Feeling low after year of being cooped up at home because of the pandemic and unable to enjoy Portland’s vibrant nightlife?

Well, maybe you should aim higher this summer, and treat yourself to some of southern Maine’s rooftop bars or elevated dining patios. Some have sweeping views of Portland’s downtown, Back Cove or the harbor. Others let people gaze over the ocean or a nearby river from an elevated perch while sipping cocktails or munching on oysters, burgers or a salmon filet, whatever your taste may be.

Portland’s newest rooftop destination – Luna Rooftop Bar at the Canopy by Hilton Portland Waterfront hotel – opened on Commercial Street on June 30. Portland’s tallest rooftop venue, the Top of the East on the 15th floor of the Westin Portland Harborview hotel, is slated for a renovation later this year that includes two outdoor decks. Big Shots bar and restaurant opened in Old Orchard Beach this year with a second-story covered deck that hangs over Grand Avenue. Bayside Bowl’s rooftop, some 30 feet above the Bayside neighborhood, has a view of the city’s skyline.

Here is a closer look at some rooftop – or elevated – dining and drinking destinations around southern Maine. Think of it as the “highlights” of high-level relaxation.

The recently opened Luna at Canopy by Hilton Portland Waterfront hotel. Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

TO THE MOON

Luna sits on the sixth – and highest – floor of the new Canopy Portland Waterfront hotel, at Commercial and Center streets. There are views of the city’s working waterfront straight ahead, as well as views to the left up Commercial Street and along the harbor and right to the Casco Bay Bridge. The large indoor bar area has a fireplace, tables and seating, and dim lighting with blue accents, for a light-of-the-moon feel. There’s a large outdoor covered deck facing Commercial Street too, with tables, plants, fire pits and lounge seating. There are also heaters for cool nights.

The accordion doors allow the outdoor space to be fully open to the indoor one. There’s a full bar and casual bar food with shareable plates, including lobster rolls and crab rolls that come three to an order. Cocktails are named along an astrological or Greek mythology theme, such as the Persephone, named for the goddess of spring, which has St. George California Citrus Vodka, Cappelletti Apertivo, Prosecco and lemon. For more information, go to lunarooftopbarmaine.com

A new expansion project at Top of the East in downtown Portland calls for two exterior rooftop decks, as shown in this artist’s rendering. Construction could begin late this year. Photo courtesy of Semple Brown

STILL THE TOP

You can’t find a higher rooftop bar in Portland than the venerable Top of the East, which is on the 15th floor of the Westin Portland Harborview hotel, about 140 feet above High Street. The indoor lounge gives people a 360-degree view of Casco Bay, downtown, Back Cove and, on a clear day, Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The hotel opened in 1927, and the rooftop lounge opened in the 1960s. Top of the East serves craft cocktails, Maine beers and small plates designed to be shared.

The hotel’s owners have plans to renovate and add two outdoor decks to the Top of the East, and construction could begin in late 2021, hotel officials have said. The decks will have fireplaces, decorative lighting and a total capacity of more than 100. The decks are planned for the High and Cumberland street sides of the building, overlooking the West End and Back Cove neighborhoods. They’ll both be uncovered and feature an outdoor bar. For more information, go to thetopoftheeast.com

The rooftop dining/bar area of Bayside Bowl in Portland. Photo courtesy of Bayside Bowl

BOWL YOU OVER

Bayside Bowl on Alder Street opened its rooftop bar in 2017 and has hosted movies, concerts and even weddings. The venue is about 30 feet high with views of downtown, Munjoy Hill, Deering Oaks, the Back Cove and fireworks at Hadlock Field after Portland Sea Dogs baseball games. There’s a converted Airstream trailer on the roof that serves tacos and other dishes and a full bar. So even if you’re not into bowling, Bayside Bowl’s rooftop bar gives you a reason to head on out to the alley. This summer’s Rooftop Film Series includes “Wet Hot American Summer” on July 27, “Kingpin” on Aug. 3, “High Fidelity” on Aug. 10 and “Bridesmaids” on Aug. 31, among others. For the full schedule and more information, go to baysidebowl.com.

People enjoying the view of Old Orchard Beach on the rooftop patio at Joseph’s by the Sea Photo courtesy of Joseph’s by the Sea

SEE THE SEA

Joseph’s by the Sea in Old Orchard Beach has rooftop dining, on the second floor, at its beachside restaurant. Joseph’s is currently closed because of a fire Monday, but has vowed to reopen soon. Diners get unobstructed views of beach grass and the crashing surf. The restaurant has been a fixture on the beach since the late 1960s and serves a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant recently added a new first-floor raised dining patio, with ocean views. For more information, go to josephsbythesea.com.

The rooftop covered deck at Big Shots overlooks amusements in Old Orchard Beach. It opened this year. Photo courtesy of Big Shots

Big Shots is another Old Orchard Beach bar and restaurant with an elevated deck. The place just opened this year and has a second-story, covered roof deck that hangs over the sidewalk on West Grand Avenue, in the heart of Old Orchard Beach. People eating or drinking there get views of the ocean, the beach and the Palace Playland amusement park. For more information, go to Big Shots on Facebook.

The second-floor, rooftop outdoor deck at Frog and Turtle gastro pub in Westbrook. Photo courtesy of Frog and Turtle Gastro Pub

RIVER VIEW

For a different high-level view, head to The Frog and Turtle gastro pub in downtown Westbrook, on the Presumpscot River. There’s a second-floor outdoor deck, 16 feet above street level, with sitting areas, fire pits and tables. An awning covers half the deck. There are views of the famous Saccarappa Falls, which powered Westbrook’s mills in days of old. For more information, go to The Frog and Turtle on Facebook or thefrogandturtle.com


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: