Aficionados of antiques and secondhand furniture stores love Portland. Good browsing can be enjoyed along Congress Street; try the stretches between State and High streets in the arts district, or from India Street to Washington Avenue on Munjoy Hill. About a dozen shops of varying quality (mostly low-end) can be found in these two areas.
More serious antiques hounds may choose to visit an auction house or two. Two or three times per week, you’ll be able to find an auction within an hour’s drive of Portland. A good source of information is the Maine Sunday Telegram. Look in the classifieds for listings of auctions scheduled for the following week.
For new items, the Old Port, with its dozens of boutiques and storefronts, is well worth browsing. It’s especially strong in contemporary, one-of-a-kind clothing that’s a world apart from generic stuff you’d find at a mall. Artisan and crafts shops are also well represented.
The big Maine Mall takes up a huge chunk of real estate near the Portland Jetport in South Portland (easily reached off the Maine Turnpike via its own exit). The options here are uniformly bland—this could be Anywheresville, America—and there are no outlet or factory stores; you’ll pay full price, plus Maine state tax.
Still, if there’s something reassuring about being able to bop among the likes of Macy’s, Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, Pottery Barn, the Apple Store, and H&M, then sitting down with a coffee and a book or CD at Books-A-Million (in its own free-standing building), you might enjoy it. There’s not much that’s distinctive here, though the bookstore is very well stocked and the staff is helpful. Also check out the Sports Authority for low-priced sporting goods; watch for specials on exercise equipment, golf balls, camping gear, and the like.
Needless to say, there’s a food court here, though it isn’t very good. Consider dining at a nearby restaurant instead; a number of them surround the moatlike ring road that surrounds the mall and its acres of parking lots. Good choices include the Sebago Brewing Company for local beers and pub fare, or Taj, a respectable family-run Indian place with a lunch buffet to fuel your shopping spree.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.