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Portland, Oregon gets all the attention, but Portland, Maine is just as deserving. With cobblestone streets, red brick buildings and plentiful public parks, the city of 60,000 evokes a relaxed, old-world feel. These days the town is enjoying a bit of a modern renaissance, thanks to a new wave of stylish boutiques, stunning art galleries and red-hot restaurants - many of them within walking distance of each other. If you’re prone to wander by foot, head to these three happening hoods:
Arts District. The bohemian blocks situated along Congress Street are known as the arts district and are populated by galleries, arts studios and the terrific Portland Museum of Art. The largest and oldest art museum in the state, this organization has three buildings full of American and European paintings, sculpture, prints and decorative art. Of particular interest is the State of Maine Collection, featuring works by Andrew Wyeth and other artists associated with the New England state.
Munjoy Hill. This emerging neighborhood features two must-see sights -the Portland Observatory and the 68-acre Eastern Promenade, both of which offer great views of Casco Bay. The former is the only remaining maritime signal tower in the nation and was built in 1807. The observatory provides spectacular harbor views to anyone willing to hoof up the 102 steps to the top. The Eastern Prom, as the locals call it, offers trails, basketball courts, baseball fields and every outdoor activity you can think of.
Old Port and Waterfront. Almost every city in the U.S. has one - a classic warehouse district that’s been revitalized. Old Port and Waterfront is Portalnd’s version and it’s now filled with independent restaurants, bars and hip boutiques. It was here, in a local tavern, that colonists first launched a separation movement from Massachusetts (Maine became a separate state in 1820). Today the spot is best known for its shopping scene. Cobblestone streets connect the area with the nearby waterfront and all of its classic fishing piers.