Welcome to the Portland Meeting and Event Planning Guide, written with meeting planners in mind. With its spectacular coastline and waterfront, Portland is a stunning backdrop for meetings and events that will both recharge and inspire attendees. Just three miles from downtown Portland, the Portland International Jetport offers nearly 100 flights a day to major destinations across the country. Portland is also just a two-hour drive from Boston and a four-hour drive from Hartford. Once in Portland, getting around the city is a breeze thanks to an efficient public transportation system, though the mild weather and charming boroughs also create a particularly pedestrian-friendly locale.
Accommodations and meeting facilities go hand in hand in Portland. With 239 well-appointed guest rooms, the award-winning Holiday Inn By the Bay Hotel and Convention Center is the perfect place to host events and overnight guests. Located in the heart of Portland, Holiday Inn By the Bay is one of Maine's largest convention facilities. Offering 30,000 square feet of space including 14 meeting rooms and a 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall, the hotel can accommodate groups ranging in size from eight to 1,400 people.
A number of other large-scale facilities are available to make Portland events a success. Located in Portland's stately City Hall, the Merrill Auditorium seats up to 1,908 people; and the Cumberland County Civic Center in the heart of downtown features 22,000 square feet of space. Perfect for trade shows and annual conferences, the center is one of Maine's largest exhibit facilities. Additionally, the Portland Exposition Building is the 2nd oldest arena in continuous operation in the U.S., hosting nearly 600,000 guests per year.
For a truly unique meetings experience, planners can look to the many alternative spaces spread throughout the city. From restaurants and historic homes to museums and meetings at sea, the unique Portland event venues impart a touch of New England charm to any event. Host a meeting amidst the grandeur of the Victoria Mansion, one of the nation's most prestigious historic landmarks. Or enjoy a backdrop of well-crafted ceramics and sparkling glass art at the Portland Museum of Art's intimate Glass Gallery. For a truly memorable experience, groups can gather on an Odyssey Whale Watching cruise for snacks, drinks and unforgettable views of Maine's aquatic life 20 miles off shore.
As Maine's economic capital, Portland is home to the headquarters of several major corporations including Unum, TD Commerce Bank, Maine Bank & Trust and ImmuCell Corp. Several colleges and universities also call the city home including the Maine College of Art, University of Maine School of Law and University of Southern Maine.
In the shadow of soaring tree-covered mountains and fringed by the crashing waves of Maine's rugged coast, the scenic city of Portland offers 52.6 square miles of history, culture and diverse terrain. Once called Machigonne, meaning "Great Neck," by early Native American inhabitants, the Portland peninsula was established as a fishing and trading settlement by Europeans in 1623. Today, it is the largest city in the state of Maine with a greater metropolitan area of about 230,000 people – almost one quarter of Maine's total population.
From majestic lighthouses to historic mansions, Portland is home to a number of sites that reveal its storied past. Visitors can wander along the streets of the historic Boothbay Railway Village, home to over 50 antique automobiles, or take in the views from the Portland Observatory, the country's only remaining maritime signal tower. Drop by the childhood home of beloved 19th century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Stroll the cobblestone streets of Old Port District, lined with unique shops, sophisticated boutiques and outstanding eateries.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find just as much to do in the city as history buffs. Portland's mild weather and diverse terrain provide just the right conditions for a slew of recreational activities. Ski in the foothills of the beautiful White Mountains during the winter, or hit the beach as temperatures rise in the summer. Deep-sea and fresh water fishing opportunities abound in the region's lakes and marshes and off the Atlantic coast. Or, for a look at regional wildlife, the Maine Wildlife Park lets guests get up close and personal with native species such as the great horned owl and the mountain lion.
When night falls, Portland shines with an international cuisine scene that rivals most major metropolitan cities. From Asian fusion to Italian, Portland offers flavors from around the globe. Patrons can listen to live jazz while dining on sumptuous Italian cuisine at the trendy Azure Café, or pull up a chair at Bull Feeney's for an evening of hearty Irish fare, specialty brews and live entertainment. For a truly historic evening, take a step back in time at the Jameson Tavern for traditional delicacies of New England clam chowder and Maine steamed clams.
