The article’s author, Rick Hampson, writes:
Portland’s attractions include gourmet restaurants, historic buildings, a picturesque waterfront, art galleries, museums, boutiques, microbreweries and coffee shops. Now, they’ve combined to land the city on Frommer’s list of the top 12 world travel destinations for 2007, along with the likes of Zurich, Tokyo and the Caribbean’s Virgin Gorda.
That’s pretty cool. Kirsten and I discovered Portland on Flickr. Our recent visit confirmed beyond our expectations that it is the place for us. It doesn’t hurt that we’re not alone in our love of Portland.
This coastal city of 66,000 is getting used to subjective but marketable accolades such as Frommer’s. This year it has been named one the “Healthiest Cities for Women” (Self magazine); one of 20 “Hottest Cities for Entrepreneurs” (Inc.); and one of 50 “Best Places for Businesses and Careers” (Forbes).
Last year, Portland was named one of 10 “Dream Towns” by Outside magazine and one of America’s 20 greenest cities by Vegetarian Times. In recent years it also has ranked No. 7 among “the Best 100 Art Towns in America” (Countryman Press); one of 10 “Great Adventure Towns” (National Geographic Adventure magazine); and “BikeTown USA” (BikeTown magazine).
One of the many things we love about Portland is its character. It’s not like every other city in America with the same big-box stores and chain restaurants.
Zoning discourages national chain stores in the Old Port. Clemens says some tourists miss “that name recognition of Crate and Barrel or Restoration Hardware.” Unless they find such stores, she says, these tourists don’t “feel they’ve arrived at the center of something.”
To others, Portland’s quirkiness is a plus. “It’s not all gentrified and prettified,” says Sarah Ferris of Boston, who visited last month. “You feel like this is a real place, not some shopping mall or a theme park. It’s authentic.”
Another reason we were attracted to this coastal city is the abundance of natural beauty and topographic variation we’ve missed so much living in Kansas.
Using Portland as a base, they can explore Maine’s wooded mountainous interior; take ferries to the many islands in Casco Bay; hit the beaches to the south; or shop the outlets in Freeport.
The primary reason people have expressed shock by our decision is that Maine has a reputation for being cold. Kirsten and I like the cold and look forward to the differences each new season brings. And, thanks to global warming, Maine isn’t as cold as it used to be.
Portland’s not that cold. It’s farther south than Eugene, Ore.; in January the average high is 31 degrees, only 8 degrees lower than in New York City.
Kirsten and I don’t need to be convinced. I hope, however, that this article will help quiet some of the skeptics who wonder why anyone would want to leave the flat of Kansas for New England.