Pride Portland! Essential Weekend Guide
I've been waiting for a year to tell you that Portland, Maine, is -- by far -- one of the most celebratory Pride events that you're bound to encounter on the East Coast.
No, you won't witness more than 20,000 marchers or cozy up with millions of spectators like you might in New York City. But what you will encounter is a community that embraces diversity from all walks of life.
I knew that if I bestowed the virtues of my weekend getaway last summer that it would long be forgotten as this year's festivities rolled around. So I've been a lady in waiting and am now ready to throw down the gauntlet.
This year's Pride Portland! takes place June 9-18. Here's the rundown of what not to miss:
Pride Portland! Highlights
The festivities kick off on June 9 with the raising of the rainbow flag at Portland's Equality Community Center. Other events throughout the week include Woof in the Park on June 10 and Pride Portland! presence at the Old Port Festival on June 11.
Things really kick into gear on Friday, June 16 for the Pride Eve Dance Party with DJ Mary Mac at Aura Nightclub. The parade starts from Monument Square at 12 p.m. on June 17 and concludes at Deerings Oak Park with an afternoon festival.
On June 18, catch the Casco Bay Lines ferry to Peaks Island for an afternoon tea dance from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Home Base: The Westin Portland Harborview
With the parade literally passing right in front of the hotel and easy access to bars, restaurants and shopping, the Westin Portland Harborview is the ideal spot to set up camp. The hotel was originally built in 1927 and has hosted notable guests including Eleanor Roosevelt and Charles Lindburgh.
Reopened as the Westin in 2014 and registered as an Historic Hotel of America, one of its main draws is Top of the East, a picturesque rooftop bar serving original cocktails and craft beers from some of Maine's best producers including Hidden Cove Brewing and Peak Organic Brewing Company.
Additional features include gear lending in partnership with New Balance so you can squeeze in your workout without having to pack extra clothes and shoes.
Once you've worked out (or expended all that energy at Pride festivities), book a treatment at Artné Spa with a signature massage that blends Swedish massage with aromatherapy.
Portland is a serious foodie town and there are plenty of spots to appreciate coastal cuisine and especially the bounty of fresh seafood. Here are our top three picks:
You know you've landed in the right place when even the locals are clamoring for a seat. Eventide Oyster Co. revives the great American oyster bar (did it ever really go away?) with a rotating roster of locally sourced oysters such as Basket Island, Otter Cove, Norumbega and more.
While most dishes lean classic, a few riffs on favorites include lobster stew with green curry and dashi chowder. Expect to wait for table, but there is plenty of wine and beer to keep you occupied including an ample selection of sparkling, which is always a good choice.
UNION at the Press Hotel delivers all the wow factor you'd expect from chef Josh Berry, who was named Maine Restaurant Association's 2017 Chef of the Year. The menu changes seasonally and draws from land and sea with an emphasis on local farmers and fishermen (and women!).
Current highlights include spring onion soup with chive powder; seared local hake with poached egg and caramelized pork belly; and local skate with Maine lobster beurre monte, spring legumes and pea tendrils.
Otto Pizza will undoubtedly be your late-night, post-Pride slice of pie. They've been serving up creative combinations since 2009 with "The Masher" (mashed potato, scallion, bacon) topping the popularity charts. Other wacky but delicious combos include butternut squash, ricotta and cranberry; and pulled pork and mango. Of course, you can always rely on a classic Margherita.
For the full list of Pride Portland! events click here.
For more information on planning your Portland getaway anytime of year, check out VisitPortland.com.