I was on the hunt for really good fall foliage.
New England is famous for its fall foliage, but we arrived in Boston in September, just a tad too early for Boston's peak season. Thus I had secret high hopes that we could see something in Maine. We didn’t have time to drive super far north (where it was peak season), so instead we compromised by going to Portland, Maine, which is about a two-hour drive north from Boston.
Portland Maine is also a foodie haven, and lots of people make the trip purely for the food. We decided spend a day in Portland and a day in Freeport. We booked our favorite restaurants, discovered new ones, and hiked a few trails.
Even though the foliage wasn’t anywhere close to peak season (yet!), we still had a lovely trip. My incorrect assumptions about this being my only opportunity to see foliage would later be corrected. I was delighted to later see incredible foliage in both northern California and also in Europe.
Here’s a trip recap!
Lunch at Eventide
Eventide is one of the most popular restaurants in Portland. They have a great selection of local fresh seafood, creative and delicious Asian-inspired dishes, and fun beers. It’s walk-in only, so we showed up as early as possible (11AM!) to stand in line for the first seating.
It was cooooold outside, but the large outdoor tent was where guests were dining due to Covid concerns. We bundled up, sat near the heat lamps, and still thoroughly enjoyed the delicious soup. The hot clam chowder tasted especially good!
Dinner at Central Provision
I’ve been to Central Provision once or twice, and I have always loved it. It is extremely popular and also really difficult to book. We were thankful to be able to obtain a really early booking. Because of Covid, Central Provision had taken over a large part of the outdoor area next to the restaurant and converted it into a huge multi-level patio.
It was extremely pleasant to sit out on the patio and watch the sunset while enjoying the meal. As the sun set, it got colder, so we were actually quite thankful to have such an early timeslot for dinner.
As always, the food was fresh, flavorful, and delicious. I especially loved the blue tuna with caviar, marcona almonds, green garlic gazpacho, and purple shiso.
Bryan was thrilled to discover this 2015 Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny, a lovely red wine (mostly caberbet franc with a touch of cabernet sauvignon and pinot d'aunis) from the Loire Valley. The shop owner had procured it for a really, really good price, and was passing on that price to the diners. Bryan noticed they were selling it for below retail, and thus snapped it up. Enjoying this fabulous wine on the patio made the evening even more special.
Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park
We headed to Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park for an afternoon of hiking. The views of the ocean were spectacular, and we did manage to see a tiny bit of fall foliage, though it was still a bit too early!
Hiking Bradbury Mountain
The next morning we drove out to Freeport. We decided we would hike Bradbury Mountain in the morning and then head to the city for some shopping in the afternoon (Freeport is known for its outlet shops as well).
We chose a nice a relatively short 2 mile hike to the summit. There were some clouds in the sky, but thankfully it did not rain!
From the top of the mountain, we could see tiny patches of red and orange that were appearing in the vast forested mountain below. However, clearly we were too early. I can only imagine how stunning it would look in about 2-3 weeks.
We met some really nice hikers at the top who offered to take a few photos for us. When they found out we were from Hong Kong, they touched their hearts and say, “our hearts really go out to the Hong Kong people. It has been tough for you all. Please know that we support you.”
Seafood + Shopping in Freeport
The world’s largest L.L. Bean Store sits in the center of Freeport. It’s a fun store to explore and it has a HUGE selection of all sorts of hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor gear.
Although Freeport is more known for shopping than food, we were pleasantly surprised at the incredible quality of the seafood at Jameson Tavern in Freeport. The restaurant is self-proclaimed ”one of the oldest operating taverns in Maine” and has been operating since 1779. The food’s casual but good.
The pan seared scallops salad was incredibly reasonably priced ($17 for this plate), and the scallops were as good as the best scallops I’ve ever had. I couldn’t finish it (there were soooooo many scallops), and I felt so bad leaving some of them. Oh why did I eat so many fried clams?
I really enjoyed our weekend getaway trip to Portland and Freeport Maine. Although we didn’t get to really see peak season foliage, we got to enjoy the city when it was less crowded. We still got to taste fantastic food and hike some really pretty trails. All in all, the trip included my two favorite activities: hiking and eating!