EXPLORE | A Day in Portland, Maine Among Locals

This picturesque port town has plenty of charm and fun things to do

Portland is a small city packing some big culture, including beautiful historical buildings in the city's Old Port, scenic state parks along the coast, charming cafes and shops, and a thriving foodie and beer scene. Though the focus on artisan-made goods might seem intimidating, the vibe is overwhelmingly friendly and inclusive, so you can fully enjoy all that the city has to offer.

That being said, with so much to do and see (and eat!), it can be difficult to decide where to spend your time, especially if you're in town for a short weekend getaway. For an effortlessly authentic vacation, experience Portland as a local. Here's your perfect one-day itinerary.

Morning coffee

Tandem Coffee, located in a repurposed gas station, is a city favorite

Coffee is interwoven with New England's history; it was in coffee houses that patrons first heard whispers of a coming revolt against our then tea-drinking rulers. Since then, coffee in New England has become synonymous with Dunkin Donuts. But in the past decade, the tides have turned away from chains, and a wave of independent cafes has hit New England once again. In Portland, there is an abundance of charming cafés, but Bard Coffee, Tandem Café and Roastery, and Speckled Ax, which roasts its beans in a wood-burning oven, are notable favorites. Enjoy your coffee with a pastry, or take it to go and grab breakfast at local foodie mecca Central Provisions, where your basic bread and butter comes with Riesling sabayon and trout roe.

Sweeping views in Cape Elizabeth

../photo-1520532141146-da0ff89cae4b.jpegEdward Hopper's painting of Portland's best seaside views

Head south down the coast to Cape Elizabeth, on a gorgeous stretch of stately waterside homes and preserved land. Two Lights State Park is an excellent place for a walk, with trails running along the rocky headline and sweeping views of Casco Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Be sure to check out the two lighthouses that give this park its name—the first coastal lighthouses in Maine, built in 1828—and the subject of Edward Hopper's famous painting "Lighthouse at Two Lights." Enjoy a lobster roll at the Lobster Shack for lunch, where you can sit outside at the base of the lighthouse, or take a short drive to Bite Into Main Commissary in Scarborough, which is dishing up some delicious and original twists on the Maine original.

Drink it off

../1498761017785.jpegThe Fermentory makes its own kombucha tea in unusual flavors

Catch an early afternoon drink in Riverton, where several fledgling breweries are getting their start at One Industrial Way, a repurposed industrial building just past the well-known—and well-traveled—Allagash Brewery. Here, in what's known as Portland's "neighborhood of beers," you'll find some innovative craft breweries, each serving their take on classics like the New England double IPA. Sample multiple brews with a flight, or go for full glasses of your favorites. You'll also find outdoor picnic tables, music, and a palpable sense of comradery.

Not a drinker? Try a glass of tangy kombucha at Urban Farm Fermentory, which has a tasting room with its seasonal fermented teas on tap (as well as alcoholic options like mead and cider) in flavors like Elderberry, Ghost Chili Pepper, and Toasted Oak.

Downtown shop and stroll

Score vintage architectural goods at Portland Architectural Salvage in Old Port

Head to Portland's Old Port district and stroll the cobblestoned streets as you browse a bevy of locally-owned and operated shops. Portland Dry Goods and David Woods Clothiers Haberdashery & Tailor Shop, offer the best taste of Portland's rugged chic aesthetic and appreciation for artisan goods. On the less expensive side, there are a number of fantastic vintage stores with unique finds, including Portland Flea-for-all for clothing and jewelry and Portland Architectural Salvage for furniture and hardware. Chellis Wilson, described as a "retail experience" rather than a store, displays locally made goods ranging from furniture to bicycles and is worth a drop-in (yes, you can still buy, but in Portland, that isn't the point.)

A foodie's night out

The Honey Paw has earned foodie fame

For a small city, Portland has received some serious recognition for its restaurants, which have been reviewed in national newspapers like The New York Times. You should definitely weather the long lines to get into Duckfat, Portland's most beloved casual eatery serving up some of the city's finest food, most of it fried in—you guessed it—duck fat. The Belgian fries served alongside a palette of fancy mayos, Poutine topped with velvety duck gravy, and "the original" duckfat milkshake (thankfully no real duck fat in here, just Tahitian vanilla and creamy homemade gelato) are rich, indulgent, and the farthest from a kale salad you could possibly get. Also worth trying are The Honey Paw, which serves up a variety of delectable Asian noodle and rice dishes from Vietnamese Pho to Chinese congee, and Fore Street, an upscale farm-to-table joint with a seasonally rotating menu.

