Tomorrow's Earth Day in Portland and it finally feels like spring. 70º. Bright sun. Wispy white clouds. Cerulean sky. A collective lightness permeates the streets as workers and residents stroll along Congress Street rather than race and brace against a frigid, winter wind. Short sleeves come out (some shirts come off... the tattoos!) and sounds of music and laughter drift up from city parks into open windows of studios and offices throughout the city.
We never take spring for granted in Portland. Rather, every year, it feels like an Olympic triumph—a jubilation of resilience and perseverance. We breathe a collective sigh of relief: We survived again. We are, indeed, a hearty, determined breed up here.
So, how do we celebrate? What do we do when the sun beams brighter and the air wafts lighter? In sum, we go outside and stay there until ice and snow returns late in the year.
For instance, my family recently took an urban hike around Portland’s peninsula—seven miles of sidewalks, alleyways and city trails featuring views of Mount Washington from the Western Promenade to the Casco Bay Islands off the Eastern Promenade. The "carrot" for the kids? The promise of handmade gelato, of course, at Gorgeous Gelato on Fore Street. This veritable Italian treasure in the Old Port is an ideal treat.
We also eagerly await the (re)opening of the Portland Farmer’s Market in Deering Oaks Park on April 30 where we will, once again, run into friends and neighbors we haven’t seen since the fall leaves crunched beneath our feet. And, there's an added bonus this year: we’ll soon be able to meet in the Oaks’ “Castle” as the owners of TIQA, the Mediterranean restaurant on Commercial Street, plan to lease this iconic space from the City to offer a café with patio seating and lawn games. Sounds like it will be open year around for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
What else do Portlanders do when the peepers and forsythia appear? Here’s an Urban Spring Adventure List, for starters:
- Check out outdoor events by Friends of Congress Square Park.
- Take a ferry ride to Peaks Island and bike or walk to the eastern side.
- Follow the Greenbelt Walkway across the bridge to Bug Light in South Portland.
- Find fiddleheads along the Presumpscot river in Riverton Trolley Park (Yes, Portland used to have trolleys).
- Ride your bike to Mackworth Island to explore tidal pools and build a fairy house.
- Eat a lobster roll on the rocks at Two Lights Lobster Shack.
- Soak in the sun while enjoying sushi on Yosaku’s outdoor deck.
- Bring your camera, enjoy a picnic and play croquet on either Promenade.
- Justify a lunch break in Tommy’s Park under the flowering trees.
- Find the great horned owl in Evergreen Cemetery—Portland’s a haven for urban birders, it turns out.
- Go fly a kite at Edward Payson Park off Back Cove trail (the popular 3.5 mile loop).
- Or, if outdoors isn’t your thing, April is also full of cultural events, including the beloved Architalx series featuring great speakers about design, place and the built environment. There are two left: tonight and next Thursday.
What do you like to do in Portland in April? Please let us know, so we can share the joy of getting out and about and renewing our appreciation for springtime in Maine's largest city.