The best one we’ve found is female-owned Exhale Cannabis Co. through their online order page. It’s consistent, reliable, and fairly priced, plus you can build up points to use toward future purchases if you ever find yourself back in town. Oh, what a world we live in!