Portland is the largest city in Maine, though keep in mind that this is a relative benchmark, having a population of under 70,000. That said, it’s a great little city, sitting pretty on Casco Bay, with a reputation as a foodie magnet, and full of art and culture, and a thriving nightlife. It’s also sort of a dividing line between the soft sand Maine Beaches and the craggy midcoast – an arbiter perhaps, keeping peace between those regions.
It does a fine job of it. To the south of Portland is Scarborough, just north of Old Orchard beach, providing a pleasant transition with its marshes melding into sandy beaches. Neighboring Cape Elizabeth with its sand beaches and rocky shores is a great place for viewing not one, but two lighthouses.
To the north of Portland, Cumberland, Yarmouth and Freeport transition you to the midcoast. Cumberland hosts one of the state’s largest agricultural fairs in September, Yarmouth celebrates summer in July with its renowned Clam Festival, and Freeport will gear you up for the midcoast and mountains with its LL Bean flagship store.
Casco Bay itself is filled with populated and unpopulated islands and a plethora of additional lighthouses – there are six in all, including the aforementioned Cape Elizabeth lights. So take a cruise, island hop, or just sit somewhere and watch the boats go by.