Swap London For This Charming East Coast Town

This charming, European-like haven undoubtedly lives up to its reputation as the birthplace of modern English culture. Save 5,000 miles, nine hours of travel time, and a pricey plane ticket to London by visiting Portland, Maine instead — particularly the seaside district of Old Port. During daylight hours, the cobblestone streets are teeming with locals making their way between gourmet cheese shops and boutiques. After sunset, the quaint waterfront district moonlights as a vibrant nightlife scene with rooftop bars and distilleries serving craft cocktails. 

Even in the modern era, the influence of British culture in states such as Maine, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts is evident in everything from the culture to the architecture. The English Puritan's first voyage to America in 1630 and the hundreds of tea chests lost to the Atlantic in the Boston Tea Party are just a few reasons we can attribute New England's London-like trademarks to its British heritage.

Marvel at the architectural and cultural parallels

Pick your way down any of Old Port's cobblestone alleys, and you'll immediately recognize striking characteristics that resemble the capital of England. Dated colonial buildings and English Gothic architecture are reminiscent of the 19th-century styles populating the streets of London. With its narrow, winding roads forming a labyrinth of port-side pubs and shops, gaze out at the Atlantic, and you might forget you're not strolling along the Thames.

Old Port is an incredibly walkable place, comparable to its European counterpart. Nearly all of New England has adopted Europe's world-class railroad system, making travel an incredible convenience. Make your way on foot as you explore Old Port's European charm from the Farmer's Annex (home of the "World's Best Cheddar") on the waterfront to the Clam Bar on the west end.

There's no arguing that London boasts a diverse culinary landscape. Similar to its English cousin, Portland is not far behind with its gourmet seafood and fresh, local ingredients. Fish and chips remain a staple in Old Port, and voyagers can find the classic seafood dish at nearly any sea grill or pub on Commercial Street. Between the crispy cod and waterfront wharf, it's not hard to picture yourself getting lost among the streets in London.

Sights and bites

One of the primary magnets beckoning tourists to Old Port's historic district is the water. Spend the afternoon perusing local boutiques alongside the fishing piers lining the harbor, and it's easy to picture London's Canary Wharf. In a similar fashion, Portland's Time and Temperature Building holds many distinct features that evoke the iconic landmark Big Ben. Situated not far from Commercial Street in Old Port is the Victorian Mansion. This architectural feat is a well-known historic icon in Portland that pays tribute to the Victorian style that originated in Europe during the monarchy of Queen Victoria.

A city's culture is central to its native population, and no culture is complete without a signature cuisine unique to its region. Many of the local eateries scattered around Old Port, Portland's seaside harbor specialize in dishes reminiscent of the local fare in London if you know where to look. For authentic shepherd's pie, visit one of the portside pubs, such as Becky's Diner or Andy's Old Port Pub. In need of a refreshing beverage? Warm up with authentic tea at one of the district's many tea houses, including Dobra Tea. The teafarers of this shop own two locations, the second residing in its founding country, Europe.