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5 Reasons to Avoid Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine, may seem like a charming seaside destination, but you’ll find some surprising reasons to avoid it.

This seaside town is known for its perfect summers and plentiful seafood. But you’ll be in for some frustrating times if you decide to visit.

Today we’ll explore reasons why you may want to skip a trip to Maine’s Forest City.

Let’s dive in!

About Portland, Maine

Portland is located on the Atlantic coast, with one of New England’s most important ports. Europeans first settled there in the early 17th century, but the villages disappeared or burned down several times. 

The town adopted the name Portland in 1820, and it was the original capital of Maine before Augusta. The city is a popular destination in the summer for people who want to escape the heat. But the residents appreciate the intense cold and love the beach. 

The area has a long history as an artistic hub and a foodie destination. Locals have unique dialects and colorful slang, which can be a little confusing for first-timers. And while it’s the largest city in Maine, it’s less than 70 square miles and home to only around 68,000 people.

It’s an old city with a long history. And with a small-town feel, it’s fun to experience firsthand. Their official seal shows a Phoenix rising from the ashes because of the four times it burned down and rebuilt. 

Woman on beach in Portland, Maine
Beach bums will love the scenic shores in Portland, Maine.

What is Portland, Maine, Known For?

This old port town is famous for having some of the coldest winters in the lower 48 and mild, beautiful summers. Fishing is more than just a hobby here; it’s a lifestyle. The area has stunning beaches and historic lighthouses, including the most photogenic, the Portland Head Light.

Maine has over 3,000 islands off the coast to explore, including the Casco Bay Islands near Portland. The little city also has several rivers where locals enjoy hiking and watersports. 

While you’re there, you can enjoy the Maine Mall. It’s the second-largest shopping center in New England. You can also find over 200 restaurants to choose from, a huge selection for such a small town. Additionally, you can visit one of over a dozen microbreweries to enjoy local craft beer. 

It may not be as famously weird as the other Portland, but it has its quirks. If you want to get the full story on mysteries like bigfoot, the International Cryptozoology Museum is worth a visit. You can also explore abandoned military structures while hiking at Peaks Island Land Preserve

But despite all this, there are more than a few reasons you may want to avoid Portland when making upcoming travel plans. 

Pro Tip: Practice these 7 Maine Slang Words that Only Locals Know before you visit.

Portland, Maine lighthouse
While Portland, Maine is a popular spot, it may be wise to avoid a visit.

5 Reasons to Avoid Portland, Maine

It may be a nice place to visit in theory, but living in Maine isn’t for the faint of heart. Even casual tourists may want to avoid Portland in the summer when it’s most popular.

We’ve got some of the top reasons to think twice about traveling to this Northeastern town. 

#1 Transportation Is Tough

Portland is over 200 years old, and the residents have long resisted change. Many of the downtown roads are still cobblestone, which can make for a bumpy ride. The streets stay crowded throughout the summer, and parked cars along the roadway only make it worse. 

That said, finding a spot is also rough, adding to the already long commute times you’ll face during peak tourism. And if you happen to park in the wrong place, you can get a hefty fine or have your vehicle towed. 

#2 Long Wait Times at Local Businesses

The beautiful summers draw huge crowds of tourists, which is why many nomads avoid it. Not only does this make traffic on the rough roads crowded, it means you’ll be waiting a long time at every shop and diner you visit.

On top of that, hotels and restaurants are struggling to find enough employees to handle the crowds. Many are reducing hours or closing on certain days until they get more staff. It makes booking lodging or getting a dining reservation during your visit even harder. Avoid visiting Portland if you are the impatient type.

#3 Parking is Restricted During Winter

If you thought parking was rough in the summer, the winter is no better. Because of the massive snowfalls, the city enacted parking bans so plows can work without damaging any cars. 

The bans restrict parking at certain times of the day. If you ignore them, you’ll face fines and impound fees, plus you’ll have to pay for the tow truck. And unless you live there, you may miss the alerts that let you know when and where it’s okay to leave your vehicle. It’s just one more reason to avoid Portland during lousy weather.

Woman on beach in Maine
Be prepared for higher price tags and long wait times at local businesses while in Portland, Maine.

#4 The Weather Can Be Brutal

Summers in Maine stay cool and sunny, so you can enjoy the lovely outdoor sights without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, full-time residents have to deal with long winters and tons of snow. The average temperatures stay below freezing throughout the season, and Fall and Spring aren’t much warmer. If you’re unprepared, you’ll spend most of your time indoors. 

Of course, many of the locals love the cold, especially since it keeps the tourists at bay. Skiing and snowboarding are popular pastimes, and winter hikes are an excellent way to stay in shape. But if that’s not for you, you should definitely avoid Portland in the winter. 

#5 The Cost of Living is Expensive

Portland isn’t a great place for young people to move, and many prefer to avoid it. Real estate is expensive, and getting into an apartment is difficult. Maybe that’s why the city is popular with retirees and older people. They’re better equipped to afford it.

Restaurants are expensive, and even groceries are above the national average. It’s a costly place to live, and travelers need to prepare to spend extra on food. While the income is above average, jobs are competitive, and most require higher education and specialized skills. 

Pro Tip: Chow down on the Best Oysters in Maine (and You Can Get Them Overnight).

Is Visiting Portland, Maine, Worth It?

Portland is a quirky, beautiful old town, but the cost, crowds, and old roads may be reason enough to avoid it in the summer. If you don’t want to brave the winter, you’ll miss out on some of the best experiences. 

Still, the lovely beaches, delicious fresh seafood, and charming residents can make for a wonderful experience. Just be prepared to plan ahead and create a budget so you don’t overspend. And if you’re traveling by RV, maybe avoid driving downtown on those bumpy cobblestone roads.

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