To listen to the locals, you'd think Portland has a serious identity crisis - everyone feels the need to compare the smallish oceanside city to another notable like San Francisco or Denver or Providence. Lucky for the folks in Maine, Portland stands firmly on its own legs exuding a charm, friendliness and authenticity that simply isn't a trademark of many other U.S. cities, let alone the other iconic destinations of New England.

No, you won't find any sex clubs or college nights - you'll be somewhat hard-pressed to find a critical mass of gay guys at local bars - and that's part of the draw. Portland, and Maine which recently became the fifth state to legalize gay marriage, subscribes to a live and let live philosophy. No where is that more apparent than the melting pot of bars, clubs and restaurants where gays and straights comingle proudly.

Portland is New England, and there are few indications that it has any of the largess of the city that some wish it was. That said, three or four days here are about all you'll be able to handle if nights out are your MO. Tack on a couple extra days and hit Ogunquit, Maine's version of P'town, for bars and beaches. Or, if nature doesn't repel you, head north on Route One to Boothbay Harbor, Camden and Bar Harbor where hunting gay guys isn't necessarily like shooting fish in a bucket, but they are plentiful.

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