Bar hop

At Vena's Fizz House enjoy original cocktails and homemade bitters

End the day with a tour of Portland's thriving bar scene. Vena's Fizz House, which serves homemade juices and sodas by day, has the best, if not the most original, cocktails in town (including beer cocktails which, miraculously, work well), most of which include one of the shop's homemade bitters. For a taste of Portland's underground scene, try Novare Res Bier Café, a beer garden with outdoor seating and an ever-changing roster of tasty local and international beers that's as difficult to find as it is to leave.

Where to stay

The Press Hotel, located in Old Port in a former newspaper building, is a fun and artsy boutique hotel with an excellent restaurant and rooftop views. Newspaper paraphernalia throughout offers endless charm. $200-250 a night.

For a quieter getaway, try the Danforth Inn, an elegant bed and breakfast in an 1820s Federal-style mansion just 10 minutes away from downtown bars and restaurants. A funky modern interior will surprise and delight. $150-200 a night.

With Memorial Day coming up, you might want to consider making Portland your destination. Not only is it convenient to get to and easy to get a taste of the city in just a few short days, but the city also has everything you need to welcome summer: beachside dining, ocean views, and the best lobster on the East Coast.

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Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!

Travel Tips

8 of the Best Donut Spots In the United States

Celebrate National Donut Day with our favorite treats across the country.

November 5th marks one of 2020's two National Donut Days.

Occurring in both June and November, National Donut Day allows fans of those delectable yeasty treats to embrace their sweet tooth. But like any niche food group, people often take their donuts very, very seriously, and there are countless places to get your fix.

Below, we've rounded up some of the best donut spots across the country. From coast to coast, these bakeries are sure to impress even the pickiest donut-heads.

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop – Modesto, CA

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop

If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's worth taking a short trek out east towards Modesto for some of California's best donuts. Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop has remained family owned since its opening over 30 years ago, providing both tried-and-true classic donuts as well as experimental flavors and holiday specials. Even their 24-hour service doesn't diminish the line that trails out the door most mornings.

Dough — New York, NY

Dough \u2014 New York, NY

Donuts might not be the first circular, doughy treat you think of when it comes to New York City. If you've had your fair share of bagels, the Big Apple also boasts some spectacular donuts at Dough, a go-to spot for both tourists and locals alike. Here, you'll find a host of Latin American-inspired flavors that are hard to come by anywhere else; their Dulce de Leche flavor is a customer favorite, while the tangy Hibiscus donut is just as good for Instagramming as it is for eating.

Blackbird Doughnuts — Boston, MA

Blackbird Doughnuts \u2014 Boston, MA

Boston's Blackbird Doughnuts is a no-frills donut spot specializing in both brioche "raised" donuts and old-fashioned cake donuts. With a small menu of year-round donuts and a rotating cast of seasonal flavors, Blackbird keeps it simple and classic. Why mess around?

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop — Brooklyn, NY

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop \u2014 Brooklyn, NY

For over 60 years, Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop has been calling the quaint Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint home. Since then, the bakery has remained a popular spot for both regulars and new visitors passing through the area. Here, you won't find uber-trendy decor or gimmicky recipes, just damn good donuts that prove the power of long-standing local businesses.

Pip’s Original — Portland, OR

Pip\u2019s Original \u2014 Portland, OR

In both their mobile catering van and brick-and-mortar locations, Pip's Original is a staple for small, sweet treats in Portland. They're known for their tiny donuts that come in inventive seasonal flavors like marionberry-lavender and mango ghost pepper. But even if you opt for one of the more traditional flavors, Pip's Original proves good things can come in small packages.

Round Rock Donuts — Round Rock, TX

Round Rock Donuts \u2014 Round Rock, TX

Founded in 1926, Round Rock Donuts—located just north of Austin—are impossible to miss. These donuts' distinct yellow-orange color, caused by fresh eggs in the original recipe, make them stand out among the crowd. While this classic outpost can easily churn out hundreds of dozens of donuts a day, they also offer Texas-Sized Donuts, which are just as ginormous as you'd imagine. Round Rock Donuts are not only delicious and easily recognizable, but they're a slice of Lone Star history.

The Holy Donut — Portland, ME

The Holy Donut \u2014 Portland, ME

In Maine's Portland, you might not find tiny donuts or a decked-out catering van, but you will find a slightly healthier alternative. The Holy Donut was founded on the premise of creating tasty donuts that used all-natural ingredients to make a treat you could feel good about eating. The secret ingredient is fresh, mashed Maine potatoes, which make these donuts delectably moist without sacrificing flavor.

Donut Friend — Los Angeles, CA

Donut Friend \u2014 Los Angeles, CA

As expected of a city so focused on entertainment, Los Angeles' Donut Friend puts an edgy spin on their inventive donut flavors. Their year-round menu features donut flavors with names like Green Teagan and Sara, Fudgegazi, and Bacon-182 that are sure to delight the rock music nerds. For everyone else, the delicious donuts speak for themselves.