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With an urban history dating back more than 350 years and a hopping harbor area with breweries, cozy restaurants, maritime museums and sites, Portland makes for a romantic winter getaway. Stroll the quiet cobblestone streets, pop into art galleries and crafts stores hawking pies, copper goods, scarves and hats.

For deals to Portland, start your search at Maine Getaway Packages (tel. 866/310-5332; www.mainegetawaypackages.com) listing current and future getaways. For that romantic escape, the site offers a "Romantic Enchantment" package that says, "you'll fall in love again." The trip includes at least one-night accommodation and a lobster dinner for two at DiMillo's Restaurant (tel. 207/772-2216; www.dimillos.com), a floating converted car ferry specializing in locally caught and trapped seafood. The price of the package varies depending on hotel or inn selected. For a one-night stay on Saturday, December 17, 2005, the stay and eat package with accommodations at the Grand Beach Inn at Old Orchard Beach starts at $79. For a night at the Wild Iris Inn, another bed and breakfast, the package comes to $106 for a night. This package is good through December. Check back in early January for 2006 rates. The Grand Beach is near seven miles of beachfront property great for long walks. An hourly trolley takes hotel guests back and forth from town. The Wild Iris Inn is located in Portland's downtown historic district near shops, food and attractions.

While Portland quiets down in the deep winter when most boat tours close till May, the city remains vibrant with museum exhibits and inside interests. The Portland Art Museum (tel. 207/775-6148; www.portlandmuseum.org) has an exhibit of Christo and Jean-Claude, the duo known most recently for this year's Gates in New York's Central Park. The Museum's regular collection is filled with works by famous early American painters such Winslow Homer, Gilbert Stuart, and other colonial artists depicting the formative years of the American Republic. Admission is only $8 for adults and $6 for senior citizens. The "Maine Perspective" exhibit, a study of Maine architecture drawings from the 1920s to the 1980s, runs from February 11 to May 21, 2006.

Looking on Orbitz (tel. 888/656-4546; www.orbitz.com) for low-priced flights into Portland, Maine, we found some solid fares. Flying into Portland, Maine on U.S. Airways (tel. 800/428-4322; www.usairways.com) will cost you approximately $255 from New York City for a mid-January booking. United Airlines (tel. 800/241-6522; www.united.com) has a round-trip flight for $188 from Atlanta to Portland. From Portland, OR to Portland, ME, Delta Airlines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) has a round-trip fare for $424.

Whale watchers have to wait for the water to warm up and the whales to return. When they do, Old Port Mariners (tel. 207/775- 0727; www.oldportmarinefleet.com/whalewatch.html) has a full-day whale watching boat tour from 10am till 4pm resuming on May 6, 2006. The cost of the trip comes to $40 for adults and $30 for children under 12. According to itssite, Old Port Mariners "maintain a nearly 100% sightings" on their excursions. Ahoy.

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