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Beer is to Portland is what lobster is to Maine. If you visit without sampling some brew, you're missing out. Portland is considered by experts to be one of America's best beer cities thanks to its large crop of local brewers as well as its role in the microbrew movement. Though more than 20 microbreweries may not sound like much, for a city with a population of a little more than 66,700, it's plenty for both residents and visiting beer enthusiasts.

There are a variety of beer tours offered by a number of operators, including Maine Beer Tours and the seasonal Bike and Brew Tour. For those who want to brewery hop on their own, AllagashShipyardSebago, and the family-owned Rising Tide, are some of the city's most popular breweries offering their own tours. Allagash is consistently recognized as Portland's best by both experts and travelers alike. The brewery stands out for reintroducing Belgian-style brews to the country in the mid-90s and is considered a leader in the microbrew movement. Shipyard, another leader in the microbrew revolution, produces English-style ales from a 150-year-old yeast strain from the owner's former home, and Sebago produces its beer with water from the nearby Sebago Lake State Park.

Prices and hours vary depending on the brewery, but it is worth noting that Allagash's tours, which include tastings, are free. Aside from the complimentary samplings, recent visitors particularly enjoyed tours at Allagash thanks to the knowledgeable and friendly staff. For more information about the city's breweries, check out the Visit Portland website.

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#1 Casco Bay Islands

Though beaches are few and far between in Portland, shorelines abound in the nearby Casco Bay Islands. The Casco Bay Islands are a group of islands located off the coast of Portland, six of which are accessible by ferry year-round. Each island has its own personality, history, attractions and activities.

Cliff Island, one of the smallest Casco Bay Islands, is home to only 60 residents year-round and is the only year-round island that features unpaved roads and as such, cars are seldom used. Meanwhile, Great Diamond, which was home to historic Fort McKinley, is lauded for its quintessential Maine landscape and boasts shallow, rocky shorelines backed by lush forests. Cars aren't allowed, so walking, biking or getting around on golf carts are the modes of transportation. You'll find plenty of beaches on this isle, specifically the stunning Diamond Cove, as well as a small museum, a bowling alley and tennis courts. You can make a weekend of it and stay at the Inn at Diamond Cove, which has a host of activities and excellent dining options.  

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