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Taking Off: Portland, Maine, Is a Charming Meetings Destination

Portland Schooner Co. Wendameen ship. Courtesy of Portland Schooler Co.

Within 30 minutes of my feet being on the ground in Portland, Maine, I found myself saying, “I can’t wait to come back.”

And that might be the sentiment from your attendees if you choose this under-the-radar Northeast destination for your next meeting or event. 

The small seaport city has that quaint, coastal vibe you’d expect from the most northeastern state in the U.S., but it also has the amenities planners require. Throughout the destination, 155,000-plus square feet of meeting space is available. Historic and modern hotels await, along with a host of unique venues spanning museums, theaters, arenas and historic buildings.

Lobster Roll
Lobster roll. Credit Serena Folding for Visit Portland

Portland is renowned for its foodie reputation (and yes, I can say with conviction that the lobster is incredible). Maine is also an all-season outdoor playground, and Portland is the gateway. Take your attendees aboard a handcrafted, wooden schooner on Casco Bay or cruise around in search of the 60-plus lighthouses on the rocky coast. Host an iconic lobster bake on the beach for a quintessential Maine day attendees won’t forget, or venture just outside of the city to explore the charming small towns in the Greater Portland area like Freeport, where the flagship L.L. Bean store (established in 1917) is a must-stop.

As bleisure travel continues to be a major trend in the meetings and events world, outdoor enthusiasts will be thrilled to know another national park is within their reach pre- or post-meeting. Acadia National Park is about a three-hour drive from Portland. Rising mountains meet the sea here, giving way to stunning views, and 64 miles of coastline and rocky shores are protected within the park, along with an abundance of plants and wildlife.

It's all easy to access, too. Portland International Jetport has a healthy number of direct flights from hubs around the U.S. like Chicago, Atlanta, multiple Florida destinations and others. The city is also an easy drive from Boston (two hours) and New York City (four hours). On my last trip to Portland, I flew into Boston Logan International Airport and hopped aboard a shuttle bus to Portland, which was a smooth and easy ride.

Give this seaport city an extra look—you won’t be disappointed. Meanwhile, I’ll be plotting my next trip back.

[Related: More Meeting and Event Destinations to Explore in the Eastern U.S.]

Where to Stay in Portland, Maine

Portland Harbor Hotel is in the heart of downtown in the Old Port District and an ideal option for meeting groups that want to be at the center of it all. The AAA Four-Diamond property offers 110 rooms and has three main meeting spaces, the Envoy Room being the largest and able to accommodate up to 100 people. The signature restaurant, Harbor Bistro + Terrace, serves up dishes sourced from local farmers, fishermen and foragers and has a terrace that is open in the winter, too, complete with igloos! 

Where to Eat in Portland, Maine

Dimillo's view from above
DiMillo's. Courtesy of DiMillo's

Dining with harbor views is a must in a scenic coastal city like Portland. DiMillo’s in the Old Port District is a historic, floating restaurant that offers this and more, including award-winning cuisine. You’ll find seafood chowders, crispy fried oysters, steamed clams, Maine crab rolls, scallops rolls and—of course—lobster rolls on the menu. The waterfront restaurant can also host banquets and other special events. 

Fun Activities in Portland, Maine

Networking and teambuilding are best enjoyed on the water in Portland, and there is no shortage of harbor cruises to choose from. A wow-worthy option is booking an outing with Portland Schooner Co., where groups can experience the sights and sounds of Maine aboard historic wooden schooners. Private charters on these iconic sailing vessels can be arranged with varying capacities depending on the ship. Wendameen, a 1912 Alden schooner built in East Boothbay, Maine, can host 30-49 guests, while the smaller Heart's Desire, a 1925 Alden schooner built in Freeport, Maine, is best for small groups of up to six. 

Read more meeting and event news in Maine.

Taking Off is a column from the desk of Senior Content Director and resident destinations expert, Danielle LeBreck, which uncovers the destinations you haven't thought of for meetings or events, from under-the-radar locales to new neighborhoods you should know about. Read more Taking Off columns here.

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About the author
Danielle LeBreck | Senior Content Director

Danielle started at Meetings Today in March 2019 after seven years of editorial experience in the travel and food industries. She oversees all of the destination content for Meetings Today and collaborates with the team on digital content strategy and content marketing initiatives.