Posted: August 6, 2018
6 best picnic spots in Greater Portland
Written by: Ray Routhier
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Portland is the perfect place to pay other people to pack your picnic.
Remember that alliterative phrase the next time the sun is shining but your refrigerator is bare and your energy is low. You never have make your own picnic goodies if you don’t want to, because Portland is loaded with great take-out options near some beautiful natural scenery.
No matter what park, beach or garden you’re headed to for a sunny lunch or leisurely picnic supper, there’s always some tasty nibbles just around the corner.
Maine’s short summer window is slamming fast, so don’t waste time packing your own picnic lunch. Here are some suggestions for convenient picnic spots – either in Portland or very nearby – plus one or two great take-out spots on the way.
Picnic tables by Bite Into Maine food truck in Fort Williams Park. Staff photo by John Ewing
Fort Williams Park1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth
This massive sea-side park is a picnicker's dream. You can picnic near the Children's Garden, by the beach, on the field near Portland Head Light or in a little wooded corner somewhere. Driving or biking out to the park from Portland, you go right by Rosemont Market & Bakery at 537 Shore Road. There you can grab meats and cheeses from the deli, a baguette and other fresh breads, sandwiches and pizza, sweets, or salads with noodles or quinoa. There are also sushi rolls from Miyake in Portland. Across the street from Rosemont at 554 Shore Road is a Cape landmark, The Cookie Jar, with legendary donuts, donut holes and other sweets. It also has fresh breads and sandwiches to go. Or you cannot bother stopping at all, and get a lobster roll from Bite Into Maine food truck. There's even a variety called picnic style, which comes with coleslaw.
The enclosed garden behind The Wadsworth–Longfellow House on Congress Street in Portland. Photo courtesy of Maine Historical Society
The Longfellow Garden at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House489 Congress St., Portland. May through October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Talk about an urban oasis. Just a couple steps from the busiest part of downtown, you're in a world of sweeping greenery and old brick garden walls. There are several benches scattered about. Before heading into the garden you can grab some innovative pizza from Otto, at 576 Congress St. Something with pulled pork and scallions maybe? Or a hearty sandwich from Sisters Gourmet Deli, 15 Monument Square, would be great for a picnic. Varieties include chicken Caprese, Macintuscan (turkey with bacon apple and cheddar), plus a wrap of salmon and avocado, to name a few.
Russ Edwards, who lives on Peaks Island but spends his summer in South Portland, sits on a bench at Fisherman's Point as the sun attempts to break through the fog Wednesday morning. Staff photo by Derek Davis
Fisherman's Point at Willard BeachAt the end of Deake Street, South Portland
It's hard to find a more dramatic picnic spot than Fisherman's Point. It's a small plateau of grass and rock overlooking Willard Beach and with great views of Portland Head Light and the Portland waterfront.
Two neighborhood foodie meccas are a five-minute walk away. One is Scratch Baking Co., 416 Preble St. The place has much-sought-after bagels, plus all manner of breads and sweets, as well as made-to-order sandwiches. Then there's Flip Creperie, 429 Preble St., for sweet and savory crepes, and pastries. The place is about as close to France as you can get in SoPo, and crepe fillings include Comte cheese, mushroom duxelles and onion Soubise. Or you can get a Tarte Flambee (French pizza) to go.
Allen Price of Portland takes adavantage of unseasonable warm temperatures symphony clarinet at Deering Oaks Park. Staff photo by Derek Davis
Deering OaksPark Avenue, Portland
Close to downtown but with a pond, wading pool and lots of treats, Deering Oaks feels like a long ways away and somewhat back in time. On Saturdays, there's a popular farmers market, so you could grab food there and have a picnic. On other days, consider a morning picnic with treats from The Holy Donut, at 194 Park Avenue. They're made with the not-so-secret ingredient of Maine potatoes. The flavors are unique, including pomegranate, Allen's Coffee Brandy and coffee cake, among others.
For a more traditional lunch or supper picnic, there's Leavitt & Sons Deli at 200 Kennebec St. The place has traditional and tantalizing sandwiches including a Reuben, a BLT, hot pastrami and a roast beef with cheddar, red onion and horseradish.
Zac Racine of Westbrook and Sarah Tremblay of Portland toss a football on the Eastern Promenade Sunday afternoon. Staff photo by Jill Brady
Eastern PromenadeEast end of Congress Street, Portland
With its wide grassy hills and ocean views, the Eastern Promenade is always perfect for picnics. There's a playground for kids, a trail that connects to the Old Port and Back Cove, and a sandy beach. And the neighborhood near the prom has several take-out food options. There's another Rosemont Market at 88 Congress St.(see the Fort Williams blurb for what kinds of things they offer), as well as Hilltop Superette at 135 Congress St. The corner-store kind of place offers Italians, burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, sausage hoagies, hot sandwiches, pizza, clam strips and fish and chips.
Dave Hunt of Dresden flies a kite at Bug Light Park in South Portland. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh
Bug Light ParkEnd of Madison Street, South Portland
You have to go a little out of the way to find it, past oil tanks and a few industrial buildings, but Bug Light Park is a gem. It's a wide open grassy park that juts into the ocean and stares squarely at Portland's waterfront. It also has the cutest lighthouse around, the relatively tiny Bug Light, officially known as Portland Breakwater Light. The park's open layout and harbor-front location make it a magnet for kite flying, so you have something to watch while there. For a picnic breakfast or lunch try the 158 Pickett Street Cafe, at 158 Benjamin Pickett St. (It's not open at dinnertime). The place is well-known for bagels and bagel creations, including some with salmon or bacon or sausage. The Hogzilla has egg, Maine jack cheese, bacon, ham and sausage. There are also omelettes and lots of spreads to put on the bagels.