Despite its name, South Portland is not a section of the city of Portland, but rather its own entity. Set on the Portland Harbor overlooking the skyline of Portland and the islands of Casco Bay, South Portland is known for its working waterfront (one of Maine's largest marinas is on the eastern half) and as home to Portland's airport. Nearby, South Maine Community College rests on the site of what was once Fort Preble, which protected the Portland Harbor from the Revolutionary War through World War II. South Portland event venues are eclectic, as a result.
Portland International Jetport (PWM) is located in South Portland. The facility offers direct flights to New York City; Washington, DC; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Detroit; Orlando; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Toronto. By train, The Downeaster takes Amtrak passengers from Boston to the Greater Portland area, with services north to Freeport and Brunswick.
One of the major meeting venues in South Portland is the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Portland. The 220-room landmark hotel, known for its dual circular towers, offers 13,165 square feet of meeting space in 10 rooms and is located near the Maine Mall. The mall opened in 1971 with 20 stores, evolving over the decades into the largest retail, commercial, and office complex north of Boston, with 1.2 million square feet of retail space.
Along with the DoubleTree, other hotels with sizable meeting space include the 226-room Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks, which provides 13,666 square feet of function space in 10 rooms; the 149-room Clarion Hotel Airport, which can handle a group of 337 in the largest of its five meeting rooms; and the 153-room Best Western Merry Manor Inn, which can accommodate a meeting for 300 people in the largest of its function rooms, the three-tiered Governor's Ballroom.
Two of the most popular venues in South Portland for special events connect meeting groups to two different aspects of South Portland's personality. With breathtaking ocean views and rich history, the McKernan Center (built in 1902 as officers' quarters for Fort Preble) on the campus of Southern Maine Community College can host a banquet for 225 people. And heading straight into fun is an event held at Maine Indoor Karting in Scarborough. A party or team-building event built around Go-Kart racing can include competition racing, personalized trophies, a commemorative race video for participants to relive their experience, and a souvenir race tire signed by all the party attendees for a special honoree. Up to 24 people can race at one time, but larger parties are possible around the venue.
When it is time to eat, South Portland offers a number of different options, featuring the best in local fare. For upscale dining on the waterfront, there is the Saltwater Grille, and for a casual, homey experience, there are restaurants such as The Weathervane Seafood Restaurant and Docks Seafood. Local favorites include Scratch Baking Co., where South Portlanders line up on weekends for the pastries; and David's 388, a casual, cozy spot featuring classic seafood with a twist, such as scallops with figs and bacon.