Of course, no trip to this seaside city would be complete without feasting on some famous Maine lobster. There's no better way to enjoy this regional favorite than by dining above the water at DiMillo's Floating Restaurant. A Portland institution for decades, this restaurant-turned-car-ferry offers spectacular views of Portland Harbor. On water or land, indoors and out, Portland's exciting mix of activities are sure to make guests long for an excuse to extend their stay.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Portland's seaside location provides a moderate coastal climate characterized by low humidity in the summer and mild winters. Average temperatures in summer the range from 60°F to 80°F, while temperatures in the winter fluctuate between 20°F and 40°F. The warmest month of the year is July with temperatures in the high 80s. The coldest month is January with average temperatures in the low 30s.
The city sees approximately 36.3 inches of rain per year, with the wettest months being December and January. Portland only averages 20 snow days per year. Most snowfall occurs in the months of December and January, with an average of 6.5 inches annually.
The best times to visit Portland are the spring and summer seasons. Thanks to cooling sea breezes, visitors can sail through Casco Bay, dine al fresco, or take a relaxing stroll along the cobblestone streets of historic neighborhoods.
Holiday Inn Portland-By The Bay
Holiday Inn By the Bay Hotel is Maine's largest convention facility. Just minutes from the Portland International Jetport, By the Bay offers 30,000 square feet of meeting space spread across 14 meeting rooms and a 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall. By the Bay's top-notch spaces are equipped to accommodate everything from intimate gatherings of eight people or large conventions of up to 1,400 people.
In addition to its meeting space, Holiday Inn By the Bay also features a number of amenities that make meeting planning a breeze. The hotel offers a professional event staff to streamline the planning process as well as state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, high-speed wireless Internet access and a 24-hour business center. Holiday Inn By the Bay also offers its guests complimentary parking and shuttle service to transportation portals such as Portland's airport, Amtrak station and bus terminal.
When the work day is done, delegates will not need to look far for entertainment at By the Bay. The 239-room hotel has the area's largest indoor swimming pool and an elegant restaurant serving American cuisine with New England flair. Plus, it is within walking distance of numerous shops, attractions, restaurants and nightlife venues that line the streets of the Old Port District and Arts District.
Portland International Jetport (PWM)
Approximate taxi fare: $17 USD
Located just three miles from downtown, the Portland International Jetport sees more than 1.5 million passengers each year. As Portland's premiere gateway, the jetport sees an average of 100 commercial planes take off or land daily. Portland International provides service to virtually every major U.S. city on 10 major carriers, and features non-stop flights to destinations including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, New York City and Washington, DC.
For passenger convenience, Portland International offers a number of services and amenities including a visitor information center, ATM machines, newsstands, a gift shop, coffee shop and restaurant.
Airline carriers serving Portland International Jetport
The Portland Amtrak Station serves the Downeaster line, which connects Portland with Boston. Described as the "most charming train on the continent" by Travel & Leisure magazine, the Downeaster runs five times daily from the Portland Transportation Center to Boston's North Station, with eight stops along the way. One way fare between Portland and Boston is $24.
Provided by the Greater Portland Transit District, the METRO bus line features stops throughout the Portland area at hotels, shops, attractions and more. One-way fare is $1.25. Fare for seniors ages 60 and older is $0.60. Exact change is required.
Located outside the baggage claim area, Mermaid Transportation operates a Jetport Shuttle Service to downtown Portland and surrounding areas. In addition, several area hotels offer free shuttle service to and from Portland International Jetport including the Holiday Inn By the Bay Hotel and Convention Center.
Taxis are plentiful at the Portland International Jetport. Taxis operate outside of the baggage claim area from the first flight departures in the morning to the final flight arrivals in the evening. Within the greater Portland area, fares are set at $1.90 for the first one-tenth of a mile and $0.40 for each additional mile, or a flat rate of $5, whichever is greater. Average fare from the airport to downtown Portland is $10.
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