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Introduction

South Portland is a city in Maine right across the water from neighbor Portland. Visitors are often confused by the name, thinking South Portland to be a distinct area of the city of Portland. Indeed, Maine's fourth largest city stands alone and boasts her very own working waterfront. South Portland has a very small downtown that is slowly being revitalized. New condominium complexes and several large, multi-use buildings are now ready to take advantage of the expansive views of the Portland skyline from this area. Several art galleries, restaurants, and a brewpub coexist with older businesses that have thrived in the downtown area for several generations. The main commercial hub of South Portland is known as the Maine Mall area. Here, large shopping plazas featuring national chain stores are centered around the namesake Maine Mall.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Knightville - This commercial neighborhood is home to a large grocery store, several restaurants, banks and pharmacies. The Knightville neighborhood also features the Casco Bay Bridge, which links to downtown Portland.
  • Ferry Village - Residential Ferry Village occupies a small peninsula offering great views of Portland Harbor and the Portland Skyline. Bug Light Park has a very atmospheric old lighthouse and offers Ferry Village neighbors plenty of open space.
  • Willard Square - South Portland's hip neighborhood, Willard Square is home to several trendy restaurants, a playhouse theater, several bakeries and a gourmet shop selling homemade fresh pastas.

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Sights and Activities

  • Sable Oaks Golf Course - 505 Country Club Dr. (207) 775-6257‎
  • Spring Point Ledge Light - Spring Point - Resembling a giant spark plug, this lighthouse was built in 1897 to mark a very dangerous natural obstruction underwater in Portland Harbor.
  • Bug Light - N.E. Corner of Portland Breakwater - Original construction began in 1855 and was made of wood. New construction began in 1875, when cast iron plates were added. Today, locals come here to enjoy the views of Portland Harbor, with fine views of the the downtown Portland skyline. There is also a large, open grass field, popular for sunbathing and flying kites.
  • Fort Preble - Campus of Southern Maine Community College - This military fort was added to off and on for 100 years. Begun in 1808, Fort Preble was manned during the War of 1812, as well as throughout the Civil War.

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Events and Festivals

  • Beach to Beacon 10k is a 6.2 mile (10 km) road running event that takes place along the coastline of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It begins at Crescent Beach State Park and ends at the Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Park. Starting out as mainly a local event, athletes from all over the U.S. and various parts of the world now participate in the annual event, including some world-class distance runners, including Olympic Marathon medalists. 1998 was the first year that the event was held and over 3000 runners participated in the race. The event was sponsored by then People's Heritage Bank, which changed parent companies. Now the event is formally known as the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10k. The 2009 race event registration filled in just 1 hour 45 minutes.
  • PortConMaine is an annual anime and gaming convention held in the summer in South Portland. Founded by Julie York, it has been held every year since 2002 and hosts many anime and gaming events such as anime screenings, an anime music video contest, a masquerade, guest panels, workshops, game tournaments, a dealers' room, an auction, and PortConMaine's signature "Extreme Geek" event. In 2008, the convention expanded from three days to four with the first day, Thursday, only open to pre-registered attendees. As of 2016, Thursday became open to everyone.

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.
  • Patriots' Day is an annual event, formalized as several state holidays, commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Menotomy, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. The holiday was originally celebrated on April 19, the actual anniversary of the battles (fought in 1775). Since 1969, it has been observed on the third Monday in April in Maine (which until the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was part of Massachusetts). The Monday holiday creates a three-day long weekend. It is also the first day of a vacation week for public schools in both states and a school holiday for many local colleges and universities, both public and private.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

South Portland has a very diverse and rapidly-changing humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfb), with cold, snowy, and often prolonged winters, and warm, relatively short summers. The monthly average high temperature range from roughly 30 °F (-1 °C) in January to around 80 °F (27 °C) in July. Daily high temperatures reach or exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on only 4 days per year on average, while cold-season lows of 0 °F (-18 °C) or below are reached on 10 nights per year on average. The area can be affected by severe nor'easters during winter, with high winds and snowfall totals often measuring over a foot. Annual liquid precipitation (rain) averages 47.2 inches (1,200 mm) and is plentiful year-round, but with a slightly drier summer. Annual frozen precipitation (snow) averages 62 inches (157 cm) in the city, However, Neighborhoods and suburbs away from the immediate coast average between 5 and 15 additional inches annually, as the warmer ocean waters and onshore flow can cause snow to transition to sleet or rain along the coast. In Southern Maine, winter-season snowstorms can be intense from November through Early April, while warm-season thunderstorms are markedly less frequent than in the Midwestern, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeastern U.S. Direct strikes by hurricanes or tropical storms are rare, partially due to the normally cooler Atlantic waters off the Maine coast (which usually weaken tropical systems), but primarily because most tropical systems approaching or reaching 40 degrees North latitude recurve, carrying most such storms just south and east of the South Portland area.

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Getting There

By Plane

South Portland Airport (PWM) is an airport that borders with South Portland about 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) from the center of town. The airport is accessible from I-95 (the Maine Turnpike) and I-295. METRO Bus and taxi service can be accessed from the ground transportation booth outside the baggage claim.

By Train

South Portland is less than one mile from Portland and thus all train transportation options for the latter are applicable to the former.

The Downeaster travels between Boston, Massachusetts and Portland. Trains arrive and depart from Portland Transportation Center. See link below.

By Car

South Portland is accessible from I-95 (the Maine Turnpike), I-295, and US 1.

By Bus

South Portland is less than one mile from Portland and thus all bus transportation options for the latter are applicable to the former.

  • Portland Transportation Center 100 Thompson's Point Road. This center handles buses to and from Boston's South Station and Logan International Airport. Buses also arrive from Bangor, Maine. Note: - Concord Coach Lines is the ONLY bus service operating from the Portland Transportation Center.
  • Greyhound 950 Congress Street. This station is separate from Portland Transportation Center and offers less frequent bus service to Boston.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

South Portland Bus Service, www.southportland.org is a municipally-owned suburban provider of mass transportation. Because the city of South Portland opted out of the Greater Portland Transit District, this community runs its own separate three-route bus service. Two routes serve major shopping areas and loop through major residential streets, funneling residents locally and giving them access to downtown Portland. A third route provides access to Willard Beach and Southern Maine Community College, with all three routes going to downtown Portland.

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Eat

  • Scratch Baking Co. - 416 Preble St. South Portland. Tel: (207) 799-0668. Website:www.scratchbakingco.com - More than just a bakery, Scratch serves hot and cold sandwiches and healthy salads. Come here for their cookies, pastries and artisan breads. The bagels here sell out quickly - get here early if you can.
  • OTTO Pizza - 159 Cottage Rd. South Portland. Tel: (207) 517-3051. Website:www.ottoportland.com - This small local pizza chain is slowly expanding to points south in New England. The variety of pizzas here range from the exotic (mashed potato and mango) to familiar favorites such as plain cheese or pepperoni.
  • Taco Trio - 119 Ocean St. South Portland. Tel: (207) 767-9055. Website: www.taco-trio.com - Mexican antojitos are served up at this local, family owned casual restaurant. Burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas and tacos round out the menu. The taco fillings are quite authentic, featuring pastor, carne asada and carnitas.

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Learn

SMCC- Southern Maine Community College

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 16. Last edited at 10:46 on Jun 18, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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