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South Portland lies just across the Fore River from the largest city in Maine, Portland. The larger Portland was once one of the grittiest working harbors in the northeast and is now home to craft breweries, vintage clothing stores, and coffee shops.
When you rent an RV here, you can also enjoy the beauty and simplicity of Maine’s Down East culture in the much lesser traveled South Portland. You’ll still find plenty of excellent local businesses, particularly along the waterfront of the Fore River, but hopefully with fewer crowds. Should you decide you’re up for it, there are all the great attractions of the city just a short drive away and if you’re craving some serious big-city adventures when you book an RV in South Portland, Boston is just a train ride away on Amtrak’s Downeaster line.
Thanks to the numerous railroads that once populated the landscapes of New England, there are a number of excellent rail trails open to cyclists and hikers. One of the best in the South Portland region is the Eastern Trail running between Saco and Scarborough for eight miles. The trail is unpaved but consists of packed dirt and gravel, so it’s an easy ride or walk regardless of your physical condition.
Across the Fore River in Portland is Eastern Promenade Park, the city’s premier park overlooking Casco Bay. Built in the 19th century by the famous Olmstead brothers, it includes over two miles of walking paths that are popular with cyclists and joggers. East End Beach is also inside the park and serves as Portland’s only public beach. Kayak rentals are usually available from vendors there, so consider exploring the islands just a mile’s paddle away or skirting along the city’s coastline before heading up the Fore River.
There’s also South Portland’s most famous green space, Bug Light Park. Centered on Bug Light, also called the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, the nine-acre park has some great views of the Portland skyline and a few short trails skirting the coast. Many visitors who have their own kayak (or who rent them from stores in Portland) launch from the park’s boat ramp to paddle around the Casco Bay Islands.
They don’t call Maine “Vacationland” for nothing; there are dozens of RV parks and campgrounds throughout the state, and quite a few of them are easily reachable when you get a motorhome rental in South Portland. One of the closest to town is Wassamki Springs Campground near Scarborough. Here you’ll be treated to full hookups for your RV rental from South Portland along with laundry facilities, showers, a dump station, and beautiful lakefront sites. If you’d like to stay close to Portland, this place is worth considering.
Another option is Bayley’s Camping Resort near Old Orchard Beach. Not only does it have full hookups, a swimming pool, and its own café, but the resort also has a pavilion next to the pool where there’s live music on many weekends. Additionally, this is one of the best places to consider camping when you get a travel trailer rental in South Portland simply because it’s so close to southern Maine’s fantastic beaches.
For oceanfront camping away from the crowds though, consider taking your camper rental from South Portland farther up the coast to Yarmouth and the campground at Winslow Memorial Park. Sites have fewer amenities than those farther south, but you can’t beat the spectacular views of Casco Bay, and it’s not far from the outlet malls in Freeport.
No trip to Maine would be complete without visiting some of the area’s many lighthouses. While Bug Light and Spring Point Ledge are in South Portland, perhaps the most picturesque one to visit when you rent an RV in South Portland is located on Cape Elizabeth, near the border with New Hampshire. Here you’ll find Portland Head Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in Maine. It’s one of the most photographed locations in the state, gracing the face of thousands of postcards.
Postcard-worthy lighthouses aside, there are so many fascinating streets to explore in the Portland metro’s urban area. Congress Street is one of the best, lined with fantastic restaurants along with numerous galleries exhibiting the finest works from Portland’s thriving artist community.
For a more offbeat attraction though, check out the International Cryptozoology Museum. Inside are some fantastic exhibits dedicated to yetis, the Loch Ness monster, and all sorts of other creatures that lack scientific evidence to substantiate their existence. While it will seem a little far-fetched to some, the museum doesn’t require that you believe in these unexplained creatures. Instead, it serves as a gateway to studying the natural sciences by merely sparking curiosity.