Portland, Maine
With Amtrak's new direct service from Boston, Maine is more accessible than ever

From the April 22, 2002 Issue of New York

New Yorkers familiar with the stretch of rocky New England coastline that runs north from New Hampshire -- through blueberry fields and forests over which bald eagles circle -- are rejoicing in the return, after more than three decades, of passenger rail service between Boston and Portland, Maine. Last December, Amtrak's Downeaster -- a three-car train with business class and a café -- started making the two-and-a-half-hour journey. (There are plans for an additional, summer-only stop at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, to accommodate day-trippers.) Portland is a delicious reward at the end of the ride. It has the intimate charm of a small town -- Victorian houses, the nineteenth-century brick buildings of the spruced-up Old Port -- but the rich cultural life of a real city. Stay at the Danforth, an elegant 1821 hotel just a few blocks from Portland's old port.

The Amtrak Downeaster ($35 round-trip for same-day journeys, otherwise the fare is $21 each way; 800-usarail); the Danforth (doubles from $199; 800-991-6557 or danforthmaine.com).