For decades, drivers in Portland, Maine, sped by Thompson’s Point, a forlorn peninsula jutting into the Fore River just west of Interstate 295. Described as “the biggest dump in Portland” in the local independent monthly The Bollard in 2011, the area today is the city’s most unlikely hot spot. In 2015, a new outdoor concert space began staging shows on the riverbank; this past summer’s slate of 14 performances included Wilco, the XX and Alabama Shakes. And nearby, an abandoned warehouse has been transformed, with food-and-drink establishments alongside a cryptozoology museum and a circus school. One more reason to stop: a new ice skating rink open through March 4.
In June 2016, this cult craft brewery relocated to an enormous facility with colorful murals splashed on the walls, steel tanks in the back and ample, two-level taproom seating. Expect lines out the door during releases of their hard-to-find, limited edition India pale ales, which attract fans from across the Northeast.
4 Thompson’s Point #108; bissellbrothers.com.
Big J’s Chicken Shack
Opened in August 2016 by acclaimed local restaurateur Jason Loring, this fried chicken joint serves chicken and waffles with Maine maple syrup and cayenne-doused, Nashville-style fried chicken so spicy that orders come with protective rubber gloves. It also operates a convenient takeaway window in the Bissell Brothers taproom.
4 Thompson’s Point #107; bigjschicken.com.
International Cryptozoology Museum
The study of hidden animals is the focus of this unusual museum, which moved to this location in July 2016. Exhibits explore the pseudoscience of mythological creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the yeti.
4 Thompson’s Point #106; cryptozoologymuseum.com.
Cellardoor Winery at The Point
From pinot gris to pinot noir, a variety of varietals are poured at this tasting room, which opened in May 2016. Wines from the Lincolnville vineyard up the coast can be sampled by the glass or in tasting flights paired with cheese, crackers and charcuterie.
4 Thompson’s Point #110; mainewine.com.
Completing the neighborhood trio of beer, wine and spirits, this small-batch distillery opened in July 2016. In addition to producing vodka, gin, bourbon and rye, the distillery also has a tasting room with two bars, one pouring sampler flights and the other mixing cocktails made with the house spirits.
4 Thompson’s Point #104-105; stroudwaterdistillery.com.