Quick Escape to Portland, Maine

Truffle fries at DuckfatWe love Portland in the off-season to dine at the acclaimed restaurants that are hard to get reservations in summer and to walk our dog, Theo, on the beach of Cape Elizabeth at that pet-friendly gem of a resort, Inn by the Sea. Portland has been making innovative food for the past decade. Just ask our kids who plead with us to stop at Duckfat every time we pass through town just to have another taste of their crispy French fries dipped in truffle ketchup. Fore Street, which led the food revival in town, is consistently nominated by James Beard for Outstanding Restaurant in the national category. Other longtime favorites include Evo and Street & Co. Also check out the fantastic baked goods at Tandem Coffee and Bakery, the deli food at Rose Foods, and the microbrews at nearby Bissell Brothers Brewing Company.

Portland’s 10-Day Carnaval Maine is going on right now at the Eastern Promenade. The winter wonderland features live music, art installations, light shows, a rail jam competition by Sunday River, professional ice and snow sculptures, and Bites and Brews, where award-winning chefs and craft brewers come together to make made-in-Maine pairings. Families looking for kid-friendly activities during school vacation week can visit The L.L. Bean WinterKids Fun Zone where activities include a snowshoe obstacle course, Bean Boot toss, and more. In the evening, the event shifts to popular local and regional bands who will turn up the volume for the adults, like Scott McCreery on Saturday.