Let’s talk about a sunny, brisk, wintry drive up the coast of southern Maine and into Portland and Freeport for a weekend of browsing ad shopping.
Especially when you get into the dense Old Port neighborhood of Portland, there’s more to talk about than we can list here.
On the way to Portland, and beyond, are shops selling European-styled housewares, food, and wines; Native baskets; puzzles and games; cunning crafts; gifts from Maine stone; flea market treasures; and antique home ornaments salvaged from early eras, Here are some of our favorites:
Celebrating Life’s Pleasures at The Clown in York
It’s a little difficult to summarize the charming retail store, The Clown, at 659 US Route1 in York. Under a motto of “Celebrating Life’s Finer Arts,” the owners explain “the idea for providing an eclectic mix of cultural products at good prices started on a farm in the hills of Tuscany…” bought and restored by the Clown’s owners in the 1990s. Continuing: ‘From the owners’ love for artisan craftsmanship came the idea to buy and import the best wine, food, antique furniture and accessories which Europe has to offer.” The Clown offers a mix of fine art, antiques, artisan gifts, wine, and gourmet food in a warm, relaxed setting. European gift ware at good prices? 207-351-8315.
Beautiful Native Art at Home & Away in Kennebunkport
Home & Away Gallery at 26 Maine Street in Kennebunkport specializes in Inuit, Eskimo, and Native American arts and jewelry. The baskets, some made by people of Maine’s Wabanaki tribes, are stunning, and they make a wonderful memento of your visit to this seaside state. The Gallery also offer Native American beadwork and sculpture and jewelry, baskets, Zuni carvings, and more. The Gallery also hosts artist events and special exhibit. Open weekends, and other times by appointment or chance. 207-967-2122. [photo courtesy of Home & Away Gallery]
Plants Into Art at Snug Harbor Farm in Kennebunk
Snug Harbor Farm, open year-round at 87 Western Avenue in Kennebunk, is a beauty of a place for sophisticated gardeners, with a special emphasis on topiaries and beautifully potted arrangements. The farm offers unique garden accessories and arrangements with a flavor of old European courtyards. There is always something unusual to find in the greenhouses or The Shop. The farm’s topiaries are grown in handmade terra cotta vases and bowls and stone planters. 207-967-2414.
Scratch Your Itch for Vintage at the Portland Flea-for-All
The Portland Flea-for-All at 585 Congress Street in the Bayside neighborhood of Portland is a marketplace offering vintage, antique and artisan goods ranging from classic jewelry to old records and much more in between. Whether or not you have a special item in mind, chances are you’ll find something at the Flea. The Flea has reaped lots of admiring chatter in collection and decorating circles for its broad scope and welcoming attitude. Got something to sell? Drop in! Open Fridays through Sundays. 207-370-7570.
Gifts With Staying Power at A&E Stoneworks
Do you want a gift for yourself or a friend that hollers “Maine!”? A&E Stoneworks, a member of the “Maine Made” quality assurance program, is a wife-and-husband team that makes cool housewares from ROCK: black Maine slate, freshwater pearl granite & Maine beach stones. Items include cutting boards, ornaments, clocks, some other kitchen wares. The artworks are real Maine stuff: tough, natural, understated, beautiful. Find A&E Stoneworks Minka in Kennebunkport; and Lisa Marie’s Made in Maine in Bath and Portland.
Beautiful Craftsmanship at Portland Architectural Salvage
From an ornate hinge to a hand-carved oak mantel, workmanship of the past can be a beautiful source for furnishing the present. Portland Architectural Salvage , at 131 Preble Street Ext. in Portland is 20,000 square feet of carefully chosen objects from houses, churches, barns — use your imagination. The company’s motto is “Urban elegance and sophistication with an antique and architectural past.” Gloss up your habitat with some built-in soul. Open year-round, but hours vary seasonally; check website. 207-780-0634.
Breads Are Super at Standard Baking Co. in Portland
Located at 75 Commercial Street, across from the harbor in Portland, Standard Baking Co. is the city’s — maybe the state’s — most popular gathering spot for delicious baked goods along with the ebb and flow of people — neighbors and visitors. It is heaven on Earth for people who love breads, sticky buns, and more baked treats. And the company has just come out with a cookbook that unveils many of its best baking methods. Open daily. 207-773-2112.
Game On at Diversions Puzzles & Games in So. Portland
Revive some old-fashioned entertainment that doesn’t rely on a power source, and has the benefit of bringing people together. Next time you are looking for indoor entertainment — for people of any age – in South Portland, Diversions Puzzles & Games at 415 Philbrook Avenue. The store stocks new and classic games and high-quality puzzles for every age and interest. And, it has lots and lots of open game days and nights. Staff members can teach you how to play one of our many demo games. Open daily. 207-773-0300
Find British Goods at Bridgham & Cook in Freeport
Britain’s BBC has discovered and reported the pleasures of a visit to Portland and its nearby neighbors of coastal Maine. For Anglophile shoppers, the BBC has reported its approval Bridgham & Cook, Ltd. at 123 Main Street in Freeport. The shop sells British foods – teas, sweets, biscuits, preserves, and condiments – in addition to numerous English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh goods, clothing, accessories, and gifts. Scott’s Porage Oats, Thursday Cottage Curd, Barbour tartan purses, Bronte Moon Dales Scarf, and much more. Fun and unique shopping on Maine’s coast! Open daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 207-865-1040
Whimsical Art Is Charming at Markings Gallery in Bath
Markings Gallery at 50 Front Street in <B>Bath</b> is owned by two Maine artists, a jewelry maker and a potter, and it displays an array of work by New England artists, in metal, clay, fiber, paper, glass, paint, stone and wood. Among them is Jo Diggs, a quilt and appliqué artist from Portland who creates marvelous landscapes and seascapes on New England themes with simple combinations of cloth. Markings Gallery also works with designers and architects to provide custom tiles, wall pieces and unique art objects for homes, offices, hotels and restaurants. Winter hours are Monday & Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The gallery is open daily June to December, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Phone: 207-443-